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Sleaze, Equivalence, Bias


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A few observations on media coverage of last week’s Mercaz HaRav massacre:

● Every so often the New York Post reminds those of us who attempt to defend it – usually on grounds of its sound editorials or entertaining political coverage – that at bottom it really is just a sleazy tabloid.

The Post relegated the Mercaz HaRav atrocity to page 23 in its March 7 issue. Not even a blurb on its front page, which was devoted to the bomb blast at the Times Square military recruiting station. Arguably a sound decision since it was a local story (although the bomb had gone off at 3:40 the previous morning and nobody was hurt). But here are just a few of the stories a reader had to make his way through to get to the article on the worst terrorist attack in Jerusalem in years:

Madonna’s work on a documentary about Africa (accompanied by the requisite photo of the pop star in all her vulgar glory); a local politician busted for DWI with a “mystery woman passed out drunk in the back seat”; the latest on the never-ending Obama-Clinton campaign skirmishes; four pages devoted exclusively to gossip (as opposed to the unlabeled gossip that takes up the bulk of the Post’s “news” pages); a piece on the feds busting a call-girl ring (the very one that reportedly counted among its clients the governor of New York, though that was not public knowledge at the time); and a story on the trial of a Los Angeles private eye titled “It’s Slime Time in H’wood Court.”

● For aficionados of moral equivalence, it was hard to top a March 8 Los Angeles Times story by staff writer Ashraf Khalil headlined “Across Divided Jerusalem, a Day of Grief.” All one needs to know about the rest of the lengthy article is how it began: “On different sides of this divided city Friday, grieving Israelis laid to rest their murdered sons while a Palestinian family grieved over the loss of the young man who killed them.”

● On The American Thinker website, novelist Gary Wolf had a fine piece on anti-Israel media bias, a phenomenon, he wrote, that “never ceases to amaze me. It must rank as one of the most curious sociopolitical phenomena of our era. The further the Palestinian Arabs move toward a barbaric Islamic theocracy, the deeper the support for them among the cadre of ‘progressive’ journalists.”

Echoing a point the Monitor made in a 2005 column titled “Passive Voice Genocide,” Wolf referred to the headline of an early Associated Press story on the Mercaz HaRav shootings – “7 Die in Shooting at Jerusalem Seminary.”

“Seven what – people? Jews? Martians?” Wolf asked. “And they are not killed, they simply ‘die,’ in the passive sense, as if from a stroke. The main reason why this is so insidious is that such language is never used when the enemies of Israel are the ones who die. One of the calling cards of the leftist journalism is that when Arabs die, you know how they died, who killed them…. If the sides were reversed, the headline would read, ‘Israeli extremist massacres 7 youths learning Koran at Gaza holy place.’ ”

As a postscript to his article, Wolf invited readers to “imagine what on-the-scene coverage of 9/11 might have looked like if the media’s anti-Israel bias were brought to bear”:

NEW YORK – Someone got behind the joystick of an airliner and leaned into it at the wrong angle, causing the plane to collide with a very tall structure in its path.

Rescue workers said that thousands of people, who happened to be physically present in the buildings, were dead. American police, FBI, and army officers allege that the person purposely flew the plane into the office building….

The New York plane crash came a day after North Korean President Kim Jong persuaded moderate Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to consider peace talks with the United States. The Iranian president nixed the idea after it was disclosed that the U.S. is the number one oppressor of Muslims worldwide.

John Q. Public, a passenger on the plane, could be heard over the cockpit radio in the seconds before the crash. “Stop the terrorists, stop the terrorists,” he shouted. Psychologists say that Mr. Public was suffering from temporary insanity caused by his imminent death….

The office building is the World Trade Center in the Wall Street quarter at the entrance of New York, a well-known workplace identified with capitalism, inequality, and exploitation of the Third World, particularly Muslims.

There were no plane crashes with Muslim pilots in 2001, though American police and military claim they had prevented several similar incidents.

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


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