Dear Western journalist,

Please cease using the argument that the reason you are writing crap about Syria is because “media is not allowed there.” The Arab League report lists 147 media outlets – Arab and foreign – working in Syria in January, 2012. I and a few others who were there at the time were not even on the list. Ahead of me in line at the border was the CBC crew, who was on that list. Perhaps the reason you have such a hard time getting in is because you need to wait – like CBC Suzy – for visas for 47 staff and support staff members, including people to hold your over-sized coffee cup as you interview an opposition gunman in that special breathless way you do it. Of course you need a translator for that too, because otherwise you wouldn’t have a fucking clue if you were in Idlib or Homs now, would you?

You are delighted to air shaky cell phone footage from a person you have never met at the top of the news hour, but balk when there are 50,000 cell phone witnesses at a pro-regime rally. “Media is not allowed in” you explain condescendingly. Tell us then, what explains your inability to ask the most elementary of questions when you do write your Syria stories every day, anyway, from outside? You know, questions that go something like this: “How do you know how many people died today? How do you know their names? Who verified this? Where did the explosion take place? How do you know who was responsible for the explosion? Why do you support Bashar al Assad? Why do you not support the militarization of the conflict? Why do you not support the internationalization of the conflict? Why do you not support sanctions against Syria? Who kidnapped your father? Who shot your uncle? Who killed your child? Who was the sniper?”

None of us have ever heard a major western journalist ask any of those questions. They are questions that 1) ask for evidence, 2) are addressed to a pro-regime Syrian and 3) are asked of domestic opposition figures. Oh yes – we need you to be in Syria to “verify” things for us precisely because you publish “unverified” stories every day and seek to inject “balance” into the Syrian story…in much the same way you do the Palestinian-Israeli story and the Israeli-vs-Iranian nukes one, and the Saudi Arabians-are-moderate-Arabs one – and that one really poignant story about how Muslims are “collateral damage” who become “terrorists” when they shoot back.

The idea that Joe Journo needs to be in Syria to tell the world (and Syrians) what is going on, is YOU on colonial crack.

Take your time,


10 thoughts on “Dear Western Journalist…Stay Home

  1. Sharmine, you are coming through loud and clear. I commented on a piece you wrote when you first entered Syria in January (I was up north while you were in Damascus) and have followed you ever since. Pity it has to come to rage. Hang on in there and do not ever stop what you are doing. You have a devoted and grateful following.

  2. Thank you for voicing my frustrations with CNN! Terrible station.

    I’ve seen this odd man with the prematurely white hair only three times but that was enough to see that he is a complete monster of deception.

    His interviews are models of self-important rudeness, devoid of real fact-seeking (as you say). He is one sorry bucket of non-stop fallacious leading questions which are impossible to answer from real experience. It is obvious that he cannot be interested in getting to the bottom of anything because his method leaves no opening for facts but only for the merciless flow of his one fabricated script of events – which he is paid to disseminate to the unthinking world.

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  4. Perhaps you don’t have continuous access to CBC reports? Susan Ormiston has been reporting from Syria for some months now. I don’t know how big a crew she took with her, but there have been no reports about them not being allowed in. Perhaps you also missed the death of Marie Colvin, the Sunday Times journalist, and Remi Ochlik, the photographer, killed in Homs near the end of February. Your concerns are valid but exaggeration to the point of masking the truth does you no service.

  5. The western media are, after all, merely following Mark Twain’s old adage: ‘the truth is a fragile thing – use it sparingly. ‘

  6. Dear MJ – I don’t think anyone ‘missed’ the death of Marie Colvin

    But perhaps you missed the story about the so-called journalist who was with her, Mr. Conroy, who is British Intelligence and known (and pictured online) to be comporting with the highest Al Qeada field operatives in Libya. This phony journalist is likely to be the field executive in charge of NATO’s murderous imported mercenaries from other Arab states (700 of whom were trapped by the military in Baba Amr). The reason things were so nasty in that neighborhood was that the army knew they had a large contingent of the phony Western-funded and armed non-Syrian ‘opposition’ there.

    If Colvin was a true journalist and not a spy, then perhaps she discovered this whole charade and was silenced by Conroy or his henchmen. You will never know for sure.

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