60 Minutes performed a classic hit job on Israel in a 14-minute segment on April 22, 2012. Titled “Christians of the Holy Land,” video of the segment is here; transcript is here. Bob Simon “reported” the story. I wrote about the segment in a series of posts titled “Who ya gonna call?” (and in a few others as well) for reasons that will become apparent below.
The gist of the story was that Israel is responsible for the exodus of Christians from the West Bank and Jerusalem. The story was short on facts and context, particularly the context of the assaults on Christians and Christian sites in the Muslim Middle East. Anyone who has ever been to Israel knows that the authorities treat all religious sites as a sacred trust. At the American Spectator, Aaron Goldstein asks: “How many Christian churches have been burned down by Israelis? How many Christians have been murdered inside Israel?” Simon failed to “report” the answer to that question, but I’m pretty sure Power Line readers have a good bead on it.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren figured prominently in the 60 Minutes story. Oren knew exactly what was coming down the pike when he heard that 60 Minutes was at work on the story. Oren’s March 9, 2012, Wall Street Journal column — “Israel and the plight of Middle East Christians” — must have been written in anticipation of the 60 Minutes story. One can learn more from spending a minute reading Oren’s 750-word column than from watching the 60 Minutes segment. The segment was sunk in both cowardice and stupidity.
My favorite part of the segment came when Simon attacked Oren for contacting Jeffrey Fager to raise concerns about the story in advance of the broadcast. Simon described Fager as “the president of — chairman of CBS News” and treated Oren’s call as something like a federal offense. Simon only mentioned in passing in his first reference to him that Fager is 60 Minutes’ executive producer. Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters?
Simon reported that Ambassador Oren called Fager because he had information the 60 Minutes segment would be “a hatchet job.” Ambassador Oren had a helluva source inside 60 Minutes.
The good folks of CAMERA have now produced a video noting a rather striking error committed in Simon’s “reporting.” Our man Fager figures prominently in the video. CAMERA has also set up a site dedicated to 60 Minutes’ refusal to correct the error. The video is only a minute-and-a-half long. Please check it out and pass it on.