The United Nations Secretary-General last March issued a brief statement condemning Palestinian rocket fire as "terrorism" and condemning Israel response as "disproportionate and excessive." Subsequently, in a dramatic violation of journalistic ethics, a number of prominent media organizations relayed only his comments about Israel's response and ignored the portion dealing with Palestinian terrorism. (See CAMERA's full analysis here.)
Several months later, the media had a second chance to get it right. In November, after Palestinians resumed rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip into Israeli towns and Israel shut down its border crossings into Gaza, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon again delivered a statement condemning both rocket attacks and measures that increase hardship for Gaza civilians. But again, several reporters chose to inform readers only about part of Ban's statement.
Associated Press reporter Ben Hubbard, for example, quoted only the portion of the statement expressing concern with measures that may harm Gaza civilians. The Secretary-General's condemnation of rocket attacks was ignored completely an omission all the more glaring because his article, "Rockets from Gaza strike deep into Israel" (11/14), was primarily about Hamas's rocket attacks.
A Nov. 16 news brief in the Los Angeles Times also selectively reported on Ban's statement: "U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel to open the crossings to humanitarian aid. Measures that increase the suffering are unacceptable and should cease immediately,' he said in a statement." Readers have no way of knowing that he condemned the rocket fire.
As noted in CAMERA's previous analysis, "the ethical way to reference the UN chief's condemnation should be obvious." Fortunately, it was indeed obvious to a number of journalists how to fairly report Ban's November statement.
AP reporter Diaa Hadad, writing one day after her colleague Ben Hubbard obscured Ban's criticism of Palestinian rockets, wrote: "U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel to open the crossings to humanitarian aid and condemned the rocket fire on Israel."
A Chicago Tribune news brief, published on the same day as the Los Angeles Times's skewed brief, also relayed Ban's comments on both the rocket fire against Israel and on humanitarian aid into Gaza.
And a headline by China's state-run Xinhua wire service literally says it all: "UN chief calls for end to rocket attacks from Gaza, urgent resumption of aid."
If the Chinese state media can get it right, shouldn't the independent U.S. press do the same?