The Greatest Story Never Told
By Stephen Lendman
13 September, 2007
No issue is more sensitive in the
DePaul University Professor Norman Finkelstein has long been a target as well for his courageous writing and outspokenness. Depaul formally denied him tenure June 8 even though his students call him "truly outstanding and among the most impressive" of all university political science professors. It's why his Department of Political Science endorsed his tenure bid stating his academic record "exceeds our department's stated standards for scholarly production (and) department and outside experts we consulted recognize the intellectual merits of his work."
It didn't help, and on August 26 got worse. The university acknowledged "Professor Finkelstein is a prolific scholar and an outstanding teacher." Yet it issued a brief statement canceling his classes and placing him on administrative leave "with full pay and benefits for the 2007-8 academic year (that) relieves professors from their teaching responsibilities." For now, Finkelstein's long struggle with the university ended the first day of classes, September 5. Both sides agreed to a settlement, and a planned day of protests was curtailed. But as Chicago Tribune writer Ron Grossman put it in his September 6 column headlined "Finkelstein deal ends DePaul tiff....the underlying struggle between supporters of
That struggle is nowhere in sight in the dominant media that includes major print publications, commercial radio, television and so-called Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio both of which long ago abandoned the public trust in service to their corporate and government paymasters.
In all parts of the major media, no Israeli criticism is tolerated on-air or in print, and any reporter, news anchor, pundit or on-air guest forgetting the (unwritten) rules, won't get a second chance. Support for
Call it the myth of the free press in a nation claiming to have the freest of all. It's pure fantasy now and in an earlier era, journalist A.J Liebling said it was only for "those who own(ed) one." Today, they're giants operating the way Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky explained in their classic book on the media titled "Manufacturing Consent." The authors developed their "propaganda model" to show all news and information passes through a set of "filters." "Raw material" goes through them, unacceptable parts are suppressed, and "only the cleansed residue fit to print (and broadcast on-air)" reaches the public. The New York Times calls it "All The News That's Fit to Print." By its standard, it means sanitized news only leaving out the most important parts and what readers want most - the full truth and nothing else.
The same goes for the rest of the dominant media that serve as collective national thought control police gatekeepers "filtering" everything we read, see and hear. They manipulate our minds and beliefs, program our thoughts, and effectively destroy the free marketplace of ideas essential to a healthy democracy. In
The problem is most acute in reporting on
How "The Newspaper of Record" Reports on
This article focuses mainly on the media's lead and most influential voice, The New York Times. It's been around since 1851 when it quietly debuted saying "....we intend to (publish) every morning (except Sundays) for an indefinite number of years to come." Today, it's the pillar of the corporate media and main instrument of fake news making it the closest thing in the country to an official ministry of information and propaganda. But here's the Times 1997 Proxy Statement quote media critic Edward Herman used in his April, 1998 Z Magazine article titled "All The News Fit to Print (Part I)." Its management then (and now) claimed The Times to be "an independent newspaper, entirely fearless, free of ulterior influence and unselfishly devoted to the public welfare." It leaves one breathless and demands an earlier used quote - "phew."
No media source anywhere has more clout than the Times, none manipulates the public mind more effectively, and where it goes, others follow. It's most visible supporting all things corporate, foreign wars of aggression, and everything favoring
Freelance journalist Alison Weir founded "If Americans Knew" as an "independent research and information-dissemination institute (to provide) every American (what he or she) needs to know about Israel/Palestine." That includes "inform(ing) and educat(ing) the American public on issues of major significance that are unreported, underreported, or misreported in the American media." Below is an account of her in-depth study of how the New York Times betrays its readers by distorting its coverage on
It was in her April 24, 2005 article called "New York Times Distortion Up Close and Personal." It drew on the findings from her 23-page report, and 40 pages of supportive data, titled "Off the Charts - Accuracy in Reporting of Israel/Palestine (by) The New York Times." To be as objective as possible, the study "count(ed) the deaths reported on both sides of the (Israeli-Palestinian) conflict, and then compare(d) these to the actual number....that had occurred." The findings showed a "startling disparity....depending on the ethnicity of the victim(s)."
The study covered two periods. The first was from the September 29, 2000 beginning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque (or second) Intifada (ignited by Ariel Sharon's provocative visit to the Temple Mount Al-Aqsa Mosque site) through September 28, 2001. The second ran from January 1, 2004 through December 31, 2004. Deaths counted were only those resulting from Israeli - Palestinian confrontations.
