Network news programs still bashing Israel over flotilla incident

More than a week has passed since the flotilla raid near Gaza last week, but ABC, CBS, and NBC are still continuing to leave facts out of their reports and present an anti-Israel version of the events.

From May 31 through June 5, the broadcast network evening shows gave little or no coverage of the terror ties of the flotilla passengers. The networks also embellished the so-called humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and downplayed the terrorist attacks launched from Gaza into Israel. CBS and NBC combined gave the Gaza “aid crisis” more than twice the coverage of the Palestinian terrorist assaults on Israel.

It was reported on May 31 that the passengers who attacked Israeli soldiers aboard a Gaza-bound boat last Monday were part of a banned-from-Israel terror financing group called the IHH, but the broadcast networks barely gave this crucial fact any attention and one show ignored it completely.

CBS “Evening News” reported about the IHH members on June 1, but ABC “World News with Charles Gibson” didn't announce it until June 2. Those were the only times either program cited it. NBC “Nightly News” didn't mention it in any of its flotilla coverage.

Unreported on any of the nightly network news shows was the history behind the Israeli maritime blockade of Gaza and the numerous Palestinian terror attacks on Americans that form the basis of U.S.-Palestinian relations. Those include a Hezbollah bombing that killed 241 U.S. military personnel in Lebanon, the murder of a civilian during a boat hijacking and Palestinians dancing in the streets celebrating the 9/11 attacks.

However, the broadcast network programs did find time to cover two other issues: the alleged humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and how Israel's actions were potentially destructive to U.S. foreign policy.

On June 1, CBS correspondent Robert Roth devoted 60 words to the crisis in Gaza, saying “The U.N. says 70 percent of its million and a half people live on less than a dollar a day, smuggling through tunnels to Egypt provides much of what Gazans need, but at prices not many can afford … Weary of sharing blame, Egypt's now opened its own border with Gaza for humanitarian reasons, said Cairo, but probably not for long.”

That's more than five times the coverage given to Israel's reason behind the blockade. “Israel says the aim of the blockade is to control terrorism,” said Roth. He then added this caveat: “But even its friends question the effect.”

NBC also delivered a lopsided report on June 2. NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell gave 96 words to the coverage of the Gaza “aid crisis.” While Mitchell reported on the Gaza situation as a fact, the only explanation of Israel's blockade on the program came from quotes from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, who are given a combined 62 words.

“[Netanyahu] claimed there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” reported Mitchell. “That is not what NBC News witnessed in Gaza today. Muhammed Abidrabu and his family of 12 live in two tents. Their home was destroyed when Israel invaded a year and a half ago. In the cooking area, only some cooking oil and a small bag of vegetables. A million and a half people live here, strangled by poverty, unemployment and hopelessness.”

The so-called humanitarian crisis in Gaza has been disputed by photos and news reports of Olympic sized swimming pools in the region, posh local restaurants, and Gaza stores stuffed with food and toys.

Another NBC Nightly News story on June 3 covered the funeral of the nine Turkish militants killed in the flotilla skirmish. The story quoted only pro-Palestinian activists and their friends.

Correspondent Jim Macada reported that, “Nine were killed, at least 19 wounded when Israeli commandos stormed a flotilla of cargo ships early Monday trying to deliver aid to the besieged Gaza strip.”

While Macada presented the story as though the Israeli soldiers attacked the flotilla passenger's first, video footage released prior to June 3 showed the Israeli soldiers were assaulted by IHH members on the ship before using force to defend themselves. Further, the use of the word “besieged” to describe Gaza implies that it is under outside attack, something that is not backed up by evidence and ignores the fact that Gaza also shares a border with Egypt..

Maceda then quoted a friend of one of the dead Turkish flotilla members as saying “The way the Israelis treated us makes me sad … but I'm proud of my friends. I wish I had died a martyr too.”

Both ABC and NBC also implied that Israel's actions could be potentially disastrous for American foreign policy.

“A public outpouring like this one poses a danger for America's relations with the Muslim world as well,” reported ABC's Jim Sciutto May 31. “The popular perception of American has real consequences for American soldiers, undermining already weak support for US military action in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. The suffering in Gaza has long been a rallying cry for Muslims. Today's deadly operation has raised that to a fever pitch.”

NBC's Andrea Mitchell similarly reported on June 2 that “The White House has warned Israel not to attack anymore ships, but the larger concern is the diplomatic fallout with Turkey, a key ally, that can now work against international sanctions against Iran at the UN.”

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