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I spent hours reviewing the Mosaic broadcasts. I randomly reviewed certain daily broadcasts, as well as broadcasts when important international or regional events took place (the beginning of the U.S.-Iraq war, terrorist events in Israel and Saudi Arabia, the capture of Saddam Hussein, etc.). I also reviewed some of the special topical broadcasts.
First, let me set forth my own biases. I have advanced degrees in studies in the Middle East. I spend a couple of hours a day on the internet reading news and analyses out of the Middle East. My politics is pretty far to left on both Iraq and Israel. I have a romantic view of much of Islam and the various cultures of the Middle East.
With that said...
Mosaic is a very thoughtful, articulate, and well designed presentation of news from the Middle East. The graphics are very "slick". It is compiled for an American audience. Everything comes across as very reasonable. For example:
There is a general message sent by Mosaic and its broadcasts. I personally have no problem with the message, and it might be good for Americans to hear the message and the way that most people in the Middle East feel. For example:
However, the focus of almost all of the broadcasts is Iraq or Israel. The other problems and issues that Americans think of when they think about the Middle East (oppression of women, persecution of gays, persecution of Christian minorities, censorship, lack of democracy, poor standards of education, abusive treatment of foreign workers, etc.) are almost completely ignored.
What is most telling is what is NOT included and how the material is translated. It is obvious that the broadcasts are tailored for an American audience.
While Mosaic is supposed to also broadcast material from Israel, I did not see a single broadcast that included Israeli television stations. Arab broadcasts did include some Israeli TV clips.
Targeted military actions against known terrorists undertaken by Israel are described as if they were attacks on civilians only. The targeted person might be referred to as a leader of a group.
Other reports mention Palestinian militants and fighters, or just identify them as Hamas members, etc.
Only news reports from the countries are shown. Therefore, the sermons shown on state TV against Jews and Christians are not included; nothing appears about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or calling for Shahids, etc. This is white-bread television.
While there are references to American occupation forces, there are no vehement attacks on the U.S. government.
Because this includes only clips from television news, nothing appears from the print press.
Mosaic provides a very selective portion of Middle Eastern news broadcasts. These clips are chosen to make the news stations appear good and reasonable to U.S. audiences. Anything that could be offensive is not included. It is rather like the tours of sweatshops sometimes staged for western reporters by repressive Asian governments, the kind where the workers are given printed instructions on what to say to the foreigners before the news crew arrives. The footage shows workers playing volley ball or ping-pong after closing hours. Perhaps one interviewee expresses a hope to someday be able to afford a bicycle, while another condemns American warmongering, giving an illusion of free speech. Nothing shown is exactly false, but the documentary is propaganda, and presents a false picture.
This is a very slick production. It presents differences between Middle Eastern views and U.S. views, but in very subtle ways, and in ways that are comfortable for American viewers. If viewers believe that just as by watching a few hours of Fox news, you would have a sense of Fox network television, then by watching a few clips from Syrian news, they know what Syrian television is like, they are being deceived. I am familiar with the news that is broadcast in these countries, and the representation that Mosaic is enabling Americans to see the news that Arabs and Iranians are watching is obviously false. The omissions and mistranslations are much more telling.
While I found nothing in the broadcasts to be offensive, the false translations and omitted material make this pure propaganda. I believe in freedom of speech (I often want to yell "fire" in a crowded theatre), but this material is already available on the web for anyone interested.
On Tuesday January 27, Mosaic slipped into classic anti-Semitism. One segment of the half-hour show was a review of the year's events in Russia, which were sumarized as: failure to resolve the crisis in Chechnya, opposition to the American invasion of Iraq, and Putin's election victory, which, according to Mosaic, he owed to public approbation of the arrest of a "Jewish billionaire detained on charges of fraud and illegal profiteering." While this was an important news story, highlighting the fact that the individual involved is Jewish was both gratuitous and offensive.