Given the current conflict in Syria, there are many in the alternative media whose main focus when reporting on the fighting is the actions of the rebels. This has earned such media outlets and writers the taunts and attacks of others who label them “regime apologists.” I have personally had such labels thrown at me when I’ve posted work in other places. Yet, such accusations are quite untrue and the reasons for such baseless accusations must be explored.
Generally speaking, the media has portrayed the Syrian conflict (as well as the Libyan conflict and many others) in stark, almost comic book-esque terms, where the side of the US and its allies are portrayed as the ‘good guys’ and whoever is the enemy at the moment as a ‘bad guy.’ This can lead to a situation where one immediately thinks in absolutist terms and assumes that anything that isn’t criticism of the ‘bad’ side is actually support for it. On a somewhat deeper level, this shows just how much power the mainstream media has in shaping the opinions of people, rather than the ‘objective’ journalism that is supposed to occur where simply the facts are presented and people are left to look more into the situation and make up their own minds.
While people and sites are accused of being ‘regime apologists,’ the fact of the matter is that what they are doing is actually quite logical and helpful. For example, during the war in Libya, the mainstream media was reporting stories such as that Gaddafi was giving his soldiers Viagra to engage in mass rape and more recently with regards to Syria, the mainstream media has been reporting that there is a “high probability” that Assad used chemical weapons against Syrian civilians. However, the Viagra story turned out to be false and there is no conclusive evidence that Assad or the rebels used chemical weapons.
In this context, it is important to realize that these so-called regime apologists are actually providing the reader with more information and aiding to show a more balanced view of current events. Articles focusing solely on the atrocities that rebels have committed is positive as the crimes that despotic regimes commit can be found rather easily as they are reported on exhaustively, whereas the war crimes of rebels are often ignored.
There are those that argue that sites such as Global Research, which published articles discussing Gaddafi’s social programs and questioning such incidents as the Houla massacre, support the dictatorial regimes of Gaddafi and Assad. Yet, this ignores the fact that such outlets are rightfully questioning these events as the mainstream media has been shown to get such stories quite wrong. In addition to this, outlets that question the general narrative are needed since many times they analyze the situation within a much larger framework, allowing for a more complete understanding of a conflict. Essentially, what such outlets do is ask questions that others won’t or can’t ask, even if they do seem extreme.
We must always questions, for that is the only we will get to the truth.