Drunk on self-importance, the media long ago forgot that their job is to be objective in reporting the news. While the complexity and gravity of our current situation requires nuanced reporting, instead we get spin. The media prefers to curate facts in order to paint the bleakest picture possible. Chris Beck, Splice Today
Chris Beck is not referring to media reporting on Israel. He’s referring to Media Manipulation Via Headlines in Coronavirus Era. One example Beck gives is a headline in The Los Angeles Times: A new high for coronavirus deaths in California as counties push ahead with reopening. As he points out, the article itself — assuming the reader actually makes it to the 6th paragraph — indicates the positive trends that form the basis of the decision to reopen, such as the declining number of newly identified cases and the declining number of hospitalizations — down 15% from its peak, reached 6 weeks earlier. According to Beck,
As the media’s figured out that most people don’t read beyond the headlines, they tailor their headlines like any propagandist would. It’s more indoctrinating than informing. The trick to pulling it off while salvaging your reputation is to promote an agenda without telling actual lies.
And there is an agenda behind the headlines of stories about Israel. Back in March, HonestReporting pointed out a headline from AFP about Israel and the coronavirus:
While the headline implied that Israel had unilaterally closed the West Bank and left the Arabs to fend for themselves, anyone who actually read the article would find out that
o The closure was done with the cooperation of the PA. o They had set up a committee to cooperate on fighting the virus. o Israel still allows Palestinian Arabs to enter Israel for medical treatment. o Palestinian Arabs are allowed to continue working in the West Bank settlements.
In 2016, an attack in Tel Aviv’s Sarona market left four people dead and 16 wounded. It was a terrorist attack, but CNN wanted to be “objective”:
Following an uproar over the scare-quotes, CNN apologized and admitted in a press release “the attacks were, without question, terrorist attacks.” It’s a case of pursuing an agenda without telling actual lies — as Beck put it. And since the media is not pursuing stories about the treatment of Palestinian Arabs elsewhere, such as in Lebanon where they are treated as second-class citizens, it seems clear the bias is not out of the media’s concern for the plight of Palestinian Arabs. Rather than resorting to scare-quotes to avoid labeling Palestinian terrorists as terrorists, the more common method the media uses is to scrub from the headline any hint of wrongdoing at all on the part of the terrorist. A terrorist attack in Jerusalem during which 2 Palestinian attackers attempted to stab police and were subsequently shot, led to this grotesque headline:
So it begins with the villain being the Israeli police. Then, in a nod to fairness, it’s changed to an evil car. Then finally, it’s a murderous Palestinian. It’s progress, I suppose.
For their part, Israelis often accuse Western editors of bias, even latent anti-Semitism, for, say, putting the shooting of a West Bank student by Israeli troops on the front page, while burying the shooting of 20 Palestinian students by Jordanian troops inside the paper.
An American study of readers’ habits has concluded that fewer than 30 percent read past the headlines of news stories. More important, the headline colors the story. Even a highly critical review of a play, for example, is perceived as positive if the headline contains the word “successful”; all the aspersions in the body of the review are then regarded as mere cavils. Conversely, a negative sounding headline taints even the most fulsome praise. [emphasis added]
A young Arab was nearly lynched today in Jerusalem.
Followers of news from Israel in the Western press must wonder about this country of unbounded miracles, in which stones are thrown, cars are torched, and Jews are shot, stabbed, and burned to death by some sort of spontaneous process, with the perpetrators unknown.
While some Jews are outraged by biased coverage that unfairly depicts Israel as a villain, others internalize the calumnies and distance themselves from the Jewish state. An average consumer of news may not be influenced by the Times. But a not-insignificant portion of American Jewry still regards the newspaper with the sort of veneration that observant Jews have for religious texts. The Times has been assaulting the Jewish community with the prejudices of its publishers, editors and reporters since the days when, as Dermer rightly notes, it “buried” the story of the Holocaust. Media bias may not have turned Americans against Israel, but it has been doing a bang-up job of turning Jews against each other for decades.