Most readers and writers of blogs on the Times of Israel need little convincing that the international media is biased against Israel. The debate is whether this bias is institutional or simply the pressure of a world where news is with us 24 hours a day and as such mistakes are inevitable.
As a former journalist I believe genuine low level mistakes have increased out of all recognition since my hey day in Fleet Street in the 1980’s. Sadly this is something supporters of Israel can derive little comfort from. If Jews are News Israel is” hold the front page.” But mistakes concerning the coverage of Israel are usually of the major not mundane variety and I know from my experience they are mostly avoidable and not the result of ever shorter and more deadlines.
There are of course noble exceptions and who could fail to admire the reporter, bullet proof jacket if he is lucky, crouched behind a boulder under a hail of gun fire microphone in hand. It seems a miracle to me he can mumble anything let alone string sentences together and make sense of a given situation. Though dramatic the occasions where the reporter is genuinely ad libbing are not the majority but the few. It does not usually happen like that. Its normal for a reporter to put a script together and do several takes before facing the camera. Only when word perfect do we hear the words ” lights on action.” This is true whether working live or recorded. Any queries about accuracy are normally sorted out before deadline time by the producer who is never far away. But where Israel is concerned it seems more important to be in line with the latest half truths, which are standard faire, then the whole truth.
With Israel in general and Ariel Sharon in particular the attention to detail is more often than not left on the cutting floor. Time wise truths are trotted out even when proven lies. Why you might ask should the above statement be worth an article at this juncture when lies about Israel have been in circulation almost since the birth of the modern State.
Well confidentially I have to tell you I was named top dog of the week by the Honest Reporting group for spotting a lie on CNN concerning the life of Sharon. I am a cat man my self but if I had to pick a dog out to top a column telling of my valour this one looked positively handsome. Though on second thoughts it might have been a bitch. Anyway I digress. What made me top dog or dog of the week? Read on.
CNN are the Royal Society of Television news channel of the year. But when it comes to Israel its laser beam vision continues to be poorly aimed and inaccurate. On the day of Sharon’s funeral CNN reporter Mohammed Jamjoom was interviewed in Beirut by the anchor in Hong Kong and naturally the conversation came round to the massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by the Christian Phalange Militia. Only it didn’t. This was Sharon’s doing and for the uninitiated watching the bodies lying grotesquely in pools of blood these victims were Sharon’s victims, and those of his butchering Israeli troops. Jamjoom went on to intimate this was why the Palestinians hated the ex general and former Prime Minister. Then the camera cut to a Palestinian who felt comforted by the fact that Sharon was now being punished by god. I kept waiting for either Jamjoom or the anchor to give the explanation that the then Israeli defence minister had ordered Christian Phalange troops into the camps to flush the Palestinian fighters out and not to slaughter women and children. But the explanation never came.
Instead it gave a better sense of drama to leave the words bulldozer and butcher hanging in the air.
The problem is that most supporters of Israel are so used to seeing the country as the eternal whipping boys that their eyes glaze over and they fail to protest or try and right wrongs. Me included. Perhaps the chance to be “Top Dog of the Week” might spur a few people on. I pick out an item that needs correcting probably every day. However I do not want to be the eternal top dog. Perhaps if enough people complained the penny might drop in some quarters of the press. If that happened we certainly would not be barking up the wrong tree.