MSNBC's insipid slogan -- "Lean Forward." MSNBC strategy when reporting on hostilities in the Middle East -- "Lean Toward Blaming Israel."
The network's Rachel Maddow provided an example of this on her show Friday while describing the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas (video and audio clips after page break) --
MADDOW (after referring to President Obama's visit to Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar): And of course the whole trip to Asia comes in the midst of a very scary flareup between Israel and Gaza. Now, we do not know exactly what started this most recent round of fighting, but we do know that an Israeli air strike killed the top commander of Hamas in Gaza on Wednesday. And we know then that that was followed by rocket attacks aimed at southern Israel and then Tel Aviv and then today, Jerusalem. Israel has been pounding Gaza with air strikes. The attacks appeared today to be rapidly escalating, including signs that Israel is preparing for a ground incursion into Gaza. The New York Times tonight citing reports of Israeli tanks massing on the border with Gaza.
Gee, if only Israel hadn't inexplicably killed that poor misunderstood Hamas commander. Conspicuously absent from Maddow's narrative is any mention of Israel's rationale for the attack -- Hamas targeting Israel with hundreds of rocket attacks from Gaza, as they've been doing every year for the last decade. Indiscriminate savagery that does not distinguish between military and civilian targets, in marked contrast to Israel's response, which was to kill one of Hamas's leading terrorists.
Maddow rearranges the chronology more to her liking, claiming that Israel killed Hamas's top commander, "followed" by Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, instead of the actual sequence which was the other way around.
Seeing how this elephant-in-the-room omission about Hamas bellicosity isn't a problem for Maddow, it is too much to expect she'll ever mention another inconvenient fact -- Hamas targeting Israeli civilians with rockets from the same territory Israel reliquished to Palestinian control in 2005. Land for peace, indeed.
Maddow's remarks reminded me of a previous example of her bias against Israel, in December 2008 during an earlier flareup with Hamas -- and for the same reason. Here's what Maddow said (audio) --
But while we're on the wild wide world of scary tour, of course, Israel has started another war. A third straight day of airstrikes on Gaza, the death toll now more than 300 people. Israel says that they are doing this to prevent Palestinians from firing rockets into southern Israel. First of all, there's the question of proportionality as to how many people those rockets have killed versus how many people the Israeli bombing has now killed. There's also the issue of effectiveness. In the midst of this massive air assault killing hundreds of civilians in Gaza, a rocket fired from Gaza today killed a man and wounded seven in the Israeli town of Ashkelon. Effectiveness. Three Israelis were also stabbed by a Palestinian in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank today. Is there a military solution to this problem?
Notice how Maddow did mention the context -- Israel launching air strikes in Gaza in response to rockets being fired at Israelis. This was back when Maddow was on the fringe-left, now-defunct Air America Radio. In other words, she was more balanced in her coverage then, at least when it came to Israel and Hamas, than she is now with a much larger audience on MCNBC.
True to form, however, Maddow grossly exaggerated the number of civilian casualties from Israeli air strikes, as I described at the time.