Preview: Bias by the Numbers

The following is a preview of a new series where we crunch the numbers behind the media coverage of Israel, taking a snapshot of individual media outlets as well as offering a comparison between some of the major press organizations. Isaac Hart will be breaking down the statistics and offering analysis over the coming weeks and beyond based on our Red Lines series on the Eight Categories of Media Bias. Here, in an exclusive preview, Isaac takes a look at The Independent’s Israel coverage over the course of March 2017, specifically with regards to the headlines.

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If an uninformed observer were to read the recent headlines in the British newspaper and web site The Independent, such a reader would most likely conclude that Palestinians are infallible and that Israel is nothing more than a uniquely destructive force in the Middle East.

The widespread publication of falsehoods like these is nothing new in the media – it was brutally exposed by former Associated Press journalist Matti Friedman in 2014 – but a new HonestReporting study illustrates the shocking intensity of anti-Israel narratives across several online newspapers.

With over 20 million unique website visitors per month, The Independent is positioned to inform millions about events occurring in Israel and the Middle East. But when reporting on the Jewish state, the publication operates on a double standard, muddling the truth in its disproportionate coverage of alleged Israeli wrongs.

In Bias by the Numbers, HonestReporting has analyzed the headlines of non-syndicated online articles that were principally related to the Israeli-Arab conflict or to Israeli or Palestinian political, diplomatic, or security events.

The findings have been stunning.

In The Independent alone, thirty of the publication’s forty-one Israel-related headlines in March focused on negative events occurring in Israel. A fair, logical description of Middle Eastern events would never propagate the idea that Israel – the sole democracy in a region filled with brutal, repressive dictatorships – committed thirty newsworthy offenses in the month of March while Palestinian groups were almost completely beyond reproach during the same period.

 

On the sole occasion that The Independent did recognize a Palestinian flaw – an influx of illegal drugs into Gaza – the publication diverted the blame from Hamas, the terrorist group that currently rules the Gaza Strip.

In reality, Hamas forces destitution upon Gaza residents by diverting much-needed supplies for the construction of its rockets and terror tunnels. In doing so, Hamas abdicates its responsibility to care for the population it governs.

The Independent did not even recognize Hamas as a terror group anywhere in the article, even though Hamas has been classified as such by most of the Western world, including: Australia, Canada, the EU, Israel, the UK, and the  United States.

The Independent has frequently refrained from providing necessary contextualization in its Israel-related reportage, violating one of the Eight Categories of Media Bias. When reporting on an Israeli threat to Syria, for example, The Independent opted to not  mention that the Israeli remark was a response to Syrian missiles fired at Israeli military jets that had destroyed a weapons convoy headed to the Hezbollah terrorist group in Lebanon.

Lack of context: Israeli jets had been fired on by Syrian forces prior to this.

 

While Israel was the negative focus of thirty out of forty-one headlines (seventy-three percent), The Independent demonstrated a staggering willingness to sweep Palestinian misconduct under the rug.

There was no acknowledgement in its headlines of a single positive Israeli action and only one of a Palestinian blemish.

The Independent’s headlines are not an accurate reflection of reality: for example, other major news outlets such as The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal tell a vastly different story. As part of Bias by the Numbers, HonestReporting has analyzed these and other news sites, and will be presenting our research as part of this continuing series.

While no publication is entirely free of bias, The Independent demonstrates a degree of bias toward Israel that is both unusually prevalent and especially malicious.

Watch this space for further installments of Bias by the Numbers.

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