January 2, 2009

Cincinnati Enquirer Botches Coverage of ‘Ecumenical’ Press Conference and Demo

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 9:30 am

The Cincinnati Enquirer’s coverage of a local press conference and demonstration relating to the Israeli-Hamas conflict in Israel and Gaza has been atrocious. I suspect that the Enquirer is not unique in its egregious journalistic failures.

The two stories involved, both by Rebecca Goodman, are (original Cincinnati reference HT to Atlas Shrugs):

Dec. 31 — “Area groups call for an end to Gaza conflict”
Jan. 1 — “Ecumenical group calls for end to fighting in Gaza Strip”

Any more, you can almost work up a checklist on stories such as these, and expect to be able to check off the majority of, if not all, of the items on the list. The checklist follows the jump:

One-sided description of the conflict — Check

Israeli warplanes have targeted Hamas installations there since Saturday. At least 393 Palestinians – a quarter of them civilians and 43 of them children – have been killed.

There is not a word about Hamas rockets fired into Israel, nor any mention of the fact that Hamas deliberately places civilians in harm’s way for the sole purpose of highlighting Israel’s alleged inhumanity.

Failure to describe the background of organizations speaking out — Check

Karen Dabdoub, executive director of the Cincinnati Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Ohio, repudiated Israel’s actions and called on President-elect Barack Obama to speak out.

CAIR-Ohio is part of the national CAIR organization, the same group that was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) for funding Hamas. That prosecution, after an initial mistrial, ended in a jury conviction of five former HLF officials on all counts.

CAIR-Ohio has given money to the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), “the aggressively anti-American public interest law firm” that brought legal action on behalf of Guantanamo Bay detainees, culminating with the Supreme Court’s ludicrous Boumediene v. Bush decision. More on CCR, and who funds them, is here.

Failure to investigate obvious connections between people mentioned in the story — Check

This one’s particularly weak, because the person I’m about to mention has the same last name as the person quoted above –

Majed A. Dabdoub of Montgomery has a sister who lives in Gaza with five of her six children. The youngest is 4. They retreated to their bomb shelter five days ago and haven’t been outside since. The sister, Majeda, 46, has multiple sclerosis. Dabdoub, an engineer and building plans examiner and analyst for Cincinnati, said that five mosques, 10 schools, two universities, a hospital and hundreds of homes have been targeted by Israel.

Simple 411.com searches indicate that a Karen Dabdoub also lives in Montgomery (which is considered “Cincinnati” in postal addresses), and that a Majed Dabdoub and a Karen Dabdoub are relatives (search links omitted for privacy reasons):

DabdoubsListing010109

Though it seems very likely, I don’t know if the two related Dabdoubs are the same people Goodman quoted. It’s her job to find out and tell us. Either she didn’t inquire, or she didn’t care to disclose what she found.

Quoting someone who seems like an Israeli ally, but who actually isn’t — Check

Hamas and Israel have contravened international law and violated the Geneva Convention, said Rabbi Susan Einbinder, professor of Hebrew at Hebrew Union College. She called on both sides to adopt a cease-fire.

….. Einbinder said that doctors are treating the thousands of wounded without electricity.

Einbinder is a professor of Hebrew Literature (a word missed by Goodman in both stories).

There’s more to this story, but suffice it to say that Einbinder cannot be characterized as a supporter of Israel as it currently exists. In 2002, she was one of 800 US professors who co-signed a statement “warning of the possibility of ethnic cleansing in Israel and the Occupied Territories” because the world might be distracted by the oncoming war in Iraq. She is also involved in periodic forums (examples here and here) on the “one-state solution,” specifically “‘Transforming Palestine/Israel Into A Single, Secular, Democratic State With Equal Rights for All’ — An Idea Whose Time has Come.” No one in a responsible position seriously believes that this is a possibility as long as Hamas controls Gaza and the hearts and minds of those who live under their terror.

Avoiding mention of the number of people involved if it’s really low — Check

IsraelGazaCincyDemo123108

What are we lookin’ at here, maybe a couple of dozen, thirty tops?

Ignoring other obvious agenda items of demonstrators, especially if they betray stronger radicalism– Check

The demonstrator on the left is holding a “Remember Rachel Corrie” sign. Two others are holding signs advocating the end of US aid to Israel.

In sum, this is not exactly an “ecumenical group” representing a cross-section of religious thought. To be blunt, this is a group of a few dozen people who didn’t deserve Rebecca Goodman’s attention, but got it anyway. If she was going to cover this non-story, she at least owed readers the truth about the backgrounds of the people involved — truth that yours truly discovered in maybe 10 minutes of web and news searching.

* * * * * * *

This whole sad litany demonstrates why many local papers, if they can’t make it on their own, won’t be missed (I have no reason to believe that Enquirer, owned since 1979 by Gannett, is in financial trouble), and certainly aren’t deserving of government handouts to stay afloat. The basic Journalism 101 failures noted here are likely being replicated around the country in dozens of other local papers as pro-Hamas outfits, including International ANSWER, gear up to get further undeserved media attention.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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