Aleppo: The Corporate Media Credibility Gap

by Bryan Hemming


Less than four years ago, Aleppo was a prosperous and beautiful city. Christians and Muslims lived side by side, as did Sunni and Shia. A tolerant culture was sustained by a massive industrial centre. Aleppo’s dynamic business community had developed thousands of factories in the industrial suburb of Sheikh Najjar, which employed one million Aleppans.” Peter Oborne

Last week Peter Oborne became the first Western journalist to enter Aleppo following its relief by the Syrian Army. Since that day corporate media reports directly from Syria’s largest city have built up to become almost a trickle.
Gone are the times when the BBC’s John Simpson liberated Kabul single-handed. Nowadays, we are mostly fed the opinions of pre-programmed stenographers comfortably seated behind desks in London,Washington, Paris or Berlin. That might give a clue as to why the Aleppo, Oborne reports on, doesn’t seem to fit the prevailing narrative of a city recently occupied by ‘moderate’ rebels that has dominated our daily news over the last few weeks.

In a nearby room a man from a family of olive oil merchants told me that al-Nusra has murdered three of his brothers-in-law for alleged pro-government sympathies. One was beheaded, one was ripped to pieces after being tied between an electricity poll and a moving car. A fourth brother has been kidnapped and no one knows where he is.” Peter Oborne

For Oborne’s full account, published by Middle East Eye, click on: Journey to Aleppo: How the war ripped Syria’s biggest city apart
To judge from the few reports coming out of Syria from journalists actually on the ground it becomes increasingly obvious the Western corporate media is stretching readers’ credibility beyond breaking. The decreasing number of comments sections on contentious issues left open, often bulge with posters expressing utter disbelief. We can only surmise our leading media outlets are facing a crisis of credibility.
For The Guardian that crisis threatens to become terminal. But rather than face the unpalatable truth, the newspaper has decided to kill the messengers. By cutting back on articles allowing comments, and banning commentators who refuse to fall into line, the paper seems to be signing its own death warrant.

And from the smashed village of al-Rabiaa – newly taken by the Syrian army from the retreating rebels of Jabhat al-Nusra – you can watch the shells exploding across the valley, a great curtain of blue smoke that ascends into the heavens just this side of the Turkish border.” Robert Fisk

The Independent’s Robert Fisk is the about the only other British journalist writing for a major news outlet to have reported from Aleppo. To read his eyewitness account of what is happening on the Syrian border with Turkey click onto: After entering Aleppo with Russia’s help, the Syrian army may set its sights on Raqqa
These reports are not secondhand accounts garnered from a man with a telephone stuck to his ear above a shop in Coventry, or bought from a self-styled weapons expert headquartered in a house in Leicester — both of which seems to pass for serious research in most newspapers nowadays — but are sights seen, and stories heard, by seasoned journalists, who risked their lives to get them. Oborne and Fisk still believe you have to be on the spot to discover the true picture. Having said that, it is important to point out that neither man could be labelled partisan, or an Assad sympathiser. While Oborne could be accurately described as right wing; despite being a war correspondent, Fisk is virulently anti-war.
What ought be a wake-up call to all Western news outlets with serious credibility deficits, including the supposedly-neutral BBC, is that the stories filed by Oborne and Fisk appear to confirm what Russia’s media has being saying all along.

The children are no longer startled by bursts of gunfire. For them it’s a daily adventure, but it’s scary considering that the enemy is just across the wasteland crammed with burned out cars. The black al-Nusra flag waves from the top of a building three hundred meters away. The ends of the streets facing the block of ‘musalahins’ (gunmen in Arabic) are protected from snipers by huge tents.” Alexander Kots and Dmitry Steshin

Written by Alexander Kots and Dmitry Steshin, this last quote is from a report published — along with a video — by Russia’s largest circulation daily, Komsomolskaya Pravda.
For more of that report, including a video, click here: Aleppo Residents Back Assad: ‘We Don’t Need Help From Turkey’.
What is so striking about the four quotes employed here, is not so much how little they differ from each other, but how much they differ from the myriad reports we have become so used to seeing on our TV screens and reading in our newspapers.
They show how a dangerously irresponsible corporate media seems reluctant to fulfill its role as the pillar of democracy it has so long claimed to be.
As Turkey’s Recep Erdoğan hardens his resolve to drag NATO into a war from which no winners can possibly emerge, his threats to world stability, following the latest Ankara bombing, are being virtually ignored by the corporate media. To look at headlines featured on the latest Guardian on-line front page, at the time of writing, you could be forgiven for thinking a news blackout has been imposed.
If we want to know the truth we have to look towards other sources. Russia Insider and Off-Guardian have both featured the Komsomolskaya Pravda story.

