Why is the American media being accused of bias in reporting the Israel-Palestine conflict

Why is the American media being accused of bias in reporting the Israel-Palestine conflict
Why is the American media being accused of bias in reporting the Israel-Palestine conflict
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The News Minute | July 27, 2014 | 11.58 am IST

The mainstream American media has been accused once more for covering the Israel-Palestine conflict in a biased manner after two journalists who were viewed as being pro-Palestine were pulled up for their reporting.

In one instance, a senior NBC correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin was pulled out of Gaza and fired before pressure from the public forced the channel to re-instate him. Second, a Palestinian contributor to MSNBC Rula Jebreal protested against the channel on air, following which her appearances were cancelled.

Mohyeldin was reporting from Gaza and had played the four boys who were killed on the beach in Gaza minutes before the bomb was dropped on them. CNNMoney reported that his exit from the channel was during to infighting among the senior level employees and editorial staff, while Democracy Now, an American online news portal interviewed Glen Greenwald, who said that the channel had sacked Mohyeldin because of his empathetic reporting on Palestinians. NyMag reported that it was likely that Mohyeldin had been sacked because of the nature of his reporting. For instance, he would report on the disproportionate number of casualties on the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

Rula Jebreal who has been a contributor with MSNBC for two years, protested the channel’s coverage of the current conflict in Gaza, told Alternet: “I couldn’t stay silent after seeing the amount of airtime given to Israeli politicians versus Palestinians.They say we are balanced but their idea of balance is 90 percent Israeli guests and 10 percent Palestinians. This kind of media is what leads to the failing policies that we see in Gaza.”

She also said: “We as journalists are there to afflict the comfortable and who is comfortable in this case? Who is really endangering both sides and harming American interests in the region? It’s those enforcing the status quo of the siege of Gaza and the occupation of the West Bank.”

Jebreal said that the channel invited more pro-Israel voices than pro-Palestine voices, which distorted its coverage of the conflict.

Fact checking website PolitiFact, which tested Jebreal's claims, found them to be largely true, but said that she under-counted the number of persons on both sides. 

MintPress News also analysed the coverage of mainstream news organizations in the United States for alleged bias and also looked into the causes of these biases.

Frederick Reese wrote for MintPress News: “In large part, Israel’s national security depends on the United States’ opinion of the country. As a veto-carrying member of the United Nations’ Security Council and NATO, the U.S. has effectively blocked every international measure to punish or sanction Israel, despite the fact that Israel is in abeyance of international law for its illegal occupation of the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and the West Bank.”

“Additionally, despite the fact the International Court of Justice, the U.N. General Assembly and even the High Court of Justice in Israel are all calling Israel’s presence in the occupied Palestinian territories a belligerent act of occupation, the U.S.’s refusal to permit any punitive actions against Israel has allowed Israel to operate as it would, despite international objections.”

Reese also quoted a scholar who said that after Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, Hamas did not build schools but trained children to be suicide bombers instead.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), analysed the coverage of the American public broadcaster PBS freom Israel-Gaza in 2013, and found that its reporter on the ground, Margaret Warner had mostly been only in Israel. 

Although the anchor in the studio would say things like: “We will hear more from Margaret as she travels through Israel, the West Bank and Gaza over the next week and a half.” Warner said that the stories in the region were the Israeli elections, the Iran nuclear programme, the conflict in Syria, and the Israel-Palestine issue.

However, presenting a detailed analysis of all the reports that emerged from that period were:

“So what the PBS NewsHour gave viewers was the view from Israel–with a few moments at the end of the series to include Palestinian perspectives, never as subjects in their own right, but to illustrate a "divide" that exists on "both sides."

"On February 5, anchor Jeffrey Brown remarked, "All last week, Margaret Warner and a NewsHour team reported from Israel on many facets of its increasingly tense relations with its neighbors." That is a far more accurate description of what PBS actually gave viewers.”

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