In a surprising segment, CNN’s New Day discussed the role of the media in the Israel-Hamas conflict and whether they are providing proper context regarding the two sides. In an interview with co-host Kate Bolduan, guest Lee Habeeb, columnist for National Review, slammed the media for its biased coverage of the issue. In fact, in a recent piece for NRO, Habeeb went so far as to claim that the media have acted as "co-conspirators" to Hamas.
When Bolduan asked where Habeeb believed the media was lacking, he argued that “the point of the spear is the media and dead children and dead women...and I don’t believe the media is covering it.” Toward the end of the segment, Bolduan cited Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal, who claimed that the U.S. has now adopted the Israeli narrative. The New Day co-host wondered how it could go both ways. Habeeb blasted the media again: [MP3 audio here; video below]
I just wonder in the newsrooms of America and the world, are you wondering, are you pausing to reflect upon the idea that maybe you're being used as dupes by very evil regimes to make the case that Israel and Hamas are the same, that they have the same world vision, that they have the same visions for their citizens and their people? I'd ask this. Where would you rather be a woman or someone who is gay? Israel, or anywhere else in the Middle East?
Earlier, Habeeb elaborated on the importance of properly contextualizing Hamas and Israel. The National Review columnist objected to the notion that the two sides are the same, ripping the pro-Hamas coverage:
And I think presenting this story as a story of the Hatfields and McCoys, as a moral equivalency between Israel and Hamas, is a tragedy and a fatal error by the media. These are Nazis, Hamas. They're making life miserable for the people of Gaza.
Habeeb hoped that the world would recognize “that radical Islam is the problem, whether it's Hamas, whether it's ISIS, whether it's Al Qaeda.” He labeled Hamas and radical Islam as the “monster in the room,” and stated it was clear that “the good guys in this case are Israel and the bad guys are Hamas."
While the media in general has been overwhelming in its anti-Israel slant, CNN did well to bring on a guest to criticize that coverage and denounce the moral equivalence that is often made when discussing the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The relevant portion of the transcript is below.
August 4, 2014
7:38 a.m. Eastern
KATE BOLDUAN, host: When it comes to covering this conflict, a different look at this, what is the media's role? For that, let’s turn to Lee Habeeb, Vice President of content at Salem Radio Network and a columnist for the National Review. Lee, looking at this article that you put out, very provocative. You call the Western media, you say Western media is enabling Hamas. You say it's Hamas’s co-conspirators. Where is the media lacking? What is lacking?
LEE HABEEB, columnist for National Review: Well, I think it's context. I mean, who is Hamas? Who are they and what's their history and their goal? I believe that the goal of Hamas’s strategy, the point of the spear is the media and dead children and dead women. They used to use women as human bombs, women and children. Now they're using them as human shields. The American people, the world need to know Hamas's strategy. And I don't believe that the media is covering it. Where are the Hamas soldiers? We don't see them because they're hiding. We see the Israeli soldiers. They're wearing uniforms. Why do we only see the images of dead women and children and not the images of Hamas soldiers? That needs to be contextualized by the media.
BOLDUAN: But how then should the media cover it, do you believe? Do you believe the media should ignore the deaths?
HABEEB: Absolutely not. But it's – the point of the matter is, it's Hamas's strategy to delegitimize Israel by making it look like they're killing – indiscriminately – women and children, when we know that's not the case. In fact, Israel has gone to great lengths to not kill women and children. They could have done drone strikes. They're risking their soldiers in very tough combat terrain and they're losing their soldiers. They could lose none. The point of the matter is there are tunnels, tunnels throughout Gaza. Hamas has used all that concrete not to build roads, but to build tunnels, terror tunnels that head right into Israel. What is Israel to do?
BOLDUAN: And CNN, I know I have, I know CNN and my colleagues have reported extensively about the tunnels. Wolf Blitzer, our colleague, even went into one of the tunnels with Israeli soldiers to take a look at those tunnels and also covering the Israeli side. Mark Regev, the Prime Minister's spokesman, he’s been on CNN, he’s been on our show almost daily. But when you have a statement coming from the State department just overnight Lee, from Jen Psaki calling, talking about this latest attack near a UN shelter, calling – saying the United States is appalled and calling it disgraceful, you gotta to cover that as well.
HABEEB: You do. But that's the error of the State department. And you do have to cover it. Look, where I think the media is complicit is in contextualizing this entire problem. There's a monster in the room – not an elephant in the room – there’s a monster in the room and it's Hamas and it’s radical jihad, it's ISIS. You know, in Mosul, for the first time in 1600 years there is not a Christian mass. Christians are being driven all over the Middle East away from their homes, killed, executed, asked to renounce their faith. And I think presenting this story as a story of the Hatfields and McCoys, as a moral equivalency between Israel and Hamas is a tragedy and a fatal error by the media. These are Nazis, Hamas. They're making life miserable for the people of Gaza. In the end, the people suffering the most are the people of Gaza.
BOLDUAN: Well that – that seems to be very true. And Hamas, we've noted, they don't believe in the right of Israel to exist. That’s something that CNN points out in its reporting. But also this idea, I actually think it’s very interesting and very perfect that we're talking about this today, the idea that Hamas is trying – as you point out in your article, the idea that Hamas is looking for mounting casualties because they want the sympathy of the international community, because they want to put that out there as Israel's problem, that is a question and a criticism that our Nic Robertson actually posed to Khaled Mashal, the political leader of Hamas, in an exclusive interview. And this is what Mashaal said to him in response. He said that the US has now adopted the Israeli narrative. That it's all lies. How can it be both ways? How can the US media be helping Hamas – be Hamas’s co-conspirators and also adopting the Israeli narrative?
LEE HABEEB: But do we care what the, quote, Hamas narrative is? This is the point. And I think Nic did a beautiful job in that interview by the way and I commend CNN for periodically doing that kind of work. But the fact of the matter is, as I pointed out before, this is not a case of the Hatfield and McCoys. This is a case of Hamas using women and children as human shields and Israel having to do what it has to do to protect its own citizens. And the good guys in this case are Israel and the bad guys are Hamas. And this isn't my opinion. I think the world will know ultimately down the road that radical Islam is the problem, whether it's Hamas, whether it's ISIS, whether it's Al Qaeda, and presenting this as a case of moral equivalence is a tragedy. I just wonder in the newsrooms of America and the world, are you wondering, are you pausing to reflect upon the idea that maybe you're being used as dupes but very evil regimes to make the case that Israel and Hamas are the same, that they have the same world vision, that they have the same visions for their citizens and their people? I'd ask this. Where would you rather be a woman or someone who is gay? Israel, or anywhere else in the Middle East?