Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Which broadcast d’ya listen to?

Today at work, an Egyptian friend watched aghast throughout the day, as al-Jazeera provided footage of the military assault on those protesting the recent coup that removed President Mursi from office.   Apparently the station was reporting two thousand dead, and ten thousand wounded.   That would be extraordinary, difficult to believe;  so it was eagerly that I turned on NPR at five o’clock, to hear updated and verified figures.
But the headline didn’t mention any casualties at all, referring rather to the worldwide “reaction” (a typical media slant these days, showcasing, not the facts, but various interest groups’ reaction to the facts,  how they feel about the facts, whatever the latter might be) to the “dispersal” of the demonstrators.
I checked;  they still are showing an allegation of those figures on their front page.
I checked the website of the Washington Post.  As I write (it is just short of six p.m.), they headline “clashes across the country that leave 149 dead” -- without saying which camp suffered which losses, but immediately below there is a “Live Blog” report of “43 police officers killed”, which would leave a toll of at most 106 dead on the demonstrators’ side (“at most” because some of the government dead were soldiers rather than cops).

As of this moment (email alert from Le Figaro),  AFP reports "au moins 124 personnes sont décédées au Caire lors de ces affrontements."

[Update 6:30 p.m.]   The Egyptian pseudo-independent newspaper (actually government-controlled) headlines:

Egypt clashes leave 43 security personnel killed: MOI
Ahram Online

That falls into the genre “Demonstrator’s head inflicts severe splintering upon officer’s nightstick”.

No political act to grind here, folks;  just pointing out that listeners breathe different air, in different media bubbles:  not only as regards the attitude towards the facts, but the bare numerical facts themselves. 

[Update 15 Aug]  Medi1 is now reporting 600 killed according to "official" figures (a ludicrous word in the circumstances;  also, no distinction between sides), but also mentions the Muslim Brotherhood's upward-revised claim of 3000 (of their own, presumably).
Wa-Allahu a`lamu ...

[Update 16 Aug] NPR's Morning Edition is sticking with "over 200" killed -- roughly the number that die in your typical Asian overfilled-ferry accident.

This whole subject segues into that of victimology porn.

For a somewhat similarly themed examination of mutually exclusive factual worlds, consult

            Which Wikipedia d’ya read?

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