Friday, March 28, 2008

March 27 ‘Media Critique’: "Success: Reuters Removes Anti-Israel Blog"

I almost feel happy for the poor deluded fools.


We use an automated “widget” that pulls in text from related blogs not published by Reuters, as a service to readers seeking a variety of views on the news. There is a disclaimer at the top of the page saying, “The following blog post is from an independent writer and is not connected with Reuters News. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not endorsed by”

No such program is perfect, and there is precedent for our removing some blogs that we don’t believe are constructive in tone. We removed this post yesterday. This is analogous to the way in which we handle some reader comments, as well. GBU Editor

HR – outraged by a widget!

But there’s more.


HR link to a ‘report’ on BBC Arabic by Trevor Asserson. If you haven’t had the highly questionable privilege, Trevor is the author of the ludicrous BBC Watch. As hard as it is to believe, BBC Watch is stupider than Honest Reporting.

HR and Trevor – dumb and dumber.


Whenever HR start whining about photos I get a chill. Their normal level of obtuseness is, for some strange reason, multiplied when it comes to pictures.

Here’s the AFP story.

You need to look at it to get the full impact of HRs dopiness. At least we know that HR aren't insightful.

The photo has this caption, which HR even reproduce,

File photo shows a trench being dug as part of an archaeological dig in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound

But HR then say,

AFP thus falsely gives the impression that Israel is conducting digging on this most sensitive of religious sites - a charge that has previously been used by extremists to incite Muslim violence against Israel.

Hello! File photo”! Thick as two short planks.

File photo” is media speak for – this is a generic photo on the topic, please don’t bother complaining, we know that the accompanying article is not in explicit reference to this photo.

Yet complain they do!

Perhaps HR didn’t notice that it's actually a series of photos . Check the second one – it’s Ariel Sharon at Al-Aqsa in 2000. Hey HR – why not complain that AFP is falsely giving the impression that Ariel was digging the tunnel ?!

Prize idiots.

March 24 ‘Media Critique’: “Reuters Promotes Anti-Israel Blog”

Why does Reuters give credibility to a one-sided and hateful blog story?”

A more relevant question is why do I subject myself to such regular doses of HRs foetid rubbish. I always feel like I should shower afterwards.

Reuters have a relatively new blog feature, that’s pulls in a range of blog posts for display on Reuters site. I think we can assume that the monkeys at HRs office have been trawling it for months looking for something to be offended by, and they’re finally struck pay-dirt. HR are outraged (as is their want), by this. Which was based on this with a few innovations like “Zionist regime” and "Apartheid wall" thrown in for good measure.

It’s “hateful and one-sided” of course.

It takes a touch of the totalitarian to be so exercised by other people’s opinion.

Nevermind that Reuters clearly identify this as a blog section and prominently display this,

The following blog post is from an independent writer and is not connected with Reuters News. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not endorsed by

HR even acknowledge this.

Never mind that HR says,

The Blogosphere contains a wealth of opinions and claims, some of which contribute to a rational debate and others which may be the personal rantings of a deranged individual

(and we know where HR stands on that continuum don't we!)

And never mind that even HR concedes news is something quite different,

While freedom of speech requires a degree of responsibility that is sometimes lacking in blogs, reputable news services are compelled to comply with much higher standards.

Despite all that, HRs criticism is,

While Reuters may not endorse the sentiments of the blog posting, it still decided to publish them on its own site, therefore giving it unwarranted credibility as a news source

You idiots, you just said blogs and news are different!

HRs tiny tantrum is really just about 2 phrases – “Zionist regime” and “Apartheid Wall”.

Notice they don’t much bother with the central claim of the blog post, the one that would concern most normal observers – that the IDF was going to use live fire against unarmed protestors. Like China does in Tibet.

