Top 5 Media Fails: The Media War Hall of Shame

November 19, 2012 17:16 by

As Operation Pillar of Defense continues, here are the Top 5 Media Fails as HonestReporting inaugurates its Hall of Shame.

1. Jon Donnison, BBC

for retweeting a dramatic photo of two children wounded in war without making any effort to verify the photo’s authenticity.

Turns out the children were wounded in Syria and the photo first appeared Oct. 28.

He later apologized for the retweet…

but with the original retweet going out to more than 7,000 followers and receiving nearly 100 retweets of its own, the apology was too little too late to undo the damage.

2. BBC News

for refusing to acknowledge misleading its audience with fake footage of wounded Palestinians.

Almost as soon as Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense, the Pallywood machine cranked into gear, creating fake images of Palestinians being evacuated after an Israeli strike. The footage appeared on BBC and CNN reports on the fighting.

CNN took steps after the fact to verify the footage with Reuters, which distributed it. And after failing to get a satisfactory answer, removed the footage and issued an apology.

The BBC, however, stood by the footage, claiming that the footage it ran was an edit from a longer reel. The footage that appeared on the site, however, bore all of trademarks of similar attempts to fake footage on the day of the Mohammed al-Dura incident.

3. Clayton Swisher, Al-Jazeera

for tweeting that Palestinian rocket attacks at Israeli civilians were legal under the laws of war.

In fact, if there is one aim to restricting what can and can’t be done during wartime, it is to protect the lives of civilians.

Swisher not only serves as an apologist for Hamas but also turns the concept of war crimes on its head.

It may be too much to expect journalists to accuse either side of war crimes. But to deny it is a step even beyond that.

4. Palestinian Propagandists

for stooping to new lows in disinformation by exploiting wounded babies.

While Palestinian propagandists have never been shy about parading images of their dead and wounded in order to gain sympathy from the world, the current conflict marks a new low. One of fastest spreading images of the conflict showed a dead girl in the arms of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The only problem was that the girl wasn’t killed by Israel, but rather by an errant rocket fired by Haniyeh’s own organization.

But that’s not all. Not content to spread pictures of Palestinian children, propagandists filled Twitter and Facebook with images of an Israeli child wounded by Palestinian rockets  – claiming it was a Palestinian girl wounded by Israeli attacks.

Then there is the abundance of images of Syrian children exploited yet again as Palestinian. At least the Syrian conflict is finally getting some attention.

5. Steve Bell, The Guardian

When it comes to building a Hall of Shame in coverage of the media war against Israel, you can always count on The Guardian to compete for a high place on the list. And this year is no exception.

This cartoon of Benjamin Netanyahu published on the first days of the war offers so many different aspects of media bias, it’s hard to pick out the worst ones. Start with a classic anti-Semitic trope of Israel manipulating and controlling Western leaders. Then there is the strong implication that the real motive behind Israel’s operation is to manipulate the election.

Apparently, it isn’t possible for Guardian cartoonists to consider the fact that US and British leaders genuinely support military action to stop attacks on Israeli civilians.

But what may even be more disturbing than the cartoon itself is the discussion that took place about it on the Letters page of The Guardian a few days later. Instead of recognizing the anti-Semitic nature of the cartoon and demanding its retraction, a significant number of Guardian readers supported the cartoon and claimed that accusations of anti-Semitism were nothing more than a reaction to the “legitimate criticism” of Israel.

Seen something that you think deserves an entry in our Hall of Shame? Let us know about it by sending an email to [email protected].

Source material can be found at this site.

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