To report honestly, US mainstream editors must stand up to Israeli propaganda machine

US Politics
on 16 Comments

Over the years, this site has often been sharply critical of biased reporting by the mainstream U.S. media from Israel/Palestine. The New York Times has just sent a new correspondent, Ian Fisher, to Jerusalem, and we will scrutinize him just as vigorously as his predecessors.

At the same time, we recognize that the Israeli government’s propaganda apparatus will make his job in some ways harder than anywhere else in the world. Only if his newspaper stands behind him, from his editors on up to top management, will he be able to report honestly and fairly. For instance, the Times must be prepared to forgo inside scoops and one-on-one interviews with Israeli leaders that would require Fisher to compromise his coverage.

Back in 2010, a Dutch journalist named Joris Luyendijk provided valuable insights into how Israel manipulates journalists, in his book People Like Us; Representing the Middle East. We summarized Luyendijk’s valuable work then, but he bears repeating as Fisher takes up his new post. Luyendijk was astonished at his first visit to a plush Israeli government press center, in a 5-star hotel in Jerusalem: “Young Israeli men and women walked around in olive-green army uniforms handing out sheets of great quotes.”

He continued,

“A complete alphabet of ‘optimistic stories’ had been cooked up for the correspondents: Jewish, Christian and Islamic children together in one school; olive branches from Israelis and Palestinians; joint musical performances. You had only to telephone the Palestinian or Israeli organizers of these hopeful projects. . . and the great quotes, checkable information and striking visual details would be served to you on a plate.”

Joris Luyendijk

All was not carrots. Luyendijk watched the international Israel lobby in action. A Jewish-American businessman boasted in the Israeli media that “he’d managed to get rid of the critical correspondent of the Miami Herald by threatening to withdraw advertisements from it.” Luyendijk went on: “Israeli ambassadors and lobbyists also visited leading editors and producers at television networks, cable news television, and the main daily and weekly newspapers in many Western countries.”

Petty competitiveness in the U.S. mainstream media also helps the Israeli propaganda machine. Luyendijk does not look into this angle, but clearly an American reporter who is a day late with a big story, or misses out on an exclusive interview with Prime Minister Netanyahu, is going to be sorely tempted to write a pro-Israel puff piece to get back in the loop. One of the mistakes of Jodi Rudoren, Fisher’s predecessor at the Times, was her transparent campaign to get an interview with Netanyahu. The effort surely affected her reporting, and an exclusive with the rightwing leader would not have been worth it anyway.

What’s more, the event-driven nature of mainstream reporting makes Hasbara Central’s job easier. As Luyendijk explained, it was hard to report on the Israeli occupation; “the occupation itself was never news, but each new [Palestinian] attack was.” He added that the occupation was particularly hard to show on television: “it didn’t get any further than shots of tanks, soldiers checking papers, and long queues of civilians. How could correspondents portray the misery, repression and injustice behind such scenes?”

If Ian Fisher downplays the occupation and writes pro-Israel puffs pieces instead, he may not be entirely to blame. It could mean that his newspaper is not backing him up.

About James North

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16 Responses

  1. JWalters
    January 31, 2017, 6:39 pm

    The Newsroom, created and mainly written by Aaron Sorkin, has searing and accurate take-downs of the lies pushed by politicians with the complicity of the news media. I’d really appreciate Sorkin turning his passion for the truth to the media’s blanket of lies about Israel, both commission and ommission. There’s vast amount of material readily available. Here are two links about the glaring dishonesty of the New York Times to get started.
    http://mondoweiss.net/2016/08/critiques-students-coverage/
    https://consortiumnews.com/2017/01/19/how-the-nyt-plays-with-history/

    The American media’s 100% cover-up for Israel, over many decades, constitutes overwhelming evidence that America’s major news media are completely controlled by Israeli interests. Every sentient being in the news business must be aware of this.

