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The Media’s Shameful Lack of Objectivity on Civilian Casualties in Gaza

Geraldo accepts Hamas's claims of child deaths, and the BBC ignores its own evidence of the terror group's culpability.

by
Mike McNally

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July 21, 2014 - 11:57 pm
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On his Fox News show on Saturday night, Geraldo Rivera conducted a “two-way” with John Huddy, one of the network’s reporters in Gaza. During their exchange, Huddy matter-of-factly stated that 40 percent of those killed in Gaza as a result of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge were children. He didn’t cite a source, and he didn’t say “Hamas claims….” He just rattled off the number as if it were the Dow Jones closing figure – final and indisputable. (The clip is here – click on the 10:33pm segment if it doesn’t play straight off.) Having failed to question or verify the 40 percent claim, Rivera then repeated it in an exchange with Danny Danon, who resigned as Israel’s deputy defense minister last week after opposing a proposed ceasefire with Hamas.

Rivera is far from most conservatives’ favorite Fox presenter, and he can be hard to take seriously as he veers between Kent Brockman-esque pomposity and Ron Burgundy-esque histrionics. However, he’s normally solidly pro-Israel, so it was troubling that he didn’t challenge Huddy’s 40 percent figure, which seems implausibly high – even Gaza’s notoriously exaggeration-prone, Hamas-controlled Health Ministry puts the figure at around 25 percent. Fox, along with the rest of the media, has a duty to ensure that casualty figures are reliably sourced and as accurate as possible, given the key role that civilian deaths, and those of children in particular, play in shaping attitudes towards any conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

No-one knows exactly how many Gazans have been killed, nor how many of the dead are civilians, nor how many of those civilians are children. As well as ensuring that health officials stick to the party line, Hamas also keeps a tight grip on information coming out of the territory from other sources. The New York Times, for one, appears to be tailoring its coverage to suit the demands of the terror group. There are suspicions that the Times is playing ball with Hamas in order to be allowed to continue operating in Gaza – not that it would need much encouragement, given the Times‘s legendary anti-Israel bias, but the one-sidedness of its reporting this time is particularly egregious.

Israel is unable to produce its own estimates of casualties inside Gaza. It only releases its own casualty figures for operations like the one currently underway after they’ve been concluded, and, as this Times of Israel Report details, it concedes that it can do little to counter the likely exaggerated figures from Hamas. 

Of course, one dead civilian, let alone a child, is one too many. But innocent people will inevitably be killed and injured when Hamas launches its rockets from densely populated residential areas, and stores them in UN-run schools. And in conflicts between Israel and the Palestinians, as in no other conflict anywhere in the world, the body count is the most important factor in the propaganda war, with Israel’s opponents pointing to the disproportionality in dead and injured as proof in itself that Israel is in the wrong.

Unfortunately, the same media that unquestioningly broadcasts Hamas’s civilian-heavy death tolls seems far less interested in examining why so many civilians are dying. On Sunday, the BBC aired a typically harrowing report from inside a Gaza hospital. While the reporter was talking to medics, there was a deafening roar as a salvo of Hamas rockets passed over the hospital, clearly launched from close by. To his credit, the clearly startled reporter said something to the effect of “but that doesn’t help the situation.”

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Top Rated Comments   
Gazans voted for Hamas knowing that attacking Israel and bring death to Gaza was a certainty. What's the problem?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Of course, one dead civilian, let alone a child, is one too many."

I wish writers would stop this lame meme. It's just a self-serving sop thrown to the readers to make everybody "feel better".

Civilians die in war. Everyone know some are kids.

