Sunday, June 9, 2002

Anti-Israeli Bias

Gareth Parker addresses his complaint to OBG about the ABC's anti-Israeli bias.

OBG notes that bias in the media is not necessarily a bad thing, so long as the reporting is accurate. For example, the New York Times shouldn't publish fiction by Joseph Stalin's propagandists writing under the nom de plume Walter Duranty. Nevertheless, a thriving marketplace of ideas is essential to a free society, even when those ideas are clearly wrongheaded.

The problem is when there is a breakdown in the market. One way this can happen is through government ownership of the means of communication. Of the major English language government-owned broadcasters -- ABC, BBC and CBC – all three suffer from anti-Israeli bias, as does the western press, in general. Another way is when there is no competition. Many American cities no longer have competing newspapers, so the local paper monopolizes the coverage of the news, effectively shutting out alternative views.

Which brings us to the left-leaning Minneapolis Star Tribune, which rejects use of the word “terrorism” to describe sending human-bombs into crowded pizza parlors in Israel. Managing Editor Pam Fine explains, “This helps us avoid labels that might suggest we’re taking sides...” Not surprisingly, this prime example of cranial-rectal impaction has generated some criticism.

The Star Tribune employs an ombudsman. His name is Lou Gelfand and as Star Tribune reader Steve Meyer explains:

Every Sunday I read his column and he makes me spitting mad! His evasions and occasional halfhearted apologies for the paper's slanted coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict are the worst... Is Lou Gelfand an ombudsman or an apologist?

Poor Lou seems genuinely puzzled as to why he receives so many more phone calls from readers on the right than on the left, a phenomenon he attributes to "a sort of cult thinking based on The Washington Times and stories that, sooner or later -- usually sooner -- are on talk radio...” He asks “Why is the political thinking on the left not as perverted or extreme as it is on the right?”

OBG suggests that Lou start by asking, "When is a terrorist not a terrorist?"

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