The first study showed the New York Times reported 2.8 times the number of Israeli deaths to Palestinian ones when, in fact, three times more Palestinians were killed than Israelis. In the second one, the ratio increased to 3.6 adding further distortion to the coverage. Reporting children's deaths was even more skewed, coming in at a ratio of 6.8 for Israeli children compared to Palestinian ones and then at 7.3 in the later study. The latter ratio is particularly startling since 22 times more Palestinian children were killed, in fact, than Israelis in 2004 according to B'Tselem - the
In all its reporting in both periods, the Times distorted the facts egregiously. It highlighted Israeli deaths by headlining and repeating them. In contrast, there was silence on most Palestinian ones. The impression given was that more Jews died than Arabs or at times the numbers were equal on both sides. Most often, they weren't even close.
It was startling to learn that Israeli and other human rights groups documented 82 Palestinian children killed at the Intifada's outset (most by "gunfire to the head" indicating deliberate targeting) before a single Israeli child died. The Times willfully ignored this in its coverage the same way it obsessed last summer over Hamas' capture of a single Israeli soldier while ignoring around 12,000 Palestinian men, women and children political detainees held by Israelis illegally. For the Times, they're non-persons, but everyone in
Weir calls this coverage a "highly disturbing pattern of bias." She presented her findings ("complete with charts, spread-sheets, clear sourcing, and extensive additional documentation") to the Times' Public Editor, Daniel Okrent, in a face-to-face meeting, but came away disappointed. It was because of a 1762-word column Okrent wrote in response. It ignored or misrepresented the facts, was unconcerned that most Times reporters covering Israel/Palestine are Jewish, all live inside
Yet, it's worth noting what Weir believes was a "personal confession" in a single line. Okrent may have slipped up saying: "I don't think any of us (at the Times) can be objective about our own claimed objectivity." Confession or not, it led to no change in the Times' reporting.
Weir updated her report to include Palestinian children's deaths in 2004 and 2005 from documented information on the "Remember These Children" web site. It uses Israeli and other human rights organizations' sources with these findings through June, 2007:
-- 118 Israeli children under 18 years years of age killed compared to 973 Palestinian youths, most shot in the head or chest indicating deliberate targeting by Israeli soldiers. This information never appears in Times' reports.
Instead, The Times "marginalizes Palestinian women and Palestinian rights" according to a November 17, 2006 Electronic Intifada (EI) report. Its authors (Patrick O'Connor and Rachel Roberts) state: "The New York Times pays little attention to human rights in Israel/Palestine, downplays....violence against Palestinian women and generally silences (their) voices."
Since the second Intifada began, B'Tselem, Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) published 76 reports documenting Israeli abuses of Palestinian rights and four others on Palestinian violations against Israelis or other Palestinians. The Times, however, wrote only four articles on them all - two on Israeli abuses and two others on what Palestinians did suggesting both sides shared equal guilt.
Three other Times articles on the conflict focused on a Human Rights Watch report criticizing Palestinian suicide bombings, another HRW one on Israeli actions in Jenin in 2002, and a B'Tselem report on the Israeli Defense Forces' (IDF) exoneration of soldiers for killing a Palestinian child. The Times also published one article criticizing Israel's 2006 war on Lebanon and one other one critical of Hezbollah during that conflict. It's the Times' idea of fairness and balance, that distorts facts, ignores truth, and in every instance betrays its readers.
EI's writers refer to thousands of New York Times articles on Israel/Palestine since the second Intifada began September 29, 2000. Yet in them all, it "quoted, cited or paraphrased just 4187 words....from human rights organizations in 62 articles, snippets (only) averaging just 69 words per article." In the same articles, far more space was given to Israeli government denials even when clear evidence proved them false.
Other research shows The New York Times op ed page marginalizes Palestinian voices and completely shuts out its women who are portrayed as passive, docile and at the mercy of men. Readers aren't told they "balance their dual commitment to the national (and feminist) struggle(s)" by courageously leading the fight against domestic and Israeli violence in the
It's part of the same pattern of selective disclosure and distortion so readers don't know what's happening and are led to believe victims are the victimizers. Facts are ignored, international law is unmentioned and reporting "contributes to the dangerous pattern of Western disparagement of Muslim society," made easy post-9/11.
EI sums up its article stating "If the Times cared about human rights in Israel/Palestine, (balanced reporting, and) valued independent third party perspectives, (it) would have published more than 6256 (total) words....of major human rights organizations (reports) in its thousands of articles" for the past seven years. Instead, the impression given is Israeli crimes are marginal, sporadic, inconsequential, acts of self-defense and not crimes at all. This type reporting sets the (low) standard for the rest of the dominant media and highlights why few Americans question their government's full and unconditional support for Israeli policy.
The Times willfully ignores the following type information B'Tselem posts and updates on its website (www.btselem.org). From September 29, 2000 through August 31, 2007, it documented 4274 Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces or civilians including 857 children. That compares to 1024 Israelis killed by Palestinians including 119 children.
