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June 27, 2012

The Washington Post, Times Edit ‘When Vladimir met Bibi’

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Sometimes the devil isn’t only in the details, but mostly in the details editors cut. Compare Washington Times and Washington Post treatment of the same June 26 Associated Press dispatch covering Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Israel and meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Washington Times published the Associated Press article under the headline “Netanyahu, Putin put focus on Iran’s nukes” as a stand-alone primary world news story. The Times’ foreign desk illustrated the piece with a three-column, color photograph of the two leaders. The Putin-Netanyahu discussions reportedly focused on Iran’s nuclear program and escalating violence in Syria.

The Washington Post’s world news section condensed the same AP story to a four-paragraph “Digest” item that briefly highlighted contrasting policy positions of the two countries, primarily Israeli-Russian differences over efforts to curb Iranian uranium enrichment.

The following day, The Times covered Putin’s supportive meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and visit to Christian sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem in a four-paragraph brief illustrated by a two-column black-and-white photo (“Putin visits West Bank, tours Christian shrine,” June 27). The Post ignored the Palestinian portion of Putin’s trip in that day’s print edition, but did publish “Israel begins West Bank outpost evictions; Some homes were built illegally on Palestinian land, high court ruled”) as a stand-alone news, article, illustrated with two color photos, one three columns wide, the other two.

The Post’s article mentioned that “militant settlers [emphasis added] who have violently resisted other evictions were not in evidence at Beit El on Tuesday, although vandals torched a mosque in a Palestinian village this month [an incident covered prominently by the newspaper at the time].”

The Times coverage of Putin’s meeting with Netanyahu referred to the Jewish state’s fears of Iranian-funded “anti-Israeli militants.” In same edition, The Times carried an AP article headlined “U.S. expanding military aid, intelligence in Africa.” It described al-Qaeda and similar organizations as “terror groups” and noted that the United States is working to help African countries counter “terrorist activities”.

So, Jewish settlers who violently resist eviction by Israeli police and troops are, in The Washington Post’s own words, “militants.”

For The Washington Times, editing and publishing AP, Iranian-backed, anti-Israel Islamic extremists like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (who specialize in attacking non-combatants to advance their religious-ideological agenda) are “militants.” Yet, for The Times and AP, al-Qaeda and other groups that also target non-combatants (including Americans) are “terrorists.”

Foreign news coverage, especially given the often small space even major dailies can allot to it, often amounts to a roll of the dice for readers. That was the case on June 26 and 27 for Washington Post subscribers, when it came to Putin in Israel, and for Washington Times readers on the latest “terrorist/militant” confusion. -Erin Dwyer, Washington Research Intern

Posted by ER at June 27, 2012 03:16 PM

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