Links to alternative views on the war in Syria in both the corporate and alternative media, which I hope to add to over the following days:

Robert Fisk’s report from Damascus: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-conflict-damascus-remains-a-war-zone-but-some-families-are-returning-a6877736.html

The Boston Globe reports on how the corporate media misleads the public on Syria: http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/02/18/the-media-are-misleading-public-syria/8YB75otYirPzUCnlwaVtcK/story.html

Vanessa Beeley’s excellent blog: thewallwillfall

Finian Cunningham reports on the duplicity of the West: http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2016/02/18/russia-lances-the-poison-in-syria.html

Eric Zeusse questions “Why Do Western ‘News’ Media Ignore Many Important News-Events?” on Washington’s Blog: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/02/western-news-media-ignore-many-important-news-events.html#more-54009


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John Mann
John Mann
Dec 16, 2016 5:00 PM

Ten months after Peter Oborne’s report from Aleppo, the political and media establishments are still saying exactly the same things as they were saying. We’ve had Patrick Cockburn, Vanessa Beeley, Robert Fisk, and Eva Bartlett, all saying the same thing. And the establishment is determined to ignore them.
Is anyone listening? Does anyone care?

'The Red Tory'
'The Red Tory'
Feb 21, 2016 5:39 PM

Whatever Assad was like before the Syria war is irrelevant.
He is now a chemical weapon using tyrant which some reports suggest has killed more than civilians that ISIS. Here is an interesting and informed blog which challenges the pro-Assad narrative: https://jamespetersnell.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/the-good-guys-in-colour/
I honestly don’t understand this desire to excuse tyrannical dictators like Assad. If only the people cynical about the West applied the same ‘critical thinking’ to its enemies!

Feb 21, 2016 6:18 PM
Reply to  'The Red Tory'

I doubt your characterisationof Assad as a “chemical weapons” user. the evidence is that his enemies, supplied by the US and Turkey, used these weapons.
But that ought to be irrelevant. The use of chemical weapons and the massacres began, after war had been initiated by the “west” and its allies (talking if tyrants!). The initial crime-the crime of crimes according to the very relevant Nuremburg judgement- was the attempt to change Syria’s government by attacking the country.
I don’t understand the desire, expressed by your post, to excuse these serial breaches of international law which annually cost the lives of hundreds of thousands. Right now there are wars in Libya, Syria, South Sudan, Somalia and Iraq which can all be traced back directly to the callous and cynical policies that your heroes practice.

'The Red Tory'
'The Red Tory'
Nov 2, 2016 8:17 PM
Reply to  bevin

He is chemical weapons user. There’s plenty of evidence, and if you are prepared to dismiss it all then you are frankly showing so little care for the people whose lives have been torn apart by Assad. “But that ought to be irrelevant. The use of chemical weapons and the massacres began, after war had been initiated by the “west” And here we have it… An attempt to justify the slaughter of innocents by inhumane chemical weapons. How would you feel if your family was devastated by chemical weapons, only for some safe, comfortable blogger in the West – who should really be your ally – to ignore it and say it is irrelevant? i’m not saying the West is perfect, and many of its interventions have been poorly planned and reckless. But let’s try and not deprive tyrants of their agency and responsibility? It’s perfectly to be critical of… Read more »

Feb 22, 2016 3:04 PM
Reply to  'The Red Tory'

Syria has never been an enemy to Europe or anyone in the West. As for your claim that the chemical weapons used in Syria are to be attributed to the government in Damascus, only those invested in disseminating Washington’s propaganda can still do so without blushing.

Richard Wicks
Richard Wicks
Oct 20, 2016 11:57 PM
Reply to  Vaska

“As for your claim that the chemical weapons used in Syria are to be attributed to the government in Damascus, only those invested in disseminating Washington’s propaganda can still do so without blushing.”
You’re certainly correct there.
The story is, Assad used chemical weapons against his own people on the day that the UN showed up to see if Assad was using chemical weapons against his own people. Now supposedly Assad is bombing his own hospitals.
What would motivate Assad to do this? What would motivate the military of Syria to do this?
Absolutely nothing, but yet, I’m supposed to believe this.
However, it’s in the US’ interest which is trying to start a war there.

