Reuters Promises ‘Impartial’ Reportage After Watchdog Expresses Concerns Over Journalist’s Israel Tweets
With thousands of major clients in nearly 130 countries, Reuters is known as one of the “big four” news agencies, alongside the Associated Press, Agence France Presse, and United Press International.
Among Reuters’ “Trust Principles” is a commitment to preserve its “integrity, independence, and freedom from bias,” so that major news outlets and networks that reproduce its articles have reliable and impartial news copy.
It is for this reason that HonestReporting reached out to Reuters to express concern over its most recent hire in Israel, Henriette Chacar.
As we highlighted, Chacar has a long history of disseminating disinformation about Israel, including accusing the country of “blatant and systemic racism” — and spreading demonstrably false claims that the Jewish state is upholding “apartheid” and “racist, segregationist policies.”
Barkat also promised to “fight with all my strength for the extension of Israeli sovereignty over the settlements.” Realizing his ability to deliver on that promise, this statement is WAY more violent and terrifying than “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” https://t.co/xcJyUk4aVI
— Henriette Chacar هنريت شقر (@HenrietteChacar) January 21, 2019
In an effort to ensure that Chacar’s personal views would not seep into her Reuters reportage, HonestReporting contacted Brian Moss, of Reuters’ Ethics and Standards Department.
Enclosing a raft of Chacar’s social media posts, including a tweet in which she asserted, “fascist talking points are now mainstream in Israel,” we asked whether, given her extreme opinions on the subject, she could be trusted to objectively cover matters pertaining to the Jewish state.
In response, Moss reaffirmed Reuters’ promise to report from the Middle East in a fair and impartial manner, while confirming that Chacar — and all of its journalists — are bound by a commitment to “ensure integrity, independence, and freedom from bias in the gathering and dissemination of news.”
We received what we believe to be an insufficient response.
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) January 27, 2022
This response is significant, because it shows that the news agency is acutely aware of how the behavior of its employees on social media, in particular, may be negatively perceived and could potentially result in a loss of trust from its clients.
Yet, we remain unconvinced by Reuters’ generic assurances, not least because many of Chacar’s most egregious tweets — including those that spread the apartheid libel — remain live on her Twitter feed.
Clearly, Reuters did not feel it necessary that Chacar should at least appear to be fair-minded about Israel by asking her to delete the offending social media posts.
Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that Reuters has a pattern of working with individuals whose deep-seated hostility towards Israel has culminated in them promulgating disinformation about the country.
Just this month, the Reuters Institute, which is funded by the news agency and based at the UK’s prestigious Oxford University, announced that among its 2022 Journalist Fellow Programme cohorts is Palestinian writer Haya Abushkhaidem, who has accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid,” and of “lynching” Palestinians.
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Mughrabi was one of the perpetrators in 1978 of what is known as the Coastal Road Massacre — a bus hijacking attack in which armed Palestinians slaughtered 38 Israelis, including 13 children.
For her part, Khaled, a member of the US-designated terrorist group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), has the ignominious title of being the world’s first female aircraft hijacker for her role in the Black September attacks.
It would appear, then, that glorifying terrorists does not preclude one from being chosen by the Reuters Institute for one of its competitive fellowships.
Given Reuters’ ubiquitous role in the dissemination of news around the world, HonestReporting pays close attention to both its journalistic output and its employees as they relate to Israel. Therefore, we are troubled that an agency that prides itself on a reputation of accurately reporting current affairs — including controversial and emotional issues — would choose to associate with individuals whose feelings about Israel are so fervid and transparent.
The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.