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Media Backspin
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Sunday, January 3 2010

10 Significant Articles From the 'Noughties' Decade

Certain articles, blog posts, cartoons and videos from the past decade continue to stick out in mind. I haven't forgotten them, because they say a lot about the media and the kinds of issues HonestReporting dealt with during the "noughties."

Ranking their importance is useless; each had its own kind significance for better or for worse, so I'm listing the content in chronological order. This is totally subjective, so post the items that stand out in your mind in the comments section. I'd like to see everyone's take.

1) Retraction Required
Reuters-logo After 9/11, Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz obtained a copy of a now-famous Reuters memo. News chief Stephen Jukes told his staff not to use the word "terror."

We all know," he wrote, "that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter and that Reuters upholds the principle that we do not use the word terrorist . . ."

The moral ambiguity Jukes expressed was endemic of a wider problem in the mainstream media, so I'm glad Kurtz put Jukes and his his views on the record. As Kurtz's original article is in the Post's paid archives, I'm linking instead to John O'Sullivan's acerbic reaction at the National Review.

2) My Beating By Refugees is a Symbol of the Hatred and Fury of This Filthy War
Robert_fisk_bloodied2After narrowly escaping a lynching by Afghan refugees, veteran journalist Robert Fisk took Stephen Jukes' moral confusion to even greater heights. The lesson Fisk draws from the incident is so outlandish I had to re-read his account a few times because I didn't want to believe I correctly understood him the first time:

And I'll say it again. If I was an Afghan refugee in Kila Abdullah, I would have done just what they did. I would have attacked Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find.

Amazing. In Fisk's world view, Afghans, Iraqis and Palestinians are so victimized by Israel and the West that they can literally get away with murder -- including Fisk's.

3) Three Bullets and a Dead Child
Mohammed_dura When you look at content that literally cost lives, the Mohammed Dura video ranks up there. France 2's footage inflamed the entire Arab world and provided a ready pretext for further Islamic terror.

Before Esther Schapira produced Three Bullets and a Dead Child for German TV, few people questioned the film; she was the first Western journalist to give a voice to skeptics who believed Israel didn't kill the boy. For more on the controversy, watch Al Dura - What Really Happened?

4) How Two Lives Met In Death
Newsweek Newsweek drew a disgusting moral equivalence between suicide bomber Ayat al-Akhras and victim Rachel Levy.

A split second later, a powerful explosion tore through the supermarket, gutting shelves and sending bodies flying. When the smoke cleared and the screaming stopped, the two teenage girls and the guard lay dead, three more victims of the madness of martyrdom.

The cover was painful, but most Americans didn't understand why.

Years later, HonestReporting director Joe Hyams was speaking in the US and asked his audience to imagine a national magazine cover equating Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho with one of his student victims. Sadly, it took a separate massacre to get the point across.

5) Even Journalists Have to Admit They're Wrong Sometimes
Jenin2002 Phil Reeves of The Independent comes to terms with his flawed coverage of the battle of Jenin. The veteran journalist lamented that the baseless charges of a "massacre" let Israel off the hook for other "atrocities" when he wrote:

Only a few brave Israelis on the left – notably, Uri Avnery – continued to challenge the legitimacy and purpose of the army's conduct in the West Bank irrespective of the fact that the massacre allegations were false.

It is to this issue – as the killing of nine Palestinian children in an Israeli air strike proved so horribly last week – still remains unresolved. It – and not false charges of massacres – is what the international community should be address its attentions.

To his credit, at least Reeves was the only journalist I'm aware of to express any kind of regret for his reporting. Other UK reporters, such as Janine Di Giovanni, Suzanne Goldenberg and David Blair never took responsibility for their work.

6) Ariel Sharon Eats Babies

By far the most provocative cartoon in all my years at HonestReporting. The cartoon, which is based on Goya's painting, Saturn Devouring His Children, was named political cartoon of the year.


7) I Was a Naive Fool to Be a Human Shield for Saddam
Daniel Pepper is shocked by the reaction of ordinary Iraqis when he tells them why he came.

