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June 22, 2016

Bias by Editing: A Devilish Washington Post-Associated Press Detail

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In journalism schools—those in which accuracy and context are still prized—it would have been an introductory example of bias by editing. In an Associated Press dispatch-turned Washington Post news brief it was a textbook case of minimizing Palestinian Arab violence against Israelis.

The Post’s June 20, 2016 print edition included a news briefs from AP headed “West Bank: $18 million approved for settlement funding.” The seventh and last paragraph as printed says:

“In the past nine months, Palestinians have carried out several [emphasis added] attacks, which have killed 32 Israelis and two Americans. About 200 Palestinians have been killed in that time, most identified by Israel as attackers.”

Online, the first sentence of that paragraph, from AP’s June 19 report, still read—as of June 22—“dozens [emphasis added] of attacks."

In fact, there had been nearly 300 assaults, according to a June 7 Israeli Foreign Ministry article and graphic, “Wave of Terror 2015/16.”

It was possible that The Post’s online AP item and its own in-print version were based on different AP reports, and the change to “several” from “dozens” of attacks was made by the wire service. But the printed brief in the newspaper’s World Digest of five short items reads like a version of the online report edited for space, but with AP’s “dozens” of attacks unwarrantedly replaced by, and minimized as “several.”

Time and space constraints often compel journalists to use a type of shorthand. But in this case, for the wire service to report “dozens” of attacks and The Post “several” reads less like economy in reporting and editing than revisionism downplaying Palestinian aggression. That was especially so since the actual figure of anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish attacks was “hundreds,” with 38 killed and 487 wounded.

CAMERA asked The Post’s foreign desk on June 20 why AP’s “dozens” of attacks became “several” in the newspaper and whether or not it thought a correction or clarification was in order. Two days later, no response had been received.

As we’ve noted, journalists have only their credibility to sell. Turning literally hundreds to virtually "dozens" to barely "several" obscures a nine-month wave of Palestinian terrorism and undercuts press credibility.

Posted by ER at June 22, 2016 12:36 PM

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