Tuesday, September 03, 2013

  • Tuesday, September 03, 2013
  • Elder of Ziyon
The Independent:
Egyptian helicopter gunships attack Sinai militants

Egyptian helicopter gunships have attacked militants in the northern Sinai Peninsula in a continuing effort to control the largely lawless region.

Bloomberg:
Egypt Forces Attack Sinai Militants

Egyptian helicopter gunships killed at least eight suspected militants in the restive north Sinai, while supporters of ousted President Mohamed Mursi geared up to rally against the government that replaced his.
AP:
Egyptian helicopters fire rockets at militants in Sinai, killing at least 8

Egyptian helicopter gunships fired rockets early Tuesday at militants in the northern Sinai Peninsula, killing at least eight and injuring 15 others in an ongoing campaign to put down Islamic radicals who have escalated attacks in the largely lawless region, Egypt's official news agency said.
Notice that not one of these sources say "suspected militants" in the headline (Bloomberg does in the story.) None call them "extrajudicial killings" or "assassinations." Without any proof, it is assumed that Egypt's army is telling the truth, that the houses they hit had no civilians in them, and that everyone killed was an active militant.

It may be true, but when Israel does the exact same thing, the news sources first quote Hamas officials - often claiming that the victims were civilians - before putting scare quotes around Israel's description of the targets as "militants" or "terrorists."

No such skepticism here.

It is true that the jihadists don't have press spokesmen in suits who have cultivated relationships with Western reporters in the area - in fact, there are no Western reporters in the area who regularly interact with the Sinai jihadists and report on how wonderful and hospitable they are.

But that's the point, isn't it? Reporters are only skeptical when the claims don't jive with their own pre-existing biases. Those biases are directly reflected in the quality and objectivity of the coverage we read about.

To put it in terms that reporters themselves might understand: In 2001, George W. Bush first met Vladimir Putin and said "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul." It didn't take long for the media to ridicule Bush, correctly, for his naivete.

Yet that is exactly what many reporters do when they go to Gaza or the West Bank, when they eat meals with the people they are reporting on. They make judgments based on how friendly their hosts are and their reporting then reflects their own look deep into the souls of their subjects.

Sinai jihadists are not much different from Hamas jihadists. But they don't have media savvy like Hamas and Islamic Jihad now have.

Here are the facts: Egyptian helicopters shot at houses that Egypt suspects sheltered militants, killing several people. That's all we know. That's all that should be reported until it is confirmed or disproven.

It's not rocket science to differentiate between facts and assumptions. It is apparently beyond the ability of many journalists, however.

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