Connect with us
Barrett News Media Summit 2024

BNM Writers

SiriusXM’s Dean Obeidallah Has a Unique Perspective on the Hamas/Israel Conflict

“Who do you have more concern for? Humanity or terrorists?”

Published

on

A photo of SiriusXM host Dean Obiedallah
(Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

Three months since war broke out between Israel and Palestine, protests continue across the world with support for both sides. Thousands are dead, hostages still unaccounted for, and bombs and rockets fly out into the night. While some media outlets are choosing sides SiriusXM host and comedian Dean Obeidallah believes this is no laughing matter, providing one message for the media and protesters alike.

“Nobody’s driving anyone into the sea. No one’s eliminating anyone. The idea of saying either side doesn’t exist is outrageous, ridiculous and dehumanizing, and not helpful. You have to recognize the humanity in each side. And that’s how we get to a just peace solution that can last for decades and generations.”

He is one of many calling for peace but his message is for both sides, “Since the beginning of October 7th, and my pinned tweet or X is about don’t lose your humanity when it comes to this conflict. You know, an Israeli child killed or a Palestinian child killed by militant or military action is just as wrong and hurtful.”

Obeidallah also wants people to understand, “A Palestinian mother grieves, an Israeli mother grieves for the loss of the child. And don’t dismiss them. Don’t discount them as not existing or they shouldn’t be there,” adding, “There’s no context for me in terms of the October 7th terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel. It’s actually horrifically wrong. Period. That’s it. Then we can have a different discussion about Israel’s response and what they’ve done in Gaza under Netanyahu.”

One distinction Dean Obeidallah wants to make? Separating out religion from the policy of politicians and terrorists. “We must make a distinction between the policy, the Netanyahu administration, or any Israeli administration and the faith of Judaism. They’re not the same at all. And I think the same way, like if you criticize Saudi Arabia, which I criticize all the time, I don’t give you is being anti-Muslim.”

He later added, “I have countless friends who are Jewish. You know, to me, Judaism is not defined by the policies of Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, but defined by my Jewish friends who are about compassionate care, and fight for justice. Everything they’re about is fighting against bigotry, bigotry against the Muslim community, [bigotry] against the black community that defines Judaism to me.”

Dean Obeidallah also recognizes you can’t take religion completely out of this war.

“You know, it’s really a land war that has religious overtones — to really be blunt — because that’s what’s going on. It’s a struggle over who’s going to control this piece of land. People invoking God on both sides. I don’t think God wants to be involved in either side,” he added, “I think that you’ve got a struggle for power the same way I sense Al Qaeda did not represent Islam, but they use my faith to inspire people and recruit people because they understand religion is a great motivator. And it is it can be used for great things, beautiful things. It also could inspire the worst things in the world to me through history. We see that. So in the Middle East, it’s not truly a religious war, but you can’t take religion out of it.”

A second distinction Obeidallah wanted to make, “Arab and Muslim don’t mean the same thing.” He later added, “Arab is an ethnicity you can be any religion. And being Muslim is a religion. You can be any race or any background. You know, you can convert to Islam. You can’t convert to being Arab. It’s like asking someone to convert to being Italian. You can like all the pizza you want in the world, but it doesn’t make you Italian.” Obeidallah is half-Italian.

While the war rages on abroad many are bringing the war to America’s streets. Hate crimes against both Jews and Muslims are on the rise. Reacting to attacks on a national scale Dean Obeidallah quoted his father,  “My late Palestinian father would always say that we don’t bring the Middle East conflict here. And what he meant is, it’s not that we don’t talk about the Middle East conflict here and we’re not passionate about it. We can be, but we don’t bring the anger and the hate and the violence here, because for every incident, you can show me if some of these, you know, anti-Semitism, which is hateful and horrible, there’s others where people are demonizing, you know, Muslim-Americans or Palestinian-Americans.

“I think the extreme voices always get the more media coverage,” later adding, “If you’re going to spew and peddle hatred of Jews, you’re not helping the Palestine cause. I don’t want your support. You’re not helping.” He also took aim at the media’s coverage of the war, “We just want to be tribal and make this a sporting match. Like I see The New York Times, they ask questions. Who do you have more sympathy for, Palestinians or Israelis? That is the worst question in the world. These are human beings. They’re both human beings.”

Dean Obeidallah believes the questions should be asked are, “Who do you have more concern for? Humanity or terrorists? I would say humanity; people who want to live their lives. And then from there, we can embolden those who want to live in peace together and marginalize those as much as possible. Who are the militants and who want to fight and don’t recognize the other side’s right to exist?”

The comedian told Barrett News Media, “It’s really hard to have comedy that is going to bring people together when people are emotionally so raw.” However, he is trying to promote peace through comedy with his friend Max Brooks, son of Mel Brooks, “We did it about a month ago, about combating anti-Muslim anti-Semitism together. It’s really short. It’s silly, but we’re just trying to make the point there’s no place for it. And he uses humor.”

