Ibrahim-1 - Journal of Arab and Muslim Media Research...

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JAMMR 1 (3) pp. 279–296 © Intellect Ltd 2008 279 Journal of Arab and Muslim Media Research Volume 1 Number 3 © 2008 Intellect Ltd Article. English language. doi: 10.1386/jammr.1.3.279/1 Keywords Islam Arabs media portrayal September 11, 2001 attacks framing of Arab countries American news networks Middle East Framing of Arab countries on American news networks following the September 11 attacks Dina Ibrahim San Francisco State University Abstract Through close reading and an ideological critique of network news reports this study investigates network television coverage of Arab countries during the two weeks following the September 11, 2001 attacks. The framing of countries as either enemies or friends of the United States of America was a recurring aspect of national network coverage immediately following 9/11. The analysis reveals distinct differences between portrayals of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq on network news after the attacks. The networks marginalized public opinion in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, while emphasizing American military and dip- lomatic relations with these countries. Iraq, however, was discussed primarily in the context of a future invasion. Introduction The September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center gave news organizations a monumental story to cover. While newspaper circulation and news magazine sales soared, an overwhelming majority of the American public turned to their television sets for information and expla- nations relating to the attacks (Pew 2001). The immediate shock, horror, pain and human tragedy of the attacks were conveyed to the world in ‘real time’ by a vast array of television networks and cable channels. Television news is the primary source for coverage of contemporary ter- rorism, and the visual component of television news magnifies its horrific impact far beyond what pictures in newspapers and magazines can con- vey. Through a close reading and ideological critique of network news reports with particular attention to their use of sources, this study will examine how network news framed their stories according to America’s policies towards Arab countries. This is achieved by investigating the cov- erage of this crisis on ABC, NBC and CBS during the initial two-week period following the September 11 attacks. This article describes the ideological framing of several Arab countries by network news anchors and reporters during the time period from September 11 to September 25. The distinct ways in which countries were classified as either enemies or friends of America is a recurring aspect of network coverage directly following 9/11. Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia were portrayed as traditional allies, despite the fact that the ringleader of the plot, Mohammed Atta, was Egyptian and 15 of the 19 hijackers were
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280 Dina Ibrahim of Saudi origin. The networks took into account the diplomatic tension that would be intensified if they described Egypt and Saudi Arabia as ter- rorist states. Instead these facts were casually pointed out, but not as
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Ibrahim-1 - Journal of Arab and Muslim Media Research...

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