    Not only does the Israeli-controlled American media thoroughly lie about Israel, it’s now clear they also thoroughly lie about Russia. For example, here’s a link to an interview with noted Russia expert professor Stephen Cohen, describing this dangerous pattern of lies.
    https://www.thenation.com/article/reheating-the-cold-war/

    The clear purpose of all these lies has been to drag the U.S. into Israel’s religious war in Palestine, its corollary war in Iraq, and to push the U.S. into wars with Iran and now Russia. War is EXTREMELY profitable for a few.
    http://consortiumnews.com/2014/03/02/what-neocons-want-from-ukraine-crisis/
    https://consortiumnews.com/2016/07/31/lurching-toward-world-war-iii/

    Sorkin could create a riviting drama about the war profiteers who have taken control of America’s media and politicians, and who are steering the world into more conflagrations, death, and destruction. Episodes could include Netanyahu’s blackmailing of Bill Clinton, the take-down of Dan Rather, the outing of Valerie Plame, the attack on the USS Liberty, and the many instances of suppressing freedom of speech on American college campuses. It would combine the most exciting elements of The NewsRoom and The West Wing. Black ops, false flags, mass surveillance, blackmail, murder, and democracy at stake would make for gripping drama, and all true.

    It might be somewhat of a Don Quixote mission. But as The Newsroom’s Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) said, “In the old days we did the news well. You know how? We just decided to.”

    • RoHa
      January 31, 2017, 8:31 pm

      “Sorkin could create a riviting drama about the war profiteers who have taken control of America’s media and politicians, and who are steering the world into more conflagrations, death, and destruction.”

      Starting with this?

      https://archive.org/details/MerchantsOfDeath-AStudyOfTheInternationalArmamentIndustry

      • JWalters
        February 1, 2017, 12:33 am

        Thanks for the excellent suggestion. I’m sure Sorkin could use that material in an episode or two. For an online version that’s somewhat more convenient to read:
        http://greatwar.nl/frames/default-merchants.html

        It’s an old problem. Back in 1791 Thomas Paine said, “That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of nations, is as shocking as it is true.” For readers who haven’t seen it yet, there’s “War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror”.

  2. broadside
    January 31, 2017, 7:10 pm

    Ian Fisher is already writing that “most” of the world — not all — regards Jewish settlements as illegal. I’ve brought this to the Times’s attention too many times to count — in letters to the editor, emails to the public editor, in comments online. It is a hugely important point to them. If they can raise the slightest doubt re: their legality — more about a pushy neighbor (but we always knew that about the Jews) than international law; if they can continue to make this Israelis against Palestinians, not Jews against the world, then they will continue to do so, as they have for the last 50 years — as the whole world knows.

    • broadside
      February 1, 2017, 9:31 am

      And here are “highlights” from today’s article, 2/1: “…that defy the international community and that open a forceful phase in the country’s expansion into land the Palestinians claim for a future state.”

      Not settlements which the UN Security Council unanimously ruled were “a flagrant violation of international law.”

      “World leaders have denounced the settlements in the West Bank, home to an estimated 400,000 Israelis, arguing that they are choking off the hopes for an agreement on two states….”

      Not settlements which the UN Security Council unanimously ruled were “a flagrant violation of international law.”

      “In December, the United Nations Security Council denounced settlement building — a position that the United States tacitly supported in the waning days of the Obama administration.”

      Not settlements which the UN Security Council unanimously ruled were “a flagrant violation of international law.”

      Nowhere in the article does it say settlements are “a flagrant violation of international law.”

      The NY Times doing everything it can to whitewash the ethnic cleansing of Palestine — what a disgusting, shameful rag.

  3. JLewisDickerson
    January 31, 2017, 7:18 pm

    RE: “The New York Times has just sent a new correspondent, Ian Fisher, to Jerusalem, and we will scrutinize him just as vigorously as his predecessors. At the same time, we recognize that the Israeli government’s propaganda apparatus will make his job in some ways harder than anywhere else in the world. Only if his newspaper stands behind him, from his editors on up to top management, will he be able to report honestly and fairly.” ~ North

    PLEASE EXCUSE ME FOR SNEEZING: “Ahhh . . . ahhh . . . Gleichschaltung!!!”*

    * SEE: “Who Will Save Israel” | by Uri Avnery | zope.gush-shalom.org | May 23, 2015

