Me­dia bias was every­where

ANAL­Y­SIS

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - ADAM LE­VICK

THE FIRST port of call for an ex­am­i­na­tion of bias in me­dia cov­er­age of the teens’ mur­ders is nat­u­rally the Guardian, one of the largest pur­vey­ors of the anti-Is­rael nar­ra­tive. But it would be a mis­take to fo­cus there ex­clu­sively, as such cov­er­age is, sadly, ubiq­ui­tous.

News sto­ries dur­ing the weeks be­fore the dis­cov­ery of the bod­ies in­cluded a pre­dictable em­pha­sis on the set­tle­ments, a pic­to­rial fo­cus on Pales­tinian suf­fer­ing and a fail­ure to re­port the con­text of in­cite­ment.

Sev­eral sto­ries falsely re­ported that the teens were “set­tlers”, a pe­jo­ra­tive term used to po­si­tion Is­raeli vic­tims of ter­ror as some­how de­serv­ing their fate. The Guardian and In­de­pen­dent sug­gested this, al­though both er­rors were later cor­rected fol­low­ing our com­plaints. But the Econ­o­mist has re­fused to cor­rect their false char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion of the teens as “three young Jewish set­tlers”.

Most pho­tos fo­cused on the Is­raeli mil­i­tary re­sponse, rather than the boys or their fam­i­lies. A Daily Mail ar­ti­cle stood out as the worst ex­am­ple: 16 pho­tos de­pict­ing Is­raeli mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions near He­bron.

Other ex­am­ples of se­lec­tive reporting in­clude the fact that none of the ar­ti­cles men­tioned the sup­port ex­pressed by some Pales­tini­ans for the kid­nap­ping, while sev­eral found space to men­tion a mar­ginal Is­raeli Face­book group call­ing for the killing of ter­ror­ists.

There was, in­evitably, a com­mon fo­cus on Is­rael’s “dis­pro­por­tion­ate re­sponse” to the killings. The Guardian’s Jerusalem cor­re­spon­dent re-tweeted a col­league who, on learn­ing of the deaths, said his main fear per­tained to IDF “reprisals” against Pales­tinian civil­ians. A Guardian ed­i­to­rial warned Is­rael against “lash­ing out in­dis­crim­i­nately” at “all Pales­tini­ans for the ac­tions of a few”.

A Fi­nan­cial Times fea­ture fo­cused on “fears of re­tal­i­a­tion by set­tlers and a tough mil­i­tary re­sponse”, and an Econ­o­mist ar­ti­cle on an en­tirely dif­fer­ent sub­ject man­aged to in­veigh against the “un­jus­ti­fied suf­fer­ing” likely to be in­flicted upon in­no­cent Pales­tini­ans. A story in the In­de­pen­dent also em­pha­sised “Pales­tini­ans’ fear of Is­raeli col­lec­tive pun­ish­ment”.

In short, sto­ries were typ­i­cally aligned with the UK me­dia’s pre­ferred nar­ra­tive — Is­raeli ag­gres­sion and Pales­tinian vic­tim­hood. UK read­ers, how­ever, have a right to de­mand higher stan­dards, in which facts, bal­ance and ob­jec­tiv­ity take prece­dence over the kind of agenda-driven jour­nal­ism which continues to com­pro­mise UK me­dia cov­er­age of the Mid­dle East. Adam Le­vick is Man­ag­ing Edi­tor, CiF Watch

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