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September 27, 2017

The Washington Post Cites—Then Removes—A Tweet From an Antisemite

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A Washington Post report on U.S. comedian Conan O’Brien’s recent trip to Israel initially cited an antisemitic Twitter user. Following contact from CAMERA, The Post removed the offensive tweet from the online article (“How Conan’s Israel episode confronted the ‘polarizing’ political issues,” Sept. 20, 2017).

Post reporter Bethonie Butler detailed O’Brien’s trip, noting comedic moments as well as the entertainers’ encounters with “activists near the separation barrier in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria].”

Quoting O’Brien’s televised show, The Post’s dispatch informed readers that the security barrier is “a measure built to protect against terrorist attacks and has resulted in a dramatic drop in Israeli deaths.”

Bizarrely, the article also initially included a tweet ostensibly meant to show negative reaction to O’Brien’s show. Twitter user “MagSec” said, “Conan O’Brien’s trip to Israel is the most shameless bit of propaganda that I’ve ever seen. He even has an Israeli doctor treating a Syrian.” Of course, Israeli doctors have been treating victims of the Syrian civil war—a fact that is seldom noted by many media outlets. It’s hard to see how this qualifies as “shameless propaganda”—unless one is an antisemite.

Screenshots taken by CAMERA Senior Research Analyst Gilead Ini show that the same Twitter user also thinks “The Jews at CNN are trying to get blacks to murder whites again” and “Never forget that CNN anchor Rick Sanchez said CNN & all the news networks were run by Jews.” In addition to being a purveyor of antisemitic tropes, the individual’s bigotry extends elsewhere, and includes attacking transgender people and praising assaults against journalists.

Following contact from CAMERA, The Washington Post commendably removed the tweet from its online report and noted that the post “has been updated.” Nonetheless, its initial inclusion does raise the question of why this particular Twitter user was cited in the first place.

The dispatch also presented information in a manner that could mislead readers, stating that O’Brien listened to activists who “described attending the funeral of an eight-year old Palestinian girl, who was run over by an Israeli settler in the West Bank.” In fact, as CAMERA affiliate UK Media Watch has noted, the girl who is likely being described, Aseel Abu Oun, was killed in what police described as a “regular road accident.” However, The Post presented her death in a manner that could lead readers to think that the death was intentional.

By using a questionable source and ambiguous phrasing—even if unintentional—The Post’s story could misinform readers.

Posted by SD at September 27, 2017 01:29 PM

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