This week Charlie Hebdo had all news stations on full alert, 24 by 24 (and, luckily only 3 by 7). With all the street cameras and professional cameras capturing everything that shivered or trembled, we did not miss anything that was moving in our global village, for this occasion focusing on Paris streets.
We all know meanwhile that the messaging of news casters starts and ends with the ideas and goals of their financiers or paymasters and, if we are lucky, some objectivity in between. This week, tragic as it was, provided an excellent example of how subtle the manipulation can be, and how the objectivity suffers.
The scene concerned the attack of the Charlie Hebdo headquarters. Two hooded man get out of a car wielding AK-47’s. Street cameras or CCTV’s – presumably the most objective recorders that we have – show a policeman lying on the curb, wounded. The terrorists are running towards the Charlie Hebdo HQ. One of them stops pointedly next to the policeman, who apparently is pleading to spare his life. Yet the man in black aims his weapon and shoots to kill, twice, at point blank, then moves on towards his real target.
BBC World and CNN showed the sequence where the terrorist shot the policeman repeatedly and singularly to emphasize that the killer was well trained because he didn’t spray the policeman, but shot him twice with single bullets. That sequence illustrated perfectly how dangerous, how senseless, how cold-blooded the killers, obviously well-trained and radical terrorists, were. Indeed, why kill a wounded policeman, a disabled bystander, with such a conscious and determined act?
Al Jazeera (English) disposed of the same reels, yet chose to use them differently. Indeed, it showed everything except the actual cold-bloodied killing of the policeman: three seconds, perhaps, were edited away. If I have to guess, they do not want to show a Muslim purposefully killing an altogether innocent bystander. It seems as if showing this singular murder would add something unexplainable to the rest of the attacks. It seems as if Al Jazeera wanted to spare their viewers this utterly graphic view of the loathsome killing of an innocent bystander, by a (devout?) Muslim.
While most often the manipulation of information is much more blatant and obvious, this episode shows that a few seconds can make a lot of difference in the messaging: editors, impregnated by their ideological purpose, are constantly on the lookout for "spins" that make information come out in accordance with their missionary purpose.
Therefore, only to think that our media bring objective information is a blasphemic thought: to comply with the ideas of the founders and fulfill the goals of the paymasters (often the same) they all manipulate, grossly and/or succintly. A few seconds is sometimes all it takes.
10th of January 2015