Friday, October 27, 2006

Oct 25 Media Critique: “French Injustice”

Those damn Frenchies are labouring under the misapprehension that justice in the courts is a matter of objective reality, ie. the truth. How terribly inconvenient for Honest Reporting’s conspiracy monger, Philippe Karsenty, who has just lost the opening of his case against France-2 TV, whom he accused of perpetrating a hoax regarding the killing of Mohommad Al-Durra by the IDF in 2000.

But it’s not quite over yet. There are several more related defamation cases being brought by France-2 TV. Karsenty and his fellow conspiracy freaks will lose them too.

In a rare show of just an iota of even-handedness, HR includes a question mark in the subheading. And then goes on to provide the answer (yes, naturally), via rumours reported in the Daily Mail. Hey, when you already know the truth, who needs facts or rigorous analysis?

The evil, anti-Israel BBC has conducted a “secret meeting” where the cabal of Israel-haters were able to freely admit their biases.

A leaked account of ………………………… the secret meeting in London last month, which was hosted by veteran broadcaster Sue Lawley, BBC executives admitted the corporation is ... anti-American, anti-countryside and more sensitive to the feelings of Muslims than Christians.

The BBCs Director of News, Helen Boaden , was there and had this to say,

For a start, this wasn’t a secret meeting... it was streamed live on the web. The meeting was made up of executives, governors and lots of non-BBC people like John Lloyd from the FT and Janet Daley from the Daily Telegraph. It was planned as a serious seminar to investigate and understand better the BBC’s commitment to impartiality in an age in which spin and opinion riddle much of the world’s journalism.

Impartiality - what a novel idea. Isn’t it a pity that HR has no knowledge of this concept.

Boaden explained this further,

When I first joined the BBC I asked a very experienced and subtle journalist what was meant by BBC impartiality. ‘It means we don’t take sides,’ he said. ‘We don’t take sides either explicitly or implicitly. We test all opinion toughly but fairly and we let the audience make up their own minds.’

Hhmmmm. This is exactly the problem for HR and its loyal but misguided minions. They have a very particular and strident point-of-view. Then, along comes the BBC offering a range of opinions and perspectives, even including (gasp!) ones that HR might not agree with. But, being true zealots they can’t tolerate this. Giving a voice to perspectives and narratives that clashes with their own one-eyed partisanship is, to them, the bias of the BBC.

Gaza: Another Kidnapping
This is just delicious.

HR takes a stand on principle! Or maybe not.

An AP photographer was kidnapped in Gaza and then released a few hours later, unharmed. There have been a spate of such abduction in the last year. HR criticizes this correctly, quoting the Committee to Protect Journalists,

It all has a chilling affect on journalists' ability to report the story.*

And if this is HR standing up for principle, then it would apply at all times, to all such actions, right?

HR has kindly supplied a paired example for our consideration of their possible conversion to principles.

Example 1 is above. Outcome – total commitment to journalistic freedom.

Example 2 was in last weeks ‘Media Critique’. Remember the Reuters story “When Cameramen Attack”? HR took the opportunity of a second-hand smear of Reuters by repeating the YnetNews allegation that a Rueters car was used to “transport a Hamas-linked Palestinian”. The real story was the Israeli attack on the Reuters press car,

An Israeli air strike hit a Reuters vehicle in Gaza City on Saturday, wounding two journalists as they covered a military incursion, doctors and residents said.

One of the Palestinian journalists, who worked for a local media organization, was seriously wounded. A cameraman working for Reuters was knocked unconscious in the air strike….

And what did HR have to say about any “chilling effect” of not just a short abduction, but a military attack on a press vehicle with resulting serious injuries? Just this,

This is not the first time that members of the media have taken an active role in the story.

Yes, how dare they insert themselves into the story by being shot at.

Outcome – not only does HR fail to defend the journalists, it attempts to smear them and their employers for having the gall to be attacked by the IDF.

Can you imagine a similar response on Example 1? Palestinians abduct a press photographer and HR berates him/her for taking “an active role in the story”. No, neither can I.

