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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Sunday, June 09, 2002
9:21 PM

BOYCOTT THE POST DOT WHATEVER...Ombudsman Michael Getler addresses the boycott this week of the Washington Post urged by Boycott The He does it partly by observing another group called Palestinian Media Watch that thinks the Post unfairly skews in favor of Israel. I don't know much about either group, but it makes it easy to dismiss PM Watch when, as in this page, they think it's too harsh to call Iraq a "rogue state." As for the Boycott The, blogger Barry Molefsky of A City Slicker didn't have much luck in finding out who is behind it, either, but he did get this email response from them, which I believe I posted before:

We are a collection of people of Jewish, Christian and Hindu faiths, various political persuasions, and all walks of life. We have members of clergy, former journalists, doctors, lawyers, computer programmers, retirees, home-makers.

Thank goodness Molefsky's archives, unlike mine, are still alive. In any case, he also came up with this interesting tidbit: PM Watch registered the address, rather than org. In fact, that url works and brings you into the PM Watch site. Here, try it, (right click to open a new window). That brings you to a June 10 letter, timed to coincide with the beginning of the other group's boycott, complaining of coverage. But it does not call for a Washington Post boycott, and this seems a pretty clear indication that PM Watch is trying to trip people looking for the pro-Israeli boycott group. You get another demerit for that one, guys.

As for the substance of Getler's column, here's one example:

Many boycotters last week cited a picture on May 29 as an example of the routine bias. The photograph appeared on Page A12 with the continuation of a front-page story about Palestinian gunmen who cut through a fence at a Jewish settlement in the West Bank and killed three students at a religious high school. The AP photo showed three Palestinian women sitting by a barbed wire fence separating Jerusalem's outskirts from the West Bank. Readers felt it was outrageous to illustrate a story about a horrible crime with what they viewed as a sympathetic shot of Palestinian women.

When I asked the photo editor about this, he explained that much of the story, including the secondary headline on the front page, was about the increasing use of fences to seal off areas and that the photograph illustrated that aspect of the story. He also checked what else was available at the time and did not see any pictures from the scene of the attack, and I didn't see any in other newspapers. The picture selection seemed to me to be the result of a reasonable news decision, not bias.

I'm with the pro-Israelis on this one, but the truth is you can't evaluate bias on the basis of a single event. And I hate to admit this but I don't yet have a firm opinion on the quality of the Post's Middle East coverage. I see examples of what the boycotters complain about, but I've also seen stories that describe the pain and grief created by Palestinian terrorism.

And that's the thing, folks. When PM Watch complains of the following, as cited in the Getler piece, mine eyes rolleth over:

Palestine Media Watch, meanwhile, has issued a report titled "Double Standards at The Washington Post: Selective Use of the Terms 'Terrorism' and 'Retaliation' in News Coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict." The report says Palestinian actions are always depicted as an "attack" while Israel's are described as a "response" or "retaliation."

Here are some true things. If Palestinian terrorists stopped murdering civilians in Israel, the tanks would stop rolling into the West Bank. It's called a response because that's what it is. You can sign me up for the team that wants many of the Israeli settlements to go, but it really is that simple.

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