Thursday, November 03, 2016

Katharine Graham would turn over in her grave were she to read the Washington Post of today. This is what I've thought to myself every day for the last two weeks since I finished reading Graham's Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography, Personal History. Graham was forced to take the helm of the Washington Post after her bipolar Wapo editor husband Phil Graham committed suicide. She'd never done any serious or meaningful work in her life up until that time, but she rolled up her sleeves and got to work and did a mighty fine job of it, too.
It was Graham who presided over the Washington Post during the leaking of the Pentagon Papers, Watergate, and the Washington Post's pressmen's strike. And she was a woman of principle. Under her stewardship, the Washington Post did not endorse presidential candidates. Opinion posts and editorials were clearly marked as such. There was an effort to avoid bias and spin.
If Graham could see the horrific spin and bias of her baby she'd die a thousand deaths, which is why it is probably good she is dead and buried. She, like me, may not have liked either presidential candidate, but she would have recoiled from spin like this: "Her use of a private email server as secretary was a mistake, not a high crime; but her slow, grudging explanations of it worsened the damage and insulted the voters."
Let's get this straight: HRC's use of a private server to handle state secrets as secretary of state was most definitely a high crime (no matter what Comey said that made him the darling of the Dems back in July). Which is the reason she, Hillary, lied about it. When journalists take objective facts and insert subjective opinion into the mix in order to distort facts and bring readers to an illogical conclusion, this is not news.
It's spin and bias.
Katharine Graham would have known that. She would have known that in a robust democracy the media's job is to provide access to information, free of spin, so the people can vote for the government that best represents them. In a democracy, where freedom of the press is a value, journalists are expected to uphold ethical standards. Organizations such as the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) were formed for the express purpose of developing and enforcing such media standards. The preamble to the SPJ Code of Ethics lays this out neatly:
...public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility.
Here's something else you should know about Katharine Graham: her father, who purchased the Washington Post and eventually ceded control of the paper to his son in-law, was Jewish. Katharine Graham was quite sensitive to Jew-hatred and experienced antisemitism on more than one occasion, even though according to Jewish law, as the daughter of a non-Jewish woman, she herself was not Jewish.
Katharine Graham would have known that whenever William Booth and Ruth Eglash take to their desks to pen a story for Wapo about Israel, it's always going to be a Jew-hate festival, big time. Take the story they wrote yesterday on the trial of Elor Azaria. Look at the caption on the Reuter's feature photo: "The father of Elor Azaria, who is charged with manslaughter for shooting a wounded Palestinian assailant, kisses his head in a military court in March."
The only reason to use the word "assailant" is to distort the facts and suck the wind out of the terrorist's deed. The wounded Arab was a terrorist. Now he is a dead terrorist.
The body of the article repeats the distortion, using the word "assailant" in the body of the text, instead of the more accurate word, "terrorist."
This is because they, William Booth and Ruth Eglash, want you to see Elor Azaria, the Jew, as the bad guy in this story. He shot a wounded terrorist. Which obviously looks a lot worse than shooting a wounded "assailant."
The article itself speaks of Azaria "killing" the assailant, rather than "shooting" him. Because killing him obviously looks a lot worse than shooting him. And of course, Booth and Eglash give the readers a very vivid description of how that "killing" was accomplished, but with precious little about the terror attack: "Elor Azaria fired a single bullet at close range into the skull of a Palestinian assailant as he lay wounded, sprawled on his back, on a street in Hebron in the West Bank minutes after lunging at soldiers with a knife." Thirty-five words for how the terrorist got dead, six words alone for terror, for the act of stabbing a Jew because he is a Jew.
The main thrust of this article is that Israeli society is divided over the trial because some feel the terrorist needed to die, and some think Elor Azaria overstepped the boundaries of decency and morality to commit murder. Booth and Eglash serve up the heavily edited and muted B'Tselem video of the shooting, within the article with this caption:
"A graphic video from March shows a wounded Palestinian assailant who is lying on the ground being casually shot in the head and killed by an Israeli soldier. The Washington Post edited the video for time and graphic content. (Emad abu-Shamsiyah, B'Tselem)"
There's that word "assailant" again. Not to mention the characterization of the shooting of the terrorist as "casually shot in the head and killed by an Israeli soldier."
Get it? Israeli=Jews=Evil/Palestinians=Innocent victims
Yes. Wapo certainly did edit that video. They made it look even more damning than it looked to begin with. Furthermore, they shared only the B'Tselem video and not the video that came out the very next day in which you can hear a panicked medic calling out to the effect that the terrorist is getting ready to blow himself up. Note that the terrorist is wearing a heavy jacket on an unseasonably warm Middle Eastern day.
You know why Booth and Eglash show you the B'Tselem clip, and don't even mention the existence of this other clip? It means they're using the time-tested media bias tool of selective omission. Readers will see that edited B'Tselem clip and come to the conclusion that the facts are as Booth and Eglash suggest: Azaria casually murdered an innocent "assailant" cum victim out of malice.
That's the difference between Booth and Eglash and someone like Katharine Graham, who would have served up the facts and allowed the readers to decide the case on the facts alone, or at least let you know when you're reading opinion as opposed to fact. That's the difference between Booth and Eglash and someone like me. I too wrote about Azaria, making sure to include both videos.
The reason Booth and Eglash must resort to spin and bias by selective omission is that the story isn't as they represent it unless you add spin and omit the context. Whether Azaria made the right choice or not may be in dispute, but he did not shoot that terrorist either casually or out of malice. He shot that terrorist because there was a medic freaking out that the terrorist was going to blow them all up to smithereens.
And they, Booth and Eglash, don't want you to know that. Just like B'Tselem doesn't want you to know that. Booth, Eglash, and B'Tselem don't want you to know what really happened here. Because they want you to think that Jews are bad and Arabs are good.
Yes, indeed. Katharine Graham would have fired these two, Booth and Eglash, on the spot. They would never have gotten in the front door of Wapo, while she drew breath. Alternatively, she would have made them show the other video, and take out all the adjectives, labels, and spin.
She would have known what they were up to from the get go.
And so should you.

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