Sunday, May 15, 2022

Lots of anti-Israel bias in a short @Time magazine piece about Abu Akleh

Two weeks ago, I noted the many ways a short item in Time magazine showed extreme anti-Israel bias.

Its latest edition does the exact thing again.

Here it is:

Time highlights one section in red, as if it was a hyperlink in print media. it is clear that the red section is what Time wants to be the "takeaway" from the story. In this case, the main part that readers are led to believe are both true and important is that Abu Akleh was "fatally shot in the head by Israeli forces."

Time pretends to be objective by adding, "according to the Palestinian Health Ministry and Al Jazeera." 

Both of those sources are presented as objective and accurate. A governmental health ministry wouldn't lie, right? The fact that at the time that they made this statement they knew absolutely nothing - the Palestinian medical examiner had not yet looked at the body, and when he did, he said the evidence was not conclusive. Time, of course, is not going to mention that the Palestinian Health Ministry is part of a dictatorship that prioritizes anti-Israel propaganda over accuracy. 

Al Jazeera is presented as another supporting data point to the highlighted phrase, making it sound like there are two reliable sources that support the theory that Israel shot her. But Time never mentions that Al Jazeera is not an independent news source but a mouthpiece for the Qatari dictatorship and it would never report objectively on what happened to its own reporter.

Both of Time's sources for the charge are presented as objective, with no caveats about what they are saying being at least as motivated by emotion and hate rather than objective fact checking. Assuming that this was written on Wednesday morning ahead of a print deadline (the edition goes on newsstands on Fridays) Time had little hard information to go on, but it decided that Al Jazeera and the Palestinian government were reliable sources for a story that had little time for fact gathering.

Then, again without mentioning that it was Abu Akleh's employer, it adds that Al Jazeera called it a "blatant murder." Time certainly knew at this point that there was zero evidence (and plenty of circumstantial counter-evidence) that Israel would target Abu Akleh. Yet in the short story so far, it seemingly brought two data sources, one of them mentioned twice making it clear that Time considers Al Jazeera a reliable source.

Finally, after the reader has assimilated that Akleh was shot by the IDF and that it was presented as murder, comes the weak denial by the alleged murderers - a formula that readers know well, throwing in the sentence "The accused denied the charges" after lots of evidence is shown to the contrary. It makes Time look objective, but the clear aim is to denigrate the Israeli "suggestion," 

At that point in time, early Wednesday morning on the East Coast, Israel had already proposed a joint pathological investigation with the Palestinians - and the Palestinian side refused. This is a critical fact that Time chooses to not report. It contradicts its narrative of Israeli guilt - why would the guilty party want to work together with its enemy in a transparent, open investigation? The party that made an accusation without evidence does not want to have its accusation "confirmed." Why not? A guilty party claiming innocence does not typically want a transparent investigation, and the aggrieved party would insist on one. The narrative turns on its head when this is reported.

So it isn't.

Beyond that, Israel didn't accuse the Palestinian Authority of shooting Akleh - they suggested that Jenin terrorists associated with Islamic Jihad, firing wildly, might have been responsible. Time (and essentially all media) omit who the Palestinian shooters are, not showing photos of videos of groups of masked men with M16s shooting in the urban alleyways of the Jenin camp, clearly not worried about the safety of Palestinian families who live there. 

Before any facts were known, the Palestinian Authority prefers to defend a terror group as innocent. 

In a choice between the actions of a professional, trained army and a group of masked terrorists, Time chooses to portray the army as presumably guilty and the terrorists aren't even mentioned.

Background about, or photos of, the Jenin Brigade might upset the simple story Time wants to convey. So it is considered too unimportant for readers to know. Much more important are the evidence-free charges from two biased groups portrayed as objective, sober observers.

It is entirely possible that Abu Akleh was shot by Israeli forces by accident. It is impossible that IDF troops, in hostile Jenin to extract a terrorist, would have instructions to kill a journalist while under fire. Yet Time gives that idea prominence without any skepticism, and presents its laughably biased "sources" as authoritative.

This is media bias in action. 

(Corrected paragraph where I had said Time didn't mention she was an employee of AJ; the headline said so, h/t nitsanc.)

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