Saddam_hussein Of course I had read reports that Iraqis hated Saddam Hussein, but this was the real thing. Someone had explained it to me face to face. I told a few journalists who I knew. They said that this sort of thing often happened - spontaneous, emotional, and secretive outbursts imploring visitors to free them from Saddam's tyrannical Iraq . . . .

We just sat, listening, our mouths open wide. Jake, one of the others, just kept saying, "Oh my God" as the driver described the horrors of the regime. Jake was so shocked at how naive he had been. We all were. It hadn't occurred to anyone that the Iraqis might actually be pro-war.

Once he had the info himself, Pepper figured out what the right thing to do and quickly left Iraq, unlike CNN's Eason Jordan (below).

8) The News We Kept to Ourselves
Cnn_logo CNN executive Eason Jordan admits the network sat on stories to preserve access to government officials and save lives:

Then there were the events that were not unreported but that nonetheless still haunt me. A 31-year-old Kuwaiti woman, Asrar Qabandi, was captured by Iraqi secret police occupying her country in 1990 for ''crimes,'' one of which included speaking with CNN on the phone. They beat her daily for two months, forcing her father to watch. In January 1991, on the eve of the American-led offensive, they smashed her skull and tore her body apart limb by limb. A plastic bag containing her body parts was left on the doorstep of her family's home.

I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me. Now that Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely.

CNN and Saddam Hussein benefited from the games they played with each other. CNN got great ratings and Saddam's sins were whitewashed; it's a shame the network didn't have the guts to pull out and say, "We have no freedom to operate in Iraq, we won't be complicit in covering up the bloodshed."

9) Photo Op
I've seen plenty of photos of Palestinians by the security fence. But with a different angle, AP photographer Eric Marti captured the story behind the story. I spent a good chunk of a day fruitlessly foraging for the "spontaneous" photos the shutterbugs below took.


10) Reuters Doctoring Photos From Beirut?

Little Green Footballs blew the lid on "fauxtography" during the Second War in Lebanon. Here's the post that started it all.


Post your comments and list the articles you think deserve mention, for better or for worse.



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That Ariel Sharon cartoon is disgraceful.

This cartoon says it all. I saved this about 2 years ago and just had to go through 19 pages of google image search results to find it, searching for "israeli and palestinian soldiers baby cartoon". If HR agrees with me that this is a good (and simple & concise) image of the conflict, You should include it on your web site and broadcast the URL to your readers, thus increasing its prominence in a google search.

I take issue with the sentiment expressed in response to the following:

"How Two Lives Met In Death—Newsweek drew a disgusting moral equivalence between suicide bomber Ayat al-Akhras and victim Rachel Levy.

"'A split second later, a powerful explosion tore through the supermarket, gutting shelves and sending bodies flying. When the smoke cleared and the screaming stopped, the two teenage girls and the guard lay dead, three more victims of the madness of martyrdom.'

"The cover was painful, but most Americans didn't understand why.

"Years later, HonestReporting director Joe Hyams was speaking in the US and asked his audience to imagine a national magazine cover equating Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho with one of his student victims. Sadly, it took a separate massacre to get the point across."

My perspective is that terrorist suicide bombers view themselves as martyrs for a God-given cause. While that also makes them murderers is in their minds irrelevant. But Jews worldwide, particularly the Israeli freedom fighters who through brutal attacks on their British oppressors—combatants and non-combatants alike—brought about the founding of the state of Israel should at the very least empathize with Islamic-initiated outrage.

Terrorism wasn't right when it was perpetrated by Israeli Jews and it's wrong when perpetrated by enraged followers of Allah.

But, yes, suicide bomber Ayat al-Akhras and innocent casualty Rachel Levy are indeed each victims of intolerance on all sides of a fight that has been fought for many millennia. That doesn't expunge al-Akhras's crime of cold-blooded murder, but perhaps is an excuse—albeit one painful for any rational person to comprehend, let alone accept. The fact is that al-Akhras was not acting rationally when she decided she would give her life to take the life of others; she was acting on faith, which is, in its absolute final analysis, irrational.

