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March 11, 2013

Self Justifying Journalists Just Cannot Admit They Were Wrong

A previous blog entry, "Media Outlets That Promoted Story Wrongly Faulting Israel Should Now Post Full and Clear Corrections" called on readers to demand that journalists fully and forthrightly correct their earlier stories blaming Israel for the death of Omar Mashrawi, the baby son of a Palestinian BBC staffer. Among the worst offenders were the BBC's Jon Donnison and the Washington Post's Max Fisher who abandoned journalistic standards in their rush to indict Israel without sufficient substantiation. Now that even the UN Human Rights Council has shown otherwise, they are twisting themselves into knots to avoid admitting they were wrong.

Jon Donnison grasps at straws as he throws out excuse after excuse to avoid admitting his irresponsible error:

1. "The family, and human rights groups, said that the house was hit in an Israeli attack."

2. "The Israeli military ...never denied carrying out the strike."

3. "Privately, military officials briefed journalists that they had been targeting a militant who was in the building."

The UN Human Rights Council is hardly a supporter of Israel. It is known more for its unwarranted attacks on Israel than for ever defending Israel. But now that it has found that Israel was not to blame, Donnison makes every attempt to discredit its findings. According to Donnison, the UN finding:

1. comes "despite the fact that the Israeli military had reported no rockets being fired out of Gaza so soon after the start of the conflict. "

2. The UN representatives only visited the house "weeks after the attack."

3. "They said they did not carry out a forensic investigation..."

4. They said they "could not 'unequivocally conclude' it was a misfired Palestinian rocket."

5. One official said "it was also possible the house was hit by a secondary explosion after an Israeli air strike on Palestinian weapons stores."

And finally, Donnison quotes the father of the boy, a Palestinian BBC staffer who had insisted that Israel was to blame. Donnison defends himself by saying that "Jehad Mashhrawi dismissed the UN findings as 'rubbish'... "

Max Fisher, of the Washington Post, who rushed to highlight the original story on his blog in November is similarly loathe to admit he was wrong. So he resorts to the echo chamber tactic, quoting Donnison to cast doubt on the UN report. And then he launches into a song and dance about how apportioning blame for the death of the child is really irrelevant and meaningless:

Omar Mishrawi’s death and his photo, like so many incidents before it, are treated as a microcosm of the much larger conflict that took his life. But, as I wrote in November when reports suggested that an Israeli strike had killed Mishrawi, does knowing which military’s errant round happened to have landed on this civilian home really determine the larger narrative of one of the world’s thorniest and most complicated conflicts? Does assigning blame for Mishrawi’s tragic death, awful as it may be, offer us any real insight into who holds the blame for 60 years of fighting? And is partitioning blame really going to serve either side particularly well?

It’s difficult to see how knowing whose rocket or missile killed Mishrawi would resolve the larger questions for which that debate is a proxy: responsibility for continuing the long-term conflict, for sparking the latest round of fighting in November, and for the Israeli and Palestinian civilians who suffer as a result.

And there you have it--journalists who eagerly bash Israel without substantiation and refuse to own up to their journalistic misdeeds when they are exposed.

Such tactics defy journalistic ethics and standards. Readers should not allow them to get away with it!

Posted by RH at March 11, 2013 11:20 PM

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