Inhumanity in Gaza is happening right before our eyes -- and the whole world is watching.
Watching but maybe not really seeing -- and certainly not fully grasping. Those unhappy news truths became clear as we chronicled the week's events from our frequent perch here at the intersection of the media, policy and politics.
And chiefly among those who were not really seeing nor fully grasping were those who were running the media end of the news.
Pictures: In our living rooms, we saw horrors of war that happened just moments ago, half a world away. Heart-wrenching tragedies of children, wounded or worse, being carried to hospitals or morgues, and their parents wailing in helpless grief that hit us all where we live. Those instant pictures of war's horrors will be forever in our mind's eye.
Words: In our living rooms, we also heard words describing why those horrors were happening. We heard Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on every channel explaining Hamas has fired barrages of rockets from Palestinian Gaza into Israel's cities. And that Hamas deliberately placed its rocket launchers, arsenals and entrances to terrorism tunnels into Israel among Palestinian civilians so Israeli retaliation strikes would cause horrible civilian casualties. And we saw how Hamas made sure TV cameras could show the world Palestinian civilian tragedies Israel caused.
Gaps: Virtually unmentioned in these reports was that Hamas, which the U.S. government classified as a terrorist organization, has had two backers and enablers: Qatar and Turkey, both considered U.S. allies. Their aid became vital after Hamas lost its biggest aid backers, Iran and Syria, after Hamas backed the rebels in Syria's uncivil war.
No network anchor or interviewer seemed to have thought through the full importance and implication of the venality of what Hamas was doing to willfully endanger its own civilian population for a victory in a political PR war.
But one U.S. luminary was questioned about it. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, whose Democratic San Francisco district has a large Palestinian population, who also has staunch support among American Jews, and who apparently is close to prominent potentates in Qatar. Questioned by CNN's Candy Crowley, Pelosi struggled to support everyone at once, say nothing newsworthy, and finally seemed in danger of drowning in her own stream of consciousness sentence fragments.
Then, finally and bizarrely: "And we have to confer with the Qataris, who have told me over and over again that Hamas is a humanitarian organization."
Here CNN's anchor threw her guest a life preserver. She interjected that of course the U.S. government labels Hamas a terrorist organization and helpfully asked if Pelosi agrees. To which Pelosi elaborated, in a carefully non-quotable response presented here its entirety: "Mmm hmmm."
This was the week when the first and only woman to hold America's high office of House Speaker helped us appreciate the sentiments of baseball's Hall of Fame manager Casey Stengel, who upon observing his brand new but hapless 1962 New York Mets, asked: "Can't anybody here play this game?"
ABOUT THE WRITER
Martin Schram, an op-ed columnist for McClatchy-Tribune, is a veteran Washington journalist, author and TV documentary executive. Readers may send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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