Toddler ‘dies’

Dear Friend,

Ten-month old Shalhevet Pass was in her mother’s arms when she was shot and killed by a Palestinian sniper yesterday. Can there be a more abominable act than a sniper placing a baby’s head in the crosshairs of his scope, squeezing the trigger, and reveling in a successful infanticide?

Imagine the surprise, therefore, when The Washington Post’s website ran the following headline:

Associated Press, Monday, March 26, 2001; 5:22 p.m. EST

The child did not just “die” as if she was afflicted with some disease or old age. More accurately, Shalhevet Pass was murdered, shot, gunned down, or assassinated by a killer, gunman, terrorist, or sniper.

An important point of order: reporters rarely write their own headlines. An editor was responsible for the passive spin on Shalhevet’s death.

When Monday’s headline appeared, a HonestReporting representative immediately called the Associated Press International Editor in New York to complain. The HonestReporting representative then immediately called to file a complaint with The Washington Post ombudsman.

Ninety minutes later, an updated headline appeared on the Post’s website:

“Jewish Baby Shot Dead on West Bank”

HonestReporting members have noted in the past that some newspapers and broadcasters use the active verb when dealing with Palestinian casualties (“Palestinian youth shot dead by Israeli soldiers”) and the passive verb when dealing with Israeli casualties (“Israeli settler dies in drive-by shooting”).

How did your local newspaper or TV station report Shalhevet’s murder?

Please check out your local coverage. If you agree that it constitutes biased reporting, write a letter in your own words, or adapt the critique below. You can CC: us at

The original Washington Post headline is still online at:
(If the link goes onto 2 lines of this e-mail, cut-n-paste both parts into your browser.)

Complaints to:

**Please do not forward this page directly with HonestReporting’s comments.**

And don’t forget to preserve the integrity of the HonestReporting campaign by keeping your comments respectful.

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.



To the Editor of the Associated Press:

The sniper shooting of 10-month old Shalhevet Pass in her mother’s arms on Monday, March 26, was a deliberate, brutal act of premeditated murder. A Palestinian sniper looked through his telescopic sight at a baby’s head and shot her dead.

I was dismayed, therefore, to read The Washington Post website headline to an Associated Press story: “Jewish Toddler Dies in West Bank.”

Shalhevet did not just “die” as if she were ill or old. The headline should have read “murdered” or “shot” or “killed.” Why the attempt to whitewash a cold-blooded Palestinian murderer?

Who is responsible for this blatantly biased headline? And how does AP intend to rectify the fact that this headline was seen online by thousands of people worldwide?

I look forward to the courtesy of your reply.