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Press Must Be Held Accountable For Fake Gaza Story That Instigated Violence Worldwide

Image CreditMark Hemingway/FDRLST

We know corporate media are biased, but the reporting on Gaza shows they’re willing to be propagandists — even if their false reports are likely to get people killed.

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Tablet’s Armin Rosen, a really great reporter who’s no stranger to covering Israel and the Middle East, had this to say about the erroneous media coverage of a missile that supposedly hit a hospital in Gaza on Wednesday:

Last night was the worst media f-ckup I’ve ever seen. In terms of the range/seriousness of info gotten wrong, #/prestige/geographic diversity of outlets that f-cked up, overall credulousness, real-world impact, the lack of reflection/remorse etc. Scores a 10 in every category.

As a true connoisseur of media malpractice, I’m not sure it’s the worst ever, but it’s a definite contender. Because I’m old school, and I like to keep my kids offline, I have a hard copy of The Wall Street Journal delivered to my house every day. A WSJ subscription is not cheap. In fact, I pay hundreds of dollars a year for home delivery, and I do this in spite of the fact I have serious issues with the paper.

The news pages have never shared the conservative bent of the editorial pages — in fact, the internal political tensions between the two sections of the paper have been playing out rather publicly in recent years — and slide into hysterical and ideological coverage by the WSJ news team has been noticeable. Wednesday morning, I woke up to the headline you see above: “Blast at Gaza Hospital Kills Hundreds.” The second paragraph credulously cites Hamas officials blaming Israel for the attack and saying 500 were killed, before citing Israeli denials. Of course, by the time the paper landed in my yard that morning, people had been blowing holes in Hamas’ credulous claims about the attack for hours.

Indeed, according to American intelligence officials, the blast was caused by a Hamas rocket that fell short, validating Israeli claims about what happened. Further, the “decimation” of the hospital cited by the WSJ didn’t really happen either. The rocket appears to have hit a parking lot near the hospital, and the casualties are far fewer than Hamas officials claimed.

The only good thing I can say about the WSJ’s coverage is that it wasn’t as bad as The New York Times, where the credulous headlines were even worse. Initially, the Times went with “Israeli Strike Kills Hundreds in Hospital, Palestinians Say.” As facts started emerging, the Times then backed off from specifically blaming Israel but then went out on another stupid limb by changing the headline to “At Least 500 Dead in Strike on Gaza Hospital, Palestinians Say.”

Of course, by the time you got to the eighth paragraph of the Times’ own story on the matter, you realized their own reporting couldn’t support the claims being made in their own headline: “[T]he Gazan health ministry put the toll at 500 or more dead, which the ministry later changed to ‘hundreds.’ No figure could be confirmed independently, but images from the hospital, which is run by the Anglican Church, and witness accounts made clear that it was high.” Bang up job, guys.

If only this kind of dishonest propagandizing from Hamas had been entirely predictable and news organizations could have known to watch out for it! On Oct. 11, six days before the rocket landed in the Gaza hospital parking lot, Adam Rubenstein, tweeted the following: “Also, worth keeping in mind that the ‘they-only-beheaded-some-of-the-babies’ crowd will be quick to cite the death toll of Gazans with no ‘verification’ other than from reports by the Gaza Health Ministry, an arm of Hamas.”

(For what it’s worth, I used to work with Rubenstein at The Weekly Standard, and after we worked together, Rubenstein went on to work on the editorial page of… The New York Times. That job didn’t last too long, at least not after Rubenstein found himself unfairly accused of publishing a perfectly rational op-ed that so offended the hard-left sensibilities of the rest of the paper’s staff they made the laughable claim that being exposed to a contrary opinion literally endangered their lives. At this point, I’m not sure someone like Rubenstein, who is not willing to surrender his rational faculties in order to spout left-wing talking points, is even allowed to work at the Times, no matter how much the paper could benefit from a sensible perspective.)

In any event, The New York Times, along with almost every other major corporate media organization, needs to be held accountable for what happened next:

These protests were not inconsequential. In several cities, angry crowds gathered at American embassies, leading to serious concerns that there would be another Benghazi-style attack. Then there were examples of random violence, such as this from Tunisia: “The synagogue [in Tunisia] attack came hours after false media reports claimed that the Israel Defense Forces had bombed the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza. US and Israeli officials, along with independent intelligence analysts, have all concluded that the blast was due to an errant rocket launched by the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group,” reports The Algemeiner. I don’t know whether it’s fortunate or depressing to note that it was not a functioning synagogue, since any sizable Jewish community has long since been driven out of Muslim Tunisia.

And here in America, Rep. Rashida Tlaib attended a pro-Palestinian rally Wednesday afternoon and broke down in tears citing the erroneous reports of the hospital attack publicly, long after she almost certainly knew they were debunked. The same pro-Palestinian “protesters” she was speaking to, no doubt enraged by the dishonest propaganda, later illegally marched in and took over a House office building where they ran around destroying pro-Israel signs.

And it’s only been a day since these false reports out of Gaza were published by virtually every major media outlet. The idea that the anger has subsided or the outrage stoked by this massive media failure won’t lead to a terror attack or some other tragic outcome is far from determined. Nor have the media learned their lesson. They’re still credulously repeating Hamas propaganda in all sorts of other stories:

And incredibly, the media are still “both sides-ing” the false reports about the hospital bombing that wasn’t. Earlier today, ABC News reported that “Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib refused to apologize Wednesday for saying Tuesday that Israel is to blame for the hospital explosion that day in Gaza, an accusation that sparked political backlash against Tlaib from Republicans as Israel denies fault.” In the media’s telling, the problem is not that Tlaib is knowingly repeating false accusations that are being used to justify violence; the real story here is how there’s a Republican backlash?

At this point, it’s beyond tiresome to point out that the media are biased and wrong, but this is a whole new level. If they continue to defer to propaganda because it suits their deranged worldview, they’re going to make an already tragic conflict so much worse and get even more people killed.

This simply can’t be tolerated. Over the past week, we saw several major donors withdraw money from universities condoning and tolerating pro-terror protests. If the media persist in reporting pro-Hamas propaganda, they deserve to start acutely feeling pain from subscribers and advertisers alike.


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