Happy Saturday. Let's check in on the media this past week.
1. Fact-checking the fact checkers: For some journalists, the real victims of Hamas's slaughter of more than 1,000 Israelis last weekend were the terrorists.
Accounts of the Palestinian barbarians beheading the babies they killed lacked sufficient confirmation, reporters at prominent news outlets warned. The "disinformation" could play into "Islamophobic" stereotypes about terrorists and put Palestinian lives at risk, they said.
Snopes, Oct. 13: "Were Israeli Babies Beheaded by Hamas Militants During Attack on Kfar Aza?":
As violence escalated in Israel and Palestine in early October 2023, politicians, news media, and activists in the U.S. and U.K. spread a rumor about Hamas fighters supposedly beheading as many as 40 Israeli infants. As we looked into the claim, we found contradictory reports from journalists, Israeli army officials, and almost no independent corroborations of the alleged war crime, leading to concerns among fact-checkers that such a claim may be premature or unsubstantiated. ...
People should be wary of claims that echo Islamophobic rhetoric, or statements that compare the violence in Kfar Aza to "ISIS-style" killings—i.e., beheadings that have taken place in a different context and were committed by a different group. Such rumors that emphasize specific, unverified acts of brutality against infants and that attempt to connect them to patterns of violence carried out by unconnected Islamist groups have the potential to become dangerous propaganda.
As the IDF says it does not 'have time" to confirm the reports of beheaded babies, the level of misinformation around events in Israel 'seems near unprecedented."
Click the image below to read our reporting. https://t.co/Q7qzYijgGB
— The Intercept (@theintercept) October 12, 2023
Yesterday the Israeli Prime Minister's office said that it had confirmed Hamas beheaded babies & children while we were live on the air. The Israeli government now says today it CANNOT confirm babies were beheaded. I needed to be more careful with my words and I am sorry. https://t.co/Yrc68znS1S
— Sara Sidner (@sarasidnerCNN) October 12, 2023
A series of shocking reports have spread horrific claims of baby beheadings by Hamas militants across social and mainstream media in recent days. But the reports are unconfirmed, and in some cases have been retracted. https://t.co/R5IwE0mJx1
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 12, 2023
There was no beheading of a single baby, let alone 40.
There was no massacre of 260 Israelis at a rave.
There has been no mass rape of Israeli women or the targeting of elderly.
All the above are lies.
Disinformation to dehumanise Palestinians and justify a genocide in Gaza.
— Dilly Hussain (@DillyHussain88) October 11, 2023
The story about babies being beheaded at Kfar Aza is based on one live report by one Israeli reporter and has not been corroborated by officials but it has been reported as fact around the world by experienced journalists who should know better. #gaza
— Dominic Waghorn (@DominicWaghorn) October 11, 2023
The beheading babies thing might have been fake, but the Israeli destruction of Gaza is all too real. pic.twitter.com/QzUlfxyeVI
— Alan MacLeod (@AlanRMacLeod) October 12, 2023
The only source for 'Hamas beheaded babies" appears to be the Israeli military, which is widely known to spread lies and disinformation
Journalists, this is the fog of war. You’ll be seeing all sorts of claims. Don’t amplify unverified, sensational info https://t.co/7tiCNAj3j9
— Adam Elmahrek (@adamelmahrek) October 10, 2023
"The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas has strongly dismissed the false claims promoted by some Western media outlets, such as Palestinian freedom fighters killing children and targeting civilians," Hamas agreed Wednesday on its Telegram channel.
OK, but: Hamas killed at least 1,300 people and took 126 others hostage, including a number of Americans, in a massacre that the terrorists have proudly documented in footage posted online.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office released photos Thursday of dead babies that Hamas terrorists burned and riddled with bullets.
The Washington Free Beacon reported:
Israel has declined to officially confirm that babies were beheaded, and the Israeli military spokesperson's office did not respond Friday to the Washington Free Beacon's request for comment. But an Israeli military spokeswoman and a reporter at Israel's i24 News separately this week said that soldiers told them of seeing children and babies beheaded at Kfar Aza, another terrorized community near the border of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
Yossi Landau, the head of operations for the southern region of Zaka, a volunteer emergency response group in Israel, told CBS News on Wednesday that he saw with his own eyes children and babies who had been beheaded.
