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Sloppy Western Reporting and the War on Yemen

Western media coverage of the war on Yemen and U.S. support for it is very rare to begin with, so it is most unfortunate that some major outlets do such a horrible job when they do choose to cover it. Consider this garbage story [1] from FoxNews:

The Iranian-backed suicide attack targeting a Saudi frigate off the coast of Yemen on Monday may have been meant for an American warship, two defense officials told Fox News.

There is absolutely no evidence to support this assertion about an intention to target U.S. ships, and the “analysis” behind the story depends entirely on the Houthi use of their standard slogan in a video. It is slipshod analysis presented in poor, largely context-free reporting, and it does a huge disservice to the audience by misleading them about a conflict that most Americans know little about. The reaction from experts and journalists was deservedly harsh:

As ever, the extent of Iranian involvement in the war has been grossly exaggerated. Describing the attack on a Saudi ship as “Iranian-backed” is both inaccurate and inflammatory, and it ignores that the Houthis and their allies have their own reasons to target Saudi vessels engaged in attacking and starving their country. The danger in promoting such falsehoods is that it aids Saudi propaganda, encourages the administration to continue our shameful support for the war, and distorts the public’s already limited understanding of a conflict that the U.S. has been involved in for almost two years.

The problem here isn’t just that the claims made in the story are nonsense, but that they obscure the extensive enabling role that the U.S. had in wrecking Yemen while stoking fear about threats to U.S. ships for which there is no evidence. Further, the fact that the officials quoted in the story seem to have such a poor understanding of Yemen and the war there is especially alarming in light of our government’s ongoing involvement in supporting the Saudi-led campaign. If one wanted to stoke tensions between the U.S. and Iran on purpose on the flimsiest of pretexts, this is the sort of poor reporting of bad analysis one would publish.

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10 Comments To "Sloppy Western Reporting and the War on Yemen"

#1 Comment By Fran Macadam On January 31, 2017 @ 6:46 pm

More Fake News to support continuous warmaking. Perhaps they realize our situation is so dire that only an even bigger war offers hope of getting out of our economic and political predicament, the World War II solution. That would really be the mistake of always fighting the last war.

#2 Comment By the penny drops On January 31, 2017 @ 7:03 pm

Lying us into war again. Not too surprising coming from Neocon / Interventionism Central (aka Fox).

#3 Comment By Jake Lukas On January 31, 2017 @ 8:16 pm

I propose a new award for this sort of reporting: the Pulitzer and Hearst Prize for Service to Journalistic Sales. Remember the Maine!

#4 Comment By Me On January 31, 2017 @ 8:58 pm

Faux news has been voluntarily lying about anything that could be remote linked to Iran for years on behalf of the neocons and the Israeli Likud, nothing new: it is a Goebbelsian propaganda network.

#5 Comment By MEexpert On February 1, 2017 @ 2:37 am

I am not surprised by the “Fake News” reporting by FOX. FOX is the beehive of neocons and they are itching to get into war with Iran. With Hillary they would have gotten it too.

Tonight on his show “O’Reilly Factor,” in answering the question by one of his listeners as to why Saudi Arabia was not included in the list of countries, O’Reilly answered, with a straight face, because Saudi Arabia is fighting Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

#6 Comment By Chris Chuba On February 1, 2017 @ 8:10 am

I was enraged when I heard this on FOX and took the time to make a meaningless gesture to send them an email. The Houthis ALWAYS say, ‘Alluha Akbar death to America/Israel’ after every attack that they record. I even included a link to a video where they say this after a successful attack on a Saudi tank. [12]

It should be obvious that they weren’t targeting Americans in this case. Since our MSM is really regime media, it makes our govt even more reckless in telling lies because they know that they can get away with anything.

I’m convinced God will be handing out punishments in the afterlife over what we are doing.

#7 Comment By Anne Mendoza On February 1, 2017 @ 10:35 pm

I do like the idea of awarding a prize to The Stupidest And Most Dangerous Reporting on the Middle East. Perhaps you can lead the way, Mr. Larison. Count me a subscriber.

#8 Comment By Bill Rood On February 2, 2017 @ 10:38 am

Why blame Fox? They clearly attribute the nonsense to the Pentagon. It’s important we know that the Trump Administration is ramping up rhetoric against Iran to justify some sort of “kinetic” activity.

#9 Comment By william On February 2, 2017 @ 8:22 pm

I don’t know what else anyone could expect from Fox news. They have been broadcasting distorted accounts of news stories, which is to say that Fox has been broadcasting pure propaganda to gullible Americans since its inception.
Nothing new or surprising here.

#10 Comment By The Colonel On February 3, 2017 @ 11:22 pm

this sort of reporting by Fox may be familiar, but i don’t think that’s really the point. they’re indicating which way the wind is blowing, and in this case that seems to be towards a more overtly aggressive stance vis-a-vis Yemen. and that kinda makes sense (in a perverse way) given the fact that Syria appears to be off the table now.