Take care with that Fidel Castro coverage

Fidel Castro. Source: Wikimedia/Antonio Milena - ABr

Fidel Castro. Source: Wikimedia/Antonio Milena – ABr

As you will have heard, Fidel Castro has died. If you read the information at the Guardian and the BBC, you might get the impression he was some kind of sainted hero. Other views should be considered. For example, as Guido Fawkes points out:

Nothing however beats the BBC’s coverage. They are reporting Castro death more favourably than Thatcher’s. No ‘controversial’. No mention of the thousands summarily executed after the revolution. No mention that he demanded the USSR nuke the USA. No mention of the decades of impoverishment and human rights abuse. No mention of his secret police rounding up homosexuals and putting them in concentration camps. Castro gets a free pass on democratic norms – “his critics accused him of being a dictator”. Does the BBC think that is only an allegation? Particular congratulations to the BBC News Channel, who interviewed “Cuba expert” Richard Gott, without mentioning he was a KGB agent of influence. Slow clap.

In other words, he was a classical, brutal, dictator. Except, that’s not the case for the BBC and the Guardian. For example, here’s what the Guardian has as its token concession to truth:

Critics liked to argue that “General” Castro was no different in essence from any other Latin America dictator, yet such criticism was hard to sustain.

Eh? Liked to argue?  Hard to sustain? The only thing that’s hard to sustain here is the idea that this piece was an attempt at an objectiver obituary. It’s hagiography, pure and simple.

If that type of coverage doesn’t tell you that real journalism has gone nuts, nothing will.

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Bad news at the Independent

On June 16 2016, the excellent UK Media Watch reported as follows:

The latest smear against Israel in the British media involves a distortion used repeatedly by mainstream media outlets, NGOs and pro-Palestinian propagandists: the charge that Israel cruelly uses water as a weapon against innocent Palestinian civilians, cruelly denying the population an adequate supply.

The particular (well deserved) target of their attention was a dreadful dose of demonization  at the Independent‘s website by Peter Yeung, accusing Israel of cutting the water supply to the Palestinians for Ramadan. This, despite the fact that the opposite was true, and had been shown as such to the Independent. The details are here.

On 17 June 2016, UK Media Watch followed up its earlier report by revealing something very interesting: in response to some of the criticism of his article, Peter Yeung sent a tweet as follows.

“The allegation still stands. It was never reported as fact.”

That’s a breathtakingly stupid explanation, if you ask me. Talk about failing to take responsibility!

As UK media Watch pointed out:

It’s the responsibility of professional journalists (and their editors) to determine if allegations have merit, not merely to parrot baseless charges and malevolent smears.

And they have lodged a complaint.

Meantime, I wonder if there is an explanation for this shocking state of affairs. I am a subscriber to the print edition of Private Eye magazine. The issue number 1420 (10 June – 23 June 2016) has just reached me, and look what I saw on page 9:

p-eye-1

Perhaps the real reason for that daft piece, and the even more daft excuse for not sorting it, can be found in the Private Eye piece:

  • Did Mr Yeung file the offending piece in the hope it was a scoop?
  • Was Mr Yeung following established practice?
  • Was Mr Yeung discouraged from checking any facts?
  • Or, did Mr Yeung have a query about the article, once the storm of criticism started, but never got the go ahead from his manager to spend money on a legal query?

It is possible he did check with Foot Antsey. That excuse is exactly the type of thing some inexperienced junior legal trainee might have come up with – and it at least would have the merit of being cheap advice!

But, for sure, if the Private Eye article is correct, it scarcely seems that the Independent has any chance of being the home of serious journalism. So UK Media Watch is on target here, and will probably find its sights back on that website sooner rather than later.

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Does anti-Israel bias start at Ben Gurion Airport?

“On the other hand, Israel has terrible PR. The Israeli government does not defend itself very well against media bias in times of war or when facing criticism. The spokespeople for this or that politician are not the friendliest. Almost every member of the Israeli bureaucracy is more or less rude to journalists. Let’s also not forget the treatment of journalists and diplomats at Ben-Gurion Airport. Jewish or non-Jewish, if you don’t hold an Israeli passport, you may be treated like a potential threat to the state. One shouldn’t underestimate the effect this has on how journalists see Israel.
I once had lunch in Jerusalem with an accomplished member of the foreign press. I asked her about her personal experiences as a journalist. She had been in the region for about a year. She told me that when she arrived, Israelis were not very friendly to her, but Palestinians were. This was a strong factor in her tendency to write articles that were anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian. In fact, during that conversation she spoke at length about Palestinian hospitality and how it was a major factor in her impression of the conflict. Arabs have a well-earned reputation for amazing hospitality.”

From a must read (well written, sensible, intelligent, and enlightening) article by Zenobia Ravji, a journalist based in Israel, at the Tower, here. In case you cannot be bothered, here’s another extract to tempt you:

“Over time, I came to realize that to be considered a successful journalist by the Western media, a journalist must stick to an acceptable script. In the Middle East, this means portraying Israel and the Jews as the bad guys, and the Palestinians and the PA as the good guys. If you don’t do this, you are professionally ostracized.

I know that journalism has changed with the advent of the internet and the power of social media. But the reality is that foreign correspondents have also changed their ways. I saw journalists depict the easiest stories to tell without digging any deeper into the facts behind the conflict. There were various reasons for this—lack of time, money, and resources; ignorance and pressure from editors. These editors sometimes act as experts on the region from their comfortable offices in New York.

Beyond this, however, I found that some stories carried with them an inherent dislike for the Jewish state and the Jewish people. I’m not speaking about most of the Western media. But a few conversations with journalists do come to mind in which it was obvious that the motivation for their stories was anti-Semitism. What’s scary is that these stories inevitably play a major role in shaping foreign policy toward Israel.
Of course, every news outlet, newspaper, or magazine has an agenda. There is no such thing as an unbiased journalist. We bring our experiences, interactions with people, and our emotions to bear on every story and situation. This is inevitable. Biases will always exist. But we still have a responsibility to uncover and portray the truth to the best of our ability. Admitting to our biases does not mean we should submit to them.”

First seen at Daphne Anson‘s blog.

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Calling all journalists

From YNET:

Abbas threatens to dismantle Palestinian Authority
PA president’s proposal to declare West Bank under occupation would annul Oslo Accords, leave Israel with full responsibility over Palestinians.

The era of the two-state solution may soon be rocked by a decision that could signal its demise. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is mulling the merits of a proposal to dismantle the Palestinian Authority, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Sunday morning.

Palestinian sources confirm that the government in Ramallah was considering the unprecedented move. Senior sources in the IDF’s Central Command, who recently met with the heads of the Palestinian security services confirmed their West Bank counterparts were sincerely debating dismantling and disarming the PA’s forces.

I read that and thought, he’s done this before. This is not new. Why isn’t this pointed out? Am I going mad?

Minutes of browsing, courtesy of the irreplaceable Elder of Ziyon, produced the following. Abbas made the same threat in

  • December 2012
  • December 2010
  • November 2009
  • September 2008
  • July 2008
  • June 2007

Where are the real journalists who do things like fact checking?

As for the threat, isn’t this the same PA that has just applied to join several international bodies? How stupid does that make him look if he meant it?

This threat is a nonsense – like much of Abbas posturing – so when will somebody call him on it?

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