"I saw a lot more that cannot be described for now," he added, speaking of bodies of parents and children that showed clear signs of torture, "because it's very hard to describe."
2. Fair and balanced: After some initial sympathetic reporting on the worst terror attack in Israeli history, the media quickly began reverting to the mean—covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with at best moral equivalency.
Reuters, Oct. 11: "A Brief History of Gaza's 75 Years of Woe":
In 2000, Israeli-Palestinian relations sank to a new low with the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada. It ushered in a period of suicide bombings and shooting attacks by Palestinians, and Israeli air strikes, demolitions, no-go zones and curfews. ...
On Oct.7, Hamas gunmen launched a surprise attack on Israel, rampaging through towns, killing hundreds, and taking dozens of hostages back to Gaza. Israel took revenge, hammering Gaza with air strikes and razing entire districts in some of the worst blood-letting in the 75 years of conflict.
Washington Post, Oct. 11: "Gaza Strip Explained: Who Controls It and What To Know":
The coordinated attack by Hamas caught Israel by surprise but comes after months of worsening tensions over violence at Al-Aqsa Mosque—a sacred Muslim site in the heart of Jerusalem located on the same spot as the Temple Mount revered by Jews—as well as continuing resentment of the punishing blockade and occupation of Palestinian lands. The presence of once-fringe Jewish supremacists and settler leaders in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hard-right government has further inflamed tensions with the Palestinians and caused domestic strife inside Israel that has led to a perception of weakness.
NPR, Oct. 8: "How the Al-Aqsa Mosque Became a Flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict":
[Pro-Palestinian activist Yousef Munayyer:] You know, the Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip, the vast majority of them—they've been refugees living inside of Gaza for 75 years. And this is, of course, compounded by decades of military occupation and, in the last decade and a half, a brutal siege of the Gaza Strip, which has held 2 million Palestinians there hostage. In recent years and months, the escalation of violence against Palestinians has been noted by the United Nations and governments throughout the region who've been warning that this escalation of Israeli violence against Palestinians is going to lead to an explosion in the region.
New York Times, Oct. 7: "Gaza Has Suffered Under 16-Year Blockade":
For some Gazans, Saturday morning's surprise Palestinian attack into southern Israel seemed a justified response to a 16-year Israeli blockade. Others worried that the coordinated attack would only add to Gaza's misery as the tiny enclave braced for a large-scale response from Israel.
The Palestinian territory of Gaza has been under a suffocating Israeli blockade, backed by Egypt, since Hamas seized control of the coastal strip in 2007. The blockade restricts the import of goods, including electronic and computer equipment, that could be used to make weapons and prevents most people from leaving the territory.
Israel has bombarded the Gaza Strip in response to Hamas' surprise attack, and the impacts of the strikes are already devastating. https://t.co/XUIBAD4DLq
— ABC News (@ABC) October 10, 2023
Meanwhile, on X, formerly known as Twitter, journalists from the likes of Nation, Teen Vogue, and the Washington Post defended Hamas's atrocities as forms of "decolonization" and "liberation."
What is happening in occupied Palestine is a response to weeks and months and years of daily Israeli military invasions into Palestinian towns, killings of Palestinians, and the very fact that millions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are besieged under Israeli blockade.
— Mohammed El-Kurd (@m7mdkurd) October 7, 2023
It’s truly shocking to see ppl like @KarenAttiah of @washingtonpost -who regularly posts pics of her cat & her workouts- reveal themselves as rabid antisemites who think decapitating Israeli babies is A-ok in the name of 'decolonization" & that you are a 'loser" if you disagree pic.twitter.com/8wWpA79iZL
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) October 10, 2023
3. That didn't age well: The media's anti-Semitic tendencies were given full expression by left-wing activists of both the student and professional variety. The national Black Lives Matter group refused to condemn statements from local chapters glorifying Hamas, including its gunmen who flew into an Israeli music festival last Saturday and killed at least 260 revelers.
The BLM chapter in Chicago just posted this in support of Hamas. pic.twitter.com/oLA1MwzoVO
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) October 10, 2023
Those 2020 news articles rebutting claims that BLM was a terrorist organization suddenly don't look so definitive.
