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March 03, 2006

NPR’s Linda Gradstein Avoids Identifying Palestinian Terrorists

CAMERA repeatedly has criticized National Public Radio’s tendency to call Palestinian terrorists “militants,” “activists,” “gunmen”— anything but what they are. So a February 21 Winter Olympics commentary provided an interesting example of accuracy.

In “Attack on 1972 Games Shadows Olympics,” host Steve Inskeep refers to the murderers of Israeli athletes at the Munich Games as “Palestinian terrorists.” Commentator Frank Shorter, a former Olympic marathon runner who competed in the ‘72 Summer Games, refers to the killers as terrorists and to their acts as terrorism.

Perhaps at NPR it is easier to recognize Palestinian terrorism and terrorists 34 years after the fact than in current coverage lgradstein.jpgof the Arab-Israeli conflict. Whatever the reason, contrast Inskeep’s precise reference to the avoidance of specificity by NPR’s Linda Gradstein in reports on February 19 and 20. Both segments dealt with Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) and the latter also mentioned Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are officially listed by the United States, the European Union, Canada and Israel as terrorist organizations.

On February 19, paraphrasing a Hebrew quote from acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Gradstein reported that “with Hamas’ majority in parliament [the Palestinian Legislative Council], the Palestinian Authority has turned into what he called a terrorist authority.” Gradstein reported that Olmert also said “Israel will not compromise with terrorism ....”

But on her own, Gradstein referred to Hamas another 10 times without noting its terrorist designation; its leading role in the “Al Aqsa intifada,” including suicide bombings that killed several hundred Israelis; or its charter commitment to Israel’s destruction. She did, however, report that Hamas’ new legislative council speaker “pledged that Hamas would fulfill what he called its rightful duty to resist occupation.”

In her February 20 report, Gradstein does not use the words terrorism or terrorists even in paraphrase. She does refer, without further identification, to “a local leader of the Islamic Jihad ... killed in a gun battle with Israeli troops” and says “another Palestinian militant was also killed over the weekend ....” It fell to host Renee Montagne to mention Olmert’s reference to the new PA government being formed under Hamas as a “terrorist authority” and to observe that Hamas’ charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Accuracy depends on precision, but regarding Palestinian terrorism, Gradstein was most imprecise.

– by Kate Naseef, CAMERA Washington, D.C. research intern.

Posted by CameraAuthor at March 3, 2006 09:46 AM

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