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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Guardian guarding its old guard

UK Media Watch has an on target post about the Guardian‘s latest media manipulation. Adam Levick does a great job of sorting through the rubbish to clearly portray what is going on.

This sets the background:

To sum up: Palestinians violated two fundamental principles of political freedom:

<> They denied access to a journalist due to her nationality and/or religious background.

<> They responded to Johnson’s contrary political views not by engaging in an argument with him, but by dis-inviting him and creating an atmosphere whereby his physical safety couldn’t be guaranteed.

What happened?

…how did the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont – who presumably supports absolute freedom of the press and free speech more broadly – cover the row?

First, he completely ignored the Palestinian discrimination against a Jewish-Israeli reporter.

Think about that for a moment. This reporter ignored a blatant case of discrimination. He pretended it did not exist. Why? There are several potential reasons, but none of them do Mr Beaumont or the Guardian any credit. By their behavior they are taking sides, and not with the good guys.

Additionally, he framed the dis-invitation and threats of violence against Johnson not as an offense against the principles of free speech and a free press, but as a faux pas by mayor known for his “flippancy” and “hyperbolic enthusiasm for Israel”.

On this part, the criticism is valid, but the Guardian’s perspective is at least defensible. However, only if they hadn’t ignored the free speech issues. In other words, they should have mentioned both, and let the reader decide.

Beaumont also conveniently omitted the part of Johnson’s statement to the media where he noted one other fact inconsistent with the Guardian narrative on boycotting the Jewish state. As The Independent, Daily Mail, and other papers noted, Johnson reminded Palestinians that Mahmoud Abbas himself “said very clearly and several times that he was opposed to a boycott of Israel.”

Beaumont would likely be familiar with Abbas’s opposition to BDS, as the Guardian reported the news when the story broke in late 2013.

Now that is funny. Beaumont had to engage in cherry picking what Johnson said, so as to guard the Guardian’s world view. That is not journalism. Adam Levick makes this point very well:

But, of course, this is more than simply one example of a biased journalist covering for Palestinians based on his personal sympathy for their political cause. Rather, it’s a small part of a larger pattern, prevalent in within the opinion elite, of denying Palestinians moral agency and failing to hold them to the same political standards Israelis are held to – a view which demands that Palestinians only exist as passive victims of Israeli oppression and Western arrogance.

Whatever you say about Boris Johnson, his rejection of such a patronizing view of Palestinians almost guaranteed such coverage by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent.

If Beaumont and other reporters based in the region want to be a political activists that’s of course their right. However, those who read such reports from Israel and the Palestinian territories must understand that what they’re reading is advocacy, not professional journalism as it’s normally understood.

Read the whole post, here. And do what you can to spread the word. This material deserves a much higher circulation. Just like the Guardian deserves a much lower circulation, given its abominable non adherence to standards, and its activism based campaigning, or whatever you want to call it. It’s not journalism. It’s guarding their world view, just for the sake of it.

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