Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Hottest Button: How The Times Covers Israel and Palestine

In honor of Pesach(?) the Times writes a defense of its Middle East reporting.

Just read it - and quickly: these links have a way of expiring.


For the lazy, and the self-certain, here's a quick and incomplete summary of Daniel Okrent's article:

1 - The Times is not anti-Semitic ("If reporting that is sympathetic to Palestinians, or antipathetic to Israelis, is anti-Semitism, what is real anti-Semitism? What word do you have left for conscious discrimination, or open hatred, or acts of intentional, ethnically motivated violence? The Times may be - is - imperfect. It is not anti-Semitic. Calling it that defames the accuser far more than it does the accused.")

2 - The Times is not pro-Arab. In fact, if you think Arabs are satisfied with the Times coverage, you are wrong. As Okerent reveals, they are every bit as angry with the paper as some Jews are, and like those Jews, these Arabs organize boycotts, and letter-writing campaigns to protest the Times "pro-Israel bias." [side note: Some of these pinheads sound quite a bit like the pinheads at (dis)HonestReporting.com.]

3 - Those who believe the Time's coverage is anti-Israel or anti-Palestenian, are usually making the mistake of not knowing the very first thing about journalism. Okerent provides several examples, and makes his case convincingly.

And finally, for the very lazy, we present the money quote:
Journalism itself is inadequate to tell this story. Like recorded music, which is only a facsimile of music, journalism is a substitute, a stand-in. It's what we call on when we can't know something firsthand. It's not reality, but a version of reality, and both daily deadlines and limited space make even the best journalism a reductionist version of reality.
True, my powers of summarization are formidable, but for the love of all that is good and holy: just go and read it