    [EXCERPTS] The battle is over. The dust has settled. A new government – partly ridiculous, partly terrifying – has been installed. . .
    . . . Now the situation inside Israel proper is about to change drastically.
    Two facts attest to this.
    First of all, Ayelet Shaked has been appointed Minister of Justice.
    One of the most extreme right-wing Israelis, she has not made a secret of the fact that she wants to destroy the independence of the Supreme Court, the last bastion of human rights. . .
    . . . PERHAPS WORSE is Netanyahu’s decision to retain for himself the Ministry of Communication.
    This ministry has always been disdained as a low-level office, reserved for political lightweights. Netanyahu’s dogged insistence on retaining it for himself is ominous.
    The communication Ministry controls all TV stations, and indirectly newspapers and other media. Since all Israeli media are in very bad shape financially, this control may become deadly.
    Netanyahu’s patron – some say owner – Sheldon Adelson, the would-be dictator of the US Republican party, already publishes a give-away newspaper in Israel, which has only one sole aim: to support Netanyahu personally against all enemies, including his competitors in his own Likud party. The paper – “Israel Hayom” (Israel Today) – is already Israel’s widest-circulation newspaper, with the American casino king pouring into it untold millions.
    Netanyahu is determined to break all opposition in the electronic and written media. Opposition commentators are well advised to look for jobs elsewhere . . .
    . . . One cannot avoid an odious analogy. One of the key terms in the Nazi lexicon was the atrocious German word Gleichschaltung – meaning connecting all media to the same energy source [SEE: Gleichschaltung @ Wikipedia – J.L.D. ]. All newspapers and radio stations (TV did not yet exist) were staffed with Nazis. Every morning, a Propaganda Ministry official by the name of Dr. Dietrich convened the editors and told them what tomorrow’s headlines, editorials etc. were to be.
    Netanyahu has already dismissed the chief of the TV department. We don’t yet know the name of our own Dr. Dietrich. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1432296815/

    • JLewisDickerson
      January 31, 2017, 7:27 pm

      P.S. ALSO SEE: ■ “Our Il Duce” | Pauline Murphy | CounterPunch | 1-27-17

      [EXCERPTS] . . . Just 24 hours after being sworn in as president, Donald Trump sent White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer to drill some discipline into the media. Their crime? Reporting the low numbers at the presidential inauguration. At the White House press room, Spicer went into Rottweiler mode . . .

      . . . Censorship and propaganda were fiercely important tools used by many ruling regimes throughout history. Italy’s fascist dictatorship wielded these tools in order to control public opinion of Il Duce.

      In Mussolini’s Italy a special ministry was set up to oversee the controllment of communication. The Ministero della Cultura Popolare (Ministry of Popular Culture) controlled what newspapers published, what radio could broadcast and what cinemas could and could not show. . .

      . . . Mussolini’s ministry of pop culture was one of the most over worked departments in his dictatorship. It’s iron fist handed out daily slogans for people to adhere to, such as Ill Duce ha Siempre Ragione (the leader is always right). The words that pored out of Mussolini’s mouth were akin to gospel. His powerful nationalism of ‘ Italy first ‘ whipped up a frenzied support base with the aid of censorship and propaganda. He was portrayed as a macho man, one who would clamp down on corruption and crime. Mussolini’s propaganda machine even managed to make people believe that he single handedly made Italy’s trains run on time! The light was never turned off in his office as a ploy to make people think Ill Duce was working hard into the early hours, when in reality he was in bed. Had the technology been around in those days, I suspect he would have been tweeting in bed!

      The press in Mussolini’s Italy was instructed on what to report and what not to report. Of the things that were strictly off limits with regards to Mussolini was his birthday and illnesses. The totalitarian leader wanted to portray a man who never fell victim to sickness or never fell victim to the aging process! He held an obesssion with his appearance and any photos taken of him would have to get his approval before going to press. Any unflattering pictures showing the dictator’s bulging belly or double chin were either binned or photoshopped.

