Once again, Israel has launched attacks on the open-air prison called Gaza. Once again, the New York Times has distorted its coverage to try and reduce Israel’s guilt. The Times used the following standard techniques in today’s online story by David Halbfinger:
Distort the timeline to try and blame the Palestinians. The Times recounts yesterday’s latest news: Israeli airstrikes that killed 2 Gazans and mortar fire from Gaza that wounded 4 Israelis. But the paper nowhere mentions that 5 days earlier, on July 9, Israel had further choked off cargo shipments into Gaza, a territory which was already under a punishing blockade — a drastic act that any neutral observer might have concluded contributed greatly to the latest escalation.
Spend more time on Israeli victims than on Palestinian ones. Today’s online article has 6 full paragraphs on Israelis in the town of Sderot who were hurt by rockets or mortars. Three different Israelis were quoted, including one, Refael Yifrah, who said, “It’s better to be in Gaza where they get warning that they’re going to be fired upon in one neighborhood or another and they evacuate. . . Here, there’s an alert, no one knows where it going to land.”
By contrast, the Times cited only one Palestinian by name, even though the paper has two reporters in Gaza City. The Times did report that Muhammad Abdelaal, a 30-year-old, “was interviewed at Shifa Hospital while soaked with blood and being treated for his wounds” — but, unlike the Israelis, he apparently didn’t say anything quotable.
Don’t challenge Israel’s framing of the events. The Times headline calls yesterday’s exchange the “Most Intense Fighting Since 2014 War” — without quotation marks. In fairness, the first sentence of the report does make clear that the “most intense” assessment comes straight from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But Israeli soldiers have shot dead at least 137 Gazans in the months-long Great March of Return and wounded more than 4000. Israeli snipers murdering un- or barely-armed protesters hardly qualifies as “fighting,” but it has certainly been more “intense” than yesterday’s events. Clearly Netanyahu wanted to distract world attention from those 137 dead Palestinians, and the thousands more wounded — and the New York Times let him get away with it.
(There is one minor mystery. The version of the Times report that appears on page 12 of the print edition this morning is moderately less biased: no headline about “Most Intense Fighting,” less coverage of the Israeli victims. Maybe the print editors are more aware of the blistering criticism that Times articles have gotten in recent months? Of course, many more readers will see the online version.)