Headlines Miss Again

CAMERA mourns the loss of life in Baghdad and Jerusalem, as once again terrorists target the innocent. The bombing of the U.N. facility has rightly been given major media prominence, as has its human and political dimension. Headlines have focused on the immensity of the blast that tore down a whole section of a building, and, lacking a known perpetrator, have omitted specific information about the killer(s).

Headlines for the Jerusalem attack have also nearly always omitted the identity of the perpetrator — yet there is no uncertainty that Palestinians committed the act. 

As CAMERA has previously documented, a striking discrepancy is often apparent  in the way newspaper headlines characterize Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians versus Israeli military attacks against Palestinians involved in terrorism. In the case of Israel taking action, that nation is almost invariably identified in the headline.

Headlines also typically ignored the fact that many victims of the attack were children and emphasized the political ramifications of the attack.

The fact that some publications do present the essentials of stories in their headlines directly, without obscuring who did what to whom, makes clear others could do the same.  

Most headlines excluded reference to Palestinian perpetrator:

New York Times: “Bombing Kills 18 and Hurts Scores on Jerusalem Bus”

Chicago Tribune:  “Blasts rock Iraq, Israel; Bus bomb in Jerusalem kills 18, threatens peace process; Ultra-Orthodox Jews targeted”

AP:   “Suicide bomber blows himself up on Jerusalem bus, at least 18 dead”

Washington Post: “In Jerusalem, A Scene ‘Like a Horror Movie’ ”

Newsday: “Suicide blast kills 18; Jerusalem bus filled with worshipers, 100 others injured”

Two headlines identified the perpetrator as Palestinian:

A Reuters story:  “Palestinian Suicide Bombing Kills 20 in Israeli Bus” (An earlier headline, however, was “Blast Wrecks Jerusalem Bus, at Least Six Hurt”)

Orlando Sentinel: “Palestinian kills 18, puts peace plan in jeopardy; it was one of the deadliest Palestinian operations in the last three years”  

A few headlines noted families and children among the victims:

Boston Globe: “Bomber Hits Bus Carrying Israeli Familes 18 Die, 100 Wounded; Children Among Victims”

The Gazette (Montreal): “Israeli bus blast leaves 18 dead: Five children killed, 40 injured. Deadliest attack in seven months calls peace plan into serious question”

*** Compare the general lack of focus on Israeli children killed in the Jerusalem attack to headlines for a story weeks earllier when an Israeli soldier accidentally killed a young boy. Israel was widely named and the boy’s age specified.  Two examples:

Washington Post (July 26): “Israelis Kill 4-Year-Old At West Bank Checkpoint”

New York Times (July 26): “Palestinian Boy, 4, Is Killed at Israeli Checkpoint”

Many headlines emphasized political implications over victims of the bombing:

Atlanta Journal and Constitution: “Day of Terror; Bombings Shatter Peace Efforts in Baghdad and Jerusalem; Deadly Jerusalem blast hurts chances for peace”

Detroit Free Press: “In Israel: 18 dead; Mideast peace plan in danger”

Toronto Star: “Mideast truce rocked by suicide bomb blast”

Philadelphia Inquirer: “Bomb kills 19 in blow to peace”

Wall Street Journal: “Jerusalem Bomb Shreds Road Map; Bus Attack Kills at Least 18, Prompting Israel to Cut Ties With Ties With Palestinian Authority”

Not a Single Headline Used “Terrorist”or “Terror”

This barbaric attack against a bus packed with children and religious worshipers fits any reasonable person’s definition of a terrorist attack.  Why was not one mainstream newspaper willing to label it as such in their headline?