Jezebel piece illustrates how media narrative outpaces facts in Gaza coverage
January 19, 2024
Jezebel tells us that events in Gaza mean that women and children are hard hit. We have no doubt this is true – war is hell, and women and children are hard hit by it:
Miscarriages in Gaza Have Increased 300% Under Israeli Bombing
Humanitarian agencies say women and menstruating people are also facing alarming rates of severe infections due to Israel’s blockade of supplies and water.
We do doubt this, though. For reasons we’ve had to explain before and for reasons we’ll no doubt have to explain again. The information that comes out of Gaza is simply not to be trusted.
More than three months into the siege, conditions have only worsened, and pregnant and menstruating people are especially at risk. Health care workers report a 300% increase in the miscarriage rate among pregnant people in Gaza since Israel’s attacks began three months ago, Nour Beydoun, CARE’s regional advisor on protection and gender in emergencies, told Jezebel.
There are – as close to being 100% true as makes no difference – no foreigners in Gaza. All information, reporting, and stories come from locals – Palestinians. No, we do not mean that Palestinians are not to be trusted in what they say because they are Palestinians, far from it. As we’ve reported, some of those sending out information will be ideologically aligned with Hamas – as some are. But as we have also pointed out, everyone living in Gaza is living under the control of a vicious and terrorist government. One perfectly happy to kill kids at a peace music festival to make a political point. And everyone who does live under such a government knows it – and knows that their families, friends, children, also live under such a government.
Truth and accuracy – rather than political salience – in reporting is unlikely to be the result of everyone doing the reporting effectively being a hostage themselves.
Of course, there was that Israel bombs the hospital story. Which turned out not to be Israel but Islamic Jihad, a rival terrorist grouping to Hamas. And not the hospital, but the parking lot. And the New York Times, famously, put a building which wasn’t either the hospital or the parking lot on its front page as proof of the damage.
We’ve given rather more detail of how bad the reporting from Gaza is here. It’s not just from; it’s a very large portion of the reporting, even about U.S. events connected, that has been wrong. Factually, it’s just outright wrong.
This leads us to the big and important question: Why is this happening?
Why Hamas is doing it from inside Gaza that’s obvious. They’re engaged in a propaganda war, and that’s one part of the overall fight that they’re fighting quite well. They know the truth: public opinion is swayed by those first headlines – few see the later walkbacks and apologies.
But why is the American media going along with them? Why, like here with Jezebel, are we seeing uncritical repeats of information from inside Gaza when we know there are such problems with the sources?
And that’s not really the big problem even. We are seeing disproofs and then walkbacks on things the media is telling us. But what about everything else we’re being told by the media? Where else is there this same acceptance of wild claims with no effort to check them against reality?
Now, it’s possible to think that some of what we’re told is absolutely true. It’s possible to think that much of it is, too. But having even the one single example – as with this Gaza reporting – where it isn’t true calls all the rest of it into question.
We are called Accuracy in Media for a reason. We are not always told, every time, the absolute truth by that media. This then sways, directs, misdirects, perhaps, public opinion through misdirection and misinformation.
Why is the media doing this? Because it works. But this then brings us to the fundamental and also difficult question. How do we stop them?