ANNOUNCING THE WINNERS OF THE 2004 “DISHONEST REPORTING CANADA” AWARD
JUNE 17, 2005
In its first annual recognition of the most unfair and inaccurate reporting on Israel and the Middle East, HonestReporting Canada (regretfully) announces the runners-up and the first-prize winner for the 2004 DishonestReporting Canada Award.
HonestReporting Canada thanks its subscribers for nominating their choices for this award. Winners were determined on the basis of factors including subscriber response, frequency of problems, and use of sources. Here are the winners in reverse order:
Second Runner-up: The headline writers of the Toronto Star. Between mid-March and mid-June 2004, the Star used the word “terrorism” or its variants in over 100 headlines, including articles about Jordan, Kashmir, Pakistan, The Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Syria. Yet the Star did not use “terrorism” in a single headline relating to acts of terror in Israel. For example, the May 2 massacre of a pregnant Israeli woman and her four daughters was headlined, “Israeli Mother, 4 Daughters Slain in Gaza Strip Ambush; Settlers Shot on Way to Campaign against Pullout.”
Runner-up: Alexandre (Sacha) Trudeau for his CTV W-5 documentary The Fence, about life on both the Israeli and Arab sides of Israel’s security barrier. Trudeau presented 2/3 of his documentary from the Palestinian side and used twice as many Palestinian sources compared to Israeli sources. Trudeau also sympathetically profiled Zakaria Zubeidi, leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin, as a “skinny renegade” on the run from Israeli ambushes (see video here.). Yet Trudeau never told viewers that Zubeidi’s organization has murdered Arabs, Israeli Jews and foreigners, including a Canadian citizen killed in a bus bombing.
First Prize: Neil Macdonald. Neil Macdonald distinguished himself by repeatedly including negative references to Israel in unrelated news stories. In 2004 his reporting triggered on-air clarifications, and an admission by CBC’s Ombudsman in a letter to HonestReporting Canada that Macdonald’s reporting was open to the perception of bias. TO VIEW A FLASH PRESENTATION INCLUDING ORIGINAL TV VIDEO FOOTAGE, CLICK HERE. (NOTE: Please wait as large movie file loads.)
Among Macdonald’s 2004 highlights:
- In a May 2004 report on CBC’s The National, Macdonald presented Eugene Bird, president of the anti-Israel group Council for the National Interest, who falsely implied that Israeli intelligence agents were involved in the Abu Ghraib prison abuses in Iraq.
- In a December 2004 report on CBC’s The National, Macdonald presented Allen Keiswetter, an employee of the Middle East Institute, who claimed that America’s consulate in Saudi Arabia was attacked because America is “regarded as being very much in the pockets of [Israeli prime minister Ariel] Sharon.” Keiswetter was the only expert Macdonald presented. Keiswetter’s employer, Middle East Institute, counts Saudi corporations and oil companies among its biggest donors.
- In a December 2004 column on CBC’s Web site, Macdonald asserted, “If Palestinians have committed terror, the Israelis have certainly committed war crimes.” Responding to HonestReporting Canada’s complaint, CBC’s Ombudsman noted that, “I conducted a review of this matter and agreed that the sentence at issue was open to this interpretation … of personal opinion or bias.”
About the DishonestReporting Canada Award
The DishonestReporting Canada Award is bestowed by HonestReporting Canada, an independent non-profit organization monitoring Canadian media for fairness and accuracy in reporting on Israel and the Middle East. Nominations for the award came from HRC’s members from coast to coast, committed to ensuring that Canadian news organizations abide by professional codes of conduct when reporting on the Middle East. More information can be found at www.honestreporting.ca.