27 May,


Azerbaijan’s policies and politics are becoming more important for the rest of the world - Jason Katz - EXCLUSIVE

Interviews

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American political analyst, the head of Tool Shed Group, the former director of Public Relations and Public Affairs for the American Jewish Committee, Jason Katz in an interview with Eurasia Diary commented on the responsibilities of  mass media in modern society. 
 
- How do you assess the responsibility of mass media in civil society?
 
- I am an American, so thoughts on the media and media’s role vis-à-vis government, vis-à-vis civil society are set out in our in our constitution. And I think that the media’s most important role is to impartially report on events in a factual and unbiased manner. 
 
In the US there is a definitive wall between the news part of a media organization, the editorial part of the news of the organization, as well as the business part. The business part takes care of the investments, advertising and all of that. The fact is that media outlets those who are supposed to simply educate the people are taking sides.
 
This is a serious problem in the United States currently and I deem it, I believe that it is a threat to our democracy. 
 
- Was it possible for Americans to get true information about the U.S.’ policy in Iraq?
 
- There are ongoing accusations that the Bush administration lied to the American people in order to get their backing to invade Iraq. I have no idea if that is true or not, very few people do. 
 
I would tend to believe that the White House and the State Department and Department of Defense did not get together and lie to the American people. That is a huge conspiracy to cover up. 
 
I think that the Government reported what they knew at the time, some of it turned out to be true, some of it turned out not to be true. But I do think that the  media reported in an responsible way. 
 
- Do you think that it was difficult for officials to hide true information through internet media and social networks? 
 
- In the US the media is known as the guarantee of democracy the media’s role is to make sure that elected and appointed officials don’t do anything wrong, and if they do,  report on it, to let the people know.
 
I am following closely Azerbaijani media that it does a good job of reporting in an impassioned manner. If you read an article it gives you the facts of the situation. 
 
In a lot of regards I think you are doing better than the US right now. 
 
And I hate to say that, because my country has always been the standard for what media in a democracy should be and we pretty much fallen in that respect. 
 
I think that new media is a double-edge sward: it can be used as it has been in the United States last year and a half, as a way to spread fake news; and new media gives all of us an opportunity to share our opinions or news to vastly larger audience and to gain information. 
 
- Are most Americans aware of Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
 
- Unfortunately, the average American does not pay a lot of attention to international relations or foreign affairs. So, the average person on the street does not know much. 
 
People in leadership positions such as business owners, elected officials, people who are interested in foreign policy which is the growing segment of the US population, particularly with this election being so controversial, people are much more interested in politics. 
 
I think there is a significant up-tick in people that are knowledgeable of the region and about Azerbaijan, at least to some extent and particularly about Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. A lot has been written over the last ten years about Nagorno-Karabakh conflict because it has become important for International Affairs as Americans are currently interested in everything that is connected to Russia. 
 
Most Americans believe that the Moscow either had a role in the election of President Trump, or actually elected him. The other half of Americans believes that is not true. 
 
Again this divides in the American population. But one thing that it has done is that it brought focus on the Former Soviet area, Eurasia and the Middle East, and Azerbaijan is a part of that. When I became interested in Azerbaijan, around 2006, I believe that there weren’t many Americans from different walks of life, except for the leadership level, that knew about Azerbaijan. 
 
I think there has been a quantum change in that, over the past ten years many more people are aware of Azerbaijan and Armenia. I think there is an increasing awareness that Armenia is much more of a satellite for Moscow that is perceived as meddling in our elections. 
 
This region is increasingly important in terms of energy, trade with the building of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad, Southern Gas Corridor. Azerbaijan’s natural resources, Azerbaijan’s policies and politics are becoming more important for the rest of the world.

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