In the afternoon of August 8, CBC News Anchor Andrew Nichols incorrectly stated the following: “In other news, the U.S. State Department announced this afternoon that Israeli-Palestinian peace talks will resume a week from today. The next meeting will be in Jerusalem on August 14, the main sticking point continues to be the expansion of Jewish settlements in the west bank.”
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This statement was false in a number of ways. For starters, while Jewish settlements may constitute an issue that needs to be resolved in final status negotiations, they are not the “main sticking point”. Palestinians in the past have claimed that they were a main sticking point, but they have since dropped their precondition that settlement building cease prior to the resumption of peace talks. Additionally, there are a myriad of issues that have plagued Mideast peace, including but not limited to discussions about the 1967 lines, refugees, accepting Israel as a Jewish state, security, water, etc.
The Israelis certainly do not see the expansion of Jewish settlements in the west bank as a “main sticking point,” this is or better yet was the Palestinian position. Either way, it is wrong and unfair for the CBC to parrot the Palestinian position and present it as fact to CBC viewers. Had the CBC referenced this statement in attribution that would have been fair, but the CBC did not.
As such, HonestReporting Canada called on CBC to take corrective action to set the record straight. Within hours of receiving our complaint, Jack Nagler, the CBC’s Director of Journalistic Public Accountability and Engagement, acknowledged and agreed with our concerns. Writing on behalf of CBC News, he stated the following:
“Your focus was on a brief story presented by the CBC’s Andrew Nichols in which he said, “In other news, the U.S. State Department announced this afternoon that Israeli-Palestinian peace talks will resume a week from today. The next meeting will be in Jerusalem on August 14, the main sticking point continues to be the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.”
You asserted that there are many issues dividing the two sides beyond those of Jewish settlements, and that we were wrong to suggest settlements are “the main sticking point.”
Our journalists realize that the issues up for negotiation are complex, nuanced and multi-faceted. There was a particular point being raised yesterday about settlements which inspired the emphasis on that issue in our story. But in doing so, we used imprecise language, and should have either attributed the statement — or called it “a” sticking point rather than “the” sticking point.
In response to your concern, we have reminded our team of the importance to be absolutely right on the details when reporting on this story as we do with all others. You can also be assured that as we cover the resumption of the talks next week we will find the opportunity to remind our audience there are many obstacles to the negotiations.”
As evinced by this reply, CBC News acknowledged using “imprecise language” and that its staff failed to attribute this statement. The CBC also took admirable and responsible steps to ensure that this error is not repeated again by sensitizing their journalists to this issue and for committing to report on the other obstacles in the Mideast negotiating process.
HonestReporting Canada commends CBC News for taking these necessary steps and for swiftly acting to address this matter with professionalism and accountability.