Murdoch puts a hit on Bashar of Syria
By Ahmed Amr
Last month Pat Robertson drew public scorn for his suggestion that the US government assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. On Monday, Bill O'Reilly, one of Rupert Murdoch's errand boys at FOX put a hit on President Bashar El Assad of Syria. He repeatedly called for killing Assad during an interview with General Wesley Clark - a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004.
After the call to assassinate Chavez, all hell broke out and the White House issued an apology - calling the remarks inappropriate. FOX anchors and pundits - who rarely fail to follow the guidance of the Bush administration - joined other networks in mocking Robertson as a crank for his remarks about Chavez.
The White House and the Pentagon have taken to blaming the Syrians for their troubles in Iraq. A lot of this is just standard propaganda for domestic consumption. Every body knows that over 90% of the insurgents in Iraq are Iraqi citizens. The reason they know is that that the Pentagon checks the identity of insurgent casualties and the thousands of prisoners incarcerated at Abu Ghraib and other internment camps. One day the Bush boys and the FOX pundits claim that Iran is fueling the insurgency - the next day they point fingers at Damascus. Chalk it up to wild mood swings.
Now, it could be that Bashar Assad has nothing to worry about. O'Reilly is just a circus barker - a loud obnoxious Irish drunk with a passion for Luffas who just settled a sexual harassment suit and wants to pump up his 'patriotic' credentials and ratings. People watch him precisely because he is an outrageous - if pithy - entertainer.
On the other hand, Rupert Murdoch has a very intimate relationship with the neocon establishment and some very special privileges with the White House, Pentagon and State Department. Murdoch has allowed his network to become the official spin zone for the administration. In return, his boys get access, exclusive interviews and other considerations - which amount to a nice economic subsidy for FOX.
So, Bashar has to ask himself if O'Reilly was acting as a rogue agent and doing a little self-promotion or if the neocon cabal was floating a trial balloon to whip up a war against Syria. Is Murdoch on a White House errand or is O'Reilly just being a self-serving clown?
No other major network beat the war drums quite as loudly as FOX - although CNN made a serious attempt to challenge their rivals with an orchestra of 'pundits' who are marginally less obnoxious then the FOX crowd. Both networks - with long standing pro-Israeli biases - spared no effort to propagate the WMD canards and Iraq's alleged ties to Al Qaeda.
At CNN, Wolf Blitzer - a nine year veteran of the Jerusalem Post - converted his show into a 'War Room' that was fully booked by neocon war agitators. Now that the war hasn't turned out to be a cake walk, CNN has remodeled Blitzer's show. It's now called the 'Situation Room'. Blitzer might have as well renamed it as the 'Clean up the Mess on Potamia Room'. Both CNN's war mongers and Rupert Murdoch's jingoists believed the war would be great entertainment and good for revenues. They were right. The war was a cost-free reality show and it did push up ratings. As the United States unleashed its 'shock and awe' campaign - Aaron 'arson' Brown rhapsodized about what a 'perfect moment' it was for embedded journalists. It didn't even occur to him that there might be human beings - including thousands of innocent civilians - on the receiving end of our 'smart bombs.'
One can only hope that O'Reilly's threat to kill Bashar is just his way of measuring up to Pat Robertson. Even if Murdoch was in on the action - it might all be just part of a campaign to deflect attention from the disaster in Iraq and the increasing public pressure to end the fiasco. I did find it interesting that Wesley Clark - who champions an open dialogue with Syria and Iran - did not object to O'Reilly's repeated threats to kill Bashar. Still, it's probably safe to write off the whole matter to the fact that Murdoch is a militant neocon and O'Reilly is an obscene right wing kook.
Ahmed Amr is the editor of NileMedia.com This article may be published and distributed at will.
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