Unsurprisingly, the liberal media rushed Tuesday to accept the claims of the Palestinian Health Ministry that Israel had fired a missile at a Gaza hospital that Palestinians insisted had killed hundreds. Of course, that wasn’t true as Israeli and U.S. intelligence and amateur video showed it was a misfired Palestinian Islamic Jihad or Hamas rocket.
The cast of characters read like a who’s who in the liberal media and in desperate need of a Media Reality Check.
CBS News sent out a piece of Hamas propaganda disguised as a breaking news alert from their app: “Breaking News; Gaza officials say hundreds of people were killed when an Israeli airstrike hit a hospital in Gaza City.”
Spoiler alert: Gaza officials should be used interchangeably with Hamas.
Our friend Bonchie at RedState flagged an initial tweet from ABC: “BREAKING: At least 500 people have been killed in a strike that targeted Al Ahli Arab Hospital in the middle of Gaza, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The hospital served as a shelter for thousands of residents who fled their homes in northern Gaza.”
The X account Honest Reporting had screenshots of initial reporting from a few outlets. For CNN, the headline on their app read: “Palestinian health ministry says 200 to 300 people may have been killed in Israeli strike on hospital in Gaza.”
Former NewsBusters intern Greg Price had a CNN tweet that read exactly the same way.
The IDF had a massive collage, including one from CNN.com’s homepage: “Hundreds killed in Israeli strike on Gaza hospital, Palestinian officials say.”
Jordan Schatchel flagged another CNN.com story with changing headlines. The initial claim sided with terrorists with a time stamp of 3:32 p.m. Eastern: “Israel accused of blasting hospital and school in Gaza as blockade cripples healthcare system.”
Less than an hour later, the same story had a new headline that backpedaled on blame, but still smeared Israel: “Hundreds likely dead in Gaza hospital blast, as Israeli blockade cripples medical response.”
CNN on the TV side wasn’t any more cautious. Our Nick Fondacaro spotlighted The Lead host Jake Tapper as having argued in those initial moments after the explosion that there was “no reason to doubt” the chain of events.
.@IDF's @JConricus to @NewsCentralCNN on Gaza hospital explosion: "[A]nything said by Hamas should be taken with extreme caution and skepticism, and I urge all journalists to be very careful when they report what Hamas says and when they base reporting on those events. What I can… pic.twitter.com/ObTBcFaWeo— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) October 17, 2023
How about MSNBC? They too went right along with the Palestinian Health Ministry (aka Hamas):
MSNBC, like CNN, taking the claims from Hamas and the Palestinian Health Authority without a shred of skepticism that Israel purposefully targeted a hospital for an airstrike.— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) October 17, 2023
The liberal media doesn't believe Israel should be able to defend itself or avenge Hamas's slaughter. pic.twitter.com/TLFQXGuiPJ
The Associated Press, which at one time literally shacked up with Hamas, sided with their terrorist pals in an X post time-stamped to 1:43 p.m. Eastern: “Breaking: The Gaza Health Ministry says at least 500 people killed in an explosion at a hospital that it says was caused by an Israeli airstrike.”
Another wire service in Bloomberg had this tweet (h/t: 2022 MRC Bulldog Award winner Drew Holden of the Free Beacon): “Hundreds of Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike that hit a Gaza City hospital, according to officials in the territory, in what would make it the deadliest bombing since Oct. 7.”
Agence-France Presse (AFP), a major, global news service, had this initial tweet: “#BREAKING At least 200 killed in Israeli strike on Gaza hospital complex: Hamas ministry”.
They doubled down 34 minutes later: “#UPDATE: At least 200 people were killed by Israeli air strikes at the Ahli Arab hospital in central Gaza, the Hamas-controlled health ministry said. The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the incident when contacted by AFP.”
Honest Reporting also noticed how The Washington Post remained esoteric on its site: “Hundreds feared killed in strike on Gaza hospital, Palestinian authorities say.”
How about The New York Times? IDF and Honest Reporting noticed this one: “Israeli Strike Kills Hundreds in Hospital, Palestinians Say.”
“The @nytimes also didn't get the facts from reliable sources. Newsflash: Hamas lies,” Honest Reporting said.
A Times X post sang the same tune: “Breaking News: An Israeli airstrike hit a Gaza hospital on Tuesday, killing at least 200 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, which said the number of casualties was expected to rise.”
Notice how, with all of these, they didn’t lead with who made the (false) claim against Israel, but rather the lie itself so as to create further division and hate against Jews.
IDF’s collage had more examples from the websites of major, western news organizations:
- Associated Press: “Hamas says Israeli airstrike on Gaza hospital kills hundreds as Biden heads to Mideast”
- BBC World News: “Hundreds of people have been killed in an Israel strike on a hospital in Gaza, according to Palestinian officials”
- Los Angles Times: “At least 500 killed in Israeli airstrike on Gaza City hospital, Gaza Health Ministry says”
- Reuters: “Hundreds killed in Israeli air strike on Gaza hospital - health authorities”
- Wall Street Journal: “Israeli Aistrike on Gaza Hospital Kills More Than 500, Palestinian Officials Says”
In reaction to the Journal headline on their app, Honest Reporting tweeted this question: “Do @WSJ just take Hamas's statements as fact?”
And, on the BBC, National Review senior writer Noah Rothman called attention to a BBC News segment in which an anchor argued “[i]t is hard to see” how it was anything “other than an Israeli airstrike or several airstrikes” “given the size of the explosion”.
So-called disinformation reporter Ben Collins of NBC News shared a Sky News headline in agony, as if to agree with its premise that Israel was to blame: “Breaking: Israel-Hamas war: At least 500 people killed in hospital bombing in Gaza, Palestinian officials claim”.
This wasn’t particularly surprising for Sky News left former Prime Minister and IDF soldier Naftali Bennett apoplectic over the anchor’s repeated sympathies for Hamas and its Gaza supporters.
Rothman lambasted these acts of media malpractice: “The mainstream-media outlets that raced to affirm Hamas’s version of events in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday afternoon now appear to be complicit in an unmitigated debacle.”
“The allegation alone shook the world,” Rothman added, noting it’s had violent consequences: “European and Middle Eastern streets erupted with anti-Israel demonstrations. Diplomatic facilities belonging to Israel and the United States alike were besieged by sometimes violent demonstrators.”
He continued (click “expand”):
This episode represents a black mark upon the media outlets that bent over backward to fill in the obvious gaps in Hamas’s narrative with conjecture presented as absolute fact.
This was no harmless mistake. It was not an accident. This calumny wasn’t attributable to the fog of war or a misstep by the citizen journalists on social media whom professional reporters look upon with contempt. Had the press responded to Hamas’s claims with some incredulity, cautioned patience, and waited mere hours to confirm events as they occurred, this could have been avoided. But every basic journalistic best practice was thrown out the window in pursuit of nothing more than a sordid little narrative.
This was a deliberate effort by members of the press — the commanding heights of international journalism — to establish the moral equivalency between Israel and Hamas they appear to need. The psychology that produces acts of unscrupulous malpractice like these is for others to judge. What can be said without hesitation is that it won’t be the first of its kind.