Toronto Star Gives Fuel To Hamas Propaganda Machine
January 25, 2008
By: Mike Fegelman
Dear HonestReporting Canada subscriber:
As the mainstream media continue to be manipulated by Hamas spin doctors in exaggerating a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, The Toronto Star was just one of those media outlets that was duped into giving fuel to the Hamas propaganda machine.
Mideast bureau chief Oakland Ross (pictured) gave a platform for Hamas extremism by reporting on Tuesday that: “A Hamas representative said yesterday that five patients died over the weekend in Gaza hospitals because of the latest fuel embargo.”
But Mr. Ross failed to report that Palestinian and Israeli officials have denied this claim and instead echoed Hamas’ fabrications as he and the Star did not confirm the veracity of this accusation before going to print.
In sharp contrast, the CBC, Jerusalem Post and the Associated Press to name a few, all referenced this integral information which essentially puts Hamas’ claims in jeopardy. Considering that these allegations were derived from a terrorist organization, which has a dubious record of spewing outright propaganda, it’s paramount that the Star reference this statement of dissention or otherwise not include Hamas’ “claim” in the original report altogether.
Without this vital information, the Toronto Star essentially presented Hamas’ statements as fact. This failure to disclose essentially encourages accusations of “collective punishment” against Israel, which certainly do not deserve merit.
HonestReporting Canada brought these concerns to the Star’s attention, who to their credit, very promptly and professionally set the record straight in a follow-up report by Mr. Ross in yesterday’s edition of the Star.
According to Mr. Ross’ clarification: “Yesterday’s events came against the backdrop of a war of words between Hamas and Israel. Earlier in the week, Hamas claimed five patients died over the weekend in Gaza hospitals because of the latest fuel embargo, a statement that Israeli and other Palestinian officials subsequently said was unfounded. The five people died in their homes, for one reason or another, and were dead on arrival at the main hospital in Gaza City, but there was no evidence that the power shutdown played any role in their deaths.”
Though this follow-up report was not a mea culpa as per our original request, we are satisfied that the record has been set straight and that the original reference has been deleted from the online report, although Google’s news crawler still has a record of this statement.
While we are certain that Mr. Ross and the Star were acting in good faith in producing this report, notwithstanding, the Toronto Star blundered at both the reporter and editor levels, providing false and prejudicial information to hundreds of thousands of readers, most of whom likely did not see the subsequent clarification in Ross’ follow-up report.
To remedy this situation in a way that maintains the Star’s credibility, HonestReporting Canada urges the Toronto Star to voluntarily:
Tell its readers about the series of errors that enabled false information to be published.
Tell its readers what specific steps will be taken to ensure these kinds of problems do not happen again.
By voluntarily disclosing its journalistic lapses and how it will prevent them in the future, the Star can strengthen its credibility and become a stronger news organization.
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