But, let’s face it, that isn’t controversial. Live fire, particularly from Israeli border police, towards unarmed Palestinians is nothing new.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March 11 Media Critique: "Ending the 'Cycle of Violence' "

HR suggest that the “cycle of violence” statement has been popping up in the media. I don’t much like it either, as it doesn’t explain much at all. But as is often the case when HR has a weak case, they provide no examples. All we get is a lengthy excerpt from the Jerusalem Post on the subject, also minus any examples, followed by its totally unbiased explanation of the conflict,

on the one hand, is a sovereign nation's desperate effort to live in its homeland, seek peace with those of its neighbors who will partner it,................ And, on the other, we have the forces of militant Islam, firing rockets across Israel's sovereign borders, murdering Israelis wherever they can be found vulnerable, indoctrinating their people with a vicious intolerance of Jewish historical rights in this region, and simultaneously spreading a perverted interpretation of Islam.

HR have been so uninspiring with their media whining that I couldn’t be bothered doing separate posts for these latest two. This is the March 17 version,

“Video: Islamic Jihad's Insight into Pallywood”

Islamic Jihad claim that another group has falsely taken credit for their work. The ‘media critique’ angle? Who knows.

Moving onto other ground- breaking media analysis, HR note that on Facebook (no, I’m not kidding) there is a group praising the recent Jerusalem attacks, and that members living in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank were not listed as living in Israel, but in Palestine. That’s a truth far too close to the bone.

Given that HRs output at the moment is almost coma-inducing, here’s an interesting quote from the outgoing editor of Ha'aretz, David Landau, on the issue of pro-Israel media pressure groups. He may well have had HR in mind when he said this.

In my opinion its high time that the Anglo-Jewish community in general, and the Anglo-Jewish intelligentsia, should stop devoting an inordinate amount of its pro-Israel energies to minute parsing of what the BBC or The Guardian wrote about Sderot today or yesterday or last year……….rather than helping us, Israelis, solving our existential dilemmas. The problem of Sderot and Gaza is that Israel is mortally existentially threatened - it has no long-term future - if it can’t solve the conflict with the Palestinians. Here we have a community, albeit not a large community, nevertheless a very solid and important community, in terms of Jewish life and Jewish history and Zionist history, which I think is, as I say, is being led or mis-led, to believe that if only they can impact on Alan Rushbridger [Editor, The Guardian] or the Director-General of the BBC sufficiently, they will have done something good for Israel.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

March 6 Media Critique: One Year Analysis: "Reuters 2007 'Pictures of the Month' "

The rocket-scientists at HR have been busy looking at pictures and they are not happy.

Having previously challenged Reuters for its objectivity in a subjectively selected group of images.....

And what a fine basis for challenge that is!

Yes, having done so with such spectacular stupidity last year, HR decided once again to assess the "objectivity in a subjectively selected group of pictures”.

we were interested in seeing if that case represented a one-time aberration, or if Reuters has a serious bias problem in its coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Really, you couldn’t make this stuff up.

62% of images provoke sympathy for the Palestinians.

But HR do just make this stuff up.

So, let’s objectively (and subjectively) look at HRs subjective assessment of the objectivity in a subjectively selected group of photos.

62%. Oh. What does it mean though? HR don’t really say. Why is 62% not OK, and what would be OK? Again, HR is mute on the subject. Let’s assume, being complete idiots, HR think 50% would be “fair and balanced” (note: this is where I get all objective.) While HR get all heated up about a simple-minded notion of balance, the real issue is representation. Is the photo selection process representative of the pool of photos Reuters had to choose from, ie did Reuters only have 15 photos of Palestinian funerals to choose from or did they have 10,000? In case anyone from HR is reading, I’ll explain it simply as possible, with the classic example from statistics; green and red coloured marbles in a jar. We grab a handful of marbles and find we have 1 red and 4 green. In this explanation of probability, the more ‘trials’ of grabbing a handful of marbles we make, the greater certainty we have of knowing what is the actual proportion of red and green marbles in that jar. If we really want to know, we’d just pour the marbles out and count them and perhaps see that the ratio was indeed 1:4. For HR, the 62% figure indicates the selection is “unbalanced’. The only thing a figure like that can tell us is if the pictures chosen are representative, and HR could only do that by viewing all the photos in the pool, which they can’t because they only have the end result, ie. the handful of marbles and no access to the jar. Perhaps in the the pool of photographs, 80% of them "provoke sympathy". We can't know.

