On Friday, The Washington Post reported that journalists by the hundreds are signing a petition demanding that all media outlets should describe Israel in hateful terms, including "apartheid," "ethnic cleansing," and "genocide." In other words, they want all news accounts to sound like an "eradicate Israel" rally.
But the Post used the most anodyne words for this radical petition. On the front page of the Style section, it said "Journalists sign letter protesting war coverage." On an inside page, it was "Letter calls for precise terminology." Are they too afraid to put "apartheid" and "genocide" in the headline?
Reporters Laura Wagner and Will Sommer began:
More than 750 journalists from dozens of news organizations have signed an open letter published Thursday condemning Israel’s killing of reporters in Gaza and criticizing Western media’s coverage of the war.
The letter — which said newsrooms are “accountable for dehumanizing rhetoric that has served to justify ethnic cleansing of Palestinians” — is the latest in a string of impassioned collective statements staking out ground in the stateside reaction to the Israel-Gaza war.
The Post story reports there are "mainstream" media signatories from Reuters, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe and The Washington Post. But the actual petition on the internet lists no signatures. Can't the Post figure out which Post employees signed up?
The Post duo blandly noted these radicals claim their demands are "a call to recommit to fairness, not abandon it." It's "fairness" to accuse Israel of genocide and ethnic cleansing, not the terrorist group who openly advocates killing all Jews in the Hamas Charter.
“My hope for this letter is to push back on the culture of fear around this issue,” said Abdallah Fayyad, a 2022 Pulitzer Prize finalist and former editorial board member at the Boston Globe, who signed the letter, “and to make decision-makers and reporters and editors think twice about the language that they use.”
“What it comes down to is just asking journalists to do their jobs,” said Suhauna Hussain, a labor reporter at the Los Angeles Times who signed the letter. “To hold power to account.”
Fayyad is complaining the media are “using the language of the oppressor rather than the language of the oppressed.”
Here's the worst part of the petition:
U.N. experts have warned they are “convinced that the Palestinian people are at grave risk of genocide," yet Western outlets remain hesitant to quote genocide experts and accurately describe the existential threat unfolding in Gaza.
This is our job: to hold power to account. Otherwise we risk becoming accessories to genocide.
We are renewing the call for journalists to tell the full truth without fear or favor. To use precise terms that are well-defined by international human rights organizations, including “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide.” To recognize that contorting our words to hide evidence of war crimes or Israel’s oppression of Palestinians is journalistic malpractice and an abdication of moral clarity.
Is it "moral clarity" to side with the terrorist arguments? The closest thing to an opposing view came from Columbia journalism professor Bill Grueskin, who only warned that journalists who sign open letters on political topics risk damaging their outlets and their own ability to gather information.
It's a little humorous that Will Sommer's new beat at the Post is described as "specializing in covering conservative media and conspiracy theories," but in this case, it's about pushing Hamas conspiracy theories as "moral clarity."