Joy Reid’s Incendiary Charge Against Israel

On July 13, during a segment featuring Peter Beinart on The ReidOut, host Joy Reid asserted, “So you have the Israel piece, where you have Shireen Abu Akleh who was murdered…”

The use of the term “murdered” inappropriately and inaccurately presented her personal opinion, or perhaps speculation, as a statement of fact.

While it is not disputed that Akleh was killed during an Israeli operation in the town of Jenin, during which gun battles erupted between Israeli and Palestinian forces, there is no definitive evidence of who shot Akleh.

Much of the evidence regarding the source of the bullet that killed Akleh remains unclear and contradictory. Indeed, the Palestinian Authority’s investigation claimed the bullet came from a type of rifle the Israeli Defense Forces do not even use

Even less clear is the suggestion that it was “murder.”

As even the New York Times acknowledged, it “found no evidence that the person who fired recognized Ms. Abu Akleh and targeted her personally” and “was unable to determine whether the shooter saw that she and her colleagues were wearing protective vests emblazoned with the word Press.”

That the death occurred during a situation of ongoing armed engagements between the Israeli Defense Forces and Palestinian terrorist groups, including the inevitable “fog of war” that occurs in such contexts, raises additional questions that must be considered before an allegation of “murder” can be reasonably made, even if the bullet is ultimately tied to an Israeli soldier or Palestinian gunman.

With the number of open questions and contradictory claims, it is inaccurate, unprofessional, and highly inappropriate at this stage to conclusively accuse Israel of “murder” absent additional evidence.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time an MSNBC host has been sloppy with the story of Shireen Abu Akleh’s death.

Last month, host Ayman Mohyeldin uncritically parroted unnamed “experts who spoke to Al Jazeera,” telling his audience that “[t]he bullet [that killed Akleh] is the same caliber used by Israeli forces,” and that “it came from an M4 rifle.” As CAMERA pointed out then, “Palestinian terrorist organizations also possess M4 rifles and use the same caliber bullets.” Mohyeldin was thus creating a “false impression that the evidence points conclusively to the bullet having been fired by Israeli forces.” In fact, even if true, the claim did nothing to add any clarity as to whether Israeli or Palestinian forces fired the bullet.

No correction has been issued by MSNBC for either error.