Joe Hyams, the CEO of Honest Reporting (HR), spoke at Netanya AACI, on “Getting beyond the facts.” HR, as its name implies, is an organization devoted to ensure that the news reported about Israel is honest and factual. Joe’s main point was that even though the facts should be the basis for all media reports, they often take secondary place to analysis, opinion and outright bias. This is how reporting is done now, in the age of instant news access.
Jews had a strong representation in American journalism, including Joseph Pulitzer, Adolf Ochs (of the NY Times) and Eugene Meyer (of the Washington Post). Also the international news agency Reuters was started in England by Paul Reuter, son of a Rabbi. However, all of these news outlets, perhaps in order to compensate for their perceived Jewish origin, are intensely anti-Israel. Supposedly their liberal slant gives them more sympathy for the Palestinians (terrorism aside). For these media and many others, such as the BBC, CNN and many more, all news is given an anti-Israel slant. Therefore, such organizations as CAMERA and Honest Reporting have arisen to oppose the kind of dishonest and biased reporting often to be found in these media.
For example, often reports of terrorist incidents or rocket attacks against Israel are prefaced with the Palestinian casualties from IDF responses, giving the impression that Israel started the incident. Also, often higher Palestinian casulaties are attributed to “disproportionate” Israeli force rather than pointing out that Israel has shelters for its civilians while not only do the Palestinians not protect their civilians, but they usually use them as human shields. Pointing these egregious examples of media distortion out is the function of Honest Reporting, and they do a very good job at it. Other examples are checking video of incidents that are routinely staged by Palestinians and others during combat to make it appear that there are more casualties and/or bloody incidents that gain sympathy for the “victims.” Examples of this are:
- The Mohammed al-Dura incident in 2000 in which the boy was supposed to have been shot by IDF soldiers, but in fact it was staged and was only recorded by French Channel Two, that ran it knowing that it was false;
- Several incidents in Lebanon where people who were carried off as if they had been injured but were later shown walking around without injury;
- Pictures of bloodied children being carried into the emergency room, supposedly the victims of IDF shooting, whereas in fact the pictures were of children injured in car accidents or from other conflicts;
- The 4 boys playing soccer on the beach in Gaza who were supposed to have been shot by an IAF plane, but there was no plane in that area and they had been injured by a locally fired shell.
I could go on, but the amazing thing is that each time the major media outlets repeat these Palestinian falsifications as real news, to the great detriment of Israel. Whether they are biased or stupid, because they don’t learn from experience not to trust Palestinian reports, is unclear. Honest Reporting does a great job in following up these stories and pointing out the facts of the case. In many cases they either get the source to issue a retraction or an apology. What is noteworthy is that such reports, published without any fact checking, are contrary to the ethical standards of journalism in general and of these specific media organizations in particular.