Authored by Samantha Flom and Jan Jekielek via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
Inaccurate media reporting has fueled the flames of division over the Israel-Hamas War amid confusion about an explosion at a Gaza City hospital.
After U.S. officials backed Israel’s assertion of innocence in the blast, major news outlets that relied on Hamas’s version of events—like the New York Times—have been forced to issue corrections, albeit quietly and begrudgingly.
Those waiting for a heartfelt apology may be disappointed, as according to investigative journalist and author Lee Smith, the media has for years been complicit in a propaganda machine designed to “disorient and demoralize” the American public.
“For most people, actually, on the right, their first exposure to real disinformation, real information operations has been watching what’s going on in the Middle East since the beginning of the 21st Century,” Mr. Smith said on EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders” on Oct. 20.
From the war in Iraq to the 2006 Lebanon War and now the Israel-Hamas War, Mr. Smith noted that information warfare has been a key tactic utilized by militant regimes in the Middle East to break down support for their enemies.
However, he contended that it was the Obama administration that purposefully created a media echo chamber to sell its nuclear deal with Iran to a dubious American public. And that communications infrastructure, he charged, is now being used to spread disinformation about the Israel-Hamas War.
Echoes of the Past
Mr. Smith noted that when the Obama administration struck its controversial deal with Iran in 2015, most Americans were against it.
“We know that they took our diplomats hostage in 1979,” he said. “We know that they killed Americans in Iraq. We know that they killed Americans in Lebanon back in 1982, and they’re responsible for almost all of the American deaths in Iraq. … So, most Americans are looking at this, the Iran deal, saying, 'This looks nuts.’”
At the time, the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” was promoted by the administration as a means of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. But according to Mr. Smith, the true purpose of the deal was just the opposite.
“It was never designed to stop Iran from getting the bomb,” he contended. “It was designed to get Iran the bomb and legalize it in the eyes of the international community.”
To convince the public otherwise, Mr. Smith said the administration relied heavily on friendly journalists, think tanks, and so-called “experts” to regurgitate White House talking points.
“Barack Obama had behind him the strength of the media—again, that’s the communications infrastructure that was built back then. And it’s used to sell everything now, from Russiagate to the Jan. 6 insurrection.”
Revisiting the Iran Deal
Mr. Smith said the message that the echo chamber is now selling is that Israel should not be allowed to defend itself against what he called a “pathocratic” regime.
“We’re not talking about an oligarchy; we’re not talking about a democracy, a tyranny, a monarchy,” he said.
“We’re talking about rule of the pathologically evil, or rule of the pathological. And that’s what we’re seeing with Hamas and Hezbollah.”
Hamas’s use of human shields, he noted, “is abnormal—this is sick, this is pathological.” And while some have called for a ceasefire, that course, he said, would ultimately strip Israel of its right to defend itself from such a regime.
“I’m not saying that everyone knows the upshot of that argument,” he said. “But that’s where that argument goes—that Israel cannot protect its own.”
The Biden administration, for its part, has made an effort to demonstrate its support for Israel militarily, sending ammunition, aircraft, and aircraft carriers following the attack.
President Joe Biden also joined with several world leaders on Oct. 23 to reiterate his support for Israel and the nation’s right to defend itself.
However, Mr. Smith noted that the administration has downplayed the possibility of Iran’s involvement in the assault despite reports that Iranian security officials helped to plan it all.
“We have records of all sorts of meetings between high-ranking Iranian officials, and the leader of Hamas—Ismail Haniyeh—and the leader of Hezbollah—Hassan Nasrallah—training operatives specifically for this assault with hang gliders. It’s very sick,” he said.
“And the reason that the Biden administration is concealing this is because the Biden administration still wants to restore the nuclear deal with Iran,” he stated.
When former President Donald Trump took office, he withdrew from the nuclear deal, shutting out Iran and its proxies in favor of bolstering relations with existing Middle Eastern allies through the Abraham Accords.
The Biden administration, Mr. Smith contended, has undermined that agreement in hopes of “collapsing” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and bringing Iran back to the table.
And those goals, he said, beg the question of why.
“Why does American and European leadership want to legalize the nuclear weapons program of a pathocratic state? We know what they are. … Why are they normalizing regimes like Hamas's, Hezbollah's, and like the Islamic Republic of Iran when these are sick and insane polities?”
While the mainstream media echo chamber may still be active, for many, its effectiveness has waned.
From the COVID-19 pandemic to concerns about election integrity and the weaponization of the federal government, many Americans no longer trust the sources they once believed credible.
And for Mr. Smith, that deep distrust presents another concern that must be addressed.
“The people who have no faith in the information they’re getting and are willing to believe everything have been made extremely, extremely vulnerable,” he said.
“And it’s a very bad sign for our country, again, because it’s an indication that people feel that they have nothing to hold on [to]. They believe] everything about our country, everything about our reality is fake," he said. "But of course, that’s not true.”
To help those people discern truth from fiction, said Mr. Smith, society must get back to “looking at the true things and explaining the true things as they happen”—without the added spin.