Monday, March 09, 2009

March 3 Media Critique: “BMJ's Bad Medicine”

HR does its own research following the BMJ's attack.

Doesn’t it just. You know what’s coming right?

HR employs a deeply impartial doctor of its own to whip up some figures and prove the bias at
BMJ. This would be better titled 'HR’s Bad Faith'.It’s a sad and desperate attempt at diverting attention from HR’s bullying tactics.

HR’s resident scientific genius “
Dr Simon Fishman” works his statistical magic to prove again that there are ‘lies, damn lies and statistics’. That a bit of crude manipulation was applied to get the desired ‘proof’ could hardly be more obvious. But as I said in the last post, it’s all about cultivating outrage.

Fishman, scientifically combs the literature for articles on a range of conflicts: Bosnia Sudan, Palestine, Rwanda and then comes up with a self-serving measure that will deliver the result HR wants – deaths per citations / year. The lower the score the more attention , citations per death wise, the conflict has garnered. Naturally the result is awful, simply awful.

The poor Rwandans score only 40,000, Bosnians 2000. And the all important number- Palestinians – 13. Yes, thirteen. My god, can’t you just smell the
BMJ bias!!

HR can,

The evidence clearly shows that the BMJ has a disproportionate interest in Palestinian deaths over those from other conflict areas where the impact on public health is certainly as great and potentially greater….. This bias is consistent with its attacks on the so-called "Israel lobby".

What’s wrong with this? Well for a start, when I
searched BMJ I came up with more cites than HRs resident expert did. I suggest next time he try alternative search terms like “Kosovars” and “Albanian” on the Bosnia search and you’ll get quite a few more results.

But that’s a quibble. The whole deaths / citations /yrs measure is nonsense. HR even say so themselves,
articles in medical journals examining a whole range of genuine healthcare issues such as the psychological effects of war on….., HIV testing……….and other studies that are not necessarily focused on death tolls from such conflicts

So, why chose deaths?. Simple - it gives a lower score for Palestinians. And restricting it to just a 4 year period decreases that number further.

A far more revealing measure of attention would be in citations per year. Now a higher number indicates more ‘interest’.

You’ll see why HR
doesn’t use this more accurate gauge of ‘interest’.

Citations/year - Rwandans 20, Bosnians 4, Palestinians 7.


But even that is a little unfair as I used date range of
HRs ‘expert’. If you bother to look, you’ll see some Palestinian articles predate 2000 as the conflict obviously does. To be fair, the years should go from the starting date up to the present, as journal articles continue to appear after the conflicts themselves have ended. I’ll use 1989 as the year for the start of the I-P conflict though it would be perfectly reasonable to use 1967.

Citations /year - Rwandans 1.3, Bosnians 1.1, Palestinians 1.45 (using1967 – 0.725)

Hey, anybody seen where my bias went? Amazing how a ‘bias’ factor of over 3000 can just melt away when a little scrutiny is shone on it.

But it gets better. In testimony to the mathematical genius of HR, their Sudan figure of 0
BMJ cites for 188,000 deaths is expressed as “negligible”. Someone ask their primary school child to do the maths on that one for them. Morons. See it for yourself and have a good laugh.

HR opened this one with one of their favourite techniques for cultivating outrage, the misleading selective quote,

From HR,
Indeed, the BMJ has gone way beyond its own mission statement:
'To lead the debate on health, and to engage, inform, and stimulate doctors, researchers and other health professionals in ways that will improve outcomes for patients.
To achieve these aims we publish original scientific studies, review and educational articles, and papers commenting on the clinical, scientific, social, political, and economic factors affecting health'.

Wonder what else the
BMA (who owns the BMJ) has to say about its' publication,
The BMA grants editorial freedom to the editor of the BMJ. The views expressed in the journal are those of the authors and may not necessarily comply with BMJ policy. The BMJ follows guidelines on editorial independence produced by the World Association of Medical Editors and the code on good publication practice produced by the Committee on Publication Ethics.


Feb 25 ‘Media Critique’: "British Medical Journal Attacks HonestReporting"

The BMJ falsely accuses HonestReporting of attempting to stifle debate and freedom of speech.”

Surely not!

HonestReporting, in denying the charge, neatly demonstrates its methods of doing precisely that.

