Dear Honest Reporting Member,
“Poor Timothy McVeigh. He had a rough childhood. A girl once made fun of his acne. He was a good soldier, and loved his mother. He didn’t really want to blow up those people. Or maybe it was all a case of mistaken identity.”
If a reporter wrote the above fictional paragraph, he’d be thrown off the newspaper before the ink dried. There can be no rationale or validation for a bestial murder that disembowels victims and rip human limbs apart.
But that is precisely what The Washington Post’s Lee Hockstader did in his July 7 article, “Infamous Killer or Mistaken ID?” Hockstader presented a 1300-word defense of Aziz Salha, the Palestinian photographed as he proudly waved his bloody hands out of the windows of a Ramallah police station after brutally lynching two Israeli reserves soldiers.
Hockstader turns on the sympathy and it gushes forth:
“The young man was very ill when he was a baby, he stuttered, he was shy … maybe it really wasn’t him photographed in the window … people’s emotions were boiling over because of Palestinians teens shot by Israeli soldiers … Israel’s settlements and occupation were on Salha’s mind … he was a calm, good-natured and athletic kid…”
Hockstader adds for good measure that the Palestinians have their own picture to compete with the bloody hands image: the video of “terrified 12-year-old Mohammed Dura, cowering behind his father seconds before he was raked by Israeli machine-gun fire.”
Read CAMARA’S analysis of Hockstader’s article here.
The most effective method is to write a letter in your own words. Otherwise, cut-and-paste the critique below.
Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.
========== SAMPLE LETTER OF COMPLAINT ============
To the Editor of The Washington Post:
I was shocked by Lee Hockstader’s article (July 7) on Aziz Salha, the man photographed proudly waving his bloody hands after killing two Israeli reserve soldiers in October.
Hockstader attempts to rationalize and mitigate Salha’s actions by referring to his illness as a baby, his speech impediment, his shyness, and his family’s character references. Hockstader suggests that the famous picture is not really Salha. And, to provide sympathy for Salha and a motive to the ghastly murder, Hockstader suggested that Israeli policies made people’s emotion boiling over.
Hockstader’s article is morally repugnant for trying to provide a rationale and motive for a brutal, bestial murderous mob which strangled, stabbed, disemboweled, and tore two men limb from limb.
If Salha were innocent, and the Israelis made a mistake in identifying the murderer, as Hockstader suggested, why did Salha’s father hide him away in the Palestinian Authority for months? Even Salha’s family admits he was at the scene.
Hockstader attempts to lessen the impact of Salha’s bloody hands by reminding readers of 12-year-old Mohammed Dura “seconds before he was raked by Israeli machine-gun fire.” Even if the child’s death was caused by Israeli bullets — by no means certain — it is a grave insult to compare Salha’s proud and bloody bare-handed killing, with an accidental death in the crossfire of a battlefield.
Imagine the moral outrage if a reporter presented a similar screed on the childhood illnesses, personal traumas and nice personalities of Timothy McVeigh, or the Wyoming homophobes who tortured Matthew Shepard, or the Jasper, Texas racists who dragged African-American James Byrd behind their pickup truck until his body tore apart.
Why the double-standard, O’ Washington Post?