Wednesday, June 27, 2007

June 26 Media Critique: "Attorney: NY Times and Washington Post Legally Complicit in Terror"

Sure it is.

The thrust of this utterly stupid 'Media Critique' from HR is that news organizations, by reporting the views of groups like Hamas, might be ”guilty of providing material support for a terrorist organization”. Both the NYT and the Washington Post published an article by an advisor to the Palestinian PM, Ishmail Haniyeh. This is it.

Publishing the words of a Hamas spokesman is supporting terrorism? Of course HR don’t really believe this. They are perfectly happy for the media to report what Hamas says, as long as it fits in with HRs views. Immoderate statements are fine, in fact HR wants them highlighted. In previous 'media critiques' HR has happily linked to articles quoting Hamas claiming responsibility for attacks on Israelis, and with the ‘Hamas Mickey Mouse’ story, HR couldn’t quote them enough. So, what’s the problem with Ahmed Yousefs’ op-ed? I assume it’s statements like this,

It has consistently offered a 10-year cease-fire with the Israelis to try to create an atmosphere of calm in which we resolve our differences.

Now that just won’t do. HR are committed to their version of Hamas - a blood-thirsty extremist group with only one aim, the killing of Jews. Letting them speak for themselves is an unhelpful complication in the campaign to vilify.

Clearly HR would prefer news organizations to censor themselves, never allowing opinions expressed that some people may find objectionable. If that was the citieria by which news was compiled, there’d be a whole lot less news.

Last year the South African Mail&Guardian newspaper called HonestReporting “enemies of……free expression”.

Ain't that the truth!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

June 19 Media Critique: "BBC's All-Out Apology"

Central place in todays 'critique' is Honestreportings obsession with the BBC.

The BBC apologizes for its Israel coverage?
Good thing there is a question mark, because it doesn't. The implication is what matters though. HR, in its' pursuit of "accuracy" in the media is unhappy with the BBC for issuing a correction on a factual error. That makes sense doesn't it?

Guess what? It doesn't.

The report was about the practical application of the policy of impartiality into the future, rather than about whether or not the BBC is biased. It does include some case studies to highlight the issues and suggest improvements. Though in its' conclusions it does comment on how its' efforts are perceived by viewers,
they regard the BBC as 'generally impartial'
Since we now know that HR is against corrections, we won't be expecting to see an apology for factual errors like this one.

HR just rehash some whining from one of Britains low-end newspapers, The Daily Telegraph. Like HR, they have a bee in their bonnets over the BBC. And a good demonstration of HR's own partiality is on proud display here. The Daily Telegraph article criticising the BBC quotes its' own editor who briefly worked for the BBC . He acknowledges he is "right-of-centre" and finds the BBC doesn't completely reflect his position, it is a "flat earth" viewed from his "round earth". Naturally HR see this as a vindication of the criticism, rather than what it is - a vindication of impartiality. Likewise for HR - from their own very partial position, BBC impartiality looks like bias. It is bias, but its' HRs.

The lights are on but nobody is home.

Here’s a few tips from the report to aid HR in understanding impartiality and in case HR ever stop being strident partisans demanding compliance with their views, and instead strive to be impartial (yeah yeah, I know, when Hell freezes over),
"Impartiality does not require absolute neutrality.: the BBC should broadcast professional, evidence-based judgements by those qualified to make them…the audience clearly values this."

"Factual programming should not normally be built around a 'for' and 'against' proposition. Opinion is more complex and subtle than that."

"Impartiality involves a mixture of accuracy, balance, context, distance, even handedness, fairness, objectivity, open-mindedness, rigour, self-awareness, transparency and truth.But it is also about breadth of view and completeness. Impartiality in programme-making is often achieved by bringing extra perspectives to bear, rather than limiting horizons or censoring opinion. "

Thursday, June 14, 2007

June 13 Media Critique: "Palestinian Terrorists: Abusing Freedom of the Press"

Most interestingly this is a ‘Media Critique’ entirely devoid of critiques of media coverage and wholly without allegations of media bias, so surely it’s all a bit pointless?

It is only if you think Honest Reporting has any real interest in fairness and accuracy in media reporting. And as we’ve demonstrated repeatedly, it doesn’t. HR is a pro-Israel advocacy group targeting media with its' Israel-is-never-wrong message. The witch-hunt for bias is just the particular vehicle chosen to achieve this. The basic feature of HR is that any criticism of Israeli actions, no matter how factually accurate, cannot be tolerated. HR give yet another example today. Summarising the press reaction to the issue of Palestinian militants using a fake press vehicle to attack an IDF post, HR are not happy with the Palestinian Journalists Union for also suggesting that the IDF has targeted journalists,

we take issue with the false implications that Israel would ever intentionally target journalists
Reflexive defence of Israel by a group feigning concern over accuracy in the media. Amusing isn’t it?