Associated Press, Dec. 2, 2020: "Police Guide That Calls BLM a Terrorist Group Draws Outrage":
A prominent law enforcement training group is promoting a lengthy research document riddled with falsehoods and conspiracies that urges local police to treat Black Lives Matter activists as terrorists plotting a violent revolution.
NBC News, Sept. 27, 2020: "'Not by Accident': False 'Thug' Narratives Have Long Been Used To Discredit Civil Rights Movements":
President Donald Trump has developed a harsh vocabulary list for those involved in the Black Lives Matter protests, calling those in the streets everything from "terrorists" and "anarchists" to "thugs."
PolitiFact, July 30, 2020: "No, Black Lives Matter Is Not a Terrorist Organization":
Sympathizers of Black Lives Matter have warned the movement to do more to discourage violence at its protests. But Black Lives Matter does not fit the federal definition of a terrorist organization, nor does it appear as a terrorist group in an extensive database that tracks terrorism attacks globally.
4. Lock him up: That New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez is still in the Senate—and running for reelection—despite being indicted for corruption may trouble Democrats but, according to Politico, they are "doing little about it other than cross their fingers and hope he goes away."
Is that allowed now? Republicans were constantly asked to answer for the misdeeds of former President Donald Trump, however minor.
NBC News, June 14: "Most Republicans in Biden-Won Districts Don’t Want to Talk About Trump Indictment":
Most of the 18 House Republicans who represent districts that voted for President Joe Biden don’t want to talk about the elephant in the room: Donald Trump, the former president and front-runner for the 2024 GOP nomination, and his federal indictment over mishandled classified information.
Washington Post, July 20, 2019: "Why Didn’t More Congressional Republicans Condemn Trump’s Racist Tweets About The ‘Squad’? This Graph Explains.":
A Washington Post team collected 99 GOP lawmakers’ reactions to Trump’s inflammatory comments taunting four progressive Democrats — the "Squad" of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) — by telling them to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."
Vox, July 15, 2019: "The GOP Silence in Response to Trump’s Latest Racist Attack is Deafening":
But if you expected Republican members of Congress to come to the defense of the duly-elected women Trump targeted—though he didn’t mention them by name, it’s likely he meant Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, all of whom are US citizens, and three of whom were born in the United States (Omar was born in Somalia and emigrated to the US at 10 years old)—think again.
Until Monday, the closest any Republican lawmaker had come to denouncing Trump was Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), but even he couched criticism of Trump’s tweets within a broader defense of his immigration policies and sentiments.
New York Times, July 17, 2018: "How Republican Lawmakers Responded to Trump’s Russian Meddling Denial":
Many Republicans tempered their remarks to affirm that Russia remains an adversary without criticizing Mr. Trump directly.
5. What's problematic today: National Review's Noah Rothman has argued that progressives are hellbent on taking away everything that brings normal people joy. Now, they're coming for Starbucks’s Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Washington Post, Oct. 6: "Fall’s Favorite Spice Blend Has a Violent History":
Still Life with a Turkey Pie, painted by Pieter Claesz in 1627, depicts a table filled with luxurious products: olives, savory pies, fruits, nutmeg and cloves.
[Adam Clulow, a historian and professor at the University of Texas at Austin] described the painting as the "ultimate symbol of stunningly opulent, globalized consumption in the 17th century."
"It’s the same with these Starbucks lattes," he said. "You’re getting stuff from all over the world and repackaging it for wealthy consumers without acknowledging the history of the ingredients."
Also on the media's chopping block:
Washington Post: "Spotify Has a White Supremacist Problem, Watchdog Says"
CNN: "Everyday Words and Phrases That Have Racist Connotations"
NPR: "Dr. Seuss Books Can Be Racist, But Students Keep Reading Them"
NBC: black people feel unsafe outdoors because of white people. https://t.co/IT85Zr7tEn
— Tosca Austen (@ToscaAusten) July 28, 2023
Who's ready for Halloween?
A helpful guide for parents, explaining cultural appropriation and breaking down kids' Halloween costumes.https://t.co/aRCU6p5NOl
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) October 19, 2019
Stay safe out there, and see you next week.