And in a curious oversight, HR has failed to tell us what the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said about this,

"We condemn this missile strike on a vehicle that was clearly identified as press,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “The Israeli military must investigate this attack and hold those responsible accountable.”

It appears that HR, in this instance, has a radically different understanding of the issue, than does the CPJ.

The selective application of a principle means that it is not accepted as a principle, but only as a convenient tool to be used as required. Funny how a media monitoring organization like HR rejects the principle of freedom of the press. But then you and I know that HR is no such thing – it’s just a partisan pressure group deploying the language of fairness, accuracy and balance to attack those same principles.

* Ironically, or perhaps not, HR sources this quote from......Reuters.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Oct 18 Media Critique:“When Cameramen Attack”

A more stunning display of mendacity and partisanship by HonestReporting would be hard to find.

I’ll provide some context here, by starting at the bottom of this section and working up. HR provides some examples which purportedly demonstrate the anti-Israeli perfidy of the media.
The first one is, yet another, re-run of an old story. And I’m so glad they’ve dragged this one out. It’s a fine example of HRs appalling standards. The story is about what a Palestinian journalist working for the BBC, is alleged to have said at a Hamas rally in 2001. What HR didn’t tell its’ readers was that the original story appeared in the Jerusalem Post and the source of the statement was an unidentified ‘Hamas website’. Only a fragment of a statement appeared in the JPost. This is it,

despite the pace of current events and the sensitive circumstances applying to journalists and media organizations, which are waging the campaign shoulder-to-shoulder together with the Palestinian people

As you can see, it’s a bit strange. My opinion is that given the nonsensical grammer, the first part of the statement has been conveniently edited out. Most likely that first missing part relates to the 2nd phrase, “which we are waging….”. This obviously concerned HR as well, so they decided to do a little editing to ….er…. clarify things for their readers. This is HRs version,

Journalists and media organizations [are] waging the campaign shoulder-to-shoulder together with the Palestinian people.

It really did help to remove that first fragment, get rid of the comma and add “[are]”. Now the meaning is just so clear.

Next HR refers to a YnetNews story on an incident in Gaza in August. A Reuters car came under missile attack from the IDF. HR invokes this absolutely fabulous piece of distortion by inference to smear Reuters,

Reuters itself was accused in September 2006 of misusing press vehicles to transport Hamas-linked Palestinians

Really? No, not really.

The car was carrying 2 journalists. YnetNews alleges that one was “Hamas-linked”, whatever that means. It was carrying 2 journalists to cover a breaking story, not to “transport a Hamas-linked Palestinian”. Isn’t that a lovely piece of negative suggestion?

And Hamas-linked – what, he lives in Gaza, or his cousin’s- wife’s- uncle is a member? An alternative to “Hamas-linked” is 'not actually a Hamas member'. But to 'transport a Palestinian who is not a member of Hamas' doesn’t have quite the same effect does it?

And by the way, the Reuters car, which was struck by the Israeli missile, was clearly marked on all sides and the roof, as a press car. Now that’s nothing to interest HR is it? –the targeting of the press by military forces. No, nothing to see here, move on please.

Which takes us to the point of this ‘Media Critique’, “When Cameramen Attack”. You know, if HR said that the sun rises in the east, I’d want independent verification.

Well, for a start how about HR indulge in just the slightest bit of journalistic fairness, and make that “When Cameramen Allegedly Attack”. But that would be delving in to the world of ‘fairness and accuracy’ to a degree that would impair HRs ability to lie and distort.

This is the story which HR gets from Arutz7,

On Tuesday, a Reuters cameraman [Imad Bornat] was remanded to prison until trial for his part in rock-throwing attacks on security forces in Bil'in, where the separation fence is a constant target of protesters.

So what we have is an allegation, made by the Israeli Border Police that is being heard in an Israeli Military Court. Excuse me if I’m not overwhelmed by the legal process here.
Before we go any further, let’s shine a little light onto the notorious Israeli Border Police.

