Today’s media failures (mostly NPR)

Before and after Corrie's death. Different bulldozers, different time of day.

Before and after Corrie’s death. Different bulldozers, different time of day.

Here are three examples of what is either utter incompetence, deliberately slanted reporting, or both. I’m going for ‘both’.

***

This morning’s news mentioned that France was preparing to open a homicide inquiry into the death of Original Terrorist Yasser Arafat, based on the allegations of his porcine widow Suha that he was poisoned by Polonium 210.

Simple arithmetic proves that even if there had been an impossibly large amount of Polonium 210 in Arafat’s underwear that Suha tenderly saved for 8 years, it would be undetectable today. Anyway, his symptoms were not consistent with polonium poisoning.

Yet the New York Times and NPR report this insanity with a straight face!

***

NPR struck again with this report from Sheera Frankel in Haifa:

Rachel Corrie was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer as she stood trying to block the demolition of Palestinian homes, in Rafah, Gaza. Today, a panel of judges ruled that she could have saved herself by moving out of the way. And they dismissed her family’s lawsuit against the government.

In a document released by the court, the Haifa district court judges said that they found no negligence on the part of the army of the State of Israel. The judges called Corrie’s death a regrettable accident, and noted that she had ignored repeated warnings to leave the area.

Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother, said she was saddened by the verdict and the seeming impunity of the Israeli military. The family averred that Rachel was clearly visible to the driver of the bulldozer, in her bright orange vest and loudspeaker. Corrie’s family fought a nine-year battle in Israel’s courts, arguing that the military never launched a full and credible investigation into the case. The Corrie family lawyer said they would appeal the case to Israel’s Supreme Court.

First, Corrie wasn’t ‘crushed’. The court established, based on testimony from other ‘activists’ as well as IDF personnel, that she became entangled in a pile of dirt that the bulldozer was pushing, and probably died after her head was struck by a piece of concrete. Yes, she’s still dead, but the emotional content of ‘crushed’ is much greater.

Second, she wasn’t trying to “block the demolition of Palestinian homes.” The bulldozer was clearing debris in a place where numerous tunnels used to smuggle weapons and explosives across the Egyptian border to terrorists in Gaza were located. Many of the ‘homes’ nearby were covering tunnel exits.

Third — and most important — the piece doesn’t mention that court very carefully examined the question of whether the bulldozer operator could have seen Corrie and concluded that he could not. It quotes the family’s contention that she was holding a bullhorn and in plain view, but this is based on a deliberate photographic fraud. Eyewitnesses said that she was immediately in front of the bulldozer’s blade where she could not be seen when she was hit (see yesterday’s post for a summary of the court’s decision).

One would think that a reporter on the scene would be able to do better with the simple facts. The piece also employs the usual NPR technique of emphasizing the emotional content of the anti-Israel side and barely mentioning opposing views.

***

A couple of weeks ago, an anti-Israel blogger copied a fanciful scenario about an Israeli cyberattack on Iran from a discussion forum, and claimed it was an actual war plan ‘leaked’ to him by an Israeli official. He managed to fool a few media outlets with it, even the BBC.

It was quickly debunked (see also here and here).

But guess who picked it up this week? Apparently NPR’s reporter Tom Gjelten found it too delicious to ignore, despite the fact that it was 100% bull pucky. Do they ever check this stuff?

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3 Responses to “Today’s media failures (mostly NPR)”

  1. Robman says:

    If they “checked” this stuff (i.e,. behave as minimially competent, professional journalists), then they wouldn’t report it and then they wouldn’t get their stipend/bonus from their Saudi pimps.

  2. Shalom Freedman says:

    This for me is the key insight of the article. “The piece also employs the usual NPR technique of emphasizing the emotional content of the anti-Israel side and barely mentioning opposing views.” Clearly the employment of the term ‘crushed’ is in the service of this attempt to not simply interest and heighten the feeling of the listeners but bring them to intensified ‘anti- Israel feeling’.
    This is as you say standard operating procedure for NPR and many other media.

  3. juvanya says:

    There would still be the elements Polonium 210 decomposes into.

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