“Reporters Gone Wild!”: Journalists Jump Off The Gaza Neutrality Fence

Published July 29th, 2014 - 16:33 GMT

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Rula Jebrael
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Image 1 of 12: Former MSNBC contributor Rula Jebrael ripped into her old employer while appearing on “Ronan Farrow Daily”, calling out its pro-Israel bias. “We are disgustingly biased on this issue,” charged Jebreal. Hard to refute her data, “between June 30 and July 10, you had 17 Israeli public officials vs. one” Palestinian official. Bring it on!

Wolf Blitzer
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Image 1 of 12: CNN’s Wolf Blitzer is becoming most notable for the hard questions he doesn’t ask. (Bias alert!) His July 20 interview with Netanyahu concluded with Bibi saying of Hamas and the rising number of murdered Palestinians, “It’s what they (Hamas) want, the more dead the better.” What seasoned journalist lets that one go unchallenged?

Ayman Mohyeldin
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Image 1 of 12: Ayman Mohyeldin, NBC’s only Arab-American correspondent, was the sole media witness to the killing of four boys on the Gazan beach. Immediately following his report, he bosses pulled him from the region - was it punishment for showing sympathy? Public backlash played a role in his Gaza redeployment four days later.

Jon Snow
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Image 1 of 12: Jon Snow focuses on civilian fallout. He pressed Israeli spokesman Mark Ragev to explain how killing hospitalized old folks & kids on a beach “protects Israeli citizens” (no reply!). He’s blunt; Israel owns the most sophisticated weaponry in the Middle East; why can’t they hit Hamas targets - or is civilian murder intended?

Paul Mason of Channel 4
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Image 1 of 12: Paul Mason of Channel 4 News reports with poignant attention to the views of Israelis - many unaware of photo evidence coming out of Gaza (censored by papers & TV). He describes the confusion of IDF soldiers - many not far from childhood themselves. He makes no excuses - but his tweets and blog add necessary dimension to the news.

Diana Magnay
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Image 1 of 12: Heckled by spectators during a live-shoot from an Israeli hill overlooking the Gaza border, CNN reporter Diana Magnay angrily tweeted, ”Israelis on hill above Sderot cheer as bombs land on #gaza; threaten to ‘destroy our car if I say a word wrong’. Scum.” Like a scene out of Tolstoy, CNN reassigned her to Moscow!

Jeremy Bowen
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Image 1 of 12: BBC reporter Jeremy Bowen (and the BBC) has long been painted as pro-Palestine, accused of disregarding neutrality and steering listeners towards a specific point a view. He wrote, “History shows that military action merely deepens the conflict. Only a proper peace deal will make Palestinians and Israelis safer.” Where’s the bias in that?

Abby Martin
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Image 1 of 12: In 2012, RT’s Abby Martin accused Israel of war crimes for allegedly targeting journalists. In return, a smear attempt by Israeli media accused her of supporting terrorism (because she called illegal Israeli actions, well...illegal). Does she have ax to grind? Or is she dead-on in demanding that international conflicts play by international law?

Jonathan Miller
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Image 1 of 12: Jonathan Miller reported, “In Gaza, we saw things that will forever be hard to unsee” Unseemly sentiment from a warzone reporter, but this slaughter is happening in civilian suburbs. Miller confirms Israel that has warned Gazans to leave - but restates that Israel and Egypt give them nowhere to go. Fact or “personal opinion”?

Jon Stewart
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Image 1 of 12: The Daily Show, a faux-news program hosted by comedian Jon Stewart, entertains audiences with its cynical evaluation of current events. Jon (a Jew) parodied recent criticism for his condemnation of Israel’s attack with a skit where his team of fake journalists yelled abuses at him every time he said “Israel”. Comedic consciousness-raising!

Bill Maher
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Image 1 of 12: Jewish-American TV satirist Bill Maher said he believes that Israel has been effective at defending itself in part because of its scientific expertise. “Jews have, I think, 155 Nobel Prizes. Muslims have two,” he said, “That seems like kind of a big advantage for team Hebrew.” Any chance this knucklehead was joking?

Sean Hannity
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Image 1 of 12: Masquerading as a legitimate news anchor, Sean Hannity of Fox News (which masquerades as a legitimate news network!) delivers info that is less credible than Stewart and Maher’s jokes. Hannity bulldozes over guest’s views, his yelling precludes any meaningful discourse. His views are so slanted, we suspect he broadcasts from the Tower of Pisa!

Arab and Jewish journalists are often suspected of bias when reporting on the Middle East. The Gaza/Israel conflict has thrown a piercing spotlight on this - every word matters, especially when amplified by social media.

Reporters are meant to be dispassionate, neutral broadcasters of fact.  No cultural allegiances allowed. Park messy emotion and personal point of view; that’s for the intelligent viewer to extract, right?  Who are we kidding! Every newspaper, network and blog has its trademark slant. And each attracts writers (and audiences) who echo that perspective.

But what happens when reporters go rogue?

Is it appropriate for a journalist in trying circumstances to plead their point of view? Is it within professional boundaries to take the next step and express sympathy or display angst? Is reporter reaction part of the story?  

War by nature is inhumane. Governments aim to further dehumanize its impact by rejecting their own complicity in human fallout and assigning guilt to the dead. It’s a “left brain” affair - logical, factual, free from sloppy sentiment. But, increasingly, war coverage is veering off neutral - core stories are being served up along with personal reactions and perspectives.

Presenters who stick to the corporate slant, or stay with their tribal affinity, see their viewpoints protected. Those that cross lines risk being tagged as “biased” towards their roots, or conversely are labelled as turncoat Muslims or self-hating Jews. In one case, a rogue reporter was shipped off to Russia!

Stories become about story delivery rather than content. Forget what’s reported, who are you to report it?  And how dare you report it that way? Who asked for your opinion? And why are you neglecting the atrocities ongoing in Syria and Iraq, Egypt and Nigeria?

American journalist and author Thomas Friedman - after a career dedicated to Middle East reporting - once said that if a journalist is doing their job well, they’ll receive equal criticism from both sides on their reporting.  We haven’t identified anyone covering this conflict that meets that standard, but there’s a growing press corps who insist on telling things “their way”.

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