Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler
Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Tuesday, November 27.
1) Pexton supporting Hamas
After the Jayson Blair scandal the New York Times and other newspapers
introduced a "public editor." Other newspapers, such as the Washington
Post (which calls its public editor an "ombudsman") have had them for
longer. The idea behind the public editor is to have someone who outside
of the newsroom or editorial offices of the newspaper act as its
in-house critic. Presumably someone outside of the newspaper's culture
with a non-renewable contract can be a better critic of a newspaper than
someone from within.
But public editors are usually taken from the ranks of other newspapers.
While they may not be part of a given paper's culture, they are still
usually taken from newsrooms and editorial offices and are very much a
part of the journalistic culture. So rather than representing the public
in any meaningful way, they are more likely to explain to the
uninformed public why the editors and reporters have much better
judgment than their critics.
One of the worst and most partisan of these public editors is the
current ombudsman of the Washington Post, Patrick Pexton. On Sunday he
wrote, Photo of dead baby in Gaza holds part of the ‘truth’:
A photograph may be worth a thousand words, but even at its most
revealing it never tells an entire story. It is the capture of a single
moment, a split-second version of the truth. But if it is an effective
photograph, it moves the viewer toward a larger truth.
According to the witness account, the house was not hit by a bomb, but by shrapnel.
That’s certainly the case for a front-page photographp ublished Nov. 15,
an image of a man’s anguish as he held the shrouded body of his
11-month-old son, who was killed in a bomb strike on the man’s house in
That the man is Palestinian — not a terrorist but a journalist — and
that the bomb was dropped by Israelis, to my mind, is almost beside the
point. This photo depicted loss and pain, the horrific cost to innocents
on both sides of the violence in the Middle East.
Here's Pexton marginalizing the criticism. Who objects? Jews. I would
agree that the photo itself isn't biased, but without providing greater
context it is certainly misleading. Note too how Pexton slyly suggested
that an innocent man was targeted by Israel.
But many Post readers saw it differently. Jewish groups and American
Jews in large numbers wrote to the ombudsman and to Post editors,
protesting the photo as biased.
Post staff then authenticated and verified the facts behind the
Associated Press photo. The dead baby was real. The bombing was real.
Again, it wasn't a bombing. Pexton then misdirects his readers. For
years residents of southern Israel have been under rocket attack. Never
has the Post cared enough to focus on the fear that Israelis live with.
When Israel strikes back and there's collateral damage (though it's far from clear that Israel was responsible
for the blast that killed the baby) that's when the Post does a story.
For people not following the news from Israel, the emphasis on the dead
baby might well prompt questions as to why Israel would take an action
that would have such severe consequences.
Many readers asked why The Post didn’t balance the photo of the grieving
father with one of Israelis who had lost a loved one from the Gaza
rocket fire. That’s a valid question.
The answer is that The Post cannot publish photographs that don’t exist.
No Israeli civilian had been killed by Gaza rocket fire since Oct. 29,
2011, more than a year earlier. The first Israeli civilian deaths from
Gaza rocket fire in 2012 did not take place until Nov. 15, when Hamas,
the group that controls Gaza, began firing more accurate and deadly
missiles in response to the Israeli offensive that had begun the day
before. There were no recent photos of Israeli casualties to be had on
the night of Nov. 14.
I think we can all agree that the Gaza rocket fire is reprehensible
and is aimed at terrorizing Israeli civilians. It’s disruptive and
traumatic. But let’s be clear: The overwhelming majority of rockets
fired from Gaza are like bee stings on the Israeli bear’s behind.
In response, Petra Marquadt-Bigman wrote in the Algemeiner (h/t Ron M):
These rockets are unguided and erratic, and they carry very small
explosive payloads; they generally fall in open areas, causing little
damage and fewer injuries.
You can safely bet the ranch on it: When a Washington Post writer
dismisses thousands of rockets as not much more than “bee stings” on a
“bear’s behind,” the country that is targeted with these rockets is
"Reprehensible," "disruptive" and "traumatic" are just words. Pexton
can't bring himself to use the word "evil." Pexton's blind eye, of
course, distracts from the larger truth. Hamas is a terrorist
organization that targets innocents. It places its rocket batteries near
civilians hoping for collateral damage. If Pexton wants a picture that
tells the truth, what about the marked aerial photographs showing how Hamas places its military assets in civilian areas?
The callous dismissal of the roughly 12 000 rockets and mortars that
have been raining down on Israel’s south and its 1 million residents in
the past 12 years – yes, on average a thousand attacks a year – is all
the more outrageous when you consider that it comes from the Washington
Post’s ombudsman Patrick Pexton. Officially, Pexton “represents readers
who have concerns or complaints on topics including accuracy, fairness,
ethics and the news-gathering process. He also serves as The Post’s
internal critic and strives to promote public understanding of the
newspaper, its Web site and journalism more generally.”