Throughout this period, The Times low-keyed Israeli violence in its coverage but featured dozens of articles on Palestinian suicide bombings and other acts of self-defense it portrays as "terrorism" against innocent Israelis. Left out is what B'Tselem, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), AI, HRW, ICRC and other human rights organizations report:
-- willful violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention's protections of civilians in times of war and under occupation by a foreign power.
-- excessive use of force and abuse;
-- policy of collective punishment and economic strangulation;
-- growing numbers of expanding illegal settlements;
-- home demolitions;
-- random IDF invasions, air and ground attacks;
-- many dozens of extrajudicial assassinations;
-- administrative detentions without charge and routine use of torture of thousands of Palestinians including young children treated like adults;
-- land expropriation;
-- crop destruction;
-- policies of closure, separation, checkpoints, ghettoization and curfews;
-- denial of the most basic human rights and civil liberties; and
-- an overall Kafkaesque "matrix of control" designed to extinguish Palestinians' will to resist.
The Times willful distortion and indifference to Palestinian suffering highlights its coverage. Like others in the dominant media, it displays no sense of fairness, accuracy or balance in portraying Palestinians as militants, gunmen and terrorists - never as oppressed human beings under occupation struggling for freedom in their own land. In sharp contrast, Israelis are seen as surrounded, beleaguered, and innocent victims acting in self-defense. It's sheer fantasy, the facts on the ground prove it, but Times readers aren't given them.
They're also not told how
O'Connor notes the Times plays "a leading role collaborat(ing) with this strategy." It characterizes all Palestinians as militants, gunmen and terrorists while suppressing their "experiences under....occupation (victimized by) Israeli state terrorism, and (the) systemic Israeli discrimination against Palestinian (citizens) living in
An instance of Times distortion was from a March 21, 2006 article by Dina Kraft. In it,
O'Connor stresses how the Times, Kraft and the major
In her report, Weir noted what all people of conscience believe: that "readers of The New York Times (and all Americans) are entitled to full and accurate reporting on all issues, including the topic of Israel/Palestine." In her study period, the Times covered it in "well over 1000 stories," so it's deeply troubling how much critical information was omitted.
A 9/11/07 Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) Action Alert provides more evidence of NYT cover-up and distortion. It's titled "Whose Human Rights Matter? NYT on Hezbollah and Israeli attacks on civilians." FAIR cites two recently released Human Rights Watch (HRW)investigations of
It noted the NYT ran its own 800 word story supportive of
The Times also failed to reflect the dramatic disparity in civilian deaths on each side. HRW estimated
FAIR raised an additional point as well from its 12/6/06 Action Alert. It refuted a Times report as false that Israeli attacks on civilians were legitimate "since Hezbollah fired from civilian areas, itself a war crime, which made those areas legitimate targets." Again, standard practice at The Times that values fake news above truth, accuracy, fairness and balance.
Weir hoped a public airing of her findings on The Times would lead to better reporting at the "paper of record." It never did and just got worse following Hamas' dramatic democratic January, 2006 electoral victory. Afterwards, all outside aid was cut off, Hamas was marginalized and politically isolated, and Israeli repression got stepped up in an effort to crush the fledging government by making the Territories "scream."
It came to a head June 14 following weeks of US-Israeli orchestrated violence. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas declared a "state of emergency" and illegally dismissed Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh and his national unity government. He appointed his own US-Israeli vetted replacements days later with The New York Times in the lead supporting the new quisling coup d'etat government. Noted journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger explains the first casualty of war is good journalism. It's as true for reporting on
That standard excludes discussion of the powerful Israeli lobby with AIPAC just one part of it. Noted figures like John Mearsheimer of the
More Evidence of Corporate Media Distortion on Israel-Palestine
When it comes to shoddy reporting, most notably on Israel/Palestine, there's plenty of blame to go around. It's found on major US broadcast and cable channels, most all corporate-owned publications here and abroad, the BBC, CBC, Deutche Welle, other European broadcasters, and what passes for so-called public radio and broadcasting in the US. An exception is Pacifica Radio, the original and only real public radio in the
The opposite is true for so-called National Public Radio's (NPR), but its public broadcast (PBS)counterpart shares equal guilt. Many people naively turn to NPR as an acceptable alternative to corporate media disinformation without realizing it's as corrupted by capital interests and big government as all the others. Its president, Kevin Klose, is the former head of
NPR never met a
Then, there's the issue of fair and balanced reporting on Israel/Palestine that's absent from NPR programs all the time. The media watchdog group FAIR exposed it in its study of NPR's coverage of Israeli/Palestinian violence in the first six months of 2001. Over virtually any period, Palestinian deaths way outnumber Israeli ones. Yet NPR in the period studied reported 62 Israeli deaths compared to 51 Palestinian ones at a time 77 Israelis and 148 Palestinians were killed. It meant "there was an 81% likelihood an Israeli death would be reported on NPR, but only a 34% likelihood" a Palestinian one would be.
