Is the Daily Press Still Worthy of our time?
By Pierre A. Maroun

September 25, 2006

When the 1975 Lebanese war started most, if not all, foreign correspondents and international news agencies were located in the business and tourism districts of Beirut. These districts fell under the control of the leftist and Palestinian militias. These mostly Syrian backed outlaws harassed, intimidated, and slaughtered local and foreign journalists who did report against them. The main objective was to distort the truth in order to rally Arab and Western support to their “cause,” and to discredit the loyal Lebanese resistance which was battling terrorism. Their integrity in reporting was hampered by the climate of lawlessness and lack of freedoms imposed by the rebellious armed militias. It was not uncommon to see commentaries made by members of the Western media resonating those made by the communist, socialist, pro Palestinian and pro Syrian media. This came at a time when East battled West during the so-called Cold War. Consequently, a host of misleading terms and coerced “studies” were filed in the archives of media outlets. Surprisingly, these false “studies” and twisted terms are being used today by many indolent media personnel when dealing with the Lebanese issue.

For example, on September 24, 2006, in its article titled Thousands of Christians rally in Lebanon, which was meant to cover the memorial mass of the Lebanese Forces martyrs in Lebanon, the Associated Press (AP) labeled the thousands of participants as “right-wing Christians” who “turned out at a tumultuous rally” which was led by a “notorious anti-Syrian former warlord.” By referring to the participants as “right wing Christians” the AP has portrayed the attendees as radicals and sectarians when in reality they represented a diversity of Lebanese citizens who belonged to various political and religious groups. Moreover, stating that these groups turned out at a “tumultuous rally” suggests to the reader that chaos and violence occurred during this peaceful and civilized rally, which ended without a single incident. Furthermore, referring to Dr. Samir Geagea, the head of the Executive Committee of the Lebanese Forces Party, as a “warlord” that led a “Christian militia” is disrespectful and misleading for it places the head of a democratically elected parliamentary bloc among warlords that may be found in stateless societies similar to Somalia, Uganda, and the Amazon rain forests.

In addition, the AP article mentions that Dr. Samir Geagea was “released from prison,” without mentioning that he was a prisoner of conscience. In reality he was exonerated and freed from illegal imprisonment after Lebanon was liberated from the Syrian occupation in April 2005 due to the peaceful revolt of the Cedar Revolution. This revolution was triggered by the barbaric assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. It was backed by pressure exerted on Syria by the United Nations which called upon President Bashar Assad to implement the UNSCR 1559, which clearly demands the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. This false portrayal of Dr. Geagea is misleading because it equates him with any released criminal while, in reality, he was a liberated political prisoner.

Besides, Dr. Geagea is a member of the Lebanese Cedar Revolution
gathering. Thus, to refer to him as a “warlord” who is a member of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority” shrouds this national movement with a negative and offensive classification.

Furthermore, the mentioned gathering is neither “pro” nor “anti” Syria or any other state or entity; they are simply parliamentary representatives of the Lebanese people. The same applies for PM Fouad Saniora’s cabinet which is neither pro-western nor anti-Arab states, but simply a Lebanese one.

The most preposterous part of the AP article was not the fallacies it mentioned but the essential facts which it ignored. While it constantly labeled Dr Geagea as a “warlord” and repeatedly stated the crimes of which he was accused, it failed to mention once that the old foes of the Lebanese Forces (Muslims, Druze, and Leftists) were present at the commemoration of its martyrs. It ignored the fact that those enemies of the 1970s war are now allies fighting for a free, independent, and sovereign Lebanon. Most importantly, the AP failed to acknowledge the astounding statement by the Christian Maronite Church that “time has proved that the cause of the LF is true and just,” thusgiving its blessing to the gathering and its leadership’s stance on national issues.

As an avid reader of the AP, it is disappointing to learn that it is one of the indolent media outlets which are still using deceptive terms and outdated labeling from the Cold War era. The content of the above mentioned article is neither informative nor useful. It is simply a useless and despicable reminder of a past epoch with an outdated language. We urge the AP and other media outlets to use their newspapers’ spaces for credible and newsworthy articles instead of wasting the time and effort of intellectual readers and involuntarily promoting the propaganda of those who are stifling the causes of freedom.

Pierre A. Maroun
Secretary General
American Lebanese Coordination Council

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