War of words
Use of 'we' by Palestinian reporters for CNN criticized; network counters that it was editorial, not nationalistic
By Dan Trigoboff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/22/2000 8:00:00 PM
Perhaps it's easier to be seen in the middle of a violent conflict than at the center of a political one.
As hostilities continue in the Middle East, an Israeli official last week accused CNN of a Pro-Palestinian bias. Gideon Meir, deputy director-general for public affairs, complained on Jerusalem Post radio of two CNN reporters in the field using the term "we" "as if CNN had become an agent of the Palestinians." That complaint was echoed in a pro-Israeli editorial in the Wall Street Journal, which said that "Sadly.CNN, the American news network, employs Palestinian journalists who use the word "we" when reporting about their kinsmen[.]"
Regarding Meir's contentions, Eason Jordan, CNN's chief news executive, said that the use of "we" referred to "the paraphrasing or reporting of what a collective group or individual was saying" or "as an eyewitness to what 'we' hear and what 'we' see, clearly referring to the CNN team in an eyewitness capacity, not representative of all Palestinian people."
Jordan called the bias charges against the Palestinian reporters "completely unfounded and gravely insulting to the journalists and to CNN's high standard of journalism. The correspondents referred to are experienced CNN personnel who happen to be Palestinian. The contention that they are biased because of their nationality is unfounded and disturbing in its implications."
Meir also complained that footage of the lynching of three Israeli soldiers by rioting Palestinians in Ramallah did not receive sufficient coverage by the media-although video was reportedly confiscated by Palestinians-nor, he said, did that of a rabbi killed at a Jewish shrine. The Los Angeles Times reported last week that the Israel Defense Force has decided to equip its soldiers with video cameras to counter the perceived bias of foreign reporters.
Bias charges have been leveled by supporters of both sides and not only regarding CNN. Palestinian-Americans and other pro-Palestinian groups have accused media of ignoring or downplaying alleged Israeli human-rights violations. Some Arab-American families reportedly have purchased satellite dishes to watch Arab television because of their distrust for American media.
CNN discussed perceived bias in Middle East coverage on its Reliable Sources. Los Angeles Times Washington Bureau Chief Doyle McManus said that many glitches, "bonehead errors," are often mistaken for bias, although there's no ideology behind it.
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