Tag Archives: media bias

Truth in the New York Times

Truth

The New York Times has been waging a not-so-subtle war on Trump’s “Fake News” campaign with its full page messages, such as the one above.  Or this one.

Facts new york times

Clearly, this is a very thoughtful campaign by the Editors at the New York Times to discredit Trump’s war on facts and on the news media. Good for them.

We should be asking ourselves, however, why the NYT Editors chose to focus on “truth” and not “facts.” Some might argue that “truth” and “facts” are synonymous, there is no difference. In an ideal world, I might agree.

The wise ones know we don’t live in that utopia.

We live in a world where the media giants, the consolidated empires like the Sinclair Broadcast Group, massage and filter and repeat ad nauseum the “truth” they deem fit to share.

Few media sources disseminate outright lies and fabrications. There’s an element of “truth” in every story, whether you find it on Fox News, Rachel Maddow’s show or The New York Times.  (I can hear my liberal friends howling “you can’t compare Fox News and The New York Times in the same breath!”)

What’s new is the relatively recent attack on the “truth” our commander-in-chief doesn’t like.  He prefers the way Fox News massages the “truth” rather than the mainstream media that criticizes him, even trying to punish journalists with whom he disagrees.

But don’t be fooled.  Both Fox News and The New York Times massage the truth to fit a worldview that they want you, the news consumer, to digest and accept.

One small example.

In the Spring of 2014, I read a New York Times story online that referred to the Gaza Strip as “occupied.” This story was published years after the State of Israel had formally removed its settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, and Israel’s position was that it no longer “occupied” Gaza.

I was shocked and pleasantly surprised that The New York Times was not parroting Israel’s line, but instead acknowledging international law in a back-handed sort of way. Under international law, since Israel maintains “effective control” over the people of Gaza, it occupies the Gaza Strip.

A few hours later I returned to that same article online and found that the Editors had removed the term “occupied” and “occupation,” followed by a short disclaimer at the bottom noting that the original version had been a mistake. Over the next month, I engaged in a volley of letters back and forth with the Editors about this change. The New York Times Editors’ response to me is here.

Anyone who has been following The New York Times’ coverage of Israel-Palestine for any length of time understands that the paper massages the facts, at times more subtly than at other times, to favor Israel’s perspective.

If Americans are interested in the “truth” as presented by Israel and The New York Times, then some facts will be highlighted and other facts ignored or deliberately buried, as in the case of Gaza.

The Gaza Strip is occupied; the State of Israel is the occupation power; the future of the Palestinians and Israelis depends on Americans understanding the facts.

A good place to begin is by watching The Occupation of the American Mind, Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States. (The video link is here.)

Then let’s tell The New York Times and every media outlet that we want the FACTS. With the facts we will be the judge of what is the truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Media, Uncategorized, Video

Day #9 – July 15, 2014 – Media Bias

As a consumer of the mainstream American media, I naively assumed for my first 30-something years that The New York Times, The Washington Post and the rest of our “flagship” print and TV media were professional, objective, trustworthy sources for the news I needed. I knew there was a big difference between The Nation and Fox News, but I didn’t spend the time or energy to critique the stories about Israel and Palestine in The New York Times.

Not sure exactly when I became a more discerning news consumer, but I’m embarrassed that it took so long. And now I think every high school education should include a course in fostering critical thinking skills for media consumers. It’s not that everyone should agree with my worldview, but everyone should know which worldview editors and journalists are pushing.

The New York Times is publishing a pro-Israeli world-view. I clearly saw the evidence in March 2014 and wrote about it herehere, here, and here. Barbara Erickson, a professional reporter, editor, and journalism teacher at UC-Berkeley, maintains a blog critiquing The New York Times’ coverage of Israel and Palestine — The Times Warp — which I highly recommend. Reviewing her posts in July and August 2014 highlight The New York Times’ bias in its coverage of Operation Protective Edge.

Times Warp

Here’s an example:

Over 260 Dead in Gaza, and Rocket Overkill in the Times

For the second time in eight days, The New York Times has devoted an entire story to Gaza’s rockets, even as the death toll from Israeli weaponry climbs. Meanwhile, Times readers have yet to see a similar article addressing the military might directed against the residents of Gaza.

“From Gaza, an Array of Makeshift Rockets Packs a Counterpunch” by Jodi Rudoren appears on page 11 in the July 18 print edition, mirroring a similar story by Steven Erlanger on July 10, “A Growing Arsenal of Homemade Rockets Encounters Israel’s Iron Dome,” published on page 9.

It seems the Times can’t emphasize the point enough: This is all about rockets and Hamas, they claim, not about the blockade or the death toll in Gaza. A page one story mentions gunboats, warplanes, tanks and drones in the course of its narrative about the ground invasion, but none of these killing machines merit any more scrutiny in the Times.

Although Israel insists that it takes precautions to prevent civilian deaths, three quarters of those killed in Gaza have been children, women and other noncombatants. It is fair to ask what weapons are causing this carnage, how many Israel has in stock and what is their source.

Also missing from the Times’ reports are news of the consensus of protests from human rights groups over the targeting of homes and a 10-year ceasefire offer from Hamas. The rights groups include the Israeli organization B’Tselem, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. All agree that it is illegal to target homes without proving a clear military objective. The Times has only mentioned the HRW report.

