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February 24, 2015

USA Today Re-Scoops Jerusalem Mayor's Heroics

The Washington Post reported it first, in a one-paragraph wire service news brief. The New York Times followed the next day with one sentence at the end of an online Israeli-Palestinian wrap-up that led with a fatal shooting by Israeli troops of a Palestinian man. That left the big front page color photograph and large caption, “Jerusalem Mayor Hailed As Hero; Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat gestures as if firing a gun as he talks with Avraham Goldschmidt, 27, the victim of a stabbing attack. Barkat and his security team helped subdue the attacker” to USA Today.

Under “Jerusalem mayor wrestles Palestinian attacker in street,” set in the smallest headline type it uses, The Washington Post’s February 23, 2015 item read, in its entirety:

“The mayor of Jerusalem said he and his bodyguard apprehended a Palestinian who stabbed an Israeli near city hall. Nir Barkat said he was riding in his car when his entourage spotted a ‘terrorist’ with a knife. He said he and his bodyguard leaped from the car, the bodyguard drew a weapon, and they held the man until police arrived. He said the Israeli who was stabbed was ‘lightly injured.’”

USA Today, by contrast, used its large front-page display to tease to a February 24 article on page A-3 headlined “Jerusalem mayor praised as hero; Barkat helps stop man with knife” by correspondents Michele Chabin and Jane Onyanga-Omara. The lead paragraphs said, “Mayor Nir Barkat earned plaudits Monday—and won comparisons to a superhero—for his courage in helping apprehend a man who stabbed and wounded an Israeli in the street.

“Video footage showed Barkat, 55, and his bodyguard wrestling the attacker to the ground in Tzahal Square on Sunday, then helping the victim, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man in his 20s. The attack was near the Old City, a major tourist destination.”

Among other things, the USA Today article said “it’s not the first time Barkat, who has been mayor since 2008, helped victims of a terror attack in Jerusalem. Eleven years ago, he helped evacuate people from a bus targeted by terrorists, giving first aid and saving a woman’s life, The Jerusalem Post reported.”

Barkat also said “ ‘terror will not frighten us. When you look at the statistics, Jerusalem is one of the safest places in the world, safer than New York, London, [or] Paris.’ ”

Kudos to USA Today and a query for The Washington Post and New York Times: If an important Palestinian official and his bodyguard helped apprehend an Israeli terrorist who had just stabbed an Arab, would you have covered it the same way?

Posted by ER at February 24, 2015 02:20 PM

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