Biased Reporting – Los Angeles Times and Israel

Israeli family is hiding during a rocket attack.

At the onset I’ll admit that I’m not objective. But because I’m not objective I try to be aware and not fall into the predictable stance of “my position is the right one”.

Those who know me well, often get frustrated by my ability to see both sides (just ask my Democratic friends), and my tendency to by doubtful about “The Truth”.

And yet, yesterday 11/16/2012 and this morning 11/17/2012, the language, use of words and pictures in the Los Angeles Times made my blood boil, and I said to myself : “No more!”

                                                    A bloodied Israeli baby is rescued

Edmund Sanders who writes for the LA Times is so overtly unobjective that if there was a medal for biased journalism he would get it.

Let’s look at Friday’s edition:

The above mentioned reporter uses the following statement about Israeli casualties:

“In Israel, a bloodied infant in a pink jumpsuit was gingerly rescued from the rubble of an apartment building where three other residents were killed by rocket fired from Gaza. The three deaths in Kiryat Malachi were the first on the Israeli side.”

Here’s the paragraph about the deaths in Gaza:

“About the same time, bereaved young parents to the south in Gaza City buried their 11- month- old boy, who had just learned to say “Mama.” The boy, Omar Misharawi, was killed Wednesday in an Israeli  attack. The explosion tore through the family’s home, killing him and his pregnant aunt as the family dived for cover.  “He was just a few steps behind, ” said his stunned mother, Ahlam Misharawi, 24. “He was right behind me.”

So let’s contrast and compare:

Israeli baby was saved and not hurt but a Palestinian baby died.

Israeli baby has no name, the 3 Israelis who were killed have no name, but the Palestinian baby and mother have names.

The Palestinian baby was attacked by Israel, but Israelis were killed by a rocket.

There is no mention of anything personal about the Israeli casualties, no names, age, gender, burial information, relatives or words about them, just a dry statistic!

Of the Gaza’s casualty, we get to hear words that would immediately reach our gut, and tug at our heart. We know the age of the baby, we know that he started to talk, we know about his young mother, we relate to them; and because of the personal information we hurt for them.

I hurt for them too. I hurt for the baby and the horrific pain of the parents. But …

I also hurt for the 3 dead Israelis whom the Times let remain nameless and featureless. I hurt for them because they have family and relatives as well, and they were also in the middle of something … in the middle of living when a Hamas rocket killed them.

If Hamas (or anyone) is going to tell me their goal and mission is to destroy me, am I supposed to just wait and see?  I think not.  Nor do I have an interest in being a nameless or faceless statistic – just one of “3 residents.”

And then there’s the photo of an Israeli missile in a response to the rockets. But we all know that a picture is worth a thousand words. No picture of any Hamas rocket and its damage, despite the fact that hundreds of them were fired!

And no mention that Israel got into this war very reluctantly; that it spreads hundreds of leaflets alerting the Palestinians of an incoming attack and urged them to hide; to move out of the city for a while because Israel’s goal is not to kill innocent civilians, but to destroy Hamas’s weapons and terrorists. Yes, it’s bad there, quite bad. I dream of peace.

And then there’s today. Saturday in the Los Angeles Times edition:

“An Israeli official says an invasion could be launched within days if Palestinians keep firing rockets.”

Let’s look at some other possible headlines instead of this, just some of my ideas, not Edmund Sanders headline.

We could have seen the following: “Hamas fires rockets 10 miles from Jerusalem, the city they claim as their capital.”

Or: “Despite Israel adhering to cease fire while Egyptian PM visits, Hamas continues its assault.”

Or: “Hamas continued rocket assault may result in escalation.”

But these are not the headlines. It’s about Israel and invasion.

But to add insult to injury the pictures this morning were shameful. One can imagine that the Times has hundreds if not thousands of pictures of the conflict. You know how it is today with digital cameras, it does not even cost the price of paper!

But the one picture from the Israeli side is of , and I quote: “An Israeli man drinks a beer in the kitchen of his house in Kfar Aza, which was hit by a rocket fired by militants in the Gaza strip. Israel bombarded Gaza on Friday with more than 250 airstrikes.”

And then you see a picture of an Israeli man drinking beer! Not water, not Coke but beer. Not a picture of destruction, of Israeli children huddling in their bunkers, but of a man drinking beer? Of all the pictures that the LA Times photographer took, that’s the one depicting the grave situation?

I don’t know Edmund Sanders who reports for the LA Times, but I’m glad I’m not meeting him today…

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About rachel bar

Psychotherapist and supervisor.
This entry was posted in israel, Los Angeles Times, Middle East, politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Biased Reporting – Los Angeles Times and Israel

  1. Maureen says:

    I SO agree with you. This is an outrage. But surely you have been aware for a VERY long time that the Mainstream Media as a whole is incredibly biased in its reporting off ALL issues. Which is why our public is so poorly informed, even when it thinks it is “in the know”. The first step in controlling a country is to control its Media. Welcome to our new America.

    • rachel bar says:

      Unfortunately there are no winners in war. We all suffer. However, I’m tired of Israel being categorized as the bully of the Middle East.
      Thanks for your comment, Maureen.

  2. katzideals says:

    I already know a lot about it but you have given me more information such as the leafleting.
    And that Hamas will not recognize Israel..but what is the long term outlook?Both sides must have peace talks but who can bring that about.It makes me angry the way the Times here says,
    Israeli troops mass on the borders,as if they had no reason,It’s heartbreaking

    • rachel bar says:

      Thanks for your comment. The outlook is very grim and the prospects for peace minimal. If there’s no powerful leader then there’s not going to be peace in the region.