      A double chin problem also plagues Donald Trump who, before taking office as president, summoned media executives to Trump Tower to verbalise his upset with some media outlets who published unflattering photos of his double chin!

      Media outlets in Mussolini’s Italy that reported opposing news about the regime were instantly suppressed while pro Mussolini media was awarded for its loyalty with state subsidies. In 1926 a law was passed which saw newspapers needing a special permission from the government to publish anything. This was Mussolini’s style of stranglehold on an Italy he wanted to make great again. He wanted to resurrect the Roman empire with himself at the helm of it, unchallenged and unquestioned.

      In those bleak days of European fascism, citizens of totalitarian regimes were told untruths until they eventually believed them or at least accept them reluctantly. . .

      LINK – http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/27/our-il-duce/

  4. Citizen
    January 31, 2017, 8:06 pm

    Zonists also constantly pressure electronic social media management to suppress the work of spontaneous Palestinian cameras, videos

    • oldgeezer
      February 1, 2017, 12:09 am

      @Citizen

      Evil and zionists can’t stand the light of day.

      In all fairness it isn’t just cameras. Zionists constantly struggle to suppress facts and truth. Neither are in their favour.

      Instead they prefer to defend they Israeli narrative. They even call it that.

      Granted Alice through the looking glass is a narrative. And equally realistic and honest.

  5. RoHa
    January 31, 2017, 8:43 pm

    “To report honestly, US mainstream editors must stand up to Israeli propaganda machine ”

    And now you’ve pointed it out, I’m sure they will.

  6. hophmi
    February 1, 2017, 10:53 am

    Whoa. Lemme get this straight. The Israeli Government has a – press office? With people who suggest stories for journalists to cover? Heavens to Betsy. I’ve never, ever, ever heard of another country with a press office. It’s like, totally mind-blowing, dude.

    Are you trying to say no one in the media covers the Palestinians? You must be joking. There is probably more space devoted to the Palestinians in the international press than there is to all of the countries in Africa combined. You all live in this alternate reality where somehow Israel is getting this great deal from the foreign press, who all base themselves in Jerusalem, because, you know, Arab countries are unpleasant places to be a journalist, and they sit there and cover every little fault that Israel may have, but

    ISRAEL HAS A PRESS OFFICE.

    #nonstory

    • Boo
      February 1, 2017, 1:20 pm

      It may be an equal shock to you to discover that

      GERMANY HAD A MEDICAL CLINIC.

      #nonstory

      … WHOSE HEAD WAS JOSEF MENGELE.

      #nonstory?

    • Mooser
      February 1, 2017, 1:43 pm

      “Hophmi”, just between you and me, do you know how freakin’ lame your use of ‘pretend hashtags’ on a comment is?

    • talknic
      February 1, 2017, 7:42 pm

      Hophmi shows us how Israeli propagandists strut their stuff. It’s pathetic.

      @hophmi February 1, 2017, 10:53 am

      “Whoa. Lemme get this straight. The Israeli Government has a – press office?”

      Search for – press office – 3 matches found http://mondoweiss.net/2017/01/honestly-mainstream-propaganda/#comment-869209

      Folk’re talking about Israeli propaganda hophmi. Israeli propaganda extends far beyond any Israeli press office. It’s a constant stream of Zionist bullsh*t especially designed for people who don’t check and for those who purposefully concoct and spread vile filth that runs completely contrary to the basic tenets of Judaism

      “Are you trying to say no one in the media covers the Palestinians?”

      No hophmi, what was written is still there and its not what you’d like to have been said. But like a good little propagandist you take your own nonstory and run with it as though it has substance

      “Are you trying to say no one in the media covers the Palestinians? You must be joking”

      No hophmi, YOU must be joking. It’s YOUR assertion you stupid stupid person

    • JWalters
      February 1, 2017, 8:33 pm

      Off the point entirely, as usual and on purpose.

  7. Boo
    February 1, 2017, 1:13 pm

    “US mainstream editors must stand up to Israeli propaganda machine”

    Bit late for that. In too many cases that’d equate to Journalistic Auto Immune Disorder.

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