Media Worst: Hamas Invades America

Palestinian Hamas militants (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
October 29, 2023

Happy Sunday. Let's check in on the media this past week.

What happened to safe spaces?: Jewish students at Cooper Union college in New York City hid in a library as pro-Palestinian protesters chanted, "Globalize the intifada," banged on the windows, and tried to force open the locked doors.

But according to leading news outlets, the incident was no big deal—just some campus "tensions."

New York Times, Oct. 26: "Israel-Hamas War Protest Leads to Tense Scene at Cooper Union Library":

The tensions inflamed by the Israel-Hamas war that have roiled university campuses in the United States spilled into the Cooper Union in New York on Wednesday, with pro-Palestinian protesters pounding on one side of locked library doors and Jewish students on the other.

The episode, captured in a six-second video snippet that was widely shared on social media, was among the latest examples of how sharply the Middle East conflict has divided student bodies at a number of top liberal arts colleges. ...

Chief Chell said at no point did the police or private security at the campus perceive any danger from any of the protesters.

CBS News, Oct. 26: "Pro-Palestinian Rally at Cooper Union Leads to Tense Moments at School Library":

A representative for Cooper Union says the library was closed for approximately 20 minutes in the late afternoon and that students chose to stay in the library until the protest was over. ...

Off camera, several pro-Palestinian students told CBS New York they planned to protest throughout the entire school and did not target or threaten the Jewish students in the library. ...

A spokesperson says about 20 students demonstrated outside the president's office, who said she did not feel in danger, before they made their way towards the library.

Daily Beast, Oct. 26: "Cooper Union Pro-Israel Students Locked in Library During Tense Protest":

Representatives from the pro-Palestine protest said in a statement that the protest was against Cooper Union itself over the school’s "one-sided stance and participation in the occupation of Palestine" and that they do not condone anti-Semitism. At a news conference on Thursday morning, John Chell, chief of patrol for the New York Police Department, stated police officers had attended the protest in plainclothes, as requested by the college. "There was no direct threat. There was no damage, and there was no danger to any students in that school." he said.

Contrast that with years of breathless reporting about "BIPOC" and LGBT students being "unsafe" on campus.

Truth to power: The New York Times forced out its COVID-19 reporter in 2021 for repeating a racial slur in order to condemn racist language. But the paper defended its employment of a Hitler-praising journalist to document the Israel-Hamas war.

Solimon Hijjy is hardly the only open anti-Semite still working at the heights of American journalism.

Biden’s border crisis: Customs and Border Protection warned in a leaked internal intelligence memo that Hamas or Hezbollah terrorists could potentially enter the United States via the southern border. But rather than report the news, outlets downplayed it.

Vice, Oct. 25: "No, Hamas and Hezbollah Are Not Sending Fighters Across the Southern Border":

For weeks, right-wing influencers, lawmakers, and political candidates have been using the Israel-Hamas conflict to fear-monger about immigration in the U.S., invoking well-worn conspiracy theories about asylum seekers acting as Trojan horses for terrorists.

The "memo" has acted as jet fuel on those conspiracies in recent days.

Voice of America, Oct. 25: "US Denies Hamas Eyeing US Southern Border":

CBP officials maintain that "encounters of known and suspected terrorists at our borders are very uncommon."

ABC News, Oct. 23: "Hamas Militants 'May Potentially' Try Crossing Southern Border, US Officials Warn":

A CBP spokesperson said in a statement that the agency has no indication Hamas has directed foreign militants to make entry into the U.S. ...

CBP intelligence offices regularly generate reports on potential threats to border security. Naming particular groups may indicate that officials have specific intelligence based on the severity of potential threats outside the U.S.

In other news not worth reporting: A record number of people on the FBI's terror watch list were caught at the border in the last fiscal year, and more than 1,000 illegal immigrants per day were seen entering the country this month without being apprehended.

Somehow, journalists seem to always be the last ones to know when there's a crisis at the border.

Media bubble: The media's regurgitation of false Hamas propaganda accusing Israel of bombing a Gaza hospital was so egregious that—after the Washington Free Beacon named and shamed the worst offenders—even the media had to cover the failure.

CNN, Oct. 26: "The New York Times Walks Back Flawed Gaza Hospital Coverage, But Other Media Outlets Remain Silent":

But if there was even a morsel of contrition from news organizations that breathed considerable life into Hamas’ very different version of events, it hasn’t been shown. A spokesperson for The WSJ declined comment. Meanwhile, spokespeople for the AP and Al Jazeera ignored my inquiries.

Reuters, which initially reported that Israel had struck the hospital, citing a "civil defense official," stood by how it covered the unfolding story, conceding no blunders in the process. ...

CNN went even further. Not only did the outlet amplify Hamas’ claims on its platforms at the outset of the story, but its initial rolling online article definitively stated—with no attribution to any party—that Israel was responsible for the lethal explosion. The story was later edited, but the error was never acknowledged in a correction or editors’ note. While it is common for news outlets to update online stories as new information becomes available, when errors are made, standard practice is to acknowledge them in formal corrections. A CNN spokesperson declined to comment specifically on the online story when reached Monday.

Reliable sources: The same outlets that walked back their initial coverage of the hospital blast continued to cite Hamas's statistics on Palestinian deaths, which the terrorist group has long misrepresented.

Some went so far as to explicitly defend the reliability of the Hamas-run Gazan health ministry.

Associated Press, Oct. 26: "What Is Gaza’s Ministry of Health and How Does It Calculate the War’s Death Toll?":

Gaza’s most widely quoted source on casualties is Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra. From an office at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, al-Qidra receives a constant flow of data from every hospital in the strip.

Hospital administrators say they keep records of every wounded person occupying a bed and every dead body arriving at a morgue. They enter this data into a computerized system shared with al-Qidra and colleagues. According to screenshots hospital directors sent to AP, the system looks like a color-coded spreadsheet divided into categories: name, ID number, date of hospital entry, type of injury, condition.

Names aren’t always available, al-Qidra said. He and colleagues face disruptions because of spotty connectivity but say they call to double-check the numbers.

TIME, Oct. 26: "Biden Cast Doubt on Gaza’s Death Toll. Palestinian Officials Responded With 6,747 Names":

Although Gaza has been under Hamas’ rule since 2007, this is the first time that the reliability of the enclave’s health ministry has been so prominently called into question. News outlets and international organizations and agencies have long relied on Israeli and Palestinian government sources for casualty figures. While they do so partly because they are unable to independently verify these figures themselves, it’s also because these statistics have proven accurate in the past. ...

While keeping track of the numbers of dead and wounded may seem like a particularly arduous task amid the latest bombardment, which has seen thousands of buildings destroyed and more than 1 million of Gaza's 2.2 million people displaced, there is a process by which Palestinians track their casualties.

Washington Post, Oct. 26: "Why News Outlets and the UN Rely on Gaza’s Health Ministry for Death Tolls":

Many experts consider figures provided by the ministry reliable, given its access, sources, and accuracy in past statements.

"Everyone uses the figures from the Gaza Health Ministry because those are generally proven to be reliable," said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch. "In the times in which we have done our own verification of numbers for particular strikes, I’m not aware of any time which there’s been some major discrepancy." ...

Hamas received support in the 2006 elections in part by promising better social services, and some analysts say the group has improved certain areas of access.

Stay safe out there, and see you next week.

Published under: Gaza , Hamas , Israel , Media