  3. Maurice Labi says:

    Quick, how many died in the 2006 Lebanon-Israel war? How many in the 2008 Gaza-Israel war? No one can recall. This latest escalation is another example that in a year or two we’ll remember nothing. The media will chase another sensational headline and the people in the conflict will lick their wounds until the next round. Just writing these words make me feel hopeless, that in this corner of the world we’re doomed. Oh, how I miss those brave leaders who come once in a century and change the course of history. I’m waiting…

    • rachel bar says:

      Be safe Maurice! I share your hopes and dreams, but I’m afraid that I will not see peace in my lifetime.

      • Jim Palmer Palmer says:

        I am afraid you are right Rachel…..this war has been going on since Sarah kicked Hagar and Ishmael out of the tent…… No solution in sight….Obama will do nothing…..

  4. Vasca says:

    It makes me so angry with the media in our country…once I believed the newspeople actually reported the news in an unbiased manner. Oh how naive that was. The correspondent actually skews it the way he believes it…prejudices and all…eager to make a name? Who knows why?

    I feel for you and Israel…and you are in my prayers! Stay strong and resolved.

  5. Vasca says:

    Adding to the comment Maurice made…Oh how I wish too…that we had strong leaders who stood for everything good…where are they?

  6. David Silber says:

    Dear Rachel;

    I share your sentiments regarding the imbalance by the Times’ editorial staff. Really sucks.

  7. Shoshana Rubin says:

    Rachel, an outstanding analysis and I thank you!

    • rachel bar says:

      Thanks Shoshana for your compliment.

      • Shoshana Rubin says:

        You welcome. I agree with Barbara Cooper 100%! I have written a few letters to the times and they published them. You are making so much sense and articulating it so very well, this really should be shared with as many people as possible.

  8. Barbara Cooper says:

    Rachel, I am as furious as you are. Print out your blog, write a cover letter to the editor with a copy to the owner of the LA Times, and send it to the LA Times. While I am certain you have a lot of readers of your blog, you need to get your views to the source as well as to a much wider audience. Then copy your blog again and send it to the editor of The Jewish Journal. Don’t just vent on your blog. Get your views out there!

  9. mim collins says:

    Well said, Rachel….Mim

  10. Julie Hall says:

    I have no words of encouragement about the conflict that is taking place right now, except to say my prayers go out to all involved…
    Rachel and everyone, please remember that everyone writes, reports, lectures, etc. with some sort of bias. It doesn’t make it right, but that is a fact. I know we all have limited time in our lives, but one way to make sure we get the entire story is to read or listen to a variety of reports, especially about a story that is this important.
    Down here in San Diego county my beloved local newspaper was just purchased by a millionaire named Manchester. He makes no excuses for the fact that he is going to use his newspaper to further his political agenda, a bully pulpit, if you will. (A side note-many subscribers are cancelling their subscriptions.) His first agenda was to get Romney elected. Newspapers and TV (Fox, anyone?), in America have been biased for decades, and it’s not going to change anytime soon. Now you can add biased web sites to the media too.
    So, fight biased reporting when and where you can (Rachel, I applaud you for holding the “journalist” here accountable), but also, very important, find/buy/listen to various resources with different points of view so you’re able to get the entire story.

    • rachel bar says:

      I agree with the points you’re making Julie, but realistically it all depends on where one lives. In a democratic society you may read more than one viewpoint, but in a dictatorship you’re not so lucky. We do have more opportunities to be exposed to various opinions due to the internet, but most people are just too busy.
      Thank you for your feedback Julie.

  11. lylekrahn says:

    I thot you did a nice, balanced job of reporting on the bias. The issues are complicated and there has been terrible devastation to families on both side but one key question for me is who is aiming their guns at the civilians?

    • rachel bar says:

      At this point both do, because even if Israel wanted to avoid killing civilians, they can’t. If they want to bomb Hamas’ military buildings, they would probably kill inncocent people, as Hamas is famous for surrounding itself by civilians, as a protection. Hamas is aiming its rockets towards cities full of civilians, and as we witnessed during 9-11, they celebrated when the twin towers fell.
      Ultimately, everyone is responsible and everyone has their point of view, based on years of stories, history, mythology and ego. It sucks.

  12. aFrankAngle says:

    I see your point. Well done. Personally, I hope to see peace there in my lifetime.

  13. I think we need to keep the entire Middle East in our prayers. I don’t think humans, alone, can ever find the solution to the problems there and that divine intervention is needed. Terribly sad loss of life on all sides.

    • rachel bar says:

      The “divine” seems to be busy somewhere else…
      I agree though that that it’s terrible for both sides and extremely sad when innocent people get in the middle of this long conflict.
      Thanks for your comment.

  14. Jackie Rosenson says:

    Rachel,
    Thank you so much for heightening my awareness; I am mad at the L.A. Times. Yesterday’s
    front page and second internal article sent out not just a biased but also the wrong message about what’s happening in Israel .Unfortunately, many people only read one paper because
    of time constraints. I know that a liberal paper usually sides with the underdog, but how
    do they get to Hamas as an underdog?! As the saying goes, “don’t believe everything you read.”
    I really hope you follow through with Barbara’s suggestion to write to the paper. They cannot
    afford to lose any more subscribers.
    Jackie

  15. Hello. I thought that maybe you had picked out a one-off article. I have since been reading news articles more closely and you are correct. It is often reported that Palestinians are killed by Israel but Israelis are killed by rocket fire.
    I am skeptical of news reporting at the best of times, but I will watch out for this in the future. thanks for your post.

  16. rachel bar says:

    Thanks Elizabeth. Because I know that I cannot be objective I double my effort when I read and listen to the news. I read and reread and then I analyze. If this was one isolated article I would probably pass, but it’s the norm.

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