What is Essential and Invisible to the Eye
Little Green Footballs and Mudville Gazette both have a link to Dr. Richard Landes' Pallywood, a .wmv that can be downloaded and viewed. It is a short video that focuses on footage of Palestinians besieging an Israeli checkpoint that is used in 60 Minutes. Landes uses the outtakes and a frame by frame analysis to show, convincingly in my view, that much of it was entirely faked. My favorite is the footage of a group of fighters setting up an empty room into which they will later be firing, supposedly in combat with the Israeli checkpoint, then watching the a clip of the same footage, sans the setup, as news. My next favorite scene is viewing the dozen 120 mm main tank cannon 'hits' that were allegedly inflicted on a Palestinian hospital and watching the journalist sagely record what may safely be called evidence of his ballistic ignorance on his own film. Most of it is funny, some of it outrageously so, like the dead men who fall from biers in staged funerals and climb back on again. But what is truly frightening about Pallywood was articulated by the blog Solomonia: "this is very exciting - not just because of the way it exposes this particular scandal, but the way it will cause people to re-examine everything they see in television media. It's very important stuff."
Some may argue that 'the Israelis and the US military are also cooking up stories', but that is beside the point: because the point is that nothing on packaged television can be inherently trusted, and Pallywood demonstrates that. If the 60 Minutes host can dish out fantasy -- as he unambiguously does in this case -- then who else can you trust? The answer in my view, is no one. An earlier post noted the existence of enemy "combined media-arms" teams. Col HR McMaster described their role in the enemy order of battle at Tal-afar in this way: "In each of their cells that they have within the city has a direct action cell of about 100 or so fighters. They have a kidnapping and murder cell; they have a propaganda cell, a mortar cell, a sniper cell -- a very high degree of organization here." Pallywood shows one of those "propaganda cells" at work in front of an Israeli checkpoint, and their product on 60 Minutes. How many products of propaganda cells may you have viewed lately?
Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that 'the Israelis and the US military are also cooking up stories' and feeding this fiction to the public via the press. Rather than being a counter-argument this tu quoque is simply an acknowledgement of worse: that the entire information-gathering arm of the press, which is what civilians have for an intelligence service, is potentially debased. Whatever one's politics or point of view this is clearly an unacceptable state of affairs. The Internet has proved essential in providing the public with a means of cross-checking the MSM's output. Because liars can rarely get their story straight, as policemen who interview suspects separately know, many obvious untruths are instantly uncovered. But this is not enough. It would be desirable if the public could 'drill down' into a story until it possessed the primary data. To a some extent, people can do this already through VOIP telephony, email, posting boards, satellite imagery, etc.
Watch Pallywood. You will laugh, but you may also cry.