The answer my friends is not, as the song would have us believe, "blowing in the wind" but rather learning to understand our enemies and their rationale. Without that knowledge we will continue to be helpless victims of a holy war.

And lest we forget, our Muslim brothers who are Arabs are not anti-Semites; that's an oxymoron, given that Arabs too are a Semitic people. They in fact are "anti-Jews" and "anti-Israelis."

As a dear friend of mine—an American Jew by birth who practices and studies Eastern philosophy and spiritualism—a former U.S. Department of Justice counterterrorism specialist assigned to the Middle East, during an inquisition by a U.S. Senate sub-committee in all seriousness simply yet meaningfully advised senators "We should all just learn to live in peace."

I concur. And pray that day shall soon arrive.

"Truth exists. It´s lies that have to be invented."
(I forgot who made the quote.)

More like eons of prejudice against Israel and Jews than a decade.

The people who do the things you complain about are unapologetic haters of Jewish People.

After they print their shameful lies, some Jews try to expose their dishonesty. Sometimes the offending papers won't give the writers of articles exposing the lies the same space they gave the original writer and sometimes won't give them any space at all.

I'd like to find a way to not plead "not guilty" but to find a way to make the vicious writers pay for what they do.

Those writers feel they have nothing to lose, so what if down the line someone shows for instance there was no Jenin massacre. It does no damage to the perpetrator of the false story.

I would like to find a way to punish them so that they would hesitate to spread their poison.

Keep up your good work.
It's essential.
The world is in turmoil --and the sad thing it's so obvious why.
How sad that people are so emotionally bereft(with extremists having the loudest screams) that they can't see they need to look unto their own society and it's ills--and not blame the West and Israel.

I'm afraid that terrorism will not be wiped out until we wipe out the terrorists and stop playing politics with peoples lives.

Some still remember Joseph Goebbels, who obtained to a study of mythic romance literature and a PhD 1921 from Berlin University; he was the Third Reich's "little doctor" and first known holder of a publicly admitted "Minister Of Propaganda" title with an office of same in the German government to boot.

He didn't invent propaganda, but as Freud was to psychiatry, Goebbels was to the engendering of modern spin.

I mention this as Goebbels said as his simple philosophy propaganda doesn't have to be intelligent, just successful. That means messages need not be grounded in fact at all, just in psychological and subliminal motivants suited to the needs of the particular maker.

That's why I for one truly appreciate people like those at "Backspin" and the invaluable service they provide to everyone.

This is the Only Honest Reporting News
in the World, please continue with this.
The bias against Israel in most News
Papers of the World is very apparent.

G-D bless you all Israel, Shalom from Australia.
Beware of deception of other nations process of supposed peace negoiations

Reply to Gary Alan Byron: (1) You say that Jews in Mandatory Palestine committed terrorism. What terrorism? Some attacked military targets, namely, those of the British.
See the story in COMMENTARY, January 2010 by Jonathan S. Tobin, "The Trilby that Sank an Empire."
You want to exonerate the evil suicide of Ayat Al-Hakhras - evil in itself and evil because those who got her to do it are evil, sending her to her death.
(2) Additional worst biassed story: the story in the Norwegian newspaper that Israeli doctors took organs from Arabs ("Palestinians" which they are not, since it is Jews that have been Palestinians since the Roman Emperor Hadrian changed the name of Judea to Palestina in 135 A.D. after defeating the last Jewish uprising under Bar Kochba), using the organs for transplants.

It is all terrible, but, like others, I think the Sharon Cartoon is, by a small margin, the worst of all !! How can they get away with it ?

E. FREE Australia.

The poster, Gary Alan Byron, needs to learn that the word 'antisemite' does not mean antipathy towards Semites. The term was coined in 19th century Europe to mean antipathy towards Jews. Hence Arabs can be, and many are, antisemites.

More and more I think it can only be money, the oil industry, that is causing all this anti-semitism.

Boycotting Muslim shops was an idea from a non-Jewish pal of mine, and beyond this, most people (non-Jews as well as us) I chat to, about our problems are well aware that Islam is knocking on the West's door - but that hardly anyone is drawn to it.

They're most all onto the shenaigans of Israel's enemies.

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