MSNBC Contributor: Media Is 'Disgustingly Biased' Against Palestinians

MSNBC has truly outdone itself. On the July 21 edition of Ronan Farrow Daily, the MSNBC host invited Eli Lake from Huffington Post and Italian-Palestinian journalist and MSNBC contributor Rula Jebreal onto the show to discuss how Secretary of State John Kerry’s off-air comments about Israeli operations in Palestine revealed a gap between “American officials’ public versus private thoughts when it comes to Israel.”

When Farrow asked Jebreal, “Why can't American leaders be more honest?” she responded that because of “AIPAC and because of the money behind it and because of Sheldon Adelson and because of all of us in the media,” American political leaders are forced into a pro-Israel stance. [See video below. Click here for MP3 audio]

That’s right. An MSNBC contributor spent over one minute ranting about how American media is “disgustingly biased” against Palestinians. She even called out Andrea Mitchell for all the “air time Netanyahu and his folks have on air on a daily basis” while she has “never see one Palestinian being interviewed on these same issues.”

But as we at NewsBusters have noted, Andrea Mitchell has a history of biased, pro-Palestinian reporting. Despite Jebreal’s claims, Mitchell has invited Palestinian advocates onto her show. On the June 15 edition, she brought Yousef Munayyer of the Jerusalem Fund on to blame Israelis for the violence.

When Farrow weakly attempted to push back against the statement, Jebreal cited Ayman Mohyeldin, the MSNBC contributor who was removed last week from covering the conflict because of his partial reporting, as evidence of the networks pro-Israel bias. For the record, Mohyeldin was reinstated two days later and reported for Farrow in his usual pro-Palestinian manner just before Jebreal came on.

Even Eli Lake was unable to respond to Jebreal’s ridiculous claim, stating he was “kind of baffled honestly by what Rula was just saying there” and that “Israel has experienced terrible press.” Lake dismissed Jebreal’s claims of a powerful Israel lobby, and instead described the “cultural affinity” between the two countries. When Jebreal interrupted that the pro-Israel stance is “the only point view of expressed,” Lake shot back that “it’s not the only point of view. You are expressing your point of view right now on television.”

Ronan Farrow wrapped up the outrageous segment with a feeble attempt at diplomatically saying the whole crisis is, well, everyone’s fault: “It’s a failure of politics, failure of media and it’s a failure on the ground. I think it's a failure for the world.”

See transcript below:

MSNBC
Ronan Farrow Daily
July 21, 2014
1:21 a.m. Eastern
3 minutes and 52 seconds


RONAN FARROW: Rula, I’ll go to you on this one, back in 2000, this immediately leapt to mind Bob Gates talked about this exact issue. He said, quote,

Every president I worked for, at some point in his presidency, would get so pissed off at the Israelis that he couldn't speak. It didn’t matter whether it was Jimmy Carter, or Gerry For or Ronald Reagan, or George Bush. Something would happen and they would just absolutely go screw themselves right into the ceiling they were so angry and they'd sort of rant and rave around the Oval Office. I think it was their frustration about knowing that there was so little they could do about it because of domestic politics.

Rula if that's the case, why can't American leaders be more honest?

RULA JEBREAL: Well, because of APAC and because of the money behind it and because of Sheldon Adelson and because of all of us in the media. We are ridiculous. We are disgustingly biased when it comes to this issue. Look at how many air time Netanyahu and his folks have on air on a daily basis. Andrea Mitchell and others. I never see one Palestinian being interviewed on these same issues.

FARROW: Well, I’ll push back on that one. We've had Palestinians voices on our --

JEBREAL: Maybe 30 seconds and then you have 25 minutes for Bibi Netanyahu and a half hour Naftali Bennett and many others. Listen, the Ayman Mohyeldin story. Let's talk about this. We are home and we can discuss this. Ayman Mohyeldin is covering the Palestinian side and we get upset. It's too pro-Palestinian. We don't like it. We push him back and thanks for social media, that brought him in. Let's talk about the --

FARROW: Point taken but doesn't it reveal equally our thinking that we now have Ayman Mohyeldin on air and I think there's been very fair and balanced coverage.

JEBREAL: Yes, thanks to social media and thanks for the push back from the public opinion. And I'm not saying that everybody is like this, but it's one-tenth is given to the Palestinian voice and 99 percent to the Israelis voice. That's why the public is pro-Israeli which is the opposite in the rest of the world.

FARROW: And Eli, do you think that’s the case? Do you think American media is skewed in favor of Israeli coverage?

ELI LAKE: I mean, I'd say it's -- I am kind of baffled honestly by what Rula was just saying there. Israel has experienced terrible press when you have these pictures of dead Gazans and you see these casualties. I think the media has been covering that for what it is. Which is a terrible human tragedy. And the response from often Israeli officials in U.S. and in Western media in general has often been very defensive. And, you know, the notion that APAC is a very powerful lobby on Capitol Hill, I think that Israel has a lot of support because there's a kind of cultural affinity between Americans and Israelis. And they see them as less foreign in a lot of ways than they do with Palestinians. But that's a much deeper question. I don't think it can be explained by lobbyists or the political process. I would say that --

JEBREAL: But it's the only point view of expressed. Eli, let's be honest. It's the only point of view that's been expressed.

LAKE: It’s not the only point of view. You are expressing your point of view right now on television.

FARROW: You are on air right now-- Look, it is a challenge. It’s certainly a huge megaphone on the other side of this, and I see the frustration. Rula, if it is the case there's this skewed coverage, at what point do you think Israel, in this conflict, loses that support? What's the red line?

JEBREAL: Unfortunately, listen. Look at every conflict. What is our strategy, Israel's strategy and American strategy in Gaza. To topple Hamas? No, it's not to topple Hamas but to keep the political siege in Hamas. And in that economic and political siege, who is winning is Hamas today. And will be winning because what will happen is what will happen in 2012 and 2006 until something horrific happens. In front of a camera that the world will stand up and say, okay, stop. And it will be when the music will end. But we'll be cyclical violence because the answer to this conflict is a political answer.

FARROW: If there’s one thing that can't be argued it’s that we've been here over and over again and that is a devastating fact for all of us. Eli, Rula stay around--

JEBREAL: Because of the failure of politics.

FARROW: Well, it’s a failure of politics, failure of media and it’s a failure on the ground. I think it's a failure for the world.

Laura Flint
Laura Flint is a 2014 summer intern for the MRC's News Analysis Division.