Media reporter Lorne Manly checks out the ongoing debate over media bias in the Israel-Hezbollah war in Monday's "In Wars, Quest for Media Balance Is Also a Battlefield." But Manly fails to address the concerns of critics who see an anti-Israel slant at the Times.
"Some critics of Israel argue that because the death tolls and destruction are greater in Lebanon, a proportionality of sorts should inform the resulting reports; anything else betrays a pro-Israeli stance. But supporters of Israel say such an approach bestows a misguided moral equivalence. Israel is a democratic nation exercising its right to self-defense, they argue, while Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that uses the Lebanese people as human shields.
"Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights and advocacy organization, said Israel was using disproportionate force in its battle with Hezbollah, needlessly killing civilians and jeopardizing Lebanon's fledgling democracy by destroying the country's infrastructure. 'It should be shown in proportion to the killing and destruction,' he said."
If that makes CAIR sound benign, remember that Sen. Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, characterized CAIR in September 2003 as an organization "which we know has ties to terrorism."
Executive Editor Bill Keller, sounding much like he does when he is complaining about conservative critics of his newspaper, said neither side is arguing out of principle: "Executives at news organizations, long steeled to complaints about their Middle East coverage from various sides, said they tried to avoid pandering to critics. 'They don't want you to be balanced in your coverage,' said Mr. Keller of The Times. 'They want you to portray the morality of the war as they see it.'"
Manly's Business section piece is accompanied by Maria Aspan's "Ease of Alteration Creates Woes for Picture Editors." Aspan notes that picture-doctoring photographer Adnan Hajj was a "Lebanese freelance photographer" but failed to note the Times has used his photos on eight occasions since March 2005 (the Times re-examinedthose photos and found nothing improper).