Nov 2, 2016 11:04 PM
Reply to  Richard Wicks

The best blog to read on the issue of the chemical weapons attack in Ghouta in August in 2013 is Sasa Wawa’s “Who Attacked Ghouta?” which is a repository of evidence and analysis carried out in a collaborative effort by SW and various other bloggers and commenters.
If you haven’t come across “Who Attacked Ghouta?” before, you can read the conclusions of the investigative collaboration first at this link:
Even if you don’t agree with the blog’s conclusions, it puts forward a better argued and researched case than that journalist / student James Snell does for his opinions.

'The Red Tory'
'The Red Tory'
Nov 2, 2016 8:18 PM
Reply to  Vaska

He is chemical weapons user. There’s plenty of evidence, and if you are prepared to dismiss it all then you are frankly showing so little care for the people whose lives have been torn apart by Assad. Talk to the refugees.
i’m not saying the West is perfect, and many of its interventions have been poorly planned and reckless. But let’s try and not deprive tyrants of their agency and responsibility? It’s perfectly to be critical of Western policy and be critical of Assad.

Richard Wicks
Richard Wicks
Oct 20, 2016 10:19 PM
Reply to  'The Red Tory'

“Whatever Assad was like before the Syria war is irrelevant.” He’s exactly the same person he was before. The reason there is a war is that Israel sold oil rights to Genie Energy Company to the Golan Heights, which is territory that belongs to Syria and is occupied by Israel. Syria refused to allow a pipeline to be built through their territory to export this energy. On Genie’s board of directors is Dick Cheney (former vice president of the United States), Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild, Rupert Murdoch (media mogul and chairman of News Corp), James Woolsey (former CIA director), Larry Summers (former head of the US Treasury), and Bill Richardson, an ex-ambassador to the United Nations and energy secretary. That, in a nutshell, is why there is a war in Syria. It’s as simple as that. A mafia gang in Israel and the United States are attempted to steal… Read more »

'The Red Tory'
'The Red Tory'
Nov 2, 2016 8:11 PM
Reply to  Richard Wicks

You claim to be immune to propaganda.
Yet you yourself have fallen for complete rubbish… The war in Syria, the USA’s and Israel’s fault, huh? That it them to blame, not Assad? That it is a US/Israeli mafia causing all this destruction?
Tell that to the refugees, whose friends and family have been bombed by Russia and Assad? Tell that to the mothers, whose children fell victim to the chemical weapon attacks by Assad.
I’m not saying the US is perfect. It isn’t. But hell, even if I agreed with your conspiracy theories that would not stop me trying to excuse the violence and brutality of Assad.

James Carless
James Carless
Feb 21, 2016 5:19 PM

Am I alone in believing that Erdovan and his pack of unleashed Grey Wolves are behind the false flag ‘terrorist’ bombings in Turkey to create their own 9/11 justification for war?
Or am I just getting too cynical in old age !

Feb 22, 2016 3:01 PM
Reply to  James Carless

I think it’s safe to say you’d be irresponsibly naive to think otherwise.

Feb 21, 2016 3:30 PM

Reblogged this on wgrovedotnet.

Feb 21, 2016 1:11 AM

There are many other sources even though they r alternate to the western MSM Fars news An american attorney from Detroit has a web site called the Syrian perspective. Fort Russ ,Vineyard of the Saker, Zero Hedge, Syrian Girl they r all alternative web sites that yes they r for Syrian sovereignty. It is shameful what the news outlets and government narratives have been writing since the Russians and the Iranians along with the Shia Iraq brigade and Hezbollah entered the frey in support of the Syrian Govnmt and Syrian people. Notice how the muted details of the war have surfaced from the west MSM and their Oligarchs. The same goes for Ukraine. History hopefully will be cruel to these actors along with their morally and intellectually bankrupt narrative and way of life. But History is always written by the victors unfortunately hears fingers crossed that the Rockafellers and the… Read more »

Feb 21, 2016 1:40 AM
Reply to  falcemartello

P.S I might add a USA website run by military veterans called Veterans Today and New Eastern Outlook Sign of the Times the Greanville Post Consortium news RINF are all alternative western websites and the best of the lot would have to be Voltaire Net run out of france they have a real insight on Middleeastern affairs that is leaps ahed of all the aforementioned websites godluk.

Feb 21, 2016 1:09 AM

Reblogged this on Siem Reap Mirror.

Amer Hudson
Amer Hudson
Feb 20, 2016 8:10 PM

Excellent piece, one which nails the reasons why I, and many others, make for these pages after being sickened by reading another corporate ‘news’ story on Syria. Or Russia.