Thursday, May 11, 2006

More Media Bias: At Least PBS Corrects Their Website

Did you know that "the state of Palestine" already exists? Did you know its "history in the region stretches back 6,000 years"? No? Neither did I. In all of history there has never been a state of Palestine, not even for six minutes. The name Palestine was first given to the region by the Romans less than 2,000 years ago. Arabs didn't come to what is now Israel and the territories until the Mohammedan conquests in the 7th century. Arab leaders during the British mandatory period from King Feisal or Jordan and Iraq to Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini (the Palestinian Arab leader) referred to the people we now call Palestinians as Syrians. Indeed even today's Hamas leaders want a pan-Arab Islamic state, not an independent Palestine. So when did these 6,000 years come from? Somehow that didn't stop PBS from including that statement in the background web page for the recent Frontline special on Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, entitled The Unexpected Candidate.

Don't look for the statement on the PBS website. Thankfully it's gone, replaced with a much more accurate history. On 10 May 2006 CAMERA, The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America , sent an e-mail to it's membership taking credit for this and eight other corrections on the PBS website. Since they haven't been posted to the CAMERA web page yet I thought I'd share:
ORIGINAL: Civil war erupted, with Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq supporting the Palestinians . Nevertheless the Israelis prevailed and in ensuing years captured more territory west of the Jordan River.

REVISED: Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq joined the Palestinians in attacking and trying to eliminate the nascent state.

ORIGINAL: Waves of Jewish refugees flooded the country, more than doubling the Israeli population.

REVISED: Waves of Jewish refugees flooded the country, many from Europe, but most fleeing Arab countries, and more than doubling the Israeli population.

ORIGINAL: In 1955, a new Egyptian government closed the Straits of Tiran and the Suez Canal to Israeli ships in response to a perceived spy threat. The following year, Shimon Peres led Israel to invade the Sinai Peninsula, aided secretly by Britain and France...< BR>

REVISED: In 1955, a new Egyptian government closed the Straits of Tiran and the Suez Canal to Israeli ships in response to a perceived spy threat. The following year, Israel invaded the Sinai Peninsula, backed by Britain and France....

ORIGINAL: Tension continued, however, and fighting broke out again in 1967. A young Yasser Arafat had stirred up liberation hopes in occupied Palestine, and border skirmishes began to escalate. In May that year...

REVISED: Tension continued, however, and fighting broke out again in 1967. In May that year...

ORIGINAL: In the days that followed, Israeli troops conquered the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian troops defending Sinai.

REVISED: In the days that followed, Israeli troops conquered the Egyptians troops defending Sinai. Israel also defeated assaults by Jordan from the east and Syria from the north.

ORIGINAL: In the late 1980s, fed up with occupation and Jewish settlements in former Palestinian territories, the Arafat-led Fatah party began the first intifada in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

REVISED: In the late 1980s, fed up with occupation and Jewish settlements in former Palestinian territories, local Palestinians began the first intifada in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, later joined by Yasser Arafat's Fatah militants.

ORIGINAL: The emergence of suicide bombers and the increasing instability within the Palestinian leadership further derailed the talks....

REVISED: Palestinian suicide bombers began attacking Israeli civilians, and the increasing instability within Palestinian leadership further derailed the talks...

ORIGINAL: It remains to be seen if Israel and the international community will accept the militant group Hamas in any future peace negotiations, following the group's landslide victory in the January elections.

REVISED: It remains to be seen if Israel and the international community will accept the militant group Hamas in any future peace negotiations, following the group's landslide victory in the January elections. Hamas refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist, and is regarded as a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union.

While I applaud CAMERA's work I have to wonder how much damage the PBS site already did. In light of this and the ongoing and persistent media bias I've previously reported, mainly from mainstream and left-leaning media, is it any wonder that people who trust these news sources often have wildly distorted views of the conflict?

Huge thanks to my mom for sending this along to me. I first published it on Blogs of Zion and cross-posted it here.

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5 comments:

Yael K said...

whoa those discrepancies between the inaccuracy of the original and the more accurate revisions are shocking. I always thought better of PBS than that! Thanks for posting this.

Caitlyn said...

You are most welcome.

I think the issue at PBS isn't knee jerk anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism. As you say they have some excellent programming and The Newshour With Jim Lehrer. in particular has always worked to be balanced and fair.

The problem is that people hear lies and propaganda so many times they believe it as the truth. If a PBS editor is politically left-leaning and has only heard one side of the story he may believe that what he is posting is accurate.

As someone who is on the political left myself (and I know you are too) I find the trend on the left to villify Israel very disturbing. I'm not about to adopt right-wing ideology. It's clear PBS, which I view as one of the least biased and most moderate media organizations in the U.S., was willing to accept a correction. Hopefully others will accept corrections as well.

Ridlium said...

The telling line in your comment, Caitlin, is "PBS...was willing to accept a correction." I would hope that any "news" organization would not only be "willing to accept a correction," but would feel honor-bound to air it where the original listeners/readers would find it immediately. All too frequently that is not the case in American journalistic ranks. The anchors don't often correct their errors on television, and the print media usually bury errata deep in the bowels of their publications. Willingness is not a praiseworthy attribute in this case, devotion to the truth is and requires an admission of guilt.

Lola said...

You're absolutely right - Once the media gets out the "wrong" information in that day's news who goes back to read the correction a few days later. No, people have moved on to reading that day's news stories. Besides, when they do publish the correction it's usually hidden on page 5 or printed in small, inconspicuous type. Even though, I applaud CAMARA's efforts - sadly, we need these watchdog sites to make sure we get the "accurate" reports.

Caitlyn said...

Ridlium and Lola: I cannot disagree with either of you. Having said that I will point out that PBS is way ahead of the BBC, CNN, and many other media outlets who deny their bias, often deny error even when their reporting is shown to be false, and don't publish corrections at all. At least PBS is open to and willing to listen to criticism.