Monday, February 11, 2013


I would like to give another example of CBC's inappropriate use of a headline.
On January 5, 2012, there was the following headline;
       Iran wants to use nuclear weapon, Harper says
 Do you think CBC would ever publish a headline such as the following?
      Israel wants to use nuclear weapon, says spokesperson
No government on earth WANTS to use nuclear weapons, so one would rightly conclude that the media organization that published this headline was either incompetent, or intending to mislead. It is virtually impossible that this claim could be supported by any evidence at all. It might however be based on religious bigotry or ethnic bigotry or both. It resembles the classical blood libel, accusing a country and a people of lusting for innocent blood in the complete absence of any real world evidence of this pathology.
Certainly there are countries that want to possess nuclear weapons, and there are countries that do possess them, but it is hard to believe that there is any country that WANTS to use them. Those that have them and those trying to acquire them are all motivated by the deterrent effect of possessing a nuclear weapon. Wanting to use one would be a sign of total depravity, a kind of barbaric, inhuman lust for the blood of thousands of innocent people, including children. Claiming that a government wants to use a nuclear weapon is tantamount to accusing it of being monstrous.
Why would CBC publish a deranged headline like this? Yes, Prime Minister Harper did say something very much like this. Actually what he said was possibly worse. He is quoted in the article as saying that Iran has "indicated a desire to use nuclear weapons." Saying they "want" to use nuclear weapons is just an opinion, albeit the opinion of someone consumed by religious bigotry and ethnic bigotry. But saying that they have indicated a desire to use them is a statement of a fact. And this is a "fact" that, any careful observer of Iran can confirm, cannot be supported by any evidence. When Harper states this as a fact, he is lying. No representative of the Iranian Government has EVER stated, or even intimated, the desire to use a nuclear weapon. Besides the fact that the Iranian Government is not totally depraved, given its military weakness, using a nuclear weapon would bring about the immediate suicide of the entire country and what country could possibly WANT that?
CBC could easily have avoided echoing and amplifying Stephen Harper's beating of the war drums by using a more neutral headline, perhaps something like;
"Shocking opinions on Iran's nuclear intentions from PM Harper"
To be fair, the report does have the words of a saner foreign affairs expert, Fred Hampson of Carleton University. However probably in his desire to be polite, he only described Harper's claim as an "overstatement". This is much too weak a rebuttal to such a dangerous lie as this one. CBC, in keeping with its mandate to hold the government accountable to the truth, should have used stronger language and printed a much more in-depth criticism of Harper's words. CBC might have mentioned, for example, that using a nuclear weapon by Iran would be an act of national suicide.
Prime Minister Harper proudly includes himself in the group of leaders who wish to deprive Iran of her sovereignty. They are currently enacting sanctions designed to bring Iran to its knees, and if these do not work, they are prepared to start killing Iranians to achieve this end. While it is possible that Harper, because of his religious bigotry, has deceived himself about Iran WANTING to use a nuclear weapon, it is more likely that he is consciously lying to the Canadian public in order to justify a military attack on Iran by his friends in Israel and the USA. Harper and his friends are collaborating in a campaign of demonisation of Iran. The key and most nonsensical element of this campaign is the promulgation of the belief that as soon as Iran gets a nuclear weapon, they will commit national suicide and use it against a neighbour.
Noam Chomsky has described this narrative as "ludicrous". Indeed, this imagined scenario is so absurd, that it would be one of the easiest tasks in journalism to expose its absurdity. One has to wonder why CBC does not even attempt to do so.
The words of this headline are weaponized words. They are as directly designed to facilitate death and destruction as bombs and bullets, and CBC should be held accountable for using its media power to propagate them.


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