Monday, February 6th | 15 Shevat 5783

December 29, 2022 12:03 pm

Dishonest Reporter of the Year Awards, 2022

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avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue


New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Photo: Charles Haynes via Wikimedia Commons.

As we get ready to wave goodbye to 2022, this is a good opportunity for us to look back and reflect on what was an eventful year for Israel in the international media. There was the mini conflict with Islamic Jihad in August, Kanye West’s antisemitic rants about Zionists, and liberal media pundits hand-wringing over the Israeli election results. All in all, the staff at HonestReporting was kept busy.

Some Israel-related media incidents, however, were more significant than others. These were the anti-Israel moments that were so outrageous and so alarming that they shocked even us.

These stories, comments, and clips were so gloriously bad, that we felt they deserved some special recognition. To that end, we bring you the Dishonest Reporter of the Year Awards. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

Dishonest Reporter of the Year

We had a lot of contenders this year for the prestigious Dishonest Reporter prize. From resident New York Times reporter Raja Abdulrahim, who thinks Israel is to blame when Palestinian suicide bombers blow themselves up, to the BBC’s Yolande Knell and the scarily partisan pieces she pumps out on an almost daily basis, we had our share of options.

Indeed, we had so many in the running that we struggled to choose just one, which is why we have decided that an entire news outlet — in particular, several of its esteemed journalists and commentators — deserved the title of Dishonest Reporter of the Year.

Without further ado, our winner is … MSNBC and its team of overpaid talking heads, whose anti-Israel agenda is so blatant they wear it as a badge of honor.

In fact, any attempt at journalistic impartiality (an almost mythical notion in the media world these days) was long ago abandoned by the likes of Mehdi Hasan, Ayman Mohyeldin and Peter Beinart, whose obsessive hatred of the Jewish state colors their view on basically everything else.

For example, when Hasan interviewed Beinart about the war in Ukraine in May, the conversation somehow still managed to come back to Israel in one of the most beautiful examples of a straw man argument (see here for the infuriating video in question).

This wasn’t even the first time Mehdi embarrassed himself by using the Russian invasion of Ukraine to take potshots at Israel, having been quickly and decisively rebuffed by a Ukrainian politician when he attempted to compare Palestinians to her country’s plight. This is highly recommended viewing for those who have not seen it.

Likewise, Beinart also can’t make it through an interview on any subject on earth without shoehorning Israel into the narrative, as he did when discussing the rise of right-wing antisemitism on MSNBC.

In one of his wilder claims, Peter insisted that Israel as an “ethnostate” was offering a model for white nationalists in the United States, for the kind of country they want to create. In Peter’s mind, Israel is so evil that it even inspires white supremacists.

Meanwhile, anchor Ayman Mohyeldin rarely misses an opportunity to criticize Israel — even if it makes him look completely foolish in the process, such as when he claimed those who criticize World Cup hosts Qatar are simply “parroting Orientalist tropes.” He also sought to justify the harassment of Israeli journalists at the sporting tournament.

What Ayman didn’t mention to his viewers is that his defense of the chronic human rights violator Qatar, might be because he used to work for Qatari-owned Al Jazeera. Just a thought.

Most Repetitive Correction

There were lots of corrections in 2022. Hardly surprising given HonestReporting’s constant sniffing out of bias, as well as the sheer abundance of journalists with an anti-Israel axe to grind.

However, one particular error (and subsequent correction) crops up far more than any other. It’s all a bit like Groundhog Day.

That is … every single media outlet that misidentified Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel.

The fact is, Jerusalem has always been the capital of Israel. On January 23, 1950, shortly after the State of Israel was established, the Knesset officially declared the holy city the country’s capital based on the profound and historical Jewish connection to Jerusalem.

However, as our readers will know, many of the world’s most influential news outlets appear to have a case of selective amnesia when it comes to Israel. They will, for example, remember with astounding accuracy the precise geographies and gripping testimonies of the Palestinian parties involved in a property dispute with Jews, as was the case with the Sheikh Jarrah/Shimon HaTzadik brouhaha.