But unifying humor is hard during war and Dean Obeidallah believes, “When people start to calm down and go, okay, what can we do now in the bigger picture, trying to bring people together. And comedy’s a great vehicle for that,” adding “We’re laughing together, having a good time together. And that’s really what it’s about, sort of celebrating humanity through laughter.”

Subscribe To The BNM Rundown

The Top 8 News Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox every afternoon!

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

BNM Writers

Proof That Both CNN and Fox News Manipulate Their Audiences

Playing with numbers and technicalities is a function of what the media does today. Since the average person just reads the headline, viewers will likely move on if it confirms their own bias.

Published

on

When news organizations collide, journalism loses. Last week, CNN posted on X saying “US inflation cooled down in January, offering some relief for Americans who have suffered through the steepest price hikes in four decades.” The same day Fox News posted “BREAKING: Inflation rises faster than expected in January as high prices persist.”

While these are seemingly opposite statements, both can be true at the same time. More importantly, both of these outlets are manipulating their audience.

People like their own opinions and want those opinions verified by others. This is what social media has done to news: You read the post, see your opinion is valid, and then move on to the next clickbait (confirmation bias). More importantly, both of these tweets are true because one is based on an estimate, and one is based on actual numbers.

Looking at CNN, while their post on X seems positive, their business headline is a little less positive, “Inflation cooled last month, but some price hikes continue to cause pain.” The change from tweet to headline is striking. One says Americans are getting inflation relief, the other says inflation continuing to cause pain. In today’s world of “Read the headline and move on,” this is why people feel CNN lies. Its post is in conflict with the headline— even though both are true statements.

It’s not until you read the article that people can see how this is possible. The outlet notes overall inflation did cool when comparing January 2023 (6.4%) to January 2024 (3.1%). Four sentences into the article it says, “CPI rose by 0.3% in January.” It goes on to break down why inflation is still high and causing pain in the pockets of Americans. Although the X post is factually correct, people on the right side of the political spectrum feel CNN is untrue because they see the inflation problem in their bank account.

Meanwhile, the Fox News X post and Fox Business headline are identical, “Inflation rises faster than expected in January as high prices persist.” However, the keyword here is “expected.” Inflation did cool year-over-year. However, because Fox is comparing the January 2024 number to what experts expected the number to be, what they have posted is factually correct. This nuance is sometimes lost on readers.

The article does not mention inflation is down year-over-year. However, nine sentences into the article, the business outlet says, “Inflation has fallen considerably from a peak of 9.1%.” The nuance of “expected” combined with the lack of mentioning year-over-year inflation is down is why the left side of the political spectrum believes Fox lies.

Let’s be clear, neither CNN nor Fox News have lied (on this one specific topic). They both chose to present the same data differently. It also needs to be noted, CNN and Fox News are not the only outlets that do this. They all do. Playing with numbers and technicalities is a function of what the media does today. Since the average person just reads the headline, viewers will likely move on if it confirms their own bias. The problem is twofold.

  • Facts are no longer direct but skewed to fit a narrative.
  • Some viewers accept headlines and posts without diving deeper into the article.

We have been trained to share a headline without reading the article. We’ve known this since 2016 when Columbia University and the French National Institute found 59% of shared social media links were never read. We’ve gone from headlines selling newspapers, forcing people to read the articles, to headlines being shared on social media, but people won’t read the articles.

This is only a small part of why The Messenger failed: neutrality. The sentiment of unbiased news was well-intentioned. However, America has lacked unbiased news since 1987 when the Fairness Doctrine was abolished. Many on the left believe this has helped right-leaning outlets. This is false. Not only has it benefited both sides of the aisle, it can be argued the progressives have benefited more than the conservatives (but that is a different article for a different day).

When news outlets collide, the American public loses. Not because we lack news, but because we lack the ability to read the full scope of the issues in one place. Outlets are not forced to present all sides of the political argument or present the entirety of data sets. Additionally, news is not being fully read. Headlines are now king. Shares, clicks, and likes keep the lights on in newsrooms. Most importantly, facts are now nuanced. This forces debate instead of continuity and cohesion.

Subscribe To The BNM Rundown

The Top 8 News Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox every afternoon!

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

BNM Writers

Does Dealing With Criticism Ever Get Easier?

Engage in the content of the criticism and ignore the rest – or at least take the high road. If that gets difficult, end the conversation.

Published

on

A photo of the word Truth written on a typewriter

Thick skin. If you work in media, you gotta have it. If you don’t, you either won’t last or you won’t sleep – or both.

Even if you are neutral politically, super nice, and in it for all the right reasons, there always will be people who criticize you, and some will even make it personal.

Having “thick skin” is a cliché I’ve been thinking about and dealing with for years. I find it fascinating that, somehow, I am way more sensitive at home than I am at work – and by at work, I mean on the air for hours every day.

Even the angriest of listeners are engaging, and engagement is what I want. Sometimes, it can throw a show off-balance, but if handled properly, it should never fully derail you.

Over the years, I have modified my professional behavior, perspective, and attitude, yet my foundational approach has not changed. It began with my first full-time television job when a journalist/mentor of mine told me not to ever act interested in ratings. Rather, he said, focus on my performance and content — the rest would take care of itself.

In my first two anchor/host jobs, it worked wonderfully. I immersed myself in the job, and the ratings were strong. I thought it was a mandate to always take this approach, although in retrospect, I was probably more lucky than good. Regardless, following that mantra actually allowed me to learn my craft and not be overly aware that ratings mattered.

Ignorance was journalistic bliss.

Flash forward to 2024 and it all seems rather naïve, but I think the approach really works well with criticism, too, whether it be on social media, through phone calls or even with fellow hosts.

Just a quick note on nuance: Look at the sentence four paragraphs above – don’t act interested. Looking back at the guidance given by my mentor, his point also seemed to be that even if you are laser-focused on how a show is rating, don’t make it a major topic of conversation, and don’t let people think it defines you as a broadcaster and journalist.

All of it may seem like advice from Fantasyland, but in an indirect way, this approach also makes me less vulnerable to criticism. I simply don’t focus on it too much, and over time, it stopped bothering me even if I did focus on it. Make sense?

Of course, it’s not as if I like it when a listener rips me or the show, either directly or on social media; but I never engage emotionally, and if I do respond in any way, it’s usually content-focused.

That’s the key.

Engage in the content of the criticism and ignore the rest – or at least take the high road. If that gets difficult, end the conversation.

You have the conch. Never forget that.

Ultimately, you’ll feel better, especially knowing you did not take the bait and handled it professionally – no need to create any more tension than is already out in the media eether.

That brings me to the moment a host of a show on my station was sharply critical of an interview I had done, saying it was soft, and not holding the guest (a sitting U.S. Senator) accountable enough.

Specific questions were put forth that absolutely should have been asked, according to the host, and honestly, it was used as a chest puffer for that person to show why certain guests were scared to come on that later show.

And … I thought it was great.

Great?

Well, maybe not great, but I actually had no problem with it. First and foremost, they were talking about it, which is good. When I can provide that kind of grist, it’s good radio. It wasn’t always easy to listen to — I was still in the office doing some booking — but for some reason, it did not bother me. This from a guy who gets a one-second side eye from my wife of 20 years, and I think our marriage is in trouble.

In the end, a few of the criticisms were helpful, believe it or not: One or two of the suggested questions put forth on the later show should have been asked.

It’s all part of the balance I seek to create a place where members of both political parties feel comfortable coming on our network. I always reserve the right to ask difficult questions, and I do ask them (apparently not enough for some), but I also try and be balanced and manage relationships.

It’s delicate, and sometimes, elicits criticism – sometimes deserved. Meanwhile, I just focus on the content, naïve as that may be.

Subscribe To The BNM Rundown

The Top 8 News Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox every afternoon!

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

BNM Writers

CBS Mornings Scores Big Post-Super Bowl Ratings Win

CBS Mornings became the most-watched program from 7-9 a.m. in total viewers for just the second time ever for a CBS morning news show.

Doug Pucci

Published

on

A photo of the CBS Mornings logo

The historic ratings milestones continue for CBS as a result of Super Bowl LVIII.

Less than nine hours following what turned out to be the most-watched telecast in U.S. TV history to date (120.25 million of the near-124 million watching Super Bowl LVIII did so on CBS), CBS Mornings became the most-watched program from 7-9 a.m. in total viewers for just the second time ever for a CBS morning news show.

For the Monday, Feb. 12 edition of CBS Mornings, which featured co-host Nate Burleson from Las Vegas, the site of Super Bowl LVIII, and a visit from Jon Stewart in New York to promote his Daily Show return (which generated great ratings milestones of its own later that night), it delivered 2.9 million total viewers including 654,000 within the key 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research. It marked its best total audience and demo figures since Feb. 4, 2022.

CBS Mornings topped ABC’s Good Morning America, the usual morning news viewer leader, by a mere 7,000 viewers; it also outdrew NBC’s Today (2.86 million) by 49,000 viewers.

CBS also bested ABC in A25-54 by +103,000; the sixth time CBS Mornings has led over Good Morning America this season based on the key demo.

This was not the first time a morning show benefited from a halo effect of what the network had aired the night prior. Mar. 8, 2021, was the first time CBS won in the morning. It was the day after Oprah Winfrey’s primetime interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry had aired which drew 17.1 million viewers for CBS. The Mar. 8, 2021 edition of CBS This Morning featured an exclusive interview with Winfrey and the premiere of never-before-seen clips from the Meghan and Prince Harry discussion, had delivered 4.793 million viewers with 1.026 million of them in the 25-54 demographic.

The program changed its title to CBS Mornings in September 2021.

For this 2023-24 season, CBS Mornings has the smallest deficit margin in viewers with ABC’s Good Morning America since the 2017-18 season and the tightest margin in A25-54 ever.

Subscribe To The BNM Rundown

The Top 8 News Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox every afternoon!

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Advertisement
Advertisement

Upcoming Events

BNM Writers

Copyright © 2024 Barrett Media.