by Steven Emerson
The Jerusalem Post
August 16, 2014http://www.investigativeproject.org/4521/who-watches-the-watchers
The performance of the media in covering the Israel-Gaza conflict remains the one
area of investigation that is sorely needed.
As is the historical pattern concerning Israel, last week began the growing tsunami
of groups - representing the United Nations, The Hague, the European Union, human
rights groups, and other non-governmental organizations - announcing their intention
to "investigate and review" the military actions under taken by Israel and Hamas
during the past five weeks to determine if "war crimes" were committed.
We know from past history the demonstrable manifestation of the vitriolic anti
Israeli (and some might add anti-Semitic) bias by nearly all of these organizations
clamoring to declare Israel guilty of war crimes, as they have repeatedly accused
Israel in the past of everything from massive human rights violations to war crimes
No other country in the world - even those like the Sudan, North Korea and Iran -
who have committed genuine massive human rights violations - have ever been the
object of such massive condemnations as Israel has selectively been. And as far as
the official inclusion of Hamas actions into the investigative agenda of these
groups, we know that their inclusion is only window dressing, designed to give the
false veneer that their investigations are "even handed."
Yesterday, the UN announced that nearly 2,000 civilians were killed in the Ukrainian
battle with the pro Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine in the past 2 days alone.
Two-thousand in two days? In five weeks, Gaza suffered 1,957 deaths, of which most
were actual terrorists, not civilians, as the mainstream media and UN agencies had
speciously alleged. But don't expect any onslaught of investigations by the UN or
human rights groups. And where was the international media coverage of the 2,000
deaths in eastern Ukraine? AWOL of course.
Indeed. the performance of the media in covering the Israel-Gaza conflict remains
the one area of investigation that is sorely needed. And if truth be told, why
should the media be afraid of an assessment of its performance? After all, it is a
profession that claims the moral high ground, asserts that it is only pursuing "the
truth," claims that it is the only institution in a free society that can provide
accountability to the actions of the government, hence the moniker "Fourth Estate"
for the media, and portrays any criticism of its performance as somehow an attack on
But who watches over the watchers?
Well, no one actually does. Yet the media likes to proclaim they are self-policing
and that any external oversight would be a violation of the fundamental right to
free speech. So from time to time, ever so rarely, we actually witness the media
admitting to mistakes and inaccuracies in its coverage. Generally speaking however,
those admissions of wrongdoing are initiated not by the high priests in the
mainstream media but by "lesser" media on the periphery of the priesthood, outside
observers and critics who have caught the media with their hands in the cookie jars
and by truly honest journalists, few as they are, snubbed and derided by the
mainstream media. Just look at how established journalists Bernard Goldberg and
Sharyl Attkisson were viciously denigrated and attacked by the mainstream media
after they had the chutzpa - actually integrity - to criticize the performance of
their own co-religionists.
What is at stake here is the very honesty and accuracy of the mainstream media's
coverage of the Israel-Gaza war. Specifically, how honest, fair and accurate was the
mainstream media - such as The Washington Post, National Public Radio, The New York
Times, and CNN - in covering Hamas actions in Gaza, Hamas human rights violations
and atrocities, and Hamas threats to journalists. We know all too well how they
covered Israeli actions in Gaza. Coverage of the deaths and damage in Gaza was
covered wall to wall by both print and television, often without providing the
critical context that the Israeli targets were Hamas terrorist missile launching
sites, Hamas command and control headquarters, and Hamas military sites - all
embedded in Gaza's civilian population centers, from schools to hospitals to UN
In the coverage provided by those above named media outlets, there was not one photo
of one Hamas terrorist, not one photo of a Hamas missile site embedded in a civilian
area, such as a UN school, hospital, apartment building, kindergarten. There was not
one story or photo of Hamas executions of Palestinian dissidents. And there was not
one story about direct Palestinian threats to and harassment of journalists if Hamas
suspected them of actually showing any of the above. Thus, it was with amazingly
refreshing candor that we witnessed Foreign Press Association (FPA), an organization
of 480 international journalists covering Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, actually
issue a statement last weekcondemning the threats by and intimidation of journalists
It's worth reprinting the actual text of the FPA statement, known for its antipathy
to Israel than for any criticism ever issued of Hamas.
