Who would have thought some 3000+ year old media advice would be still relevant today? The Israel-Hamas conflict has put reporting centre stage. The antagonism of both belligerents and their supporters towards each other is increasingly forcing the media to choose a side. For some it is quite simple Al Jazeera and GB News have already chosen, but for those seeking to maintain balance it is getting harder. The BBC so far has had a bad war, its efforts to remain impartial meeting raised eyebrows; this from a combination of poor reporting from the frontline and editorial chaos at home.
I commented earlier that Hamas may be trying to run its version of the Tet offensive. Militarily they will lose all the battles but politically they aim to win the war. Victory will be disgust in the West at the inevitable Palestinian casualties and elsewhere a diplomatic isolation of Israel. The media war is at the heart of this campaign – all of us are there to be manipulated. Polling so far shows the British public don’t really want to get sucked into the mire with about 60% not favouring a side.
How long that will remain the case will be determined by events on the ground and the way they are reported. We are already heading in a direction where audiences only read what chimes with their views, chuck in some Russian bots and what’s published in Ashkelon will get ignored in Gath or told in an inflammatory way. Our good friends rumour, speculation and mayhem will have a field day.
In this conflict there will be no single Truth but many Truths competing against each other for our head space. In such circumstances we can only stand back every so often, clear our heads and look for a wood and not trees. If not, then in the words of Yeats things will fall apart and the centre cannot hold. Best avoided.