The Israeli rationale, that a resident is involved in military activity, is “unfounded and illegal,” B’Tselem states. “Euphemisms such as ‘surgical strikes’ or ‘operational infrastructure’ cannot hide the facts: illegal attacks of homes, which constitute punitive home demolition from the air, come at a dreadful cost in human life.”

Meanwhile, even as the Times gives play to the ceasefire talks that exclude Hamas, it has failed to report on Hamas’ offers. The Jerusalem Post, however, has told us that Hamas has offered a 10-year ceasefire in return for certain agreements.

These include withdrawal of Israeli tanks from the Gaza border, freeing prisoners arrested after the killing of three youths, lifting the siege and opening the border crossings to commerce and people, establishing an international seaport and airport under United Nations supervision and increasing the permitted fishing zone to 10 kilometers.

It seems we are not supposed to know about these kinds of offers from Hamas. Nor are we to know that Hamas held its fire for some 19 months, attempting to stop other more militant groups in Gaza from launching their rockets. It was only after an extrajudicial killing in Gaza on June 11 and the crackdown after the abduction of three teens that Hamas started firing again.

We should credit the Times for running a piece by a photographer who witnessed the deaths of the four children playing on the beach, and we can note that reporters have expressed some concern about civilian deaths, questioning the reasoning behind some of the attacks. But the overall message to Times readers is that Israel is defending itself and forced to let the bombs fall on Gaza.

The Times prefers to put forth that narrative, omitting reports that contradict the Israeli claims of necessity in attacking Gaza. It would rather leave the impression that Hamas has rained down missiles on Israel for more than a year without pause. Readers are to focus on the arsenal of rockets cached in Gaza and pay no heed to Israel’s overwhelming military might, the past history of Hamas restraint and its present effort to become part of a ceasefire discussion that pointedly excludes it.

Barbara Erickson

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Filed under Gaza, IDF, Israel, Media

Tweeting is the new battleground – guess who is winning?

twitter

Tweeting, twittering or even chirping are not my forte, but I learned a few years ago, when I was participating in some training for aspiring Democratic women candidates, that social media is extremely important in electoral campaigns. So I have a twitter handle – is that the proper nomenclature?  @LoraLucero   I typically check Twitter once or twice each day. I prefer Facebook.

A Twitter tsunami struck yesterday when Hamas officials in Gaza announced a social media campaign on Twitter with the innocuous hashtag #AskHamas to reach Western audiences (hence the English!). I presume their goal is to reform the “terrorist” label that some Western governments have attached to Hamas. They want to answer questions directly rather than relying on the Western mainstream media which is notoriously biased in favor of Israel’s framing of the issues in the Middle East.

I wrote about the first day of this Twitter campaign here, but I failed to understand then just how successful this social media strategy might be. Thanks to a media specialist who shared some important insights with me, I’m chalking up #AskHamas as a big win for Hamas. Here’s why:

  • Traditional mainstream media in the U.S., U.K. and Israel all claimed that the #AskHamas campaign ‘backfired’ as though their journalists and editors were all reading from the same script — and maybe they were. The similarity in their framing of the campaign was striking.  I observed the tit-for-tat on Twitter and believe another legitimate framing would be that there was an attempt to ‘hijack’ the campaign by some very hostile and belligerent voices that I would label Zionists.  The difference between ‘backfired’ and ‘hijacked’ is important. The first sounds like a failure on the part of Hamas; the second puts the onus on those who attempted to derail the campaign. This is so eerily familiar that I shouldn’t have been surprised. The framing of Israel’s assaults on Gaza often follow this same pattern.
  • Israeli leaders avoid the word ‘occupation’ almost to the point of absurdity. The reason for this avoidance is that ‘occupation’ entails responsibilities under international law upon the occupying power that Israel would prefer to avoid.  The framing of the conflict is very deliberate and legal scholars have noted (see here “Illegal Occupation: Framing the Occupied Palestinian Territory”) that Israel’s avoidance of the term ‘occupation’ renders the conflict, at least in the minds of the uninformed, as between two equal adversaries rather than between an occupier (Israelis) and the occupied (Palestinians). Much of the mainstream media has bought into Israel’s framing, but Hamas’s Twitter campaign took mainstream media out of the mix and went directly to the people, especially the young and tech-savvy who get much of their information about the world from social media. And then we were all allowed to watch as the Zionists and hatemongers tried to OCCUPY #AskHamas. It was unbelievably refreshing to see them exposed, by their own hand, and drawing the parallels between Israel’s physical occupation of Palestine and their attempts at occupying the Twitter-Sphere was irony at its very best. Thank you!
  • During my ninth month visit to Gaza (Sept. 2012 – May 2013) I had the opportunity to meet and speak with many Palestinians, many of whom were Hamas supporters as well as Hamas officials. I found each and everyone of them polite, articulate, intelligent and thoughtful. They were willing to spend time answering my questions, even when my questions probably sounded inane and naive.  They demonstrated the same calm and patience in responding to questions on their #AskHamas Twitter campaign, while ignoring the Zionist trolls and hatemongers who wanted to distract and provoke a confrontation on social media. It was clear to me (and probably to anyone else observing this campaign) just who was the adult (Hamas) and who were the unruly and frustrated children (Zionists and hatemongers).  Thank you again!
Figure 1: Gaza Strip blockade. Source: UN OCHA

Figure 1: Gaza Strip blockade. Source: UN OCHA

 

 

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Filed under Hamas, Media, Uncategorized