Just a few weeks ago a similar case made it into the courts; the Border Police alleging violent behaviour at the regular Bil’in protests over the route of the Seperation Wall.

Tel Aviv Magistrate`s Court revealed Tuesday that police officers lied while testifying against 11 left-wing activists accused of violent acts during anti-fence demonstrations in the West Bank village of Bil`in. The court acquitted the activists.

Judge Muki Landman harshly criticized the police`s behaviour in his ruling.
`A feeling of serious discomfort has arisen from the mighty gap between the officers` testimony and what is seen in the video tapes,` Landman wrote. `I cannot rule out the possibility that had it not been for the videotapes, I would have reached a different result regarding the defendants.` – Haaretz, Oct 3, 2006.

Right, so the Border Police committed perjury in court in an attempt to have Bil’in protesters jailed. And there was this story on the same day demonstrating the tender mercies of the Israeli Border Police,

The officer shot my brother when he was laying on the floor, his head down,’ Murad Abu Aya said……..

The Justice Ministry's Police Investigative Unit (PID) has refuted the version of events given by the Border Police officer who killed the Palestinian.

Police said the Palestinian, a 29-year old West Bank Palestinian from Tarqumiya who worked in a building site next to the Jaffa flea market, was shot after he tried to steal a rifle from one of the officers. During the struggle the gun went off, fatally wounding the Palestinian, a police spokesman said.

However, the PID investigation found that, contrary to the policeman's initial testimony the officer illegally used his weapon thus causing the death of the Palestinian.

Over the course of the investigation, the policeman changed his testimony, and stated that he fired his weapon without a struggle or any sort of provocation from the victim or his friends.
- Haaretz, Oct 3, 2006.

Back to the story . So we have allegations by the Border Police regarding Imad Bornat.
Curiously (or maybe not), Bornats' attorney is demanding that the video be shown as his defence.

Bornat's attorney has denied all charges waged against his client, and said the video footage the cameraman took will prove his innocence.

And remember, it was the video that cleared the 11 defendants in the previous court case. And most likely, it was video shot by Imad that cleared them. Imad and his brother have been videoing the Bil’in protests for the past 10 months.

Now let’s look at a very interesting timeline. On October 2, a court rules that video footage, probably shot by Imad Bornat, proves that Border Police were lying in their testimony against 11 protesters. Fours days later, the Border Police at the next Bil’in protest arrest Imad Bornat and allege that he was involved in throwing stones. He is then injured while in their custody.

Witnesses said that Border Police troops had beaten the cameraman, but the army says the man was hurt when a piece of communications equipment hit him in the back of the jeep he was being held in.

Director Pollack and artist David Reeb are set to submit letter to Defense Minister Amir Peretz on Wednesday, signed by dozens of artists, journalists and cultural figureheads protesting Bornat's arrest.
'Bornat's video footage shows the arbitrary and routine violence committed by Border Police and the army against the protesters, and especially against the residents of the village of Bil'in', they wrote.- Haaretz, Oct 10, 2006.

A radio “hit him”? Was someone was holding it at the time?

[Judge]Katz said the cameraman still appeared to be injured during the hearing, five days after he was arrested, raising doubts regarding the authenticity of the troops' version of the events. – Haaretz, Oct 10, 2006.

Imagine, the Judge in an Israeli military court doubts the veracity of the statements of Israeli Border Police. No chance of HR taking a hint from an Israeli military court judge I suppose?

But all HR wants is for the media to be “fair” and “accurate”. Nothing like leading by example is there?

Yet another ‘revisit’. And HR has backed a sure fire loser here. Some crazy Israel-right-or-wrong zealots are being sued by France-2 TV, for claiming the footage of Mohammad Al-Durah’s shooting was a hoax.

Well, the day after HR published this ‘Media Critique’, these 3 clowns lost the first part of their defamation case, and damages were awarded to France-2 TV.

And they are going to keep on losing. They produced 4 expert witnesses to support their conspiracy fantasies. One of them is a medieval historian. I kid you not.

Yes, HR please keep us informed, we all need the laughs.