First, it’s worth remembering that HRs primary weapon is to deluge the offending media outlet with angry emails and the tactic it employs to achieve this is - cultivating outrage.

It’s no mere carelessness, inattention to detail, or stupidity that leads HR to consistently fill it’s "
Media Critiques" with ‘errors’, which range from simple exaggeration to deliberate misrepresentation and outrageous falsehood. A calm considered and accurate assessment of any media fault is hardly going to motivate a large number of people to email a newspaper or media outlet. What fills the inboxes is anger, outrage. And, as has been repeatedly demonstrated here, when there is nothing to be particularly outraged about, HR are happy to facilitate the process by liberal application of dishonesty.

Take the BMJ articles.

HR says,

In its latest edition, the BMJ devotes some five articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) reviewing the "perils of criticizing Israel"…..

Well, not 5 exactly. Jonathon Freedland take a broader approach and looks at a number of controversial issues and the extreme reactions they provoke from a noisy minority. One of the 5 has absolutely nothing to do with “
the perils of criticizing Israel”. Just the opposite. It’s an article from a doctor practicing in Israel about his BMJ blog on work in southern Israel.

But, hey, who cares about accuracy when you know that saying all 5 articles are on “
the perils of criticizing Israel” cultivates more outrage and will lead to more emails.

To top it off HR go for some inversion,
Those who accuse the organization of stifling debate are actually the ones seeking to suppress the voices of our readers – the people who express themselves through emails to editors.

Yes, the BMJ criticizing a group that orchestrates an email campaign that leads to people writing abusive and bigoted emails where they demonstrate that they haven’t even the read the BMJ articles they attack, is actually the BMJ suppressing the ‘readers’ of HR.


Yes, I've been having a break from the cess-pit that is HonestReporting.

Normal service is now resumed.

Friday, January 16, 2009

January 15 'Media Critique': "Media 'War Crimes'

HR gets back to some of it's old tricks in just plain old fabrication.

Human Rights Watch has condemned Israel for allegedly using white phosphorus weapons unlawfully in the conflict including The Guardian, Times of London, Christian Science Monitor and CNN have repeated HRW's claims
What, the media has reported claims!! The nerve of them. Will HR demand that they also stop reported the claims of IDF spokesmen?

However, this charge has been disputed by the International Red Cross, which stated that it had no evidence to suggest that white phosphorus is being used improperly or illegally by Israel.

They then provide an excerpt from an AP story quoting an ICRC expert. But they leave out an important point he made,

However, Herby said evidence is still limited because of the difficulties of gaining access to Gaza........
And the BBC,
Yet again, journalistic professionalism is thrown out of the window in the BBC's desperate attempts to attack and sully Israel


The article states that "BBC journalists in Gaza and Israel have compiled detailed accounts of the claims." Who are these BBC journalists in Gaza? On the basis that foreign press have not been allowed access to Gaza, one can only assume that these supposedly neutral observers are, in fact, Palestinians
OMG! The BBC actually takes the word of Palestinian journalists and reports the views of Palestinian eyewitnesses. Don't they know that all Arabs are liars?

Don't you just love the smell of bigotry in the air in the morning?

Which takes us back to the white phosphorous story. HR continued by noting a Ynet news story claiming that one Hamas mortar that landed in Israel contained white phosphorous. The story quoted a 'security chief' from a regional council. Though HR hasn't the slightest doubt about the word of "this supposedly neutral observer" who is, in fact, Israeli [cue: audible intake of breath].

January 13 'Media Critique': "Media Gives Platform to Radical Doctor "

HR are having a fit over Mads Gilbert, a doctor currently working in Gaza. He's given quite a few interviews, prompting HR to screech,

Why does the media continue to quote propagandist Mads Gilbert?
Probably because he's witnessing the scenes that Israel is blocking the media from seeing for themselves.

And "propagandist" - oh, HR mean that he says things that HR doesn't like.

Having no basis to criticise what he actually says, HR go for the personal attack from, can you believe it, Melanie Phillips,
He is a political activist and member of the Norwegian Maoist 'Red' party.

