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Media Critique #23 - Associated Press Mess

Media Critique #23 - Associated Press Mess

Associated Press focuses on the suffering of the bomber and downplays his bestial act.


On June 1, 2001, the Associated Press issued its first report of the heinous suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv disco that killed 20 young Israelis. The AP headline declared:


This one is so hard to believe that you have to read it twice. As initial reports from the scene showed scores of Jewish casualties, AP incredibly downplayed this bestial act as an "explosion," and focused on the suffering -- not of the innocent teens -- but of the evil bomber.

One can only imagine what distortion ran through the mind of the AP editor who wrote this headline -- and then sent it out over the AP wire to 8,500 newspapers around the world.

A few days earlier, the Associated Press pulled another one. May 29 was a difficult day in Israel. Three Israeli civilians were murdered by Palestinian gunmen in two separate attacks on roads near their homes. Elsewhere, two Palestinians attacked an Israeli army post in Gaza. One of the men was a suicide bomber who blew up before he reached his targets. The other was shot and killed as he threw grenades at the Israeli post. A third Palestinian, reportedly a bodyguard for a wanted Palestinian terrorist, was killed near Jericho.

It was also a difficult day for honest reporting, as the AP's Mark Lavie filed this story:

"In violence Tuesday threatening to overshadow attempts to arrange a cease-fire, three Jewish settlers, including an American immigrant, were killed in drive-by shootings and two Palestinians died from Israeli fire. Another Palestinian was killed when he blew himself up at an Israeli checkpoint in the Gaza Strip."

In the interim, a reader complained to Associated Press that the labeling of the Israelis as "settlers" gave legitimacy to their murders, and that the drive-by shooters were never identified as Palestinians.

The next day, Mark Lavie filed a new story, identifying the murderers as Palestinians, and deleting the cynical reference to the murdered Israelis as settlers:

"Two Israeli women killed in a Palestinian drive-by shooting in the West Bank were buried Wednesday."

If you believe the AP reporting represents bias, send your complaints to:


To the Editor:

On June 1, AP's first report of the heinous suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv disco carried the headline: "Explosion Kills Bomber in Tel Aviv."

Initial reports from the scene showed scores of Jewish casualties. So why did AP downplay this bestial act as an "explosion," and focus on the suffering -- not of innocent teens -- but of the evil bomber?

I trust by now you have fired whoever wrote this horrendous headline.


June 4, 2001

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Visitor Comments: 3

(3) Anonymous, June 19, 2001 12:00 AM

In all fairness

I remember that headline from the AP regarding the bombing, but recall also that that was one of the first ones, when details of what happened were not exactly clear. While I deplore the horrible reporting (if you can call it that) by every news organization on the planet for what's happening in Israel, I'm not sure I agree that this was a fair selection to single out. Details were sketchy at the time. Just my 2 cents.

(2) David Frost, June 7, 2001 12:00 AM

What is it with the press?

The Irish Times accompanied an article on Israeli frustration at Sharon's forbearance with a photograph showing an angry Jewish man, and added the caption "A Jewish settler runs aggressively towards a Palestinian woman and child" Of course, the picture didn't show the woman or the child, and the only child mentioned in the article was the five-month old Israeli boy who was injured by Palestinians. You can see this for yourself at the following link:

I have already written to the Irish Times to express my displeasure. I hope others will do the same.

(1) Anonymous, June 6, 2001 12:00 AM

palestinian donates organs

the story of how a palestinian who was shot and his family had all his organs donated to israelis was all over the israeli and international media
i believe there is a twist to the story that changes the beautiful and peaceful intentions of the family. as was reported by "mabat" (israel's channel 1 evening news show), the donor's brother is on a waiting list for a kidney transplant will now be pushed ahead of others on the waiting list because of his family's donation. this was reported as a small "after the fact" notion which i believe changes the whole story.

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