Mistakes are thankfully rare…

Glad we’ve cleared that up. All the distortions, misrepresentations and lies by HR are deliberate.

This is an amazing effort, even for HR. Not once, not twice, but three times distorting and lying over a photo that appeared in the NYT. To cap off its’ deceit, HR claims this latest version of the lie over the Hicks photograph is, with amazing audacity, a “correction”!!

In our last communique, we should have mentioned that, irrespective of Tyler Hicks' explanation, the photo in question has previously been proven to be staged.

No. Totally untrue. Talk about ‘beyond chutzpuh’.

HR itself said about the photo, that the man photographed was “pretending to be dead”. All other claims about the photo being staged were, likewise, completely wrong. Let’s hear from the photographer again, who was there and witnessed the event,

I photographed the search effort, but otherwise there were no injured or dead visible. Soon there was a panic among the people that Israeli jets were coming overhead and would strike again. This sent the gathering crowd running away from the scene, which is a difficult task over the jagged cement and exposed rebar of a collapsed building.
In the commotion, one man fell from a considerable height onto his back and was seriously injured. He was then helped by others who rushed him to an ambulance.

Hicks gave some other fascinating insights into the Lebanon war that didn’t make it into HRs report,

Bombardments by the Israeli military were common in southern Lebanon, but often too far for us to reach with any level of safely. From the beginning of the conflict the Israeli military had been rocketing vehicles regularly, the roads were littered with the remains of civilian cars.

HonestReporting; dishonest, credulous and with no credibility.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Oct 11 Media Critique: “Immoral Nuclear Relativism”

This sub-heading pretty much sums it up for HonestReporting,

North Korea's nuclear test prompts false comparisons with Israel's own nuclear capabilities.

HonestReporting is howling about this story. A Sky News reporter, Ian Woods, had the temerity to point out the obvious double standards in the Israeli media coverage of North Korea’s nuclear test.

Though HR has trouble deciding if its point is that the article was comparing the countries, or their nuclear weapons,

One is an ultra-repressive communist dictatorship in North-East Asia; the other is the only real democracy in the MidEast.

It’s the later of course, but HR can’t help but adding a touch of feigned outrage.

HR isn't happy with Woods,

Correspondent Ian Woods states that "nowhere did any [Israeli media] reports mention what is the country's worst kept secret. Israel is a member of the nuclear mafia."

This so-called "mafia" includes the USA, UK, Russia, France, China, India and Pakistan, while Iran aspires to join this club. Yet, Sky prefers to concentrate solely on Israel.

HR is concerned over the use of the word “mafia”, but omits a rather crucial piece of information. The phrase is used by Woods after he quotes an Israeli General to that effect,

"The nuclear club is turning into a mafia," said Major General Uzi Dayan, a retired commander in the Israeli Defence Forces. And yet nowhere did any reports mention what is the country's worst kept secret. Israel is a member of the nuclear mafia.

Context can be everything can’t it? As HR well knows.

And why does the article “concentrate solely on Israel”? Well, that would be because the story was about the reaction in Israel to the North Korea news.

While Woods' report is neither ground-breaking nor particularly controversial, HonestReporting finds it somewhat strange that Sky has attributed any moral relativism between North Korea and Israel.

If it’s not controversial why call the report “immoral”?
And “moral relativism”? North Korea and Israel operate their nuclear programs completely outside of the accepted international monitoring process, via the IAEA. That’s not ‘relativism’, just relevant.

The Sky News story does make some other pertinent observations,

But Israeli journalists are banned from discussing Israel's nuclear capability by government censors.
Israel has always tried to maintain an official ambiguity about its nuclear policy, neither confirming nor denying it has the bomb. It has never signed nor ratified the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
One Israeli journalist with excellent military and political sources told me that some government officials believe the ambiguity may have to be replaced by more explicit threats.

HR talks about “Israel's purported nuclear capabilities”. The word “purported” is often used to suggest that a statement is false. Sounds like a phrase from the Israeli Foreign Ministry, rather than from an independent media monitor that strives for “accuracy”.

