Sunday, December 16, 2012

Not All Assaults are Equal

In the Middle East, attacks on journalists are all too common, and Israel and the West Bank is no exception. Although attacks on journalists are never justified, neither is biased reporting from the Huffington Post. So let's contrast this story, that the Huffington Post covered on Friday, with some others. Here's the headline and biased picture:

I'm sure you're familiar with the story by now, but if it is as it appears to be, and they did attack two truly innocent camera people for no reason at all, obviously that's bad. Now the question we have to ask is: does the Huffington Post publish all attacks on journalists in Israel and the West Bank? Let's find out together, with the help of the Committee to Protect Journalists. First story:
"New York, July 2, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned attacks by Palestinian security forces on at least four journalists who were covering protests against the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah on Saturday and Sunday, according to news reports.
"Muhammed Jaradat, a freelance journalist who contributes to local news websites, was beaten, arrested, and had his camera confiscated by four plainclothes security officials while covering Saturday's protest, according to news reports. The four men took Jaradat to the police station where he was beaten again with a stick in front of police officers who did nothing to stop the attack, news reports said. He sustained bruises and an injury to his left eye and was taken to a hospital for treatment, the reports said.
"Saed al-Hawari, a photographer for Reuters, was beaten and choked by a plainclothes security officer on Sunday while taking pictures, according to news reports. He told the independent Palestinian Ma'an News Agency that his assailant threatened to beat him again if he continued taking pictures and that he suffered from neck pain due to the attack.”  
Did the Huffington Post cover this story? No, they did not. Next up:
"New York, April 24, 2012--The Palestinian Authority has blocked up to eight critical news websites in the West Bank since February, according to a report released by an independent news agency on Monday.
The websites, AmadFatah VoiceFiras PressIn Light PressKarama PressKofia Press,Milad News, and Palestine Beituna, have been inaccessible to most Internet users in the West Bank since early February, according to a report released by the Bethlehem-based Ma'an News Agency."
That's like China-level repression. Did the Huffington Post cover this story? No, they did not. Though they did have something about "Israel's Gaza Internet chokehold," which we commented on at the time. What else do you have, CPJ?
"New York, April 4, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Palestinian Authority's recent anti-press actions in which one journalist was detained for a week for reporting on alleged corruption and spying and a second was questioned over a critical article and his posts on social media. 
"Yousef al-Shayeb, a correspondent for the Jordanian daily Al-Ghad, was detained by the Palestinian Authority for 48 hours on March 26 in Ramallah and questioned over his sources for a January 30 article he wrote alleging corruption and spying by the Palestinian diplomatic mission in France, according to news reports. The interrogation followed a defamation complaint filed by the Authority's foreign minister and the head of the mission that sought $US6 million in damages under Article 189 of the Jordanian Penal Code, which is enforced in the West Bank, according to human rights groups. The law permits damages for libel in print media. 
"Al-Shayeb is also accused of defaming government officials, a charge that can carry up to two years in prison under Article 191 of the code, according to rights groups. Shortly after the complaint was filed, al-Shayeb was fired from Al-Ghad, news reports said."
Did the Huffington Post cover this story? What do you think? So that's three stories from this year alone about the PA repressing journalism, and none of them were noticed by the Huffington Post.

What about Turkey? Well, in October the Huffington Post did cover 76 journalists imprisoned there, but it was on the wire service where no one can see it. A article in the "Media" section about it received zero comments. More recently they had a blogger call the journalists imprisonment a "myth." I guess that says it all.

In fact, after searching the Huffington Post, I wasn't able to find any articles about the Palestinian Authority attacking journalists or freedom of expression in their territory. Unless their search algorithms aren't working as they should be, it seems they just don't care unless Israel can be blamed. But do you remember how the Huffington Post was wringing its hands over "journalists" killed during Pillar of Cloud?

If you're a journalist, you'd better hope you get hurt by Israel. Otherwise, nobody is going to care. The facts prove it.

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