During live MSNBC coverage of a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv in the 3 p.m. ET hour on Wednesday, NBC correspondents Ayman Mohyeldin and Martin Fletcher took turns blaming Israel’s “right-wing” government for Palestinian “frustration.” Mohyeldin ranted over “...the shift of Israeli politics, including now the current government, more to the right, to what has been described by Israelis as even more of an extreme right-wing government."
During MSNBC’s 3 p.m. ET hour on Monday, anchor Kate Snow and Middle East correspondent Martin Fletcher apologized for using false maps depicting Israeli and Palestinian territory during a Thursday segment about escalating violence in the region. Snow began: “Last Thursday, in an attempt to talk about the context for the current turmoil in the Middle East we showed a series of maps of the changing geography in that region. We realized after we went off the air the maps were not factually accurate and we regret using them.”
As NBC's Martin Fletcher made a couple of appearances on MSNBC on Sunday, he made an acknowledgement rarely seen in the dominant media of Palestinian Authority incitement of violence against Israel as he recalled for viewers -- although with apparent reluctance -- that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had recently called for the prevention of Jews entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque with their "filthy feet."
As news broke of the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher Monday morning, Today co-host Matt Lauer turned to correspondent Michelle Kosinski in London, who proclaimed Thatcher was "Known as the Iron Lady and for her conservative politics, she was also quite controversial during that time for reducing the power of the trade unions." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In a full report that followed, correspondent Martin Fletcher used similar language to describe the tenure of the British leader: "She was known as an iron lady, both loved and loathed....Consensus and compromise, they said, were not in her vocabulary. She'd won a bloody war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, took on Britain's powerful labor unions. She ignored IRA hunger strikes....Determined, dynamic, and deeply controversial, Thatcher leaves an indelible mark on the world's political landscape."
On Saturday's NBC Nightly News, during a report recounting the gathering of Christian pilgrims in Bethlehem for Christmas celebrations, correspondent Martin Fletcher relayed Palestinian complaints about Israel, and gave attention to the display of an anti-Israel publicity stunt set to coincide with the occasion taking advantage of a Christmas tree theme.
Andrea Mitchell on Friday and Martin Fletcher on Sunday filed reports on the NBC Nightly News filling in viewers on the Palestinian Authority's upcoming plan to go to the United Nations and seek recognition of statehood or at least U.N. membership as the U.N. convenes this week. Both reports ignored last week's prediction by the Palestinian Authority's envoy to the U.N. that Jews would be removed from a Palestinian state.
On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Martin Fletcher borrowed a line from Karl Marx as he explained the cause of violent riots in London: "It's a collision between two worlds here, the haves and the have-nots."
Fletcher played up the class warfare angle as he noted how in a wealthy part of the British capital, "This building, 106 New Bond Street, has just been sold for $42 million cash. And what's more, there were 22 cash bidders on the property." He then pointed out: "On an average wage, to buy a house it would take a Londoner 31 years."
Anchor Brian Williams introduced Fletcher's report by proclaiming: "...more on the anger and hopelessness that's fueling a kind of tale of two cities."
On Monday's NBC Today, correspondent Martin Fletcher reported on a deadly polar bear attack in Norway and explained: "The attack began at dawn with a bear looking for food....it's believed that with global warming, food is scarce. A post-mortem showed this polar bear was 110 pounds underweight, with almost no fat reserves. It must have been starving."
Fletcher began the report by declaring: "And today in the Arctic Circle, one of the most beautiful and hostile places on the planet, it's warmer than usual. There isn't much food for the polar bears. So when a group of British youngsters on a wildlife adventure trip set up camp for the night they became bait for a bear."
On Monday's Today show, NBC's Matt Lauer opened the show suggesting that Julian Assange was was being smeared by the Pentagon as the Today co-anchor teased: "And payback? The founder of WikiLeaks, the Web site that leaked classified war documents, briefly named in a rape case in Sweden. He says he's innocent. Those charges have been dropped and now he suggests it's all part of a Pentagon smear campaign today, Monday, August 23rd, 2010." However the Today show, never offered any evidence, other than Assange's claim, that the Pentagon was behind any of the charges.
