“Israeli Strike Kills Hundreds in Hospital, Palestinians Say,” The New York Times proclaimed on Tuesday, following an explosion outside a Gaza hospital. Two sitting congresswomen, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, quickly spread the story on X, with Tlaib posting, “Israel just bombed the Baptist Hospital killing 500 Palestinians (doctors, children, patients) just like that.”
The Israel Defense Force or IDF promptly countered the claims, stating Hamas was responsible for the rocket. Throughout the afternoon, IDF provided evidence that the explosion resulted from a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket, including videos of the rocket launch, pictures of the parking lot of the hospital which showed only minor damage from the explosion, inconsistent with IDF weapons, and an intercepted communication between Hamas terrorists discussing the Islamic Jihad misfire.
Since then, “the Pentagon independently concluded the Gaza hospital blast was likely caused by an errant Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket that fell short of its target.”
But while The New York Times and other outlets, which originally unquestioningly repeated Hamas’ anti-Israel propaganda, later tweaked their headlines and presented Israel’s denial of responsibility, they continued to report that “hundreds” were killed at the hospital — an unlikely figure given the damage appears limited to a small exterior section of the hospital complex. Still others, such as Tlaib, continued to falsely claim Israel had bombed the hospital.
As The Federalist’s John Daniel Davidson reported Wednesday, the ramifications of repeating Hamas’ propaganda proved significant:
By nightfall in the Middle East, angry mobs assaulted the embassies and military bases of Israel, the United States, and other Western powers. The streets of Baghdad, Istanbul, Beirut, Amman, Doha, Tehran, Cairo, Rabat, and even some European cities like Berlin and Barcelona were filled with hordes of enraged Hamas sympathizers who believed (and now will always believe) that Israel struck the hospital. The fake news cycle even derailed President Biden’s trip to the region. Jordan abruptly canceled a planned summit with the United States, Egypt, and Palestinian leaders while Biden was en route. It also placed American lives in real danger.
Ironically, some of the same folks amplifying the lie that the hospital had been bombed and some 500 people killed expressed concern that it’s impossible “to tell what’s real or fake” on X, with all the “guardrails” gone. Those supposed “guardrails,” of course, were the “content-moderation policies” Twitter’s pre-Elon Musk executives enforced.
That meddling Musk: If it weren’t for his takeover of Twitter, The New York Times never would have fallen for Hamas’ propaganda!
Never mind that Twitter used those supposedly now-missing “guardrails” to censor the New York Post and its accurate reporting on the evidence recovered from Hunter Biden’s laptop implicating then-presidential candidate Joe Biden in a pay-to-play scandal. Then mere weeks before the 2020 election, The New York Times and the majority of the other corporate media outlets would follow Twitter’s lead and portray the Post’s reporting as Russian disinformation. It would be a year or more later before the outlets would finally admit to the authenticity of the laptop and the reporting.
Brit Hume, Fox News’ chief political analyst, best captured the dissonance at play, quipping: “Do you think those who signed the letter about the Hunter Biden laptop would be willing to say the claim that Israel bombed that Gaza hospital has ‘all the earmarks’ of Hamas propaganda?”
Hume was referring, of course, to the letter 51 former intelligence officials signed, falsely portraying the Hunter Biden laptop story as Russian disinformation. Biden would cite that letter in his final debate with then-President Trump in late October to refute claims of corruption, and a few weeks later he would win the White House.
Just last week, Obama’s CIA Director Leon Panetta defended his decision to sign the letter, telling Fox News’ Bret Baier, “No, I don’t have any regrets.” Panetta excused his interference in the presidential election, saying, “Well, Bret, look, I was extremely concerned about, uh, Russian, uh, interference and misinformation. And we all know intelligence agencies discovered that Russia had continued to push disinformation across the board. And my concern was to kind of alert the public to be aware that these disinformation efforts went on. And frankly, I haven’t seen any evidence from any intelligence agency that that was not the case.”
But the FBI and multiple media outlets, beyond the New York Post, confirmed the authenticity of the laptop — something Panetta surely knows.
Fighting Misinfo Is Never the Point
This all goes to prove that “misinformation,” “disinformation,” and “mal-information” don’t mean what the corporate press, establishment politicians, and career bureaucrats pretend they mean: The push to pressure Big Tech and the corporate press to censor so-called misinformation is not about protecting the public from falsehoods — not that that should be the government or the platforms’ job anyway.
It is also not about ensuring the accuracy and truthfulness of reporting. Tuesday’s peddling by the newspaper of record proves that — as does the censorship of truthful and accurate information on social media under the guise of combatting misinformation, whether it be the Hunter Biden laptop story, Covid reporting, or coverage of election-integrity issues.
Rather, those demanding that more be done to combat so-called mis-, dis-, and mal-information seek to silence the speech that conflicts with their worldview — and the people who speak it. Truth be damned.
That is what makes Tuesday’s exhibition both enlightening and deeply painful. In reporting that Israel bombed the Gaza hospital and killed hundreds, based solely on Hamas’ say-so, the outlets confirmed they have no real interest in combating disinformation. Instead, they exposed that between Israel and Hamas, they side with the terrorists.