By Jirair Tutunjian, Toronto, 7 October 2020
It has been eleven days of death, destruction, and bedlam on the Armenian/Azeri line of contact battlefields …and anti-Armenian bias and incompetence in the western media. (The Turkbeijan invaders have typically indulged in lies and fantasy while Armenian government sources have been relatively accurate in their accounts of the war.)
The formulaic western news reports and analysis come with two poison pills: they all mention that Artsakh is an internationally-recognized part of Azerbaijan. This backgrounder immediately puts the Armenians in the wrong. To make matters worse, western journalists helpfully point out that Russia supports Armenia. By then, most viewers and readers have decided Armenians are the bad guys.
There’s no mention of the thousands of years of Armenian ownership of Artsakh, Stalin’s slicing of two regions of Armenia (Artsakh and Nakhichevan) in 1920 and giving them to Azerbaijan so as to court Turkey, the older brother of Azerbaijan. The western media fails to say that when Artsakh was given on a silver platter to Azerbaijan, 90 percent of the region’s population was Armenian. The western media—which never misses an opportunity to tear apart Stalin—honors the Bolshevik dictator’s unjust decision and legitimizes his illegal act.
Journalists of the west– except for French–never talk about the treatment of Artsakh Armenians under Azeri rule. They don’t mention the anti-Armenian racism during 70 years of Azeri rule in Artsakh. No talk about Azerbaijan’s attempt at demographic changes in Artsakh to the disadvantage of Armenians. No talk that during the 70 years of Azeri rule the Armenian percentage of Artsakh’s population declined from 90 percent to 76 percent due to the Azeri policy of settling Azeris in the Armenian region.
Time and again reports of Armenian victories come packaged with “claimed”, “alleged” and “so-called.”
No mention is made that foreign journalists covering the war from the Armenian side are free to report while Azerbaijan has imposed controls on the reporting of foreign journalists. As well, no mention is made of the fact that Azerbaijan has blocked internet and other electronic access to the Azeris.
The Armenians are described as “separatists” and “rebels”. No mention is made that Armenians are the anti-separatists: they are trying to reverse the separation of Artsakh from Armenia.
Another negative phrase many western correspondents like to deploy is to describe Artsakh as a “self-proclaimed” republic. They ignore that most states are born by self-proclamation. When George Washington and his friends established the United States no one—except perhaps Britain—described the country as “self-proclaimed” republic.
The ridiculous lies of Aliyev spokesman Hikmet Hajiyev go unchallenged again and again. False reports of Azeri victories and taking over of Armenian village also go unchallenged.
A CNN report by Rory Sullivan and Jennifer Hauser had seven journalists who provided background material and further reporting. Of the seven, one was Arza Geybulle (Azeri journalist in Baku), Gul Tuysuz (Turk from Istanbul), and Hira Humayun (Pakistani).
When two French reporters were injured during the Azeri bombardment of Stepanakert, Hajiyev said that if foreign journalists are harmed it’s their fault because the “journalists had not asked permission from Azerbaijan government” to report from Azerbaijan’s Stepanakert! The outrageous observation and attempt to impede western journalism by a senior Azeri officer went uncommented by the western media.
Although it has been clear from day one that it was Azerbaijan—aided by Turkey and mercenary terrorist—who started the war, western journalists keep repeating that both sides blame the other. If the journalist can’t determine this essential fact, what is he or she doing “reporting” on the war.
Although the fact was no secret, for days, western media outlets refused to confirm that thousands of Syrian terrorist mercenaries were fighting on the side of Azerbaijan. Calling it alleged for more than a week it grudgingly admitted the truth after nine days.
In addition to the anti-Armenian bias there’s the sheer incompetence and ignorance on the part of the western journalists. On Oct. 6 (5:30 p.m. EST), the BBC commentator stated Armenia occupies Artsakh. Then there was the CBS anchor (again on Oct. 6, 6:30 p.m. news) who said the recent war started when Armenia occupied “Nagorno-Karpagh a week ago.”
Walter Cronkite must be hopping in his grave.
There has been no word in the western media that Armenia is a democracy while Azerbaijan is a dictatorship where Aliyev and his corrupt family run the state and that they have stashed billions of stolen petrodollars in foreign banks, and own numerous villas from the Emirates to Switzerland, Britain, and the U.S. There has been no mention that the airline which is carrying Israeli weapons to Azerbaijan is owned by one of the daughters of Aliyev. Also there is no mention of the absence of a free press and the right for assembly in Azerbaijan. No mention of Azeri disappearance, arbitrary arrests, the treatment of political prisoners and the imprisonment of Azeris who oppose the inherited Azeri dictatorship, the beating of prisoners who “commit suicide.”
Why the bias? Why the anti-Armenian attitude of most western journalists?
- Being ignorant of the war’s background, they take the easy way out and become pro-Azeri because “Artsakh belongs to Azerbaijan, according to the UN.” Besides, Armenia is on the side of the Ruskies.
- The journalists must know that Europe buys Azeri oil. Any disruption of the supply—because of war—can hurt western economies.
- Journalism is a business. These days publications are owned by giant corporations with their fingers in many pies and links to governments. Plainly or through “osmosis” reporters learn of the bias of their publishers or owners…and play their tune accordingly.
- The arch-villain Turkey of this tragedy is a NATO ally. Armenians are friends of the Big Bad Wolf Russia and criminal Putin.
- Pack journalism. At the beginning of international crisis foreign correspondents seem to agree which side to root on. Once that is established, they abide by the diktat. When they get together at night over a bottle of Johnny Walker they have to agree who is the bad/good guy. Or else the half-drunk journalists would start an argument which could deteriorate into a fight.
There’s another reason the war reports are amateurish. For more than a decade (after social media became all dominant) newspapers, TV, and radio have witnessed a sharp decline in followers and in revenues. The foreign correspondents of yore have disappeared and their bureaus shut. These days some media outlets have one reporter covering all of Africa or all of Europe. The vanishing of the full-time foreign correspondents has given rise to the freelancers, journalists who become instant experts across a wide array of conflicts, issues, hot topics, and countries.
Thus, “If it’s Tuesday, it must be ummm….Nagrino Kar Pie.”