The media haven’t learned anything from last week’s Gaza hospital blast debacle. Despite repeated embarrassments, reporters for liberal cable and broadcast networks are still treating Hamas — a terrorist organization — as a reliable source in their ongoing coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On October 17, reports emerged that an explosion had occurred at a hospital in Gaza. Within minutes, TV journalists were parroting a Hamas lie that the blast had been the result of an Israeli airstrike, which had killed more than 400 people. None of these reporters at the time wondered how the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Health Ministry had managed to tally the casualties so impossibly quickly.
IDF officials quickly denied responsibility, instead blaming the destruction on a misfired Hamas rocket. While a U.S. assessment would later corroborate this version of events, reporters were skeptical, instead choosing to trust Hamas’s version of events.
On MSNBC’s Deadline: White House, NBC News foreign correspondent Raf Sanchez pontificated:
This kind of death toll is not what you normally associate with Palestinian rockets. These rockets are dangerous, they are deadly, [but] they do not tend to kill hundreds of people in a single strike in the way that Israel high explosives — especially these bunker buster bombs that are used to to target these Hamas tunnels under Gaza city — do have the potential to kill hundreds of people.
And we should say, finally, that there are instances in the past where the Israeli military has said things in the immediate aftermath of an incident, that have turned out not be true in the long run.
According to Sanchez’s tortured reasoning, Hamas could not have been responsible for the explosion, because the Hamas-sourced death toll was too high. Rather than questioning Hamas’s casualty tally, he instead viewed this as proof that Israel was to blame.
MSNBC’s Joy Reid was thrilled with this explanation; she played a clip of that reporting from Sanchez on her show, adding: “Raf Sanchez was on earlier, our correspondent, who was saying that Hamas does not have the kind of munitions that could do this kind of damage.”
When the dust settled and it turned out that the blast hadn’t even occurred where Hamas had claimed (most of the damage was instead confined to a parking lot), many hoped that American journalists might learn something from their colossal misstep.
But they didn’t. Even now journalists on CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, and of course MSNBC continue to recite casualty tolls sourced exclusively from Hamas. Just yesterday, the Associated Press cited the Gaza Health Ministry in claiming that the Palestinian death toll had surpassed 8,000.
These reporters aren't stupid; they know who Hamas is. Apparently they just don't care that they're citing a terror group with a storied history of inflating death tolls, by several orders of magnitude, in order to garner public support.