And HR, ever the unintentional practitioners of extreme irony, tell us about their online petition,

The petition stated, "I call on the media to provide balanced, objective coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict and not rely on information from Hamas - a terrorist organization - as a source of news. I demand that the use of images and headlines that misrepresent current events to the detriment of the State of Israel be stopped immediately."
It's hilarious to see a stridently partisan and dishonest mob like HR demanding "balanced" and "objective coverage" - the very last thing that they actually want, evidenced by the attack on Mads Gilbert.

As HR consistently demonstrate, any thing that is to "the detriment of the State of Israel " is, by definition, a misrepresentation. The logic of this statement suggests that HR would be quite OK with anything that might "misrepresent the current situation" to the benefit of Israel, ie Israeli propaganda. I'm sure they didn't mean to suggest this, but it is obviously true, as they show with every 'Media Critique'.

Naturally, while Hamas is not a valid source of information, HR will continue to take the word of IDF spokesmen as the word of God.

January 11 Media Critique: "Israel at War - Day 15 "

Unlike the rest of the international media, The Jerusalem Post reports that the IDF has denied firing on a UN aid truck on Thursday
That's right, the rest of the world got it wrong, only that paragon of fearless reporting, The JPost, got it right.

A pity that HR don't tell us where JPost got their truth from.. Let me - its hot tip came from an unnamed MDA source who said that an Israeli soldier told him.


Media outlets, while distinguishing between Israeli civilian and military casualties have failed to do the same on the Palestinian side
For which HR gives not a single exmaple. And that would be becuase there aren't any.

More of the usual rubbish from HR, yet again reminding us that they will complain about anything that is less than 100% in agreement with their strident pro-Israel position.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

January 5 'Media Critique': "Coming Soon? Hamas' Media Massacre"

"When will Hamas and the media create a new libel?"
Another compelling media critique from HR.

As abysmal as this is, HR manage to make it worse with their comments on this rather sensible
BBC piece.

But why does the BBC's Paul Reynolds consider the Israeli message to be
"propaganda?" And why does he treat IDF video sources with such skepticism

Why?? Ah, let me count the reasons, 1, 2,.....etc etc

It's a measure of HRs fierce commitment to fighting bias that it is shocked that the official pronouncements of the IDF could be described as "propaganda". Don't these stupid journalists realise that only the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth passes from the pure lips of IDF spokesmen?

Monday, January 05, 2009

January 1 'Media Critique': "Israel at War - Day 6"

HonestReporting make much of their professed goal to fight bias and keep the media honest.

And I'm all for impartiality and fairness.

But could you take advice regarding bias and impartiality from an organisation that, without the slightest hint of irony, sends out the following as part of its 'media critique'.

As rocket attacks escalate on Israel, so does the media war
There's a 'media war'?

Apparently so, and HR sees itself as one of protagonists marshaling its on-line troops.

HonestReporting and HR UK will be combining to bring you regular Special Alerts............and how to get involved in the online battle.

Then, eschewing even the faintest pretense of subtlety,

Monday, December 29, 2008

December 29 'Media Critique': "Israel at War: A Primer"

Well that was quick, though it isn’t a 'Media Critique’, but rather a pre-emptive strike. The faithful need to be inculcated on the received truth so they recognise evil media bias when they see it.

There’s a huge selection to choose from but I’ll just pick out a few of the most glaring.

Israel left Gaza in 2005, giving Palestinians the chance to run their own lives. Despite this, more than 6300 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel since then.
Just forget the fact that post-withdrawl the Palestinians announced a one month cessation of all rocket fire, in which to lift the blockade on Gaza. Israel responded by tightening the blockade. The Palestinians chance to run their lives in Gaza does not extend to control of its borders, coast or air-space, all of which are controlled by Israel.

The deterioration in the situation is the direct result of Hamas policy. It violated the calm, is firing against and attacking Israeli citizens, and is investing all its resources in arming itself and gathering power
Nevermind that during the "ceasfire" dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israel in Gaza.

If Hamas would renounce the path of terror, there would be no need for the Israeli action. Quiet will be answered with quiet, but terror will elicit a response.
Don’t expect anyone to suggest that Israel renounce the path of violence, or withdraw its illegal settlements from Palestinian territory.

The goal of the Israeli military action is to strike the growing infrastructure of terror and ability of Hamas and its allied organizations to launch missiles and mortars at Israeli citizens and carry out terror attacks
That’s why so many of the dead are police officers. One strike killed a dozen traffic police. No more parking tickets of mass destruction.

