This week the Foreign Press Association issued a statement condemning “the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month.” We haven’t heard much about these methods. Alan Johnson asks a reasonable question in the Telegraph: “Hamas manipulated and intimidated the media in Gaza. Why was that kept from us?” Johnson usefully collects the examples of intimidation of journalists by Hamas that have seeped out of the current conflict. David Horovitz comments:
Some news outlets deliberately, maliciously and relentlessly skewed their reporting to consistently misrepresent the conflict to Israel’s extreme detriment, whether with outright falsehoods or selective presentation of information. Others simply failed to document the Hamas war against Israel — whether because of intimidation, cowardice, incompetence, or the genuine grave dangers and complexities of reporting from Gaza. It seems curious that only a single Indian TV team proved capable of filming one of the hundreds upon hundreds of Hamas rocket launches from amid residential Gaza, and only one Finnish journalist was able to report on rocket fire from Gaza City’s main hospital.
Even if one is prepared to accept that Hamas made it impossible for journalists to provide viewers and readers with material showing both sides of the war, then that failure is compounded by the media refusal to acknowledge the limitations on reporting. Only after five full weeks of fighting did the Foreign Press Association here issue a statement acknowledging the fact, declaring that the FPA “protests in the strongest terms the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month… The international media are not advocacy organizations and cannot be prevented from reporting by means of threats or pressure, thereby denying their readers and viewers an objective picture from the ground,” the FPA declared mightily. Except the media can be prevented from reporting fairly, and in this conflict often were.
This all represents a genuine problem for which some answer remains due, but there is a deeper problem as well. The deeper problem, it seems to me, is the media’s uncoerced cooperation with Hamas in the public relations/propaganda war. In their willful blindness, the media have become tools of jihad, repeating old mistakes and showing no evidence of having learned anything. On the contrary.
We know the elements of the Hamas media strategy. Hamas has laid it out in the memo published and translated by MEMRI. Via Twitter, I have asked reporters including Jake Tapper (CNN), Conor Powell (FOX News) and Rick Leventhal (FOX News) to account for their promotion of the Hamas line. The only response I received was from Tapper (below). This says it all.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) July 29, 2014
@jaketapper Why do you recite Hamas civilian casualty figures as gospel? They are propaganda.
— Scott Johnson (@scottwjohnson) July 29, 2014
@jaketapper You know the answer to that question. That is pathetic.
— Scott Johnson (@scottwjohnson) July 29, 2014
Tapper equates the Hamas/UN casualty figures with Israel’s. In truth, I believe that official Israeli spokesmen including those working on behalf of the IDF have proved themselves a more reliable source of news and information regarding this conflict than CNN, and Tapper evenhandedness inadvertently explains why.
At USNews Oren Kessler explains that “Hamas lies.” I asked Tapper via Twitter whether this was news to him. He has long since tuned me out, but it appears to me that he can’t see what’s in front of his nose. And Tapper is among the best of the cable news anchors following the war.
At the Free Beacon, David Rutz has a suggestive piece and related video (below) that explores what is happening here. He’s not defending Hamas, but…
Rutz quotes Tapper:
“If you’re in Hamas, and I’m not excusing the group, it’s obviously a group the U.S. considers to be a terrorist group,” he said Aug. 8 on New Day to preface a question about what the organization’s incentive would be to demilitarize. “I’m not saying the Israeli request or demand for demilitarization of Gaza is unreasonable. I certainly think it makes a lot of sense for Israel. They’re sick of their people being fired upon by rockets, but from the perspective of Hamas, that is their last card to play, the fact that they can fire rockets at Israel.”
Tapper also assured Israeli spokesman Mark Regev he was not “defending Hamas” when discussing with him the group’s demands to bring about a ceasefire. In another interview with Regev, Tapper asked him if he could understand the frustrations of people living in Gaza and turning to violence.
“I”m not excusing it,” Tapper said. “I’m not excusing it in any way, but I’m just saying that’s the reality on the ground.”
What’s the “reality on the ground” in Iraq, Afghanistan and points elsewhere the jihad is carried on? What is to be said about ISIS, the Taliban and all the rest with which we are contending or that are coming after us? They all represent “reality on the ground” and have a point too. Unfortunately, it’s a point they share with the genocidal murderers of Hamas.