HR quote the Israeli Foreign Press Association’s condemnation of the incident. Pity they didn’t check the FPA a little more closely before making the “false implication” charge. Here’s the FPA on Israels conduct towards journalists,

“The FPA wishes to express its profound dismay and shock over two recent incidents in which Palestinian Journalists have been injured and detained during the pursuit of their legitimate duties.Both cases, at Hawara Checkpoint and in the village of Bili'in, raise serious concerns about the treatment of journalists by members of the Israeli armed services. The evidence overwhelmingly suggests both journalists were physically assaulted by uniformed Israeli forces during routine news assignments." – 2006

"The FPA protests the outrageous targeting of a vehicle belonging to the Reuters News Agency in Gaza yesterday. The FPA rejects the excuses offered so far by the IDF. The assertion that the vehicle was acting suspiciously near Israeli forces is wholly unacceptable and we demand further details to support this allegation.The IDF also claims the vehicle was not identified as a vehicle belonging to the press. This is simply not true. The Reuters armoured vehicle is clearly marked." – 27/9/06

"The FPA wishes to protest against the obstruction and ill treatment of journalists trying to cover recent IDF activity in Nablus." – 28/2/07

"The FPA condemns the harassment of journalists trying to cover last Friday’s demonstration in the Palestinian village of Bilin. Israeli security forces were observed firing tear gas canisters in the direction of journalists and several cameramen were detained at the scene while they tried to cover the demonstration. Journalists have every right to cover these events without fear of harassment and assault by Israeli security forces." – 23/4/07

"The FPA is very concerned about an incident near the West Bank village of Artas where priovate security guards, hired by the Israeli authorities to protect a bulding project on disputed land, fired automatic weapons in a haphazard and unprofessional manner near a group of journalists covering a peaceful protest staged by a small number of Palestinian, Israeli and foreign activists" – 17/5/07

"The lack of consequences for the shooting of journalists - not to mention more frequent cases of simple harassment - delivers the message that abuses against journalists are somehow acceptable. This is a deplorable and utterly unacceptable situation. Therefore we call on the Israeli authorities to go beyond general promises and set a binding deadline for a serious accounting regarding the cases the FPA has forwarded to their attention." – 26/7/2001

"The Foreign Press Association calls for an immediate investigation into the killing of British video journalist James Miller last night near Rafah. The military has a duty to avoid harming non-combatants. Yet in recent weeks we have seen the killings of two journalists working for foreign outlets. We are still waiting to hear results of the investigation of the April 19 killing in Nablus of APTN's Nazeh Darwazeh, shot in the head, apparently by an Israeli soldier, while wearing bright clothing that clearly identified him as a journalist." – 3/5/2003.

James Miller was shot by an IDF sniper.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) documented the 45 cases of journalists hit by IDF fire in the first 12 months of the Second Intifada.

This is what RSF had to say on the event of the IDF killing of Italian journalist, Raffaele Ciriello,
For months, we have been denouncing the impunity enjoyed by Israeli troops firing on journalists. We have frequently been concerned by the almost complete lack of investigation by the Israeli authorities into such shootings. It was bound to lead to this kind of tragedy. Today, what we always feared has happened: a journalist has been killed, the first since the start of the second Intifada. We are appalled.

And another case where the journalist, luckily, survived,
When Bertrand Aguirre was wounded by a real bullet in Ramallah (West Bank), three different television crews filmed the scene. Their films clearly show an Israeli border guard getting out of his vehicle, calmly taking aim and, with his cigarette between his lips, opening fire on the man, at a distance of 100 meters. The journalist, who had just finished an interview and still had his microphone in his hand, was hit in the chest. Fortunately the bullet-proof jacket he was wearing saved him. - RSF (14/10/2001)

How’s that for “false implications”? Bias in the Palestinian Journalists Union!

Given HR’s deep concern for press freedom, perhaps it’s reflected in the number of 'Media Critiques' addressing this specific issue? If you want to know how many times this has happened, think of a number, any long as it’s less than one.

Monday, June 04, 2007

June 4 Media Critique: "The Six Day War: Forty Years On"

HonestReporting takes a look at the context behind the events of June 1967.
Just looking at the events themselves really wouldn’t make HonestReportings case particulary well. And its case is nothing new, just the same old apologetics – nothing is Israels fault.

While June 5 marks the day that Israel initiated its military operation, it is important to note that the immediate Arab threats to wipe out Israel began in the preceding months. It is also critical to take the causes of the Six Day War into account before analyzing the resulting status of land taken as a result.

Initiated its military operation” is alternatively known as an 'invasion' or 'armed aggression', the supreme war crime. Who needs such details when you have “context”!

International Law makes a clear distinction between land "occupied" during a war of aggression and land taken as a result of a defensive war.

Really? HR accidentally fail to mention where “International law” makes this distinction, or to provide a relevant quote. Let me assist HR to locate where in International Law this exists – NO WHERE.

Well, that takes care of the first two sentences. I think we can see where this is going.

Here’s a few other resources for “context”. From MERIP , and IMEU .

And a general overview of the June ’67 war, and since HR mention it, a review of the “Syrian Shelling” that “Initiates War with Israel”, according to HR.

Israel had every legal and moral right to defend herself in 1967 and has legitimate rights within the territory that is under her control today. If you see a media report that misrepresents the events of 1967, use this primer and the following links to respond to media bias:

Using HonestReportings “primer” as a guide, one would be hard pressed to see any media reporting on the June '67 war that isn’t “bias”.

But that is the general idea.