Fox News reporter Conor Powell demonstrates a pattern of bias and editorializing in his coverage of events in Israel. His intermingling of opinion with reporting is a disservice to the Fox News audience and tarnishes the reputation of the news network promising fair and balancedtreatment of Israel and the conflict with the Palestinians.
On Feb. 3, 2016, Powell reported on the lethal attack by three Palestinian terrorists on two Israeli policewomen. Powell stated:
…Now, these attacks have been seen as lone wolf attacks. They are not driven by a militant group but by the frustration of individual Palestinians. They say this frustration stems from the lack of prospects for an independent Palestinian state and the growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. It fuels this wave of violence…
Powell is offering conjecture, not fact. And his conjecture is inconsistent with what is known about the events and incitement to violence by Palestinian officials that led to the recent wave of attacks and what Fox News has previously reported.
- Powell fails to uphold appropriate journalistic standards of reporting. He doesn’t know what motivated these attackers, nor does the evidence support the allegation that the attacks are fueled by the “growth of Israeli settlements” or the “lack of prospects for a Palestinian state.”The increase in the number of Israelis living in “settlements” in the West Bank has actually slowed under Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. There are not new settlements. Any population growth that has occurred is within pre-existing communities. The lack of an independent state is a longstanding issue that does not explain periodic spikes in violence.
- Powell does not even clarify who “they”are whose opinion he purports to convey and offers no evidence that these opinions are credible.
- In fact, the outbreak in attacks began in mid-September 2015. The violence was immediately preceded by incendiary rhetoric by the highest officials in the Palestinian Authority. These officials, especially Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, explicitly accused Israel of attempting to change the status of the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem and called on Palestinians to rise up and shed blood in defense of the holy sites. The accusation that Israel was altering the status of the holy sites was false and was clearly implicated in the current wave of violence.
Powell has consistently promoted the Palestinian narrative that the attacks are a response to Israeli settlement activity and a failure to make progress on Palestinian independence. CAMERA published a detailed report on October 13, 2015 analyzing Powell’s reporting. Powell blamed Israeli settlement activity and took the Palestinian side on the controversy over the Temple Mount. Powell also obscured facts about the violent incidents, for example, failing to establish that the Palestinians killed were overwhelmingly assailants.
In his earlier October 12, 2015 on-air report, Powell essentially repeated the Palestinian talking points. Nevertheless, his comments at that time demonstrated his awareness that the Temple Mount/Al Aqsa mosque controversy was the immediate event precipitating the violence. So he cannot claim ignorance in his recent reporting that omits the exhortations to violence by Palestinian leaders over false allegations about Israeli infringement of the Temple Mount.
Powell’s skewed reporting on the violence in Israel and the West Bank is habitual. As CAMERA documented in November 2014, Powell placed equal blame on Israelis and Palestinians during another brief wave of lethal Palestinian attacks on Israelis. He described the unprovoked attacks on Israeli civilians as “tit-for-tat.”
When will Fox recognize that Powell is unable to restrain himself from injecting his personal biases into his reporting? Powell is spreading his misinformation to the Fox News audience and undermining the reputation Fox News has sought to establish as a reliable and fair source of news on the Middle East.