Media Centers Netanyahu’s Excuse After Israel Kills Seven Aid Workers From World Central Kitchen

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Media Centers Netanyahu’s Excuse After Israel Kills Seven Aid Workers From World Central Kitchen

Israel launched a drone strike on a World Central Kitchen truck earlier this week, killing seven aid workers, including one Palestinian, three British nationals, a U.S.-Canadian dual national, and citizens of Australia and Poland. World Central Kitchen had given the IDF its coordinates and traveled on an agreed upon route, which casts doubt on Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion that it was “unintentional.”

This was initially just going to be a straightforward news recap of the events with some opinion thrown in, but once I started grabbing links from various sources, I noticed a dismaying pattern emerge in mainstream coverage, exemplified by two major newspapers. Even though there is a clear dispute in this story between the two major sources in it, Benjamin Netanyahu’s “unintentional” denial is presented in the headline, while World Central Kitchen’s assertion that it was a deliberate attack is buried in the story.

This is what the very top of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post homepages looked like throughout most of the day yesterday (all three screenshots taken at 3:05 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on 4/2/2024).

I reached out to both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal asking why they chose Netanyahu’s quote for their front-page headlines and will update this story if I hear back.

Given that we know Israel has “kill zones” where they shoot anyone on sight and call them a terrorist regardless of whether they are actually a Hamas fighter or not, there is really no reason to believe any of Netanyahu’s claims without accompanying evidence. Even before October 7th, Israel had been caught lying about things like deliberately murdering journalists, and any rational analysis of the situation demonstrates that Benjamin Netanyahu’s credibility is beyond shot.

The fact that the New York Times and Wall Street Journal put Netanyahu’s words at the top of their homepages is a stark depiction of how they view a man who isn’t seen as very credible even by his own judiciary. That the headlines in those links have changed from what they were yesterday demonstrates some level of awareness around this mistake. I have no idea why these outlets uncritically spread Israel’s denial when all available evidence at least calls it into question, if not disputes it.

The Washington Post is the only one of the big three who did not have Netanyahu’s denial front and center in their writeup, and I think the way they presented the top of their homepage is good. My point here is not that we should ignore the words of an immensely powerful man exacting a genocide. Putting them on the front page is still the right decision, but portraying the main report on the incident through his uncorroborated claim is journalistic malpractice.

Just because the NYT and WSJ put World Central Kitchen’s allegations lower down in their write-ups doesn’t mean that they provided balance, they just made a conscious decision to elevate Netanyahu’s point of view above that of foreign aid workers. This is the inherent media bias towards power in action.

Here’s video of the car that was hit. You can clearly see the World Central Kitchen logo on top, right next to the hole the explosive created on top of the truck. The image alone is enough to call Netanyahu’s claim into question.

Yet again we have to turn to Israeli media to get accurate information about what is happening. Haaretz reported that the drone looped around to bomb the World Central Kitchen convoy three times, and it wasn’t even the first time WCK was attacked. They also reported that on Saturday, “an IDF sniper fired at a car headed to a food warehouse in the Khan Yunis area. He hit the car’s windshield, but the volunteer inside was unharmed.”

Does that sound like a mistake? At the very least doesn’t it sound like there’s not enough evidence to let a biased actor set the narrative on this? Is there anyone in a major decision-making capacity at the NYT and WSJ who even asks these questions before publishing their initial story?

World Central Kitchen CEO Erin Gore said the strike was a “targeted attack” and “unforgivable.” Why is that not in the headline? Why is her assertion stuck further down in the piece while Netanyahu gets the first opportunity to frame the incident?

Do outlets like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal believe that Benjamin Netanyahu has more credibility than World Central Kitchen? Because that’s the message they’re sending by framing their headlines and homepages like this.

Maybe these outlets are just such highly trained stenographers for power at this point that the moment a head of state begins talking, the only thing they know how to do is write down everything they’ve said, hit publish and call it journalism.

At the very least, it’s pretty clear that framing the incident through either WCK or Netanyahu’s allegation requires additional investigation to justify, and a simple “Israeli attack kills seven aid workers” headline like WaPo produced is most appropriate. It’s what Netanyahu confirmed happened. Putting his denial in a headline is a conscious decision.

Journalism is about presenting confirmed information in the proper context in which it occurs. This is a perfect example of how much of the mainstream press consistently fails on this subject. The fact that Israel is blocking aid trucks and creating a famine that threatens to kill hundreds of thousands of people isn’t even taken into account in assessing Netanyahu’s credibility in attacking workers trying to feed Palestinians.

The only allusion to it in these reports is a boilerplate “aid groups say Israel is creating a famine, Netanyahu says that’s not true” sentence that prompts no real follow-up or investigation into which side may be correct.

Israel has bombed aid organizations before. They have knowingly assassinated journalists. They are actively trying to expel a world-renowned news outlet in Al Jazeera from the country. They are facilitating a horrific famine in the midst of a mass slaughter of women and children. These are all incontrovertible facts that severely damage the credibility of the Israeli regime, but if all you knew about this was what you saw on the front page of The New York Times every morning, you wouldn’t get a very different picture of what’s happening in Gaza than the one the IDF would depict.

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