Home Media Action Alerts2010 CBC National Corrects Gaza Infant Mortality Rate Error (June 16, 2010)

CBC National Corrects Gaza Infant Mortality Rate Error (June 16, 2010)

by Mike Fegelman

 

  
CBC National Corrects Gaza Infant Mortality Rate Error
June 16, 2010
 

Dear HonestReporting Canada Subscriber,

 

Did CBC falsely imply that Israel was responsible for the death of Gaza babies?

Respected Mideast

professor and director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center (GLORIA) asked this very question regarding a June 1 CBC National report which saw Chief Correspondent, Peter Mansbridge, erroneously refer to the Gaza Strip as having “an infant mortality rate among the highest in the world.

To view this report online please click here or on the image immediately below.

Writing on his blog “Rubin Reports,” Professor Rubin expounded on this misstatement:

Here’s an example of the insanity and profound anti-Israel bias currently gripping mass media.

On June 1, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) anchorman Peter Mansbridge stated that the Gaza Strip “has one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates” The obvious implication: it is Israel’s fault because of its sanctions.

In fact, the Gaza Striphas a lower infant mortality rate than Turkey, which has been a modern republic with full independence for about 80 years, and Iran, which enjoys the “benefits” of the kind of Islamist government which Hamas and the current Turkish government applaud.

According to the CIA World Factbook, regarded as a definitive source, the Infant Mortality Rate in the Gaza Strip is 17.71 deaths per 1000 births, about the same as Mexico and below that of Brazil, Romania, and many other countries. In neighboring Egypt, the number is 26.2, in Turkey, 24.8, and Iran, 34.7.

The kind of coverage given to living standards in the Gaza Strip seems an example of what sometimes seems a principle of Western journalism: Third World suffering is only of interest if it can be blamed on the West. