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June 20, 2011

Hezbollah Cabinet Not Big News in Washington Post

Hezbollah’s rise to domination over Lebanon’s new cabinet was reported by The New York Times, Tribune Corporation newspapers including The Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Baltimore Sun, by USA Today and The Washington Times with full-length articles in their respective June 14 editions. USA Today’s coverage, by Associated Press, (“Hezbollah, allies gain majority in Lebanon's new Cabinet”) summarized the story’s importance this way:

“Hezbollah and its allies rose to a position of unprecedented dominance in Lebanon’s government Monday, giving its patrons Syria and Iran greater sway in the Middle East.”

The Washington Post, by contrast, reported the Lebanon development with a four-paragraph news brief in the paper’s “World” pages “Digest” (“Hezbollah influence strong in new cabinet”, June 14). This coverage, in combination with a detailed report on intra-Palestinian squabbling, exemplifies a chronic shortcoming in The Post’s Middle East reporting — over-emphasis of Palestinian concerns.

The Post did have a correspondent, Liz Sly, in Lebanon during this time. On June 7 and June 15, the paper published her dispatches on Syria’s political turmoil, “Syria says protesters killed 120 soldiers” and “Syrian military expends crackdown against protesters,” respectively.

Meanwhile, on June 13, The Post ran a detailed article headlined “Hamas officials balk at Fatah pick” by its acting Jerusalem bureau chief, Joel Greenberg. This prominently-placed piece spotlighted the opposition of Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, to Fatah’s candidate for prime minister in a unity government, Salam Fayyad. Fayyad currently heads the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority on the West Bank. Newsworthy, but more so than Hezbollah’s latest triumph in Lebanon?

The Baltimore Sun ( “Lebanon’s new cabinet shows Syrian influence”, and The New York Times, (“In Lebanon, new cabinet is influenced by Hezbollah”), for example, thought not. As USA Today put it:

“Opponents of Hezbollah, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization, say having it in control of Lebanon’s government could lead to international isolation. The group’s most ardent supporters are Iran and Syria, which dominated Lebanon for 29 years.”

Bigger news than Hamas and Fatah still not really getting along. -- by Sophie Linshitz, CAMERA Washington research intern.

Posted by ER at June 20, 2011 02:56 PM

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