Chris Hayes Gives Rula Jebreal Platform To Spew False Talking Points On Pro-Israel Bias

Rather than dismissing Rula Jebreal’s laughable claim that American media is “disgustingly biased” in favor of Israel, on the July 22 edition of All In, host Chris Hayes was determined to prove to his guest that MSNBC is “doing a good job” being more impartial in the current Gaza conflict.

In Hayes’s eyes, “doing a good job” meant ensuring that “Israelis are losing the media war for the first time.” [See video below. Click here for MP3 audio]

In response to Jebreal’s tweet that her forthcoming TV appearances had been canceled because of her “expose,” the All In host invited the Palestinian journalist onto his Tuesday program to prove just how anti-Israel MSNBC had become. In doing so, he gave the aggressive journalist a platform to spew patently false talking points.

Hayes argued that “the image that most Americans are seeing from this conflict, by in large, are images of the destruction in Gaza,” and that “the media more generally, and now I'm talking about The New York Times and other places, have been doing a much better job in this conflict.” By “much better,” NewsBusters can only assume he means more time for pro-Hamas talking points, since The New York Times has displayed nothing but anti-Israeli bias since the conflict’s beginning.

For her part, Jebreal quickly launched into a tirade that the media has allowed American public opinion to become “99 percent pro-Israeli.” She cited impressive statistics, that during the 2012 conflict, “you had on one network, CNN, you had 45 Israeli officials versus 11" and that “between June 30 and July 10” of this year, CNN had “17 Israeli public officials versus 1.” She wound up the heated interview boasting CNN’s latest poll that “90 percent” of Americans  “love Israel” as pointed evidence of media corruption.

Apparently Jebreal’s belief in “the responsibility towards my audience,” media “ethics,” and her “love for unbiased journalists” did not prevent her from citing false statistics.The first study the  MSNBC commentator cited actually counted 45 Israeli officials and 20 Palestinian officials on CNN during the November 2012 conflict, not 11. She also forgot to mention the four Palestinian “lay persons” and eight unaffiliated “lay persons” that were featured in the weeks of CNN coverage in question.

The claim that “99 percent” of Americans are pro-Israel is completely ridiculous on its own, and it is a pity Chris Hayes does not believe it is his duty to correct his guests when they make statements that are clearly false. The day before, CNN’s Anderson Cooper’s stated that the “latest CNN/ORC poll of Americans shows 57 percent of those polls say Israel’s action in Gaza is justified,” while Cooper’s colleague Erin Burnett reported “fewer Americans are behind Israel than even just a few months ago” with a favorability rating of 60 percent. It is unclear what “CNN poll” Jebreal was referencing.

Maybe Chris Hayes should focus less on promoting his network’s aggressive anti-Israel agenda and more on holding his guests accountable.
 
See full transcript below:

MSNBC
All In With Chris Hayes
July 22, 2014
8:32 p.m. Eastern
6 minutes and 48 seconds


CHRIS HAYES: Alright, that happened. That exchange played yesterday on our air in this building. Rula Jebreal, who had that criticism about this networks coverage of the conflict in Gaza later tweeted this quote, "my forthcoming TV appearances have been canceled! Is there a link between my expose and the cancellation?" Let me take you behind the curtain of cable new business for a moment. If you appear on a cable news network, you trash that network and one of its hosts by name on any issue: Gaza, infrastructure, spending, sports coverage, or funny internet cat videos, the folks at the network won't take kindly to it. Not some grand conspiracy at work, fairly predictable case of cause and effect. But I know Rula Jebreal, I like Rula Jebreal. We've had conversations on this topic and others. I know the issue of how the fight in Gaza is covered in the media is an important one. And I actually think we're doing a good job. I wanted to invite Rula Jebreal to join me here tonight to hash it out. Rula, I’m glad you’re here.

RULA JEBREAL: Thank you, Chris for having me.

HAYES: So first, let me say this. Andrea Mitchell specifically, I think she is an exemplary journalist in my opinion. I think her work speaks for herself. I don't want to litigate her specifically. I do think the point you're making broadly about a imbalance in the representation of Palestinians and Israelis, or Arabs and Jews, around the conflict has largely been true broadly in the media, right? So I agree with you on that. That has been the case. I think our network, this time around, and I think the media more generally, and now I'm talking about The New York Times and other places, have been doing a much better job in this conflict. I think the image that most Americans are seeing from this conflict, by in large, are images of the destruction in Gaza. I think that's been the defining feature of this, and in fact, there's all these people talk about how the Israelis are losing the media war for the first time.

