To expand on a story, journalists will sometimes tie in an extraneous item into a report. It might be a line mentioned in passing by an interviewee, or a throwaway line by the reporter himself. When done effectively, the reporter opens the door to a bigger picture without sidetracking the story.
The result is somewhat tangential, but brief and justifiable.
But some tie-ins are unfair. And in the case of CBC reporter Neil MacDonald, reveal a pattern of hostility.
HonestReporting Canada flagged the veteran correspondent’s recent report from Ajdabiya, Libya. MacDonald interviewed a Libyan civilian whose uncle was allegedly gunned down by Gaddafi loyalists. Holding up a bloody robe, the man speaks in Arabic, and MacDonald translates, “Does this look like a military uniform?”
As the man continues speaking in Arabic, MacDonald says in a voiceover:
“Gaddafi is like the Israelis,” says (the Libyan civilian), summoning the worst insult he can manage. “He kills whomever he likes.”
Click image to watch video.
Although it’s very irritating — Israel has nothing to do with this conflict , and in no way compares to the Gaddafi regime — I can understand an editor including the comment. This is how the Arabs, unfortunately, express themselves. But that’s not why I’ve had it with MacDonald.
It’s part of a pattern.
February, 2011: MacDonald equates repressive Arab emergency laws with emergency laws in Israel and the US.
January, 2005: MacDonald gives former CIA official Michael Sheuer the soapbox of a one-on-one interview to claim that the US relationship with Israel is costing American lives.
December, 2004: After an Al-Qaida attack on the US consulate in Jeddah, MacDonald quotes Alan Keiswetter, of the Saudi-financed Middle East Institute, blaming US-Israel relations.
December, 2004: Commenting on a wave of suicide bombings and terror, MacDonald writes:
If Palestinians have committed terror, the Israelis have certainly committed war crimes.
The sentence was amended when readers complained.
June, 2000: MacDonald refers to the “ferocious appetite of Jewish settlers for Arab land.”
The Libyan’s comment certainly fits in with MacDonald’s world view. And that’s reason enough to reinforce the viewers with a message that Israel is no better than Gaddafi?
It is clear and well-established by now that, wherever MacDonald is posted – be it Jerusalem, Washington, or Libya – he will continue to denigrate Israel using sources and handpicked “experts” who gratuitously involve Israel in stories it has nothing to do with. Macdonald is guilty not only of the appearance of bias, but of bias itself. As we have argued in the past, “If CBC news executives are interested in maintaining the national broadcaster’s credibility, they will recognize that Macdonald’s reporting is no longer consistent with their mandate of pursuing accuracy and fairness. It is time for him to go.