Dancing with the savage throng 2

Why do journalists believe they are or ought to be exempt from the violence they report?

Last Saturday (February 5, 2011), the reporter Greg Palkot and cameraman Olaf Wiig appeared on Fox News , for which they work, describing how they were attacked by the revolutionary mob in Cairo as they were doing their job. They were obviously badly beaten. Their wounds looked painful. They claimed plausibly that they had feared for their lives.

They deserve sympathy, and they did not suggest that they should have special treatment as newsmen.

But the media in general have taken the wrong side of the conflict between Western civilization and Arab barbarism for at least the last 44 years since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. If sometimes the nature of barbarism is brought home to newsmen in the field with a body-blow, they have no moral standing to justify complaint. There are exceptions, no doubt, and Polkot and Wiig may well be among them. But none should imagine that they have a right to some special immunity that all the world should respect. Barbarians, they should understand, are by nature and definition no respecters of persons.

If journalists from strong societies insert themselves into places where weaker order prevails, they should not expect to be safe. Non-combatant though they are, objective though they may claim to be, their presence has an effect on the events they describe. They’re part of what happens whether they like it or not. They dance with the throng.

If they want to be treated in a civilized fashion, they should promote civilized values. Being anti-American, as so many Western newsmen are, does not wrap them in a sort of moral armor. It approves and encourages belligerence, sometimes extremely savage, of which anyone can be the victim.

  • C. Gee

    There is something inhuman in deliberately seeking out crisis – natural and man-made – to insert yourself into, but with no intention of ameliorating the distress you find. Film the beating up of one man by another, but do not stop it. Film the terrorists who are promising to blow up civilians, but do not alert the police to their whereabouts. Be taken hostage, but upon release refrain from calling the kidnappers effing shits. And neutrality is raised to an ethical principle. The duty of neutrality of the press has popularized the idiocy that the ethical place to be is on the middle ground between wrong and the right.

  • George

    When journalists put themselves in harm’s way and enter areas of war and/or violence , then they have to accept the risk and consequences of their actions. Some of these journalists have the mindset that just because they are journalists , the bad guys are going to automatically respect them and use them (journalists) as the messengers of their agenda to the world.
    What many journalists don’t understand is that they are NOT dealing with rational people who are following some Geneva Convention rules which also wouldn’t apply to these barbaric terrorists who are actually mostly non-military citizens of these theocratic societies. When you swim in the open ocean , don’t be surprised if you should ever find your leg in the mouth of a hungry shark. These journalists knew the risks when they made their decision and yet there are others who actually believe they are afforded a global protection status by everyone. They are delusional. I have seen some journalists appease the enemy putting our troops and nation at risk.
    Gee, why does the name Jane Fonda come to my mind ? Hmmmm , I wonder.