NBC's Ann Curry, in introducing a Martin Fletcher story on Assange, posited: "Is the Pentagon targeting the founder of WikiLeaks for posting thousands of war documents online?" And while the the story did did air a clip of retired UK Colonel Richard Kemp blasting Assange for releasing the classified documents, Fletcher never presented any proof that the Pentagon was behind some sort of smear campaign.
It was a year ago this weekend that the Israeli military halted its three-week campaign, Operation Cast Lead, against Hamas militants in Gaza, during which Israel had responded to thousands of rockets and mortars launched from Gaza over several years. During Israel’s military campaign, on a number of major stories, many American television newscasts were more inclined to report accusations made by U.N. or Palestinian officials that the Israeli military had acted improperly than they were to update viewers after the military held investigations and released reports disputing the accusations made against it. At one point, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric went so far as to claim that the Israelis "may have used a banned weapon."
Below is a compilation of NewsBusters postings which document how the morning and evening newscasts on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FNC, and PBS reported a number of major stories from the Gaza War, highlighting examples of the media either engaging in distortion or omitting relevant information that would have cast Israel in a more favorable light, including several times when the broadcast and news networks even ignored reports issued by the Israeli military after it had taken time to investigate and dispute accusations made against its troops which had previously been reported by the media.
A year ago today, when U.N. officials accused the Israeli military of killing the driver of a vehicle delivering relief aid to Gaza during the Israeli campaign against Hamas, all the broadcast and news networks reported the accusation on January 8, 2009, noting the U.N.'s resulting cessation of relief aid deliveries. But, after the Israeli military conducted an investigation and charged that Hamas was responsible for the killing, very few of the shows that reported the initial charges by the U.N. updated viewers on this important development. An examination of the morning and evening newscasts on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FNC, and PBS – including American Morning and The Situation Room on CNN; as well as Fox and Friends, the Fox Report, and Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC; and PBS's NewsHour – between January 8 and January 12, 2009, found that all these shows – with the exception of ABC’s Good Morning America – reported on the truck driver’s death at least once, with nearly all shows also directly relaying the U.N.’s charge of Israeli military culpability.
But only CNN's The Situation Room, on the January 9 show, took the time to briefly inform viewers that the Israeli military had denied responsibility for the incident as correspondent Nic Robertson related: "[The U.N.] said that two of their workers were killed by Israeli tank and machine gun fire. Israeli Defense Forces say they have investigated it. Now, they say it wasn't them, which implies that it must have been Hamas."
In recent weeks, both the NBC Nightly News and ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson repeated charges that Israeli troops had witnessed the deliberate killing of Palestinian civilians by fellow troops during the Gaza War. In recent days, the New York Times has informed its readers that, after investigation, the Israeli military concluded that the incendiary claims were untrue and that the soldiers in question had actually been repeating rumors rather than describing events they had witnessed. But so far, neither NBC nor ABC has updated their viewers on the story. And in the case of ABC, even though some of the allegations had already been debunked, as reported in the conservative Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, March 24, the original inaccurate accounts were still repeated two days later on the Thursday, March 26, World News.
Anchor Charles Gibson introduced the March 26 story: "There is a debate under way right now throughout Israel about soldiers, war and morality. Two months after the war in Gaza, Israeli soldiers are providing the accounts of what they saw and did on the battlefield. And some of those accounts are deeply disturbing."
After recounting that Palestinians had previously made accusations of war crimes against the Israeli military, ABC’s Simon McGregor-Wood continued: "The army denied it. And the public accepted the denial. But now, for the first time, disturbing evidence from Israeli soldiers themselves. Personal accounts from the front line, published word for word in the newspapers. From Aviv, a squad leader. "One of our officers saw someone walking on a road, an old woman. He sent people up onto the roof, and, using machine guns, they took her down."
On the March 19 NBC Nightly News, correspondent Martin Fletcher had similarly charged: "The Israeli army insisted during the war they were extra careful to avoid unnecessary damage and to protect Palestinian civilians. But today Israelis were shocked by reports of soldiers speaking out, saying they intentionally destroyed Palestinian property and killed civilians." (Complete transcripts follow)