Period. End of discussion on that topic.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually, I don't care how many dead "Gazans" there are. The rule should be simple -- when they stop attacking Israel, they stop dying. They choose the life of constant war, so let them wallow in it.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (25)
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$1000 REWARD TO ANYONE WHO CAN DISPROVE THAT ISRAEL IS THE GREATEST PEACEMAKER IN THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST


Click www.apollospeaks.com and make your case.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
In WWII, while the U.S. bombed by daylight, at great loss of men and aircraft, in order to strike specific military or industrial targets to minimize civilian casualties, the British bombed at night with the sole purpose of bombing anything that might burn and burn anything that couldn't be bombed. Today, Israel informs the civilians in a target area of the intended military action, refrains from the action if civilians are seen to be in danger, and gives aid to those who have vowed to destroy them, and this oversized anal orifice BBC accuses them of some imagined barbarity? This goes above and beyond mere hypocrisy. If not actual treason against the crown their blather is definitely treason against the civilized world, unless, of course they claim to suffer reduced mental and emotional capacity.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
They are all civilians, by definition, not innocent though. In that part of the world they do use human shields, but keep in mind that war there is an all hands evolution. If you are around you are serving the cause, even the children, if only as look outs and human shields.

18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Gazans voted for Hamas knowing that attacking Israel and bring death to Gaza was a certainty. What's the problem?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
One civilian death is one too many whether man, woman or child.

But that is the nature of war. And if the casualty rate were 99% Palestinian children, the simple fact would remain the same.

The blood is on the hands of the freely elected government known as Hamas.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Of course, one dead civilian, let alone a child, is one too many."

I wish writers would stop this lame meme. It's just a self-serving sop thrown to the readers to make everybody "feel better".

Civilians die in war. Everyone know some are kids.

Period. End of discussion on that topic.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Civilians die in war. Correct. This does not make the "too many" meme incorrect. It is unnecessary to state, but there is nothing improper about doing so. If you think the "meme" is wrong, then you need to do some soul searching.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Regarding the comment about the MSM's lack of objectivity, the media never even had objectivity to begin with. Even ignoring Walter Cronkite (who, BTW, was an absolute hack who only gave the illusion of objectivity), back during the 1800s, the media reported various lies about King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and their ministers and priests all to stir up a riot. Said lies resulted in one all right, the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. Said lies resulted in us Christians being massacred, all in the name of Rousseau. That country, BTW, clearly had Freedom of Speech and the Press, as otherwise those journalists would have lost their heads to the monarchy, literally.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
...back during the 1800s, the media reported various lies about King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and their ministers and priests all to stir up a riot.

I think you have your dates wrong; Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were both guillotined in 1793. Trashing them after their deaths seems pointless, unless perhaps it was in the same way that we remember Hitler or other such villains.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry, my mistake, I meant late 18th Century, not the 1800s. It was pre-Storming of the Bastille. The press made a lot of slanderous lies against the royal family and clergy. I know Ann Coulter covered it in Demonic, with one example of this was the infamous "Let them eat cake" comment that Marie Antoinette never actually said.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
ISRAEL THE GREAT SURVIVOR, THE ANCIENT ROMANS AND CRUSHING THE PALESTINIANS

The Romans' crushing of the Jewish Zealots in the First Jewish War is the model for Israel in finally defeating the zealous Palestinians.

Click www.apollospeaks.com for the article.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ooooooohhhhhhhhh!

Apollo Speaks!

Delusions much?

Quit hawking your lame site here.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Geraldo is just another self-hating Jew.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I thought Geraldo was Hispanic?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
He is both. His mother was Jewish and his father a Puerto Rican Christian, I believe. I don't consider him a self-hating Jew; he does, however have that malady of liberalism.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
All the dead are on the hands of Hamas. Hamas knows it's missiles will achieve nothing but retaliatory strikes that will kill Gazans. It wants this. Call it "suicide by cop" or something similar. As Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said on Al Aqsa TV "we are leading our people to death."
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hamas knows it's missiles will achieve nothing but retaliatory strikes that will kill Gazans.

Unfortunately, that's wrong. Today's New York Times (Hamas shows it’s a force to be reckoned with) is in full-cheerleader mode for them, and the Times publicity, based on Hamas' continuous missle attacks which include targeting Ben Gurion airport, is worth a fortune to Hamas.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
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