The findings were similar each way FAIR examined the data. They showed one-sided pro-Israel reporting the way it is throughout the dominant media. The result (then and now) is NPR betrays the public trust. It suppresses real news in favor of the fake kind it prefers. It violates its claim to be "an internationally acclaimed producer of noncommercial news, talk and entertainment programming" and its mission statement pledge "to create a more informed public - one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciations of events, ideas and cultures (through) programming that meets the highest standards of public service in journalism and cultural expression." It's pure nonsense. On all counts, NPR fails badly.
The Electronic Intifada web site showed how badly. It was in a February 19, 2002 article titled "Special Report: NPR's Linda Gradstein (its
Gradstein is notorious for her pro-Israeli bias and being paid for it makes it worse. Hillel is one of her paymasters, and in one instance openly acknowledged it considered Gradstein an Israeli propagandist. Other Israeli groups apparently do as well as Gradstein openly violated NPR's stated (but uninforced) policy not to accept these fees. Instead, she regularly takes them and likely still does.
The EI writers concluded "for some reason or other, Gradstein is effectively exempt from NPR's own regulations. These revelations only broaden existing concerns about the integrity of NPR's Middle East reporting and honesty of Linda Gradstein....the sad truth is that Linda Gradstein rarely meets (the minimum) standard(s)" of journalistic ethics and integrity. This is common practice at NPR and at the rest of the major media as well.
The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in
It claims "Inaccurate and distorted accounts of events in
CAMERA's on guard to fight back with plenty of dues-paying members to do it - 55,000 well-heeled ones plus "thousands of active letter writers." They monitor all media and its journalists everywhere for one purpose - to resolutely support
Muslims are bad because they're Muslims and not Jews. Jews, on the other hand, are good because they're Jewish. This for CAMERA is fair and balanced meaning support
CAMERA is effective because it's unrelenting, focused and well-funded. It "systematically monitors, documents, reviews and archives (all) Middle East coverage." Its staffers "contact reporters, editors, producers and publishers" demanding "distorted or inaccurate coverage" be retracted and replaced by "factual information to refute errors." For CAMERA, it means support
Two Examples of Truth in Reporting Banned in the Dominant Media - First from
Friedman reported the Israeli military has been cutting and destroying apricot and walnut trees for months to make way for its scheme in the
Artas villagers have been "active and defiant....over the last year after unofficial information" about the plan leaked out. It's still ongoing, nonetheless, as Israeli bulldozers continue uprooting crops and orchards in preparation for construction to follow. Non-violent protesters (on their own land) "have been shot at, beaten" arrested and imprisoned for defying expropriation of their property.
It's part of an overall ethnic cleansing scheme to dispossess Palestinians from their lands, one parcel, one village at a time, every devious way Israelis can invent to do it. This time, villagers are fighting back in the Israeli Supreme Court. But based on its past rulings, they have little hope for justice and no hope the major media will help stop the abuse by exposing it in its coverage.
A Second Example: Hamas' "Goals for All of
Mousa Abu Marzook, Hamas political bureau deputy, prepared an eloquent op-ed piece July 10 titled "Hamas' stand" that got rare space in the latimes.com but none in the New York Times, NPR or elsewhere in the dominant media. In it, he explained Hamas' July rescue of BBC journalist Alan Johnson wasn't done "as some obsequious boon to Western powers. It was....part of our effort to secure
He stressed Hamas never supported attacks on Westerners. Instead, its struggle "always....focused on the occupier and our legal resistance to it....supported by the Fourth Geneva Convention." Despite that right of any occupied people,
Marzook "deplore(d) the current prognosticating over "Fatah-land (in the West Bank) versus "Hamastan (in
Marzook raised the litmus test issue of Palestinians having to concede
Marzook justifiably asked "Why should anyone concede
Marzook continued denouncing Israeli hypocrisy referring back to the writings of its Zionist founders. In them, they made "repeated calls for the destruction of
Marzook has no trouble "recognizing"
Marzook speaks for all Palestinians saying he "look(s) forward to the day when
Try finding that commentary in the New York Times or on NPR. Somehow, it slipped into the latimes.com and maybe in error. Pilger is right. The first casualty of war is good journalism. It applies as well to reporting on Israel/Palestine and most other major world and national issues. Real news and information fall victim to the fake kind in the dominant media. Thankfully, people are catching on, viable alternatives abound online and in print, and web sites like this one provide it.
Stephen Lendman lives in