Another story from the July 27 issue of Time magazine is instructive as well. Titled “Two Views of the Land,” the piece allocates a mere paragraph to exploring the hardships of Palestinian families in the
Establishment scholars and Pro-Israel groups such as CAMERA, AIPAC, and the Anti-Defamation League routinely dismiss
Similarly, Harvard’s Marvin Kalb feels that
Many feel that pro-Israel lobbying groups exert considerable pressure on American journalists to take a pro-Israeli bias. Paul Findley’s classic book They Dare to Speak Out documents various political figures that were targeted by pro-Israel groups for challenging
John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt document in The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy the many attacks by pro-Israel groups against reporters. It is not uncommon, for example, for CNN editors to receive up to six thousand emails in a single day from those outraged about allegedly biased coverage of
Any systematic analysis of media bias should first begin by addressing the claims of those who criticize media coverage as anti-Israeli. As prominent scholars, Kalb and Wolfsfeld’s works are a good starting point. The evidence cited by Kalb and Wolfsfeld does not indicate a pro-Palestinian bias. Bias can only be demonstrated by documenting reporting on a political issue that is in contradiction to some observable reality. In the case of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war Kalb makes baseless claims that
There is a similar problem in the case of Wolfsfeld’s findings regarding the First Intifada. Attention to the deaths and suffering of Palestinian civilians doesn’t constitute a bias or a one-sided “framing” if Palestinian civilians were nearly 7 times more likely to die than Israeli civilians (1,087 Palestinians died, compared to 160 Israelis). Apologists for
Evidence from other studies demonstrates that no pro-Palestinian bias exists. If anything, a monopoly by Israeli voices is the norm in reporting. Veteran Israeli journalist Jim Lederman reports in Battle Lines that “the images presented on
Even if one was to accept Wolfsfeld’s claim that Times stories on
A tremendous amount of evidence has been gathered suggesting a continuation of
Richard Falk and Howard Friel provide invaluable analyses of the Times’ coverage of Israeli. In Israel-Palestine on Record, they uncover evidence of the Times’ contempt for progressive left critics of the occupation, including figures such as Noam Chomsky and Robert Fisk, who are written off as extremists. In contrast, the work of known Israeli apologist Alan Dershowitz receives a favorable review. Dershowitz’s distortions of the 2000 Camp David Peace dialogue are uncritically accepted by the Times (These distortions are documented at great length in Seth Ackerman’s FAIR article, “The Myth of the Generous Offer”).
One can provide plenty of other examples of distorted reporting. Ethan Bronner, the paper’s reporter based in
My comprehensive analysis of all the stories on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict filed by Ethan Bronner from January 1 – July 30, 2009 confirms the ideological biases described above. The major stories during this period included the Israel-Gaza war in January and February, and the Obama administration’s pressure to curtail settlement building. My analysis of Bronner’s stories finds that 63 percent of them were filed either from
A review of all of Bronner’s headlines shows that 37 percent contain references to Israeli officials and military actions, while references to Palestinian leaders and official actions appear in just 9 percent of headlines. The Palestinian public is referenced in 30 percent of headlines, although this finding must be qualified. While the Palestinian people are regularly referenced, they are discussed as a passive entity – one in which
References to international law are meager in Bronner’s stories. Just one of the 75 stories examined report Israel’s occupation as illegal under Israeli law; just one story discusses it as illegal under international law. Only 8 percent of stories include references to
Unconvincing are Bronner’s claims that reporting the Palestinian perspective is difficult because Palestinians, when compared to Israelis, are less educated, and provide less sophisticated, overly-passionate descriptions of their experiences. Bronner describes the Israeli government as utilizing a “more sophisticated structure for press relations,” as compared to Palestinian officials who are “not great” at public relations.
Few of the other reasons provided by Bronner for lopsided reporting are convincing. Simply claiming that Israelis are privileged because they’re better at spin, better educated, and less angry says little about the professional integrity of the Times. Reporting from war zones is never an easy thing, and relying on the path of least resistance when reporting doesn’t serve the interests of the public. Taking the passion out of reports on atrocities committed against Palestinians prohibits readers from understanding the brutal nature of this conflict. Those interested in peace should recognize the disservice that corporate media outlets commit by politicizing this conflict in favor of an Israeli narrative, and in favor of the fallacious notion that the U.S. is an “honest broker” in a conflict that it has worked to escalate for over forty decades – increasing military aid to Israel and consistently voting against U.N. resolutions seeking peace.
Anthony DiMaggio teaches
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