USA Today’s By the Book Report on U.S. Congressional Trip to Israel

“Good writing,” Ernest Hemingway observed, “is true writing.” Yet, when it comes to reporting on Israel, many journalists are unable—or unwilling—to provide dispatches that are honest, accurate or fair. However, a recent USA Today article is a notable exception.

The newspaper’s May 2, 2023 dispatch, “McCarthy in Israel to Open ‘New Chapter,’” succeeded where many other news reports have failed. Reporter Rachel Looker highlighted a recent trip by U.S. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to Israel. The dispatch, which appeared both online and in the print edition, was part of the paper’s coverage of the 75th anniversary of the Jewish state’s recreation.

McCarthy, USA Today noted, “led a bipartisan congressional delegation to the country” and said that a “newly formed friendship group will allow the House to engage more directly with the Israeli Parliament, travel to Israel to strengthen existing relationships and host Knesset members traveling to the United States.” The congressional delegation included 20 lawmakers.

The trip to Israel was McCarthy’s first foreign trip as House speaker.

USA Today carefully detailed McCarthy’s comments to the Knesset and refrained from editorializing—a welcome reprieve from many reports on the Jewish state, including recent dispatches on the congressional trip.

The Speaker told Israel’s parliament that the two countries have a “special relationship [that] can serve as a foundation for greater peace across the Middle East.” Referencing the landmark Abraham Accords, McCarthy said that “progress towards peace in the past few years have simply been remarkable.” He added: “Congress stands ready to work with Israel to broaden and deepen those accords, working for sustainable peace with all of Israel’s neighbors.”

Importantly, McCarthy also warned about the threat posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism. “Most of the turmoil in this region, the violence and instability, can be traced back to that source,” the Speaker told the Knesset.

McCarthy pledged that the U.S. would continue its security assistance to Israel and will work to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The Speaker also favorably cited the Jewish state’s booming tech sector and its “thriving democracy.”

USA Today’s report on the bipartisan congressional delegation is noteworthy. In only 549-words the newspaper said everything that needed to be said—and not a word more. There wasn’t a single sentence of editorializing; no drifting into commentary or opinion journalism. Rather, the dispatch aimed to inform; to simply provide readers with information about a recent event. This used to be the norm in Western journalism but is now the exception to the rule. USA Today should be commended for showing that good, old-fashioned journalism is still possible in an age where trust in the media is at an all-time low.

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