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Fletcher's Failure By: HonestReporting.com
Honestreporting.com | Thursday, August 25, 2005

Regardless of one’s politics or particular perspective on recent events, the Gaza Disengagement is a historic time for Israel. These fateful days are filled with emotion and angst among both supporters and opposition to the Disengagement Plan. Media around the world have focused their pens and lenses on Israel. With all of this attention, one might think that respectable media outlets would be working overtime to get the story right. In this regard, it seems that the team at NBC News has failed.

In “Settlers believe evacuation betrays God’s will”, Martin Fletcher of NBC News describes the Disengagement:

But, the screaming, the shooting, and cursing, that’s from everyone. All the settlers have been screaming and shooting at the army...

In fact, the Disengagement was remarkable in that neither side – the evacuees nor the soldiers – bore weapons. And certainly no evacuees fired guns.

Perhaps this NBC report was a typo: In an updated online version of this article, one (but not the other) of the references to “shooting” was changed to “shouting”. But why such sloppy editing in the first version? And why only a partial correction in the second version?

Further into Fletcher?s report:

These youngsters who are living by themselves in these small settlements – playing the guitar, singing songs, half of them are probably smoking dope, praying, and they are violent.

“Dope”? “Half of them”? Fletcher brings no evidence for this characterization. If a similar baseless charge were leveled against another group, would it be stood for?

Fletcher appears absent from reality in describing Palestinian activity during this period:

How have the Palestinians helped ease the process?
So far they have helped... The fact that the Palestinian leadership promised calm, and so far has been the case, that is a major contribution by Palestinians to the smooth function of this process which so far has been very smooth indeed.

What about the multiple sets of mortars fired by the Palestinians at Gaza evacuation sites (on Monday and Thursday), or the Palestinian shooting of an Israeli soldier? Or the attempted suicide bombing by Islamic Jihad of Israelis in Gaza? This is all in addition to the rhetoric of those like Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal who stated that the disengagement is ”the beginning of the end for Israel.”

At this very sensitive time, journalists have a duty to be extra-cautious in presenting this story in a fair and accurate manner. In this instance, Martin Fletcher and NBC News have failed.

Comments can be sent to letters@msnbc.com

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.

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