Reuters’ Overshadowing Bias

Dear HonestReporting Member,

HonestReporting occasionally receives letters of thanks from high school teachers who use HonestReporting materials to teach students about media bias and how to be a critical news consumer.

We therefore acknowledge Reuters, one of the largest news agencies in the world, for publishing a textbook example of media bias this week.

The Reuters’ article, “US Envoy Urges Israel, Palestinians to End Violence,” was filed by Mohammed Assadi from Ramallah on Nov. 28, shortly after Palestinian suicide gunmen had sprayed machine-gun fire at Jewish shoppers in the northern Israeli town of Afula, killing 3 and wounding 50 others.

In the fourth sentence, Reuters reports that Zinni’s “talks with Israeli leaders Tuesday were overshadowed by the deaths of three Palestinian gunmen and three Israelis.” Incredibly and unconscionably, Reuters lumps together the death of terrorists and their innocent victims.

Would Reuters similarly include Mohammed Atta and his al-Qaida colleagues in the World Trade Center casualty list?

Afula, significantly, is within pre-1967 Israeli boundaries — a fact left out by Reuters. The attackers were said to have come from Jenin, the Palestinian town that IDF troops had been guarding and had pulled out of only hours before due to international pressure — a key fact omitted by Reuters.

And, as reported by Associated Press and others, one of the gunmen was actually a member of the Palestinian Authority police force — an extremely significant fact left out by Reuters.

Further, throughout the report, Reuters adopts wholesale use of Palestinian/Islamic lexicon and code words:

  1. In the article’s second sentence, Reuters goes out of its way to note the extraneous detail that Zinni was at “the traditional meal to break the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.” 

  2. In noting the funeral of a Hamas terrorist who had shot dead an Israeli woman, Reuters glowingly quotes the Hamas faithful, while even invoking the original Arabic phrasing: “Izz el-Din al-Qassam vows to avenge the blood of Osama. Your blood will not go in vain.” 

  3. Reuters refers to “the deaths of five boys blown up by an Israeli bomb last week” — but fails to mention that the deaths were accidental, that the boys were never targeted, and that Israeli officials expressed remorse over the incident. 

  4. Reuters peppers its phrasing with highly-charged anti-Israel rhetoric like: “Sharon has given no signs of ending an internationally condemned policy of tracking and killing Palestinian militants.” 

  5. And of course, in describing those who sprayed machine-gun fire at civilian shoppers in Afula, Reuters eschews the word “terrorist,” favoring instead the candy-coated “militant.” 

Reuters employs reporters like Mohammed Assadi, Ammar Awad, Atef Sa’ad, and Nidal al-Mughrabi, who may have a built-in partiality toward the Palestinians. As experts have said, these reporters obviously identify emotionally and politically with the intifada and, in the “best case,” simply avoid anything that could embarrass the Palestinian Authority.

All this calls to mind the words of BBC’s Gaza correspondent in Gaza, Fayad Abu Shamala, who told a Hamas rally on May 6, 2001: “Journalists and media organizations [are] waging the campaign shoulder-to-shoulder together with the Palestinian people.”

If you feel Reuters’ coverage is biased, write to:
editor.reuters@reuters.com
jerusalem.newsroom@reuters.com
stephen.jukes@reuters.com

Or call the Reuters Jerusalem Bureau at:
(972-2) 538-6372 or 537-0502

Note that other news agencies fell into a similar trap of lumping together suicide gunmen with their innocent victims. MSNBC carried the headline: “U.S. envoy to meet Arafat after 6 killed in bloody day in Israel.” And just 48 hours after the terror attack in Afula, a search for the word “Afula” on MSNBC produced zero results.

Complaints to:
letters@MSNBC.com

The New York Times joined the fray with this benign headline:
“2 Palestinian Gunmen Kill 2 as U.S. Begins Peace Effort”

Complaints to:
letters@nytimes.com

As we go to press, news has come in of another suicide attack which has killed at least three Israelis. HonestReporting mourns the loss of innocent life, and encourages members to monitor the media on this tragic event.

HonestReporting.com

========== SAMPLE LETTER OF COMPLAINT ============

To the Editor of Reuters:

I was outraged by Reuters’ November 28 report, stating that Anthony Zinni’s peace mission was “overshadowed by the deaths of three Palestinian gunmen and three Israelis.”

Reuters has this one backwards. Did the death of cold-blooded terrorists who sprayed machine-gun fire at civilian shoppers really “overshadow” peace talks? No. It is rather the tragic death of three innocent Israelis that has darkened Zinni’s mission.

The lumping together of terrorists and victims is a blatant example of Reuters’ ongoing bias. Would Reuters similarly include Mohammed Atta and his al-Qaida colleagues in the World Trade Center casualty list?

Furthermore, Afula, significantly, is within pre-1967 Israeli boundaries — a significant fact left out by Reuters. The attackers were said to have come from Jenin, the Palestinian town that IDF troops had been guarding and had pulled out of only hours before due to international pressure — a key fact omitted by Reuters. And one of the gunmen was a member of the Palestinian Authority police force — an extremely significant fact left out by Reuters.

Can Reuters really claim impartiality in the face of such biased reporting?

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