Oh sorry, I mean a purportedly independent media monitor.


Yes, I’m afraid it’s time to re-visit allegations of photo fraud, with our incompetent (or totally dishonest, you decide) guides at HonestReporting.

HR covered this one in it’s August 22 Media Critique, but it’s time to revisit it with an interview with the photographer . This is the photo in question, which was published in the New York Times newspaper.

The issue was the caption used by the NYT. The caption as supplied by photographer was this,

Israeli aircraft struck and destroyed two buildings in downtown Tyre, Lebanon Wednesday evening. As people searched through the burning remains, aircraft again could be heard overhead, panicking the people that a second strike was coming. This man fell and was injured in the panic to flee the scene. He is helped by another man, and carried to an ambulance.

The NYT used this caption in it’s print edition,

After an Israeli airstrike destroyed a building in Tyre, Lebanon, yesterday, one man helped another who had fallen and was hurt.

And a few days later the photo appeared in a slide show on the NYT website with this,

The mayor of Tyre said that in the worst-hit areas, bodies were still buried under the rubble, and he appealed to the Israelis to allow government authorities time to pull them out.

This storm-in-a-tea-cup brewed up in early August with some bloggers referring to it as the “Hezbollah Photo Fraud”. It’s worth remembering at this stage that Israel was facing mounting international criticism for events like the Qana bombing, and both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had released reports in the previous week detailing Israeli breaches of International Humanitarian Law. Pro-Israel bloggers were trying hard trying to demonstrate that just about any anything that cast Israel in bad light was staged, faked, or a fraud/hoax/libel. Their issue was that the 2nd NYT caption “implies” the injured man was actually pulled from the rubble. That’s it – what might have been implied from the caption. Talk about grasping at straws!

HR did add its own scintilla of originality to the story . HR told its herd that,

However, this same ‘victim’ is sometimes seen alive and posing for the cameras and sometimes pretending to be dead.

That he was “pretending to be dead” was HRs invention , with no factual basis for the claim. HR also appeared to be perplexed by ordinal sequences. The victim was earlier photographed “alive”, ie. up and walking, as he was helping search the rubble, then photographed again later (ie , occurring at a time after the initial shots) when he had fallen and was injured, hence his horizontal position. Hopefully I’ve clarified that for HR.

HRs update on this issue is the interview with the photographer explaining how the altered caption came about. The photographer puts the frenzy over the photos being a fraud/staged etc. into rational perspective,

one man fell from a considerable height onto his back and was seriously injured

So all the blather about the photo, that he was pretending to be injured, the lack of dust on his body or the position of his hat etc, were all just desperate attempts to fend off criticism, to protect Israel from the consequences of its actions

So is HR stupid, incompetent or manipulative? I vote for stupid and manipulative. Pure incompetence wouldn’t continually make such convenient ‘errors’. No, it’s a total lack of honesty and a complete disregard for the truth that allows HR to make the wildly inaccurate claims that fill its “Media Critiques”.

This demonstrates an important feature of HonestReporting: when they’re not misrepresenting and fabricating the views of individuals like Ronnie Kasrils, they’re trawling old issues like this one, and contorting them to create the impression of “anti-Israel media bias”. And they have no choice but to misrepresent and fabricate, because real examples of the phenomenon are so rare. This is a routine HR tactic; to take minor stuff-ups, errors and cock-ups of the type that are all too common, and allege that they are the product of “bias” in the media. There are real examples of significant factual errors in the media, but they're not the kind HR has any interest in. For example, the mis-reporting (in the few instances it was reported at all) of the details of the killing of a Palestinian woman by the IDF. The refusal by the paper concrned to issue a correction gives an indication of where most of the real problems lie in reporting the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Finally HR tells us “that this incident serves as an example to newspaper editors to be more careful with their captions in the future.

Any chance that this example will teach HR to be more careful with its’ accusations in the future? Of course not, HR isn’t subject to the constraints of “accuracy” and “fairness” that it demands of others.