Beware when journalists express outrage
By Shoshana Bryen
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The “World Security Network” newsletter carried the following bit of an interview reportedly with Hamas leader Ousama Hamdan about Gilad Shalit.
“There was a real problem inside the coalition between the seven member committee, the prime minister, foreign minister, defence, military and intelligence leaders. The military and the intelligence had different positions… ”
Big media didn’t carry the interview or details of the negotiation. The kidnapping of Gilad Shalit hasn’t made Western news in months – maybe years. Shalit, a uniformed Israeli soldier, was kidnapped by Hamas from inside Israel in 2006 and has been denied the Red Cross and diplomatic visits that are the right of prisoners of war. Nearly 1,700 days of captivity in the hands of terrorists, yet governments talk to his kidnappers and the kidnappers talk about the inner workings of the Israeli government and quote “Gilad’s father” as if he’s a buddy and they’re negotiating over a used car. “Hey, there was a ‘pre-final offer’ and I just had to take it to my manager for approval. Now you wanted free undercoating? No deal.” No outrage.
Western journalistic outrage moves much faster when the victim is a presumed victim of the IDF. The New York Times and others ran the Palestinian-produced horror story of poor Jawaher Abu Rahma’s death as a martyr at the hands of the criminal IDF while noting – as an afterthought – that the IDF disagreed. Even Wikipedia got into the act, reporting in its notes on CS gas, “CS gas was widely reported to be the cause of death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah in December 31, 2010, although the Israel Defence Forces has questioned the veracity of the report.” Don’t check, don’t read the hospital report, don’t interview the family. Why ruin a delicious story about a possible IDF war crime? Go for it, be outraged!
The report wasn’t logical, it wasn’t credible and it wasn’t true. Shades of Mohammed al Dura.
Specifically, American journalistic outrage moves at warp speed when the first sound bites can skew the later coverage for or against favored targets. After Sirhan Sirhan killed Robert Kennedy; after Hesham Mohamed Hadayet fired on the El Al ticket counter at LAX; after Naveed Afzal Haq shot six women and killed one at the Seattle Jewish Federation; after Nidal Hassan killed 12 people at Ft. Hood; after Abdul Mutallab flew in an airplane with a bomb in his underwear; and after Faisal Shazad parked a car bomb in Times Square, Americans were sternly warned not to read anything political into their behavior – for all we know, they might have been upset over the downturn in housing prices.
The media is singing a different tune about Jared Lee Loughner, ascribing motive, psychoanalyzing and assigning blame. And being outraged over motive and blame about which they have no credible information.
Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.
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