On the morning of November 4th, I opened my email from the Wall Street Journal, one of the few media outlets espousing – what I believe to be – the “right” opinions on the Israel-Hamas war. These “10-Points” emails provide me with daily top-ten news highlights. A particular item caught my eye as I scrolled through that email: it was item number 8 — “the Numbers” — on that ten-point list (copied here):
In response to that item, I wrote the following letter to the editor (unpublished)
To the Editor:
This morning I opened the “10-Point” WSJ email which provides a highlight of the day’s news. Item number 8, in 36 font displayed the number 3,900. Below that was the following text: “The number of Palestinian children who have been killed in four weeks of Israel’s war on Hamas … according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza health authorities.” I find it incomprehensible that the Journal would place this item as a daily highlight with such prominence insofar as Hamas-supplied casualty figures are highly suspect. Even with your naming the source as Hamas, you have highlighted a figure that most readers will presume as fact given this information’s placement and WSJ-endorsement as newsworthy. It is well known that Hamas feeds false figures to the press. President Biden has gone so far as saying “I have no notion that Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed.” He went on to say: “I have no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using.” U.S. National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, John Kirby similarly stated when asked about the veracity of Gazan casualty figures: “… the numbers are not reliable. They’re just not reliable … if you’re going to report casualty figures out of Gaza, I would frankly recommend you [referring to the press] don’t choose numbers put out by an organization that’s run by a terrorist organization.”
This is terrible reporting.