Broadcasting the Big Lie

Media outlets often insist on giving equal time to both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — even when one side presents documented fact and the other fabricates a lie.

As their policy of terror becomes more and more exposed, Palestinian Authority spokesmen have taken to the airwaves with incredible allegations. Then the big lie is repeated — unchallenged — on virtually all networks and newspapers.

By way of example, we present a series of Big Lies, as they appeared this week on CNN.


BIG LIE #1 – There are no gunmen seeking refuge in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, only local Christians fearing Israeli massacres.

CNN Crossfire, April 2: Hassan Abdel Rahman (PLO representative to the United States) was asked about Palestinian gunmen taking over the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Here was his response:

“[T]he inhabitants of Bethlehem are mostly Christians, 90 percent of them. In the face of an Israeli invasion of their city, they look for sanctuaries to hide. And they are hiding in a church, hoping that they will be protected because the experience of the Palestinians so far in other cities like in Ramallah and Jenin and Qalqilia, they were massacred in mass by the Israelis… I said the priests invited the people to come and hide. And there are very, very few armed people. The rest are civilians, Christians who are seeking sanctuary in the church.”

FACT: The Christian population of Bethlehem has dwindled to only 20 percent. Many of them emigrated under Moslem pressure since Arafat’s arrival. Some of the wanted terrorists hiding in the Church of the Nativity are members of Hamas or other Islamist terror groups — not “Christians seeking sanctuary,” as claimed on CNN.

FACT: Franciscan monk Johannes Simon said the Palestinians entered violently by shooting off locks on the basilica door, as reported by

FACT: With international reporters and human rights organizations crisscrossing the territories, none has noticed Palestinians “massacred in mass,” as claimed on CNN by Abdel Rahman.


BIG LIE #2 – Documents confiscated from Arafat’s compound in Ramallah, detailing Arafat’s senior advisors’ involvement in suicide bombings and terrorism, are fraudulent forgeries.

CNN, April 2, Abdel Rahman: “This is – this is a fraud by the Israeli intelligence, sir. The Israelis have a department that specializes in putting out lies.”

CNN, April 3, Nasser Al-Kidwa (Palestinian representative to the U.N.): “…some kind of James Bond activities …bits and pieces of rumors and unsubstantiated claims.”

FACT: Israeli troops found clear documentation of senior Palestinian involvement in terrorism. In one document, Arafat personally authorized payment to senior terrorist commanders of the Tanzim and Force 17 organizations who commanded attacks such as the shooting at a bar mitzvah reception in Hadera. In another document, Arafat’s quartermaster received requests for funds for the components of bombs carried by suicide bombers.

Kudos to NBC’s Martin Fletcher for reporting unabashedly on documents and computer disks directly linking the PA to terror, as well as the seizure of counterfeit currency and illegal weapons.


BIG LIE #3 – When the Palestinian Authority is caught red-handed in gross violations of international justice, the PA claims innocence.

CNN, April 3, Leila Shahid (General Delegate of Palestine in France): “…the [Israeli] army, when it comes to any place it invades, can put what it wants, whether it is drugs or documents or dynamite belts.”

FACT: After searching Arafat’s personal Ramallah compound, Israel found millions of dollars of counterfeit Israeli and American currency. Is there any other world leader who would go so far as to hold counterfeit American currency in his office?!

FACT: On March 27, a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance driver was caught transporting an explosive belt, hiding under a stretcher upon which a Palestinian boy was lying. The PA later claimed that the Israelis planted it there to make them look bad.

This pattern of Palestinian denial hit full stride in February when, in the words of Newsweek magazine, Arafat “claimed he knew nothing about an arms shipment from Iran that the Israelis had intercepted. If there is one thing George W. Bush doesn’t like, it’s a liar.”


BIG LIE #4 – Israeli troops killed a Catholic priest in Bethlehem and damaged the St. Mary’s Church.

CNN, April 2: “Late word today [from Palestinian sources] says a 45-year-old Roman Catholic priest has been shot and killed there.” [According to HonestReporting members, CNN correspondent Rula Amin also reported that Israeli soldiers fired on the St. Mary’s Church and killed “Father Jackie.” No transcript of Amin’s remarks were found on the CNN site.]

FACT: The priest is alive and well. On April 4, Cardinal Pietro Samari, the Vatican’s ambassador to Israel, apologized and told the Israel Defense Forces that the report was incorrect and false. Ten Tanzim terrorists are believed holed up in the St. Mary’s Church and are holding clerics as hostages.


CNN’s Aaron Brown (April 2) defended the decision to broadcast an interview with a Hamas spokesman: “Here’s how we see these things. Our job is to give you a view of all the relevant players in every story. That doesn’t mean we have to like them or like what they say. We never even think about that in the decision-making. We trust that if you hear the players, and if the questions are reasonable, you’re perfectly able to judge the merits of their arguments for yourself.”

Notice that Brown does not list amongst CNN’s criteria “providing the truth.” In the swirling Mideast claims and counter-claims, are viewers “able to judge” for themselves when they hear an outright lie?

HonestReporting raises several questions about the media’s role:

– Why does the media allow the Big Lie to be propagated in its reports?


– Doesn’t the media have a responsibility to challenge the Big Lie, if not during the broadcast at least soon thereafter?

– If a Palestinian spokesperson repeatedly uses the platform for the Big Lie, doesn’t the media have a responsibility to ban the spokesperson?

HonestReporting members can see the CNN transcripts online at Click on the date in the calendar to read a large library of daily transcripts.