At a subjective level, we have HRs “unbalanced” claim. They don’t tell us what is ‘balance’ so it’s a little hard to comment on, but I’ll do my best. HR uses the photos of Palestinian funerals to try and make this argument. There were 15 photos of Palestinian funerals and none of Israeli funerals. Would ‘balance’ be 7 of each perhaps? But would this be “balanced”? Let’s return to a far more useful and objective criteria – representative. We can get some of idea of this by first looking at the number of funerals. For 2007 there were 373 Palestinians killed by Israel and, I’ll assume 373 funerals. 15 photos from Rueters, makes that a photo for every 24 Palestinian funerals. And there were 7 Israeli funerals, which is less than one-third of the ‘quota’ for a Palestinian funeral picture. So while we can’t see the pool of photos that were chosen from, we can see that, objectively, the funeral photos are representative of reality. HR, not being big fans of reality, don’t see this. If we followed their assumed notion of balance and included 7 of each, photos of Israeli funerals would be over-represented 24x. Is that “balance”? For HR, the answer would probably be yes.

Which leads us on to yet another subjective question, sympathy, and a quick review of HRs highly detailed and sophisticated methodology on the topic. How do they define sympathy? They don't. What are the criteria for determining that a photo “provokes” it? They don’t say. Who made the determinations? HR are silent . I can only assume it wasn’t any of the HR staff, because being such one-eyed pro-Israel partisans, a photo of dead or crying Palestinians would elicit exactly nil sympathy. The corollary of this is that we’ll have to assume that HR guessed as to whether or not a photo “provokes” sympathy, hence the 62% figure is 100% subjective.

Brilliant work.

I think it’ fair to say that subjectively……no wait, I‘ll go out on a limb here……. that objectively reviewing HonestReportings subjective assessment of the objectivity in a subjectively selected group of pictures -

It’s 100% horseshit.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

March 2 Media Critique: “Special Report: Gaza - Israel Responds to Hamas's Escalation“

We know that HR are blindly pro-Israel partisans without the slightest interest in the ethics of news standards except as a tool to push their own partisan perspectives. Even so, this is an outrageous piece of utter cynicism.

Remember just 3 ‘Media Critiques’ ago? HR was on the war path because The Guardian posted a short video which included 2 statements from Palestinian spokesmen after the Dimona suicide-bombing that killed 3 Israelis. That was “one-sided” according to HR because the focus should have been on the victims and Israeli perspectives. It was also an example of “media bias” said HR.

And now that there are 112 dead Palestinians?

However, the focus on Palestinian casualties ignores the context behind Israel's actions and only tells a part of the real story.
Now the media’s flaw is that it focuses too much on victims!

You could not get a clearer picture of HonestReportings utter contempt for fairness and accuracy in reporting than this cynical flip-flopping. Now HR wants “context” and “the background”, but only the part that details “Hamas's responsibility for the violence and Israel's responsibility to defend her citizens” Of course.

There are 2 situations that are particularly prone to PR spin; complex situations and political interests. The Israel-Palestine conflict is a confluence of the two. High profile events like the situation in Gaza exacerbate this even further with the result that pressure groups like HR have their spin control set at ‘turbo’ and their interest in consistency in news coverage set at zero.

Correction: Only 1 Israeli was kiled in the Dimona bombing.

February 28 Media Critique: "LA Times 'Parallel Protests' "

"Paper cannot see the difference between legitimate protest and Qassam firing."

How stupid are HonestReporting? Very. HR cannot see the difference between honest criticism of the media and blindly partisan advocacy in spite of the facts.

HRs latest complaint is based on their poor comprehension (or grasping malicious opportunism) of the grammatical rules of the English language.

As Israelis watched nervously from across the border, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip staged parallel protests Monday against the Jewish state, placing a few thousand placard-waving demonstrators along the main highway and firing 11 rockets into Israel.
Yes, it’s just this single sentence that HR is whining about. Clearly the LA Times is referring to the fact that the peaceful protests took place in several locations, ie. in parallel, at the same time, etc etc etc. For the sentence to mean what HR suggest, the LA Times would have written – ‘..staged protests in parallel with firing 11 rockets into Israel’.

Which it didn’t. This line makes it quite clear what was “in parallel”,
....the demonstrators gathered in five locations along Gaza's north-south highway.

Not that HR ever let the facts get in the way of a convenient lie.