But apparently remembering the name and location of Israel’s capital is just too tall a task.

The Associated Press wire service was the latest to fall victim to this strange case of forgetfulness, when last month it described political decisions in Israel as emanating from Tel Aviv, which, capital cities aside, is simply bizarre considering Israel’s parliament physically sits in Jerusalem.

Selective Israel amnesia also appears to be contagious — jumping from respected news outlets to light reading glossies like budget airline Wizz Air’s inflight mag in a matter of days (see here for Wizz’s recommendations on the coolest “retro-futurism” bars in “Israel’s capital city” Tel Aviv).

And while both AP and Wizz corrected the error following HonestReporting overtures, the damage had been done.

After all, how many people read the same article twice?

Trash-talked on TV 

Turning our attention to the glitz and glam of daytime television, one host who sits on the panel of a popular talk show that is geared toward women has been on our radar for some time — and not for her sparkling wit.

We are, of course, talking about the actor, stand-up comedian, and all-around entertainment maestro Whoopi Goldberg, whose frequent — and painfully idiotic — pronouncements about both Israel and Jews should have rendered her unemployable.

Instead, Goldberg reportedly rakes in reportedly $8 million a year for her role on panel program “The View” to utter wildly offensive statements such as, “let’s be truthful — the Holocaust isn’t about race. It’s about man’s inhumanity to man — that’s what it’s about.”

We can only wonder what Goldberg believes the Nazi drive for a single “Aryan race” was all about if not race.

While she apologized for the comment live on-air the next day, Goldberg apparently didn’t learn from her mistake considering that just months later, she questioned whether the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas was indeed a terrorist group.

Maybe Goldberg was unaware that Hamas has been proscribed as such by pretty much the entirety of the Western world, or perhaps she had not been told of the gruesome suicide bombings targeting innocent civilians that Hamas orchestrated.

Either way, she is still wrong.

It also deserves to be mentioned that Goldberg has a long history of defending antisemitism. For example, she rushed to the defense of notorious Jew-hater Mel Gibson after leaked audio of his racist rants were published online, while in 2019, Goldberg claimed that condemning author Alice Walker, who praised Holocaust denier David Icke’s antisemitic diatribe, was akin to asking her to “pick a side.”

Funny that most people don’t struggle to pick sides between Nazis and non-Nazis.

Harbinger of the Apocalypse

We have noticed a tendency over the years — it’s a habitual pitfall that even the most seasoned of journalists fall into. Yes, this is the unfortunate trend of catastrophizing when it comes to Israel, particularly by presenting Israeli politics, problems, and people as uniquely unusual or immeasurably bad.

The worst offender for doing this is New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, whose latest assault on Israel came in the form of a November op-ed in which he expressed surprise that an image of Israel, which was only ever a figment of his imagination, doesn’t exist anymore.

The Israel We Knew Is Gone” is an article that sees Tom lament that the coalition between Benjamin Netanyahu and the likes of Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich is a “harbinger of what’s coming our way [in the US].”

He illustrated this simplistic point with a colorful and, frankly, ludicrous comparison to Israel’s recent election in which notably right-wing parties triumphed as akin to waking up in the United States following the 2024 presidential election and discovering Donald Trump had been re-elected, with “Proud Boys former leader Enrique Tarrio for homeland security head and Marjorie Taylor Greene for the White House spokeswoman.”

While we are sure this parallel went down well with cool, cosmopolitan, and famously woke readers of the New York Times, it drew ire from even more moderate commentators, such as Jerusalem Post columnist Gil Troy.

We say that the “former” Israel in Tom’s article is something he dreamed up, because as many have pointed out, Tom has clearly never taken the time to actually get to know Israel. If he had, he wouldn’t write such drivel. He later admitted that when he wrote the article, he had not been in the country in three years.

He even made the laughable claim that (presumably Jewish) Israelis now view “every Israeli Arab … as a potential terrorist.”