"The FPA protests in the strongest terms the blatant, incessant, forceful and
unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives
against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month. The
international media are not advocacy organizations and cannot be prevented from
reporting by means of threats or pressure, thereby denying their readers and viewers
an objective picture from the ground. In several cases, foreign reporters working in
Gaza have been harassed, threatened or questioned over stories or information they
have reported through their news media or by means of social media.
We are also aware that Hamas is trying to put in place a 'vetting' procedure that
would, in effect, allow for the blacklisting of specific journalists. Such a
procedure is vehemently opposed by the FPA."
A truly extraordinary statement. But did the mainstream media in the US actually
report on this self-indictment? Not one mainstream media outlet said a word. Not
Worse, some journalists like the Jodi Rudoren, New York Times bureau chief in
Israel, dismissed the FPA statement with total disdain. In a blog posted by the
media oversight group CAMERA, Rudoren's response to the FPA statement was short and
sweet: "Every reporter I've met who was in Gaza during war says this Israeli/now FPA
narrative of Hamas harassment is nonsense."
The CAMERA blog then went on to cite the numerous reports by journalists, after they
left Gaza, of how Hamas threatened, intimidated and manipulated them.
But all that must have been part of a fabricated Zionist narrative according to
Rudoren. And so must have been the report about the planned massive Hamas multi
tunnel attack that was to occur near the period of the high holy days. This planned
attack was intended to kill up to tens of thousands of Israeli civilians. But in the
more than 800 stories filed by The New York Times during the five-week war, the
Times never reported a word of it. Why? According to an email that I obtained that
sent by Rudoren, she claimed she spoke to an Israeli military official who dismissed
the planned Hamas attack as "totally false, a rumor, no evidence whatsoever."
When I asked Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesperson about this plot, he said, "Israeli
military intelligence confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hamas had planned to
carry out this multi-tunnel attack in order to kill thousands and thousands of
Israeli civilians." Nearly every single Israeli media outlet--even those like
Ha'aretz known for their ultra left views--reported on this mass murder Hamas plot.
But left unreported for readers of the Times, thanks to a manifestly pernicious
ideological agenda of its bureau chief in Israel.
Rudoren was interviewed on CNN's Reliable Sources on July 30, 2014 The show's host,
Hala Gorani, revealed CNN's own unvarnished anti Israeli bias in the questions she
asked of Rudoren: "Jodi, we have been showing our viewers and international networks
have been running these images of absolute devastation and the humanitarian disaster
in Gaza. Are Israelis in their own country seeing these same images?
Rudoren responded: "Not as much. I mean, certainly some. But in some ways you have
to seek it out. I -- someone told me that they were watching Al Jazeera so that they
could get the other side as well."
In fact, as anyone watching Israeli television, there was extensive coverage of the
damage inflicted by the IDF in Gaza. Rudoren's statement that Israelis had to sneak
viewing of Al-Jazeerah was simply a fabrication. But to CNN, it was incredulous that
Israelis could not disown their own government for defending them from the thousands
of rockets reigning down on the entire population and the dozens of tunnels dug into
Israel to carry out mass murder attacks. Unlike CNN, Israeli television also showed
how Hamas had stored munitions and launched missiles from mosques, hospitals,
schools and UN facilities. Israeli TV also showed photos of Hamas command and
control facilities at Al Shifa hospital as well as photos of the actual munitions
and missile launching sites embedded in civilian areas.
On another CNN Show that aired on August 3, 2014, host Brian Stelter acknowledged
that viewers had complained that CNN was deliberately refraining from showing
pictures of Hamas terrorists or how they operated out of civilian areas.
Stelter: "So are reporters in Gaza under pressure from Hamas? Are they being
intimidated into only showing civilians, and not the people Israel calls terrorists?
Well, I asked the executive in charge of international here at CNN, Tony Maddox. And
he says no.
Let me put his comments up on screen: "Our in-field reporters have repeatedly say
that Hamas militants are rarely to be found on the streets of Gaza. We have had no
intimidation from Hamas and received no threats regarding our reporting. They have
so far refused all requests for interviews in Gaza.