"Nightline and ABC News devote a significant amount of time to both Israeli and Palestinian issues and we consider our record even on the whole," wrote Kerry Smith Marash, ABC's VP for editorial quality, in her Nov. 13 letter to CAMERA. If the Dec. 2 "Nightline" focusing on "Israeli issues"–the 27 pilots objecting to Israel's targeted killings followed by a piece on the "demographic bomb"–was meant to balance the tendentious Oct. 9 broadcast featuring the suicide bomber as victim and criticizing Israel's security barrier, then it was a dismal failure.
Journalists covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are often accused of drawing a false moral equivalence between Palestinian terrorist attacks and Israeli military anti-terrorist actions – what they frequently refer to as “the cycle of violence” or “tit-for-tat violence.” ABC Nightline’s Ted Koppel tried to deflect such criticism in advance by introducing an August 21, 2003 segment by Mike Lee about Israeli and Palestinian mothers who lost children.
ABC has once again stonewalled, refusing to correct a clear cut factual error from its June 11 "Nightline" report with Jim Wooten about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which lacked any semblance of objectivity and impartiality. The theme of Wooten's one-sided broadcast is that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is solely responsible for the ongoing violence, and that Palestinian President Yasir Arafat is a hapless victim bullied by Palestinian "militants."
In their evening broadcasts of June 22, ABC and NBC reported as fact that Israel killed three Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, despite the fact that the circumstances surrounding their deaths were disputed.
On April 24, ABC's Peter Jennings incorrectly reported the location of a Palestinian suicide bombing:
A respectful dissent, please, from Gary Rosenblatt’s column, “Don’t Just Blame the Media,” (Nov. 8). Rosenblatt asserts that “for the most part, mainstream American coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been fair.”
Terrorist savagery against Israeli civilians, often in the form of suicidal, bomb-strapped Palestinians, has yet to elicit from most journalists and major media anything close to honest coverage of the true causes of the onslaught. Instead, vacuous explanations, ones that essentially repeat Arab arguments, prevail.
The saga of another Jennings error in reporting on Israel, followed by the network's outlandish rationalizations and its eventual, slippery correction, captures exactly the ethos of a media outlet that barely pretends to disguise its advocacy of the Palestinian cause.