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Contentions

Media Coverage of Bus Bombing Emphasizes Settlements, “Palestinian Victims”

International media outlets seem determined to blame the Israeli victims of today’s Palestinian bus bombing. They can’t quite bring themselves to own their bias — that’ll be a task for op-ed pages — so they’re relying on insinuations and hackneyed journalist tricks.

Le Monde‘s frontpage currently reads, “L’explosion a eu lieu près de la principale gare routière de la ville. Le bus visé se dirigeait vers une colonie juive,” which translates to “The explosion occurred in a place near the main entrance to the city. The targeted bus was headed for a Jewish colony (settlement).” Implicitly blaming the victim is always a strong play, but in this case there are two other factors that make the headline especially elegant.

First, it’s misleading to the point of being borderline wrong. The bus actually serves several lines. Second, you’d have to be particularly credulous to believe that a bomb left on the side of a road picked out a bus based on its destination. Palestinian suicide bombers never made those calculations when they walked aboard buses, but suddenly bags of explosives are supposed to be highly discriminating? Le Monde just really wanted to work in a mention of the settlements — as if that somehow makes this atrocity into an act of glorious resistance — and that’s the best they could come up with.

Nonetheless, the Associated Press probably did even better. They posted funeral pictures of “Palestinian victims of an Israeli airstrike” beneath their headline about the bus bombing. The second paragraph helpfully explains that the bombing “comes amid rising tensions between Hamas militants and Israel.” It’s the same move that Le Monde is making, where they leave it up to readers to implicitly infer that a true but irrelevant fact was the motivation for the attack. But it adds a misleading death-porn picture, so it’s that much more shameless.

I suppose credit should go to Reuters for merely making things up out of whole cloth. They claimed that Israeli officials branded the attack a suicide bombing and then retracted the claim, which more or less didn’t happen. But they get points off for using the line “police said it was a ‘terrorist attack’ — Israel’s term for a Palestinian strike.” Too forced. They would have been must better off with something like “police said the Palestinian strike was a ‘terrorist attack.'” But the sloppy fact-checking and lack of craftsmanship are still better than sliming terror victims.

That we’re expected to pretend these people are objective — just because they have press cards — is kind of insulting.



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