In his determination to paint Israel and its citizens as beyond the pale, Friedman failed to wonder why such hardline politicians did well in the recent election — namely, that recent terror attacks perpetrated by Palestinians on Israeli Jews caused an expected lurch to the right. Maybe if Tom was worried about getting gunned down or stabbed as he enjoyed a drink in a bar with friends, he wouldn’t be so astonished at the election results.

Worst Non-Journalism Snafu

Why should journalists get all the prizes? A media outlet is more than just its editors, sub-editors, and reporters filling the news pages with print. A media organization is also its IT department, marketing managers, finance office, and the pen-pushers at human resources.

With that in mind, we felt The New York Times’ Human Resources Department deserved a special mention.

The Times staff at Human Resources had to work overtime this year, having had to fire at least three freelancers and contributors after HonestReporting revealed their Nazi sympathies.

In today’s age of social media, where millions of people have no qualms about posting their innermost thoughts for all and sundry to see, it takes spectacularly bad judgment by an organization to not vet the Facebook profiles of potential employees.

Yet, that’s exactly what happened. The NYT failed to do even the most cursory background check on several Palestinian journalists whose publicly-available social media accounts were awash with charming comments like, “The Jews are sons of the dogs … I am in favor of killing them and burning them like Hitler did.”

Here’s to hoping the PR headaches for the HR folks at the Times don’t continue in 2023.

Biggest Scoop of the Year

In one of the more “hold the front page” moments of 2022, Iranian state-backed Press TV made an earth-shattering discovery — that the majority of Israelis have served in the IDF.

Despite it being well-known that Israel has a law in which every citizen above the age of 18 is required to spend at least two years in the military, Press TV was surprised to find out that Israeli HonestReporting staff had also served the “Zionist regime.”

The segment featured in the program “Palestine Declassified,” which was presented by the UK’s most famous antisemitic former politician Chris Williamson and featured fellow Jew-hater and sacked academic David Miller, flashed pictures of HR staff, including some of them wearing — shock horror — military uniforms.

This forensic research by Press TV must be commended. Even we were surprised that reporter Latifa Abouchakra, who believes the “Israeli military” somehow controls the New York Times, knew how to Google our names and copy a photograph or two.

Other revelations about HonestReporting on the program included: its employees are Zionists, and we are a media watchdog.

Bravo, Press TV. Showing us all how investigative journalism is done.

Greatest Lack of Self-Awareness

This was another difficult one to choose, considering self-reflection is often in short supply among so many who occupy the media world.

But we opted to bestow this award upon every single one of the 304 Palestinian and Arab journalists who signed an open letter criticizing HonestReporting after one of our exposés led to Palestinian reporter Shatha Hammad being stripped of a $5,000 prize given by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

First, there was the obvious issue that anyone who would sign a letter defending a self-professed Adolf Hitler fan is an antisemite. Supporting someone who described herself as having the “same mentality” as the Nazi leader, specifically “the extermination of the Jews” demonstrates a disturbing lack of good judgment.

Second, accusing HonestReporting of “persecuting Palestinians over what they write” is the epitome of hypocrisy. After all, isn’t declaring one’s love for the architect of the Holocaust the very essence of persecuting Jews, who comprise the vast majority of HonestReporting’s workforce?

Lastly, Hamas mouthpiece Mondoweiss, which proudly published the open letter, should do some serious soul-searching. The outlet declares it is “committed to high journalistic standards” — but what part of publishing the defense of a journalist who called herself “friends” with Hitler is part of those high standards?

Worst Editorial Slip

Given The New York Times’ thinly-disguised hatred of Israel, we are generally not surprised when it publishes unfair screeds about the Jewish state.

But this month, even we were startled when the newspaper printed — on the first night of Hannukah no less — a crossword that was shaped very much like a swastika.

New York Times swastika puzzle
Crossword constructor Ryan McCarty insisted the brainteaser was more of a “whirlpool,” but readers were less convinced.

The New York Times has yet to apologize for or even address the unfortunate error. We suspect that if Jews were hoping for some kind of mea culpa from the NYT, they will be waiting a very long time.

A big congratulations to all of our deserving award winners. We look forward to seeing next year’s entries.

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.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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