Ummm… What Eerie Silence?

Andrew criticizes the “MSM” for having an “anti-Israel bias” because of the “eerie silence” surrounding the Sri Lankan governments killing of 61 children in an attempted “anti-terror” strike.

But the MSM seems eerily silent. What do you think the coverage would be if the Israeli government killed 61 children in an anti-terror bombing campaign? Front-page A-1. Sri Lanka? Nada. And people wonder why some of us believe much of the media has an anti-Israel bias.

I have to wonder what, exactly, Mr. Sullivan is smoking in this case. As of this writing, there are 829 news articles in Google News related to the Sri Lankan massacre. At the present time, the Sri Lankan massacre is one of the top stories in CNN’s World section. Ditto the Washington Post and a few other places I found trolling the web.

Now, is the Sri Lanka story front page news in the U.S. right now? Well, no. But the fact of the matter is, newspapers are a business. And as sad and tragic as the Sri Lanka story is, American news consumers care more about what’s going on in the Middle East. With good reason, I might add. What happens in the Israeli-Lebanon conflict could have a direct, immediate effect on the United States and its interests. Internal fighting in Sri Lanka does not.

So when the American media isn’t making the massacre story front page news, that doesn’t mean that the media has any kind of “anti-Israel bias.” It means that newspaper editors are prioritizing stories that more Americans care about. And let’s face it, I’d be willing to bet that last week, Sullivan didn’t know a thing about anti-terrorism efforts in Sri Lanka. I know I didn’t. It’s a big world out there, and I don’t have time to pay attention to all of it. Neither does Sully.

Let’s be honest–it is a sign of the committment and seriousness of American journalism that reporters are actually paid to hang around all the corners of the earth for stories that are going to go buried an unread. There’s probably not a lot of profit in it. But every once in awhile, a story comes along on page A21 that makes people stand up and take notice. How about a word of thanks to the media for giving us the chance to read those stories?

FILED UNDER: Asia, Blogosphere, Media, Middle East, Terrorism, World Politics, , , , , , , ,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.


  1. Randall says:

    This is, of course, subjective, but I think Sullivan is basically right.

    “Eerie silence” is not meant literally. Technically, the Sri Lankan massacre is being mentioned (as are Hizballah’s so-far-unsuccessful-but-not-for-lack-of-trying efforts to massacre Israeli civilians). But it is not being “pushed,” emphasized, bullhorned, like, say, the killings at Qana.

    Fox, CNN, BBC, ABC, NBC, etc… are not leading with it. There are no large, color photos showing crying or obliterated children on the front of the New York Times.

  2. DC Loser says:

    Well, first question you have to ask is whether most Americans even know where Sri Lanka is? I know from watching the BBC that the events in SL are mentioned in every newscast. Just because Americans don’t care doesn’t mean the rest of the world doesn’t.

  3. Bithead says:

    Much as it pains me, I have to side to some extent with Saint Andrew the Excitable on this one. Regardless of it tecnically being mentioned by the MSM, they’re certainly not doing the wall to wall thing they would most certainly be doing was Israel responsible.

  4. Alex Knapp says:

    That doesn’t mean there’s an anti-Israel bias. It means that editors know what Americans care (rightly or wrongly) more about what happens in Israel than what happens in Sri Lanka, and so they emphasize the news accordingly.

  5. Randall says:

    A LOT of people care more about Israel than they do about Sri Lanka.

    That is because neither side of the Sri Lankan conflict is supported by a worldwide network of religious extremists and/or supporters who can plausibly threaten to commit terrorist acts against any group/country/institution that publicly supports its enemies, thereby turning a local civil war into a worldwide conflict that grabs your attention whether you want it to or not.

  6. Rick DeMent says:

    …and here is where ideological blinders are shown for what they are. Sure, there is no “wall to wall” coverage of the SL atrocities, but Sully’s assertion that this is some kind of evidence if anti-Israeli bias is a stretch. Alex carefully laid out the counter argument carefully and comprehensively and almost every commenter on this thread blithely brushed his point aside without so much as a counter-counter argument in favor of Sully’s. No explanation, no attempt to even address Alex’s points, they were simply ignored and Sully’s take was blindly supported.

    The “MSM” is a business, they are a commercial venture and I’ll bet that most of the people who hold the “MSM” in contempt have no idea what is going on in SL. They simply excavate the news for anything they can in order to “find” evidence to suit their bias and ignore anything that doesn’t fit. The notion that Alex’s explanation is a much more plausible explanation then some vast anti-Israeli conspiracy is not even addressed.

    No wonder it’s so easy to lead people around by the nose in the country.

  7. Bithead says:

    That doesn’t mean there’s an anti-Israel bias. It means that editors know what Americans care (rightly or wrongly) more about what happens in Israel than what happens in Sri Lanka, and so they emphasize the news accordingly.

    I could accept that if we weren’t dealing with 40 years of historic trend on the point. Obviously, my comment was made within the context of that history, and that trend.