"Fun Video" from the War in Syria

May 8, 2014

“Breaking the Set”

The title of Abby Martin’s show on Russia Today is fitting for this story: it is about the abdication of the role of today’s mainstream journalism, and it is also just happens to be about a broken TV news set.  On Wednesday, May 7, two journalists were on a Jordanian TV show debating the Syrian war, and the debate turned heated and a fight broke out and they broke the table as they started punching and kicking each other, and using the table to push each other back and forth.  That was basically all the local news channel told us.

My questions immediately were instead:

  • who were the journalists
  • what were they fighting about
  • what were they debating
  • THIS is how you report the story??!!

Here is the video, showing the 45 seconds before the fight breaks out.  I will try to get a translation.



Here is the rest of the story.

The Associated Press says the show aired on Tuesday, on the satellite channel “Seven Stars,” while The Washington Post says the show (“Bayn Etijihayn” (Between Two Ways), which reminded me of “Between Two Ferns”) aired on Wednesday, but neither is clear whether that is local time there or here in the US.  The journalists were Shaker al-Johari, head of the Electronic Media Association in Jordan and Mohammad al-Jayousi, editor-in-chief of the news Web site al-Mustaqbal al-Arabi.

The Washington Post says they were debating media freedom in Syria, which is a very important topic in Syria, as well as in the Middle East as well as worldwide, especially if “democracy” is the goal in the Arab Spring, which started the Syrian Civil war (this time at least) and is also important as we debate the future of Afghanistan and Iraq, as Iraq descends into a civil war of its own, and as US troops leave Afghanistan by the end of the year, we hope they can avert a civil war as well as they build the “democracy” we invaded to set up.

The Washington Post describes the fight saying

The heated conversation turned physical when Al-Jayousi accused Al-Johari of being a “deviant” who supports the Syrian revolution. Al-Johari responded by accusing Al-Jayousi of supporting the Syrian regime in exchange for money.  This prompted the two men to start shoving the studio table toward one another, eventually flipping it over. The clip is not to be missed. (my emphasis). The host then ended the program abruptly. 


The Associated Press says

However, the debate fell apart as al-Jayousi accused al-Johari of supporting the Syrian rebels. Al-Johari then accused al-Jayousi of taking money for supporting Assad.  The two men, obviously carried away by the debate, stood up and grabbed the edge of the studio table they had been seated at, and tried to fight each other.  In the scuffle, the top of the table broke off and the rest of it toppled as the moderator and studio workers tried to stop the fight and finally separated the two journalists.

In describing the larger issue, the Syrian Civil War, AP says

the 3-year-old war pitting rebels against President Bashar Assad’s government, a conflict that activists say has killed more than 150,000 people.

Did you notice the problem in that sentence?

A) it is not just “activists” that say that 150,000 Syrian civilians have been killed, that is the cited statistic by major news outlets, the UN,  the international community trying to end the war, etc, not just “activists” trying to make a point. 

Death toll–Wikipedia


B) the war was not started by “armed rebels who decided to attack the govt.”  The war grew out the larger Arab Spring and Bashar al Assad’s reaction to Syrians’ peaceful protests, and issues of drought in Syria that affected farmers and the economy, adding to the Arab Spring protests, and the war was started by Assad, deciding to hold onto power by any means necessary, instead of listening to his people’s needs.

I wish our mainstream news would take the time to do a better job of reporting the stories they decide to show us, instead of just showing us a “fun video” and acting like that is enough of an explanation, and their job is finished of “reporting the news.”

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