More Lebanon Media Notes:

I've got to hand it to Howard Kurtz and CNN's Reliable Sources. This weekly program has by far provided the best insight into press coverage of the Israel-Party of God conflict that I've seen (e.g., see this post). On this week's program:

(1) Party of God threatens to kill reporters. Richard Engel of NBC news admits:

"They've not tried to stop us filming other events while we're in the field, but they have, on several occasions, threatened reporters here in Tyre, south Lebanon. From the location where we're standing right now, we've been able to see, today and on other days, outgoing Katyusha rockets. And on more than one occasion people from Hezbollah have come and said, "Do not film the locations of these rockets when they're being launched."

At one time, when we were talking and having a conversation with this Hezbollah representative, he said, "Look, we're serious, we will kill you if you film these outgoing rockets." So it is a threat, but when we've been out in the field, we've not had situations where they told us to stop filming.

Combine that with previous coverage (see link below) that the Party of God has been taking the media on controlled tours of damaged areas, and also that "The Party of God has a copy of every journalist's passport, and they've already hassled a number of us and threatened one," and a picture of an intimidated, at-least-somewhat controlled media in Hezbollahland begins to emerge.

(2) The only "compelling stories" in Lebanon involve besieged civilians. Engel again: "There are very few people left in the villages now. The only people, when we went recently, and found were just young military-age men, most likely Hezbollah or Amal Party fighters. So it is difficult to continue to find compelling stories, but every day the conflict is changing." Terrorists, apparently, are boring, or, at least, are not willing to appear on camera.

(3) Prominent reporter susceptible to loony conspiracy theory. The Washington Post's Tom Ricks, author a bestseller on the Iraq war, shows a susceptibility to incredibly loony hypotheses when he claims that "according to some military analysts, ... Israel purposely has left pockets of Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, because as long as they're being rocketed, they can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in their operations in Lebanon." Governments do sometimes do crazy things, but this would be so against the Israeli ethos, and so hard to hide in a country with hundreds of thousands of reservists, most of whom are armchair (or real!) generals, that Ricks's repeating of this rumor tells us a lot more about Ricks than about what's going on in Israel. (For more on this story, see here).

(4) Repressed anger at the Party of God. Brett Sadler of CNN:

it's fair to say that many Lebanese have been exercising a form of political correctness here. In the interests of national unity they're trying to speak with one voice. That's why you're hearing the government rejecting, basically, the resolution, the draft resolution to end the conflict in a phase one resolution. But really now, people are beginning to talk out about the way the Hezbollah rocket fire and the eruptions of this conflict is destroying this country. I think we're going see far more people, if you like, coming out of the woodwork condemning those that don't agree with the Shia hard-liners, like those who don't support Hezbollah.

UPDATE: Party of God using hospital to fire rockets: Sonia Verma reporting in the National Post:

When Dr. Fouad Fatah emerged bleary-eyed from the ruins of his hospital during a pause in Israeli air strikes last week, it felt like the first time in forever. He counted himself as the last living soul in the five-room clinic, the only hospital serving this devastated swath of Lebanon's south. His surviving patients had already been evacuated. The surgeon led a group of journalists over what remained: mangled debris, shredded walls and a roof punched through by an Israeli shell. "Look what they did to this place," Dr. Fatah said, shaking his head. "Why in the world would the Israelis target a hospital?" The probable answer was found a few hours later in a field nearby. Hidden in the tall grass were the burned remnants of a rocket-launcher. Confronted with the evidence, Dr. Fatah admitted his hospital could have been used as a site from which to fire rockets into Israel. "What choice to we have? We need to fight back from somewhere," he said, tapping his foot on the ground. "This is Hezbollah's heartland." .... During a pitched battle in his village of Bint Jbeil last Thursday, the 48-year-old dentist watched from his kitchen window as Hezbollah fighters dragged a rocket launcher across the torn street in front of his house. A few minutes later, he heard four successive blasts. Kareem barely managed to cover his four-year-old son's ears before the rockets were fired. His own ears are still ringing. "Five minutes after they fired the rockets, the Israelis started bombing," he recalled from the safety of a shelter in Beirut."They are making us magnets for the Israelis," he said. .... Anger boiled over last week when a shelter in Qana was hit, killing 29 people, most of them children. "What have they done to deserve this? Is this a military target?" wept Mohamad Chaloub, clutching the lifeless body of his daughter. Local officials said there were no weapons or rockets in the house where the children slept in Qana, no warning before the bomb fell. But the next day, the same Lebanese Red Cross team that dug out the children's bodies stumbled across the shreds of more rocket launchers in a village nearby. One was found deep inside a fruit orchard. Another was found wedged between two houses.