For journalists of a certain age, the Associated Press was the gold standard for hard, objective news. Facts mattered, opinions didn’t. It influenced the world. Even now, its website brags that “More than half the world’s population sees AP journalism every day.”
If true, that might not be a good thing. After recent revelations about its bias in reporting on Israel’s conflict with Hamas, the AP has again shown itself to be just another left-biased media outlet. When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, AP’s reporting can’t be trusted.
This is a tragedy for journalism. Generations of reporters knew they could cull facts and quotes from AP stories and trust that they were accurate and unbiased.
That’s no longer the case.
“Once considered the epitome of neutrality and fairness,” the American Spectator recently wrote, “the AP has become a woke organization.”
Its reporting simply isn’t reliable. AP’s rage over the Israel Defense Forces’ destruction of its offices in Gaza is a perfect example.
The AP has worked out of the 12-storey al-Jalaa Tower in Gaza for 15 years. But it wasn’t the sole occupant. Along with the rabidly anti-Israel news organization al-Jazeera, Hamas intelligence operatives were also tenants. They used the offices to plan terrorist attacks against Israel.
Not surprisingly, after Hamas unleashed a barrage of thousands of missiles against Israeli civilian targets, the Israeli Defense Forces struck back. After warning the tower owner an hour ahead of time that it planned to attack, the IDF obliterated the building.
AP came under heavy criticism for housing its bureau in the same facility as Hamas. CEO Gary Pruitt was indignant, saying the news organization “had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building.” He went on to assert that “this is something we actively check to the best of our ability. We would never knowingly put our journalists at risk.”
And he added: “This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life.”
These assertions are all false. In fact, AP knew about Hamas’ presence for years. It was warned well ahead of time to leave the building. And the AP often “knowingly” puts journalists at risk around the world. Going into dangerous zones is part of their job.
The British Daily Mail reported that Israel had shown hard evidence for the presence of Hamas in the bulding: “A source close to (Israeli) Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said: ‘We showed them the smoking gun proving Hamas worked out of that building.’ He added Biden had ‘found the explanation satisfactory,’ providing details of the evidence.”
So Pruitt’s defense of AP was disingenuous at best. And to be blunt, the AP has had a pro-terrorist, anti-Israel slant for years. But since those same biases are held by much of the rest of the mainstream big media, it’s gone largely unnoticed and unremarked upon.
But not entirely.
Former AP correspondent Matti Friedman, writing in 2014 for the Atlantic Monthly, described AP’s operations in Gaza this way:
“The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby — and the AP wouldn’t report it, not even in AP articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas. (This happened.) Hamas fighters would burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff — and the AP wouldn’t report it. (This also happened.) Cameramen waiting outside Shifa Hospital in Gaza City would film the arrival of civilian casualties and then, at a signal from an official, turn off their cameras when wounded and dead fighters came in, helping Hamas maintain the illusion that only civilians were dying. (This too happened; the information comes from multiple sources with firsthand knowledge of these incidents.)”
During the 2014 conflict, AP ran a story on deaths in Gaza that claimed 508 of 844 dead Gazans, or more than 60%, were women, children and old men, thus “all presumed to be civilians.”
But that much-discussed piece turned out to be misleading. A 2015 article in the online Observer looked into the AP report and found that reporters would often take death tolls from Gaza’s “Health Ministry,” a propaganda arm of the Hamas terrorist group that rules Gaza, with no skepticism at all.
AP’s devastating report made it look as if Israel wantonly murdered civilians in cold blood.
“The AP had merely regurgitated Hamas claims,” as National Review’s David Harsanyi recently wrote of the Observer’s investigation. “In an effort to portray Israel as ‘wantonly and indiscriminately slaughtering civilians’ — feeding into the prevailing narrative of anti-Semites across the world — the AP failed to properly identify sources and causes of death, it used partial and misleading quotes, and it relied on posed photos and Palestinian disinformation.”
In short, it misinformed and misled the public, knowingly.
This isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last. The Associated Press is yet another major media outlet that has chosen fashionably leftist politics and Woke culture, including a reflexive loathing for the state of Israel, as its journalistic lodestars. The 175-year-old organization became famous for valuing facts over fiction, truth over narrative. No more.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board