Home Media Action Alerts2011 Canadian Media Show a Reckless Disregard for the Truth About Terror (March 31, 2011)

Canadian Media Show a Reckless Disregard for the Truth About Terror (March 31, 2011)

by Mike Fegelman



Canadian Media Show a Reckless Disregard for the Truth About Terror

By: Mike Fegelman, Executive Director                                                                              March 31, 2011

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Dear HonestReporting Canada Subscriber,

In our most recent alert, we reported on the callous indifference Canadian media outlets showed by virtually ignoring the brutal massacre of an Israeli family of five, the Fogels of Itamar. In this alert, we look at the combined Canadian media coverage of the recent deadly terror bombing in Jerusalem that saw one person killed, Mary Jean Gardner, a 59-year-old British national studying in Israel, along with close to 50 wounded. Our investigations reveal that certain Canadian media outlets showed a reckless disregard for the truth, had clouded news judgement, or allowed their news platforms to become vehicles for misinformation and profane commentary.

Toronto Sun’s Tendentious Use of the “T-Word”

In the March 24 edition of the Toronto Sun, headline writers tendentiously questioned whether the terror bombing was in fact terrorism at all by cowardly inserting quotation marks around the words “terrorist attack” in the headline (Jerusalem blast ‘terrorist attack’) and by attributing this claim only to the Israelis, as if it could have been something else. Furthermore, the Reuters wire report said: “Police said it was a ‘terrorist attack’ — Israel’s term for a Palestinian strike.” In doing so, this report sanitized the nature and intentions of the attackers who seek to intentionally target innocent civilians for political purposes. This report, therefore, is attributing the term “terrorism” as something solely in the minds of Israelis.

We communicated these concerns to Sun editors asking that if a similar attack had happened near a Toronto bus terminal killing and injuring scores of civilians, would the Sun dare question if it was a terror attack if Canadians were the victims? To date, the Toronto Sun has chosen silence as its only form of reply.

Hamilton Spectator Calls Terror by its Rightful Name

Canadian and international media often shy away from using the word “terrorism” and its variants when discussing Arab violence directed against innocent Israeli citizens, despite using this term to describe similar acts of violence in other countries.

It was therefore refreshing to see the Hamilton Spectator appropriate the headline “Jerusalem terror attack” in its news coverage (see right) also on March 24 which unequivocally described the bombing of a Jerusalem bus station as “terror.”

HonestReporting Canada publically commended the Hamilton Spectator in a letter to the editor published on March 28 for calling terror by its rightful name.

CTV.ca Gives a Forum for Offensive Comments which Accused Israel of “Genocide”

In a March 23 CTV.ca report about the bombing attack, CTV editors allowed online users to post profane, false and misleading commentaries which accused Israel of committing “genocide against the Palestinians.

These comments went contrary to CTV.ca’s own posting procedures which unequivocally state that:

“CTV reviews every comment submitted, and reserves the right to approve comments and edit for brevity and clarity”

What not to do:

We will not publish comments that are profane, libellous, racist, or engage in personal attacks.

We screen for comments that seek to spread information that is false or misleading.”

To allege that Israeli actions against Palestinians were akin to “genocide” is inflammatory and offensive commentary not fit for publication. The term genocide is defined as: “the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group,” and we trusted that CTV.ca wouldn’t condone these kinds of allegations on its news platform. While we understood that there are many comments for CTV moderators to inspect, notwithstanding, we hoped that this comment would have been declined and not posted in the first place by CTV.ca editors. As this didn’t happen, we contacted senior editors at CTV asking that these comments be removed from the online forum and for CTV to re-evaluate its commenting guidelines to ensure that postings like these will not be published again.

We are happy to report that CTV editors immediately removed the comments and purged the online forum in its entirety.

Winnipeg Free Press Editorial Produces Same-Sad-Old” Errors

Contrary to an editorial published in the Winnipeg Free Press (“Same-sad-old” March 25, 2011), the abhorrent terror bombing was sadly not “the first terrorist attack in Jerusalem in six years.”

In fact, there have been scores of terror attacks in Jerusalem, some “successful” and others that were “successfully thwarted.” In fact, just weeks ago, a small pipe bomb hidden in a garbage bag exploded and blew off the arm of a Jerusalem Arab garbage worker. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this past December, a U.S. citizen living in England was stabbed to death while hiking in the hills west of Jerusalem. In July 2008, 3 Jerusalem-residents were killed and over 50 people were wounded when a terrorist drove a bulldozer into cars, pedestrians, and buses. In March 2008, a terrorist armed with a Kalashnikov rifle opened fire in the library of a Jewish school in Jerusalem, the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, killing eight students, wounding eleven. In September of 2005, Sasson Nuriel of Jerusalem was kidnapped and slain by Palestinian terrorists.

We could go on and on with more examples, but in the interests of brevity, indeed the “same-sad-old” story continues, that of Israelis facing unrelenting Palestinian terror directed at innocent civilians.

A False “Cycle of Violence” Perpetuated by the National Post and Montreal Gazette

The National Post and the Montreal Gazette were faulted for using headlines which perpetuated the myth that a “cycle of violence” exists between Israelis and Palestinians.

Credit the National Post for publishing letters by HRC members (see here and here) which challenged this flawed and misleading terminology.

Calgary Herald Publishes Disgraceful Letter that Justifies Terror

From one tragedy to another, we go back to the massacre of the Fogel family, where the Calgary Herald disgracefully published a letter to the editor recently that justified the brutal murder of this family of five as they were allegedly “trespassing” on Palestinian land.

Anti-Israel Vancouver letter writer Gary Keenan wrote a letter to the editor published by the Herald on March 26 which stated:


We strongly question the Calgary Herald’s editorial judgement in selecting this letter as being fit for publication. There is simply no justification for publishing opinions that brazenly justify the murder of innocents. There is an important difference between legitimate opinion that enhances the public discourse, and dangerous rhetoric that interferes with constructive dialogue.

It’s instructive to note that the Herald did subsequently publish these two letters (click here and here) that condemned Keenan’s remarks and the Herald itself for publishing this egregious commentary:


Notwithstanding, Calgary Herald editors should have determined that Keenan’s letter was not fit for publication so long as it justified the bloody murder of an innocent Israeli family. It’s time for the Herald to stick to constructive opinions that positively contribute to the marketplace of ideas.

Send your considered comments to the Calgary Herald’s Editor-in-Chief, Lorne Motley at: lmotley@calgaryherald.com





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