Hamas has demonstrated its increased threat as the Ashdod area was hit by rockets, marking the northernmost point where Hamas rockets have reached, more than 40km north of Gaza.
Which where launched on Dec 28, the day after Israel killed over 200 in Gaza to prevent rocket launches. Gotta love that prevention.

The terrorist organizations work out of the Palestinian population centers and cynically exploit them, so the responsibility for Palestinian civilians getting hurt rests on their shoulders. Israel, for its part directs its activity at terrorist elements and does its utmost to refrain from harming the innocent.
This is the lamest of apologetics and is in direct contravention to the Geneva Conventions. Even id these claims are true they do not absolve Israel of its responsibilities. And hasn’t anybody told HR? – the whole of Gaza is a "population centre", a very dense one and the dropping of large bombs in such areas will kill innocent civilians.

There’s much more along the same vein. I’d imagine that the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been busy providing propaganda hasbara a list of talking-points to counter the natural reaction Israels spectacle in the Gaza Strip will provoke amongst normal people.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

December 24 `Media Critique’: "BBC's Christmas Odyssey"

It’s time for HonestReporting’s yearly attempt at the evil-media-using-Christmas-to-attack-Israel story.

It’s a very poor effort, but at least it’s a change from
this regular routine .

This is the moderately interesting
BBC story from Aleem Maqbool.

The gist of HRs complaint is this,

Unfortunately, he over-romanticizes the Palestinians while portraying the IDF in a sinister light, exerting a strong but subtle bias.

Which means that he spoke to real live Palestinians and heard their stories in their own words.

Maqbool was also guilty of conspiring with "extremist[s]", a certain George Rishmawi who is a co-founder of the ISM. He’s apparently an extremist because the ISM volunteers have,
placed themselves in front of Israeli Army vehicles, removed concrete boundaries from roads
That would make Gandhi an extremist too.

Then there is more on his "subtle bias",

Maqbool doesn't directly attack Israel. He doesn't have to. The bias in his diary is much more subtle

HR says "Israelis are portrayed as malevolent:", citing this example,

From al-Badhan, the "Journey of Death" trail started. It is called that, not just for its long, steep, rocky climbs, or the fact that Israeli snipers frequently use the mountain tops ...

HR don’t dispute the fact of the statement. Is it true? Yes, it certainly is. So it’s HR who designate the Israeli snipers as "malevolent". I won’t disagree.

And on and on it goes in the same tortured fashion.

I’d like to think that this is last time this year that I’ll have to wade through the sewer that is HR, but given the events of yesterday, I’m sure there’s at least one more malodorous ‘Media Critique’ on the way before 2009.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Round Up

Here’s a quick review of what I’ve ignored over the past month.

On November 30 we were treated to Honest Reportings take on the Mumbai terrorist attack. It was a long- winded diatribe on one of HRs favourite subjects – demanding that the media use the ‘t’ word. ‘Militants’ and ‘gunmen’ aren’t good enough for HR.

Their stance is rather undermined by the fact that just back in October they were complaining about the media describing Israeli settlers as ‘militants’ for their politically motivated violence against Palestinians. Did it demand the 't' word? HR, being ever fair and principled in these matters, advised that they were just "young hooligans".

And on December 15 a further reprise of the monumentally underwhelming issue of the Iranian Press TV. Now it has extended its broadcasts through Sky TV.

But the real issue in this ‘Media Critique’ was a subsequent section titled "Gaza: More 'Blame Israel' ". This is quintessential HR in all its dishonest glory.

HR start with this,

While the suffering of Gaza's Palestinians is not in dispute…

And immediately demonstrate their sincerity in the very next sentence,
There have been many stories published concerning alleged shortages in Gaza….

And then,

many Gazans have become addicted to readily available prescription drugs to help them through difficult times. Is this the same Gaza that has been 'denied' medical supplies?

Not to mention the previous claims that power cuts in Gaza are actually due to Hamas conducting a media campaign.

So, to summarise, HR don’t deny that Palestinians in Gaza are suffering….........from an abundance of goods from Egypt, addiction to prescribed medications and over zealous PR.