The Guardian Gets 2012 Off to a Shoddy Start

Harriet Sherwood

The newsprint has barely dried on the back of 2011 that saw The Guardian deservedly pick up the annual Dishonest Reporter Award. This hasn’t, however, stopped the paper’s Harriet Sherwood from carrying on where The Guardian left off with her first dispatch of the new year.

According to Sherwood, a supposedly reformed Palestinian terrorist has had his amnesty revoked by Israeli authorities:

Zakaria Zubeidi, a former of leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, is being held by Palestinian security forces after being told he would be arrested by Israeli authorities if he did not hand himself in.

“I am in a Palestinian Authority jail in Jenin,” he told the Guardian by phone. His account could not be confirmed by either Israeli or Palestinian sources.

If Zubeidi’s account cannot be confirmed, why bother digging any deeper if it already fits The Guardian’s agenda? Sherwood has previously demonstrated an inability to do elementary research extending even to a simple Google search. In this case, the story is presented in typically black and white terms appreciated by Israel-hating Guardian readers as ‘peaceful reformed Palestinian held in Palestinian jail and it’s Israel’s fault.’

If the story fits that predetermined frame then why bother to do the same research or mention some salient points that other media outlets actually bothered with?

For example, here are some details in a report from Global Post that Sherwood failed to mention, all constructed from widely available existing news sources including Israeli media that Sherwood either didn’t bother to read or preferred to ignore:

The reason for the decision [to revoke the amnesty] has not yet been given. According to Arutz Sheva, Zubeidi was recently involved in an incident in Jenin in which “gunmen under his command pointed their guns at PA security officers.”

Ynet News also suggested that his detention had more to do with Palestinian authorities than Israeli ones:

Zubeidi [...] is also on the Palestinian security forces’ radar – they accuse him of weapon offenses, which place him in violation of his clemency deal.

 Indeed YNet also reported:

Zubiedi stressed that the deal was, in fact, signed with the Palestinian security forces and “not between me and Israel.”

All this extra context and information that Harriet Sherwood failed to include. After all, why ruin a story if Israel might not actually be the only alleged bad guy in the piece?

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[sc:graybox ]Cherryl Smith, PhD, is professor emerita in rhetoric and composition at California State University, Sacramento. Her blog is Framing ...