NEW YORK – Several hundred people rallied outside CNN’s Time Warner studios Thursday evening, calling on it and other US news outlets to stop slanting its coverage against Israel.
“We decided it’s time to take a stand against bias in the media,” said Jeremy Dery, one of the rally organizers. “The media has ignored the Israeli side of the conflict. The world believes that Israel targets innocent people.”
Dery, who recently returned from Israel where he worked as a parliamentary assistant in the Knesset, said he and the other organizers chose the Columbus Circle site, the location of the Time Warner Center where CNN is housed, for symbolic reasons.
“I’m here to expose and confront the lies that biased media, like CNN, displays to the world regarding the war between Israel and the Gaza Strip,” Dery said. “Their news anchors have reported deceitful stories that favor the Palestinian side, while ignoring, the Israeli point of view during this whole operation.”
Joe Hyams from Honest Reporting, an advocacy group based in Jerusalem, said he’s tired of the “insidious double standard and media duplicity.”
“I won’t apologize to the international media that we didn’t bleed enough,” Hyams said, referring to Israel’s Iron Dome, which intercepted the nearly 3,000 rockets fired on civilians during the war.
Other speakers included Rabbi Steven Burg of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Helen Freedman, Executive Director Americans for a Safe Israel and Chloé Simon Valdary, a consultant for CAMERA and a pro-Israel activist.
Valdary said she understands Hamas might have threatened, threatened reporters.
“In the name of journalistic integrity journalists have a responsibility to let the audience know what the conditions are from where they are reporting,” Valdary said. “The coverage has gotten worse, especially from The New York Times. There is no context, and they draw a moral equivalency between Hamas and the IDF.”
Valdary, and CAMERA, also questioned the reporting of Palestinian casualty figures. Reports focus on Palestinian civilian casualties but don’t mention Hamas fighters, or that Hamas demanded Gaza citizens lie about casualties, she said.
“We support their right to protest, even though we obviously disagree with their point of view,” said a spokesperson from The New York Times. “The conflict in the Mideast is a sensitive topic with strong feelings on both sides. We recognize that and strive to provide on-the-ground coverage that is factual, fair and comprehensive.”
Stephen Tebid, a retired journalist who spent years working in Africa, said he finds coverage of the war “appalling.”
“There was not one picture of Hamas shooting a rocket. As a journalist I am insulted,” Tebid said, holding his poster “CNN + Crap Not News” high. “I don’t want to tell people I was a journalist. I don’t want to be put into the same category of those journalists who have been against the Jews and against Israel.”
The Washington Post recently ran a piece by George Mason University Law Professor David Bernstein called “40 Questions.” In it Bernstein listed 40 questions reporters covering the war should ask, including whether and how anti-Hamas sentiment is expressed and what life is like for Israelis living in the south.
“There are not two sides to every story. To say that there is offers legitimacy to Hamas, a terrorist organization,” Hyams said. “We are not asking them [international media] to wake up and sing [the Israeli national anthem] ‘Hatikvah’ tomorrow. We are just asking them to be great journalists.”
There was no counter protest. However, last Friday several hundred people rallied on the same spot in front of CNN headquarters to protest what they called pro-Israel coverage by CNN, Fox, and other news outlets.