JEBREAL: Listen, if that's true, then you have to explain to me why the public opinion is 99 percent pro-Israelis. If that’s true, why the scholars, the most respected American scholars who you invited, yourself, refers to study that explained that, in 2011, actually ‘12 --

HAYES: The last time we had the Gaza conflict.

JEBREAL: You had on one network, CNN, you had 45 Israeli officials versus 11. This time around you have between June 30th and July 10th, you have 17 Israeli public officials versus 1. Let me also finish.

HAYES: Yeah.

JEBREAL: What I was talking about yesterday, and my frustration come from my love for journalism and media and love for unbiased journalists. I think we are really creating a disservice to our public opinion in the American audience. Let me just explain why. Not only because we're giving more air time to the Israelis, but actually we are not covering the content in which -- and the context in which the conflict is taking place. Most Americans think, okay, Israelis are minding their own business and Palestians woke up one day in Gaza and decide, okay, let me fire missiles. This is not what's happening. They don't know anything about the siege, the 1.8 million Palestinian leaving under siege in extreme poverty with 90 percent with untapped access even to water, even the military operation in the West Bank. They don't understand and they don't even know what's going on.

HAYES: Okay, let me say two things.

JEBREAL: Please.

HAYES: One, in terms of the imbalance of officials, is a product of a lot of things. One of them is, we set out last week, I said I want to talk to the Israeli officials and I want to talk to the Hamas officials. It is, it turns out, it's extremely difficult to get a Hamas officials to come on your TV show.

JEBREAL: Palestinians are not only Hamas.

HAYES: No, but in this case!

JEBREAL: This is part of the problem--

HAYES: Of course, but in this case, in this case, those are the two entities that are fighting right now, right? I mean, those are the two people, the two groups that are fighting each other are the IDF and Hamas.

JEBREAL: Let me continue that second piece of my thought.

HAYES: Okay.

JEBREAL: Us by forming the public opinion in that direction, what we are suggesting to the audience that Hamas is the only existing entity, it's fighting with Israel, ignoring, of course, the moderates and not understanding that by backing these kind of policies -- listen, public opinion, of course, will be translated in eventual policies and support, and certain policies from our politicians, whereas shrinking Hamas and undermining more and more the moderates. We're actually supporting the Israeli policies that are being destructive and will not guarantee securities and undermining American interest in the war and in the region. This is simple facts.

HAYES Let me agree with you on one place of agreement. The way the crisis is covered, if there is violence we cover it, if there's no violence, we don't cover it. And I think that creates an imbalance that puts us in a situation in which the forces that are pursuing violence, end up being the most empowered. Because if you sit quietly and negotiate like Mahmoud Abbas has been doing in the West Bank, the Palestinian authority, no one covers it. So, I, that is a structural problem.

JEBREAL: Can you please dispute that some networks -- I think MSNBC has been doing better job than others, but some networks, you have 25 minutes of Bibi Netanyahu all Sunday shows and all Monday shows and others --

HAYES: But, that's true for so many other issues!

JEBREAL: On the Palestinian sides -- but then when it translates to failed policies, you have to question our responsibility in the media. You can't say that our responsibility in the media is to promote these kind of views and that are translated into backing Israel unconditionally.

HAYES: But if you, look --

JEBREAL: And supporting it at all the level. Policies are failing on the ground.

HAYES: Let me say one more thing. I agree the policies are failing--

JEBREAL: We are insecure. We're less secure as Americans because of these failed policies.

HAYES: I agree, I agree. But air time always strikes me as a bad metric, right? Let me say this final point. There are interviews and there are interviews. I had Mark Regev on this program for 16 minutes, alright? That's a very long interview. There's a lot to talk about. And you know what, if I could get a Hamas representative--

JEBREAL: You're really with all honesty are telling me that the Palestinians are interviewed in the same way--

HAYES: No, they are not. They are not. I don’t think the numbers bear that out--

JEBREAL: The conflict is represented the same way? I'm not talking as a Palestinian, I'm talking about somebody that works in the media that feel the responsibility towards my audience, and feel that, you know what, we have ethics. I came to journalism after living under occupation, coming here, believing one thing. America is about two, three things. One of them is about freedom of speech. So when I come back from Europe after being there and look at the media here, I am stunned and I am actually concerned that our interest in the world, our stand in the world, is being undermined because of our--

HAYES: Let me just say this. I think this coverage of this conflict, I think this conflict, and I think if you look at American opinion about how they feel about this conflict, has been different than the last two--

JEBREAL: Yesterday CNN said, most Americans, 90 percent love Israel and hate Ukraine. Sorry, Russia.  

HAYES: Right, but this conflict I think you will see it borne out in the public opinion.

JEBREAL: We will see that. Thank you.

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