2008: A Year in Review (December 24 2008)

By Mike Fegelman

December 24, 2008

2008: A Year in Review

December 24, 2008

January: The Toronto Star Gives Fuel to Hamas Propaganda Machine

As the mainstream media were manipulated by Hamas spin doctors in exaggerating a humanitariancrisis in Gaza, The Toronto Star was just one of those media outlets duped into fueling the Hamas propaganda machine.

Mideast bureau chief Oakland Ross gave a platform for Hamas extremism by reporting that: “A Hamas representative said yesterday that five patients died over the weekend in Gaza hospitals because of the latest fuel embargo,” only there was no evidence to confirm the veracity of this allegation.

After HonestReporting Canada intervened, The Toronto Star issued a clarification in a follow-up report exonerating any Israeli culpability by noting that “five people died in their homes, for one reason or another, and were dead on arrival at the main hospital in Gaza City, but there was no evidence that the power shutdown played any role in their deaths.

February: Globe and Mail Paints Hamas as Pragmatic Peaceniks

The Globe and Mail, Canada’s “paper of record,” bought into false notions that Hamas had evolved into pragmatic peaceniks who advocated “non-violent resistance.”

As there was no tangible evidence to support claims that Hamas had shed a new skin towards non-violence, we asked our readers to urge Globe and Mail editors to promptly clarify these false misconceptions. Within a matter of hours, hundreds of letters were dispatched sensitizing The Globe and Mail towards the need for fair and accurate reporting.

March: HonestReporting Canada Helps Secure Excalibur Apology

We broke the news that a York University campus newspaper, The Excalibur, had featured an opinion piece that justified the deadly terrorist attack at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Along with other concerned organizations, HonestReporting Canada condemned the publication of a column endorsing the murder of innocent children and asked the paper to issue an apology in the next edition. Within a week, the campus newspaper did just that and issued a formal printed apology.

April: HRC Launches Montreal Office & French Monitoring Unit

April was another busy month for HRC. While launching our Montreal office and expanding our media monitoring efforts to include French-language Canadian media coverage of Israel, we secured important retractions from Le Journal de Montreal and Agence France-Presse, while securing an on-air correction on CBC-TV.
May: Montreal Gazette Editor-in-Chief Admits Israel Rally Story “Missed the Mark”

A Montreal Gazette article about a pro-Israel rally in Montreal marking the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel “Missed the Mark” according to the Gazette’s Editor-in-Chief.

The article which focused on an isolated incident where a youth picked up the Quebec flag and discarded it in exchange for the flag of Israel, took on a surprisingly negative tone in what should have been a straight forward article on the joyous and historic celebration of Israel at 60.

We encouraged our members to voice their concerns regarding The Gazette’s coverage of the rally and within a matter of days, Gazette Editor-in-Chief Andrew Phillips acknowledged that their reporter’s story had “Missed the Mark” and had stumbled at both the reporting and editorial levels.

June: HRC Launches “Insider’s Briefing” Series


In our inaugural “Insider’s Briefing” Paul Agoston, HRC Assistant Director in Montreal, sat down with Agence France-Presse Jerusalem Bureau Chief, Patrick Anidjar, for an insider’s perspective on the Middle East and reporting in the region.

July: Media Monitor Reaches 20,000 Member Milestone

We announced the growth of our subscriber base to a remarkable 20,000 membersfrom across Canada.

Our members, who act as “media patrollers,” monitor local media outlets and notify HonestReporting Canada of lapses in accuracy or fairness, while complaining directly to the news outlet involved.

August: An Unforgivable Error and a Dismal “On-Air” Correction at City TV

After CityTV International carried a report which left viewers with the false impression that Israeli soldiers had killed 11 pro-Palestinian protestors, we complained to CityTVwho in a subsequent edition of the program issued a correction to clarify that “11 people (were) hurt, not killed… in West Bank clashes.
September: CBC Critically Examines Israel’s Enemies

When our public broadcaster, the CBC, went beyond Mideast “conventional wisdom” and featured critical reporting on the Iranian nuclear threat and on the dangers of Hamas’ rule in Gaza, we felt that it was important to pause, take note, and expose excellence when it was deserving.

We encouraged our members to recognize the CBC’s excellent reporting and had several hundred of our members send articulate letters commending the CBC.

October: Radio-Canada Wrong in Airing Pro-Palestinian Propaganda Film

On October 23, Radio-Canada, the French arm of the CBC, aired the pro-Palestinian propaganda film “Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land” on its documentary film program “Les grands reportages.” By airing a film rife with false premises, serious omissions, and unfounded malicious allegations, the network not only misinformed Canadians about the politics and history of the Middle East, it also breached its own journalistic standards and practices by airing a one-sided partisan polemic bent on vilifying a fellow democracy, the state of Israel.

After mobilizing hundreds of people to complain en masse, Radio-Canada acknowledged that the documentary was “clearly pro-Palestinian” and said that it would broadcast an additional film “offering other viewpoints on Israel and Gaza” in the future. Subsequently, Radio-Canada’s ombudsman validated our objections noting that the film “shouldn’t have been broadcast” in the first place.

November: HRC Conducts Media Bias Workshop at Concordia University

On November 5th, HonestReporting Canada was invited to speak at Concordia University in Montreal. HRC Executive Director, Mike Fegelman, addressed a political science and communications class, teaching a diverse group of students from varying backgrounds about the many impediments that exist which prevent fair and accurate media coverage of the Middle East.
December: HRC Refutes “Massacre” Claim in the Toronto Star

Toronto Star reporter Oakland Ross drudged up the old canard that Israel had committed a “massacre” in Jenin in 2002, thereby engaging in a cynical form of historical revisionism.

After bringing our concerns to the attention of the Star’s editors, they agreed that the report had lacked context. A letter submitted by HRC was printed in a subsequent edition of the Star in a means to rectify the situation.


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