With his response to criticism of a recent front page photograph showing
a grief-stricken father from Gaza holding the shrouded body of his
infant son, Pexton certainly succeeded in giving the public a glimpse of
the multiple biases that apparently guide his own work when it comes to
Israel’s efforts to defend its citizens against bombs and terrorism.
Pexton is simply a partisan hack who has no patience for criticism of
the Washington Post's editorial process. The real problem is that Hamas
bases its operations near civilians in the hopes of collateral damage
that will distract from Hamas's terrorism. By publishing a dramatic
picture of the collateral damage and providing no context, the
Washington Post helped promote Hamas's media strategy.
2) Carr supporting Hamas
The Washington Post hasn't been as bad as the New York Times. The Times
using not only its news pages but its opinion pages too, has been
leading a campaign against Israel for years. (Pro-Israel opinion
articles are outnumbered by anti-Israel opinion articles by a ratio of
So I guess it was only a matter of time before the New York Times media critic would get involved. Yesterday David Carr wrote Using War as Cover to Target Journalists:
On the same day as the Waldorf event, three employees of news
organizations were killed in Gaza by Israeli missiles. Rather than
suggesting it was a mistake, or denying responsibility, an Israeli
Defense Forces spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, told The
Associated Press, “The targets are people who have relevance to terror
The problem is as Elder of Ziyon documented two of the "journalists" he cited were terrorists.
So it has come to this: killing members of the news media can be
justified by a phrase as amorphous as “relevance to terror activity.”
Mahmoud al-Kumi and Hussam Salama worked as cameramen for Al-Aqsa TV,
which is run by Hamas and whose reporting frequently reflects that
affiliation. They were covering events in central Gaza when a missile
struck their car, which, according to Al-Aqsa, was clearly marked with
the letters “TV.” (The car just in front of them was carrying a
translator and driver for The New York Times, so the execution hit close
to our organization.) And Mohamed Abu Aisha, director of the private
Al-Quds Educational Radio, was also in a car when it was hit by a
In the case of Mohamed Abu Aisha, he clearly was a uniform-wearing member of Islamic Jihad...
(More on Abu Aisha here. )
Islamic Jihad doesn't describe him as a journalist, but as an instructor
for the Mujahideen of Al-Quds Brigades in Deir al-Balah Battalion
Similarly, Hamas message boards refer to Hussam Salama as a "mujahid." That is not a word used to describe civilians.
The Free Beacon adds:
Yet al-Kumi and Salama were not journalists—in fact, they had
spray-painted “TV” on their car in an attempt to disguise themselves as
journalists and thereby prevent the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) from
firing on them. The disguise didn’t fool anyone except for David Carr
and the New York Times. Who in fact were they?
Brian of London points out that when NATO targeted a Serbian TV station in 1999, there was no such outrage. As Mark Jacobs tweeted:
@brianoflondon "The propag machine is prolonging the war and it’s a legitimate target."Clare Short on NATO bombing RTS bit.ly/bEPkjw
Similarly Alana Goodman observed:
Should Israel be expected to let any militant who paints “TV” on his
car drive by under the radar? Samir Khan was the editor of al-Qaeda’s
Inspire magazine until he was killed in a CIA drone strike, but the New
York Times has yet to accuse the Obama administration of “using war as
cover to target journalists.” Apparently, Israel is the only country
that’s expected to treat terrorists-posing-as-reporters the same way it
treats actual reporters.
Israel Matzav, Honest Reporting and others have also critqued Carr.
How did Carr respond to the criticism? He tweeted that one crank had threatened him. He told BuzzFeed:
"I ran my column by reporters and editors at our shop familiar with
current events in the region before I printed it," Carr said. "And I
don't believe that an ID made by the IDF is dispostive or obviates what
the others said. Doesn't mean that I could not have gotten it wrong,
only that the evidence so far suggests that they were journalists,
First of all he makes clear that he trusts Hamas more than he trusts the
IDF. His casual "Doesn't mean that I couldn't have gotten it wrong"
belies the sensationalism of his charges. He knew his column would be
controversial; he should have made sure of his facts. (For a media
critic with access to the internet checking with reporters and editors
is awfully lazy. Elder of Ziyon and others found that Islamic Jihad and
Hamas bragged about these men.) Finally "partisan" is an odd way to
describe terrorists. The men Israel targeted were devoted to terrorizing
or killing Israelis. They were legitimate targets.
Carr, like Pexton, decided to use his forum to further Hamas's message.
Labels: anti-Israel media bias, Gaza, Hamas, human shields, journalists, Middle East Media Sampler, New York Times, Operation Pillar of Defense, Soccer Dad, Washington Post