Tuesday, February 24, 2015

#floodgate lessons

I suppose I owe it to you to say a few words about the #floodlibel, but what do I have to add? In brief, a spurious report, originating from irresponsible sources, alleged that Israel caused a destructive flood in Gaza by opening some dams. The story was picked up by a few, more responsible outlets, and like many lies, made it halfway around the world before the truth got its boots on.

See, Israel has no dams in that area. (I checked.)

What can we learn from this? Not much.

We already knew journalists are lazy. They like to piggy-backing on someone else's work and will often pick-up stories someone else has written.

We already knew that individual journalists carry biases. Like every human being who has ever lived, reporters are subjective creatures who often look for ways to reinforce their existing beliefs or to promote their pet causes. The journalistic process is supposed to act as a check on this, but it doesn't always work.

We already knew that Israel is no longer the darling of the progressive world To some extent Israel has done this to itself by embracing regressive, thuggish policies. And though that explains why some journalists approach Israel with a negative eye, its no excuse for the shoddy work that was on display yesterday or for the complete abdication of ordinary journalistic standards. Remember, we can expect bias from reporters, but the process is supposed to ensure that those biases don't lead to journalistic malpractice.

Finally,we already knew that the RWers were going to make this into more than it is. Though there were some failures yesterday, most media outlets - including the liberals ones - ignored the story. Others, notably the Daily Mail, which I must say at first did an absolutely terrible job, quickly corrected their errors. Most of the really indefensible reporting came from publications no one considers reputable and (like Russia Today) aren't generally considered left-wing.

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