The Google search engine is the most popular method in the world for finding information online, handling more than 200 million search requests a day. Building on their success, Google has now developed Google News (www.news.google.com), a portal that is quickly becoming one of the most influential sources of world news.
Here’s how it works: Google News has accepted thousands of news sources for inclusion in a pool, which Google’s computer continually scans by algorithm to group articles by topic. When the user types in a search word, such as ‘Israel’, Google News presents links to hundreds of relevant news stories on that topic. (Greater prominence is given to articles more recently released, and more popular online.)
But with the proliferation of vitriolic anti-Israel and anti-Semitic material on the web (the number of neo-Nazi websites in Germany, for example, has tripled in the past four years) and much of it deliberately disguised in ‘news format’, the question is: What does Google News consider a legitimate news source ? as opposed to fiction or propaganda? The Google News website states only:
While the sources of the news vary in perspective and editorial approach, their selection for inclusion is done without regard to political viewpoint or ideology.
This goal to present a broad spectrum of viewpoints is praiseworthy, but HonestReporting is concerned with Google News’ acceptance of one particular site “Jihad Unspun”, as Mideast ‘news’, despite the site’s record of blatantly distorting established facts, glorifying terror, and publishing highly defamatory anti-Semitic material. Jihad Unspun’s articles appear prominently on searches for Israel-related topics on Google News. But click through, and this is what Jihad Unspun serves up:
? Outrageous ‘Zionist conspiracy’ theories, such as the canard that 9/11 was a sinister Zionist plot, as were the recent Istanbul bombings: ‘Zionist Intelligence Engineered Istanbul Blasts’.
? The authors generally refuse to call Israel by name, employing instead the terms ‘Zionist forces’ and ‘Hebrew state’. Some examples:
‘Resistance Fighters Attack Zionist Vehicles’ (i.e., deadly terror attacks on Israeli civilian cars)
‘Zionist Chief of Staff Promises More Suffering for Palestinians’
‘Hebrew State Refuses British Involvement’
‘Zionist Terrorist Forces Demolish More Palestinians Homes, Mosque’
? All of Israel is referred to as ‘occupied territory’ and all Israelis are ‘settlers’. For example, a report on the closing of the Sbarro’s pizzeria, site of the horrific 2001 bombing, reads:
Owners of a Zionist restaurant in central occupied Jerusalem have failed to convince customers to frequent it anew. Clients deserted the ‘Subaru’ restaurant after a Palestinian commando blew himself up in it about three years ago, killing 17 settlers and wounding tens others.
? The site publishes the writings of the rabidly anti-Semitic Edgar J. Steele, including an article with these passages:
It isn’t Arabs rigging the US stock market and commodities futures markets – it is jews.
It wasn’t Arabs who sent our military into Afghanistan and Iraq – it was jews
It wasn’t Arabs who forged the Anne Frank “diary” – it was jews.
It wasn’t Arabs who lied about gas chambers at Dachau and Auschwitz – it was jews.
It wasn’t Arabs who demolished the World Trade Center – it was jews.
It wasn’t Arabs who had Jesus Christ crucified – it was jews.
The owner and publisher of Jihad Unspun is Khadija Abdul Qahaar (a.k.a. Bev Kennedy), who converted to Islam after 9/11, became an advocate for its most radical fringe, then launched the website without any journalistic credentials.
While the site is duly protected by the First Amendment (we found no overt calls to murder), the material Jihad Unspun publishes does not meet a reasonable definition of ‘news’, but is rather anti-Israel and anti-American propaganda that masquerades as news. Google News recognizes this loophole in its system ? in March of last year Google News responded to an email campaign protesting the inclusion of the radical Indymedia site (where the term ‘Zionazis’ was prevalent), and removed Indymedia from their service.
With the highly influential Google News still a work-in-progress (it remains in experimental ‘beta’ mode), HonestReporting encourages subscribers to write to Google News at firstname.lastname@example.org, encouraging the removal of Jihad Unspun from their list of legitimate news sites. Though the goal of providing a spectrum of news sources is laudable, hateful propaganda has no place on Google News.
Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.