Fake WMDs all over again? How Dutch newspapers supported western propaganda on an alleged chemical attack in Syria

Tabe Bergman*, Eric Van De Beek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

History shows that wherever there is war, there is propaganda. In part for that reason it is often difficult to discover the truth about events that take place during war. For instance, many initially believed the western assertions that a chemical attack took place in the Syrian city of Douma in April 2018 and that the Syrian government was responsible. Yet it has become increasingly clear that it is more likely than not that the alleged attack did not occur and was instrumentalized for western political purposes. By way of a content analysis and a Critical Discourse Analysis this article investigates how the two most reputable Dutch newspapers reported and commented on the alleged attack in 2018. In particular, it explores the extent of the newspapers’ reliance on western sources and to whom the newspapers assigned responsibility for the alleged attack. The results show that the newspapers heavily depended on western sources and promoted western propaganda by uncritically providing it much prominence. Despite a lack of evidence and before any investigation had taken place, the newspapers often held the Syrian government responsible for the alleged attack.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-215
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Contemporary Iraq and the Arab World
Volume16
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • de Volkskrant
  • Douma
  • journalism
  • Netherlands
  • newspapers
  • NRC Handelsblad
  • war

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