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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Book Review/Interview: "David & Goliath: The explosive inside story of media bias in the Mideast conflict "

David & Goliath: The explosive inside story of media bias in the Mideast conflict describes in great detail the daily media bias we see every day against Israel.

Shraga Simmons, a former head of Honest Reporting, writes the book as part memoir and part research project, as he goes through the past decade of how newspapers, TV and wire services have been skewing the facts against Israel. We see through his eyes how he discovers the patterns of bias, documents them and holds reporters' feet to the fire when he exposes them.

While any reader of this blog is aware of media bias against Israel, reading about it all at once is a mind-blowing - and often infuriating - experience. We tend to get numbed after a while because we are so used to the daily bias, but that is a mistake - every single example must be called out and the reporter or news service held responsible.

The good news is that complaining to the media actually works. Honest Reporting has been very effective in making reporters and writers more sensitive to the issue and to write things more carefully, and it is heartening to read about how Shraga, leading his mailing list in the early 2000s, managed to prove exactly how CNN was biased against Israel.

It is that personal touch that makes this book so readable. But make no mistake - Simmons goes through the incidents in detail and the cumulative effect is astonishing.

All the major events since 2000 are analyzed - the Jenin "massacre" lie, Hezbollah's bullying of reporters in Lebanon, the "fauxtography" scandals, the Gaza war coverage, and countless smaller incidents, always written in an engaging, first person manner.

My only quibble was that all of the photos and illustrations were in the back of the book, not together with the appropriate text, which would have made it even better.

You can read a sample chapter here. The book webpage is here.

I highly recommend it. It is available in both paperback and Kindle editions.

Disclaimer: I am thanked in the acknowledgements of the book, and my blog is quoted in the footnotes about a dozen times.

I got a chance to interview Simmons last December and feel very bad that I never found the chance to review the book earlier. It is a good interview as Simmons discusses how he started Honest Reporting (plus some stuff about me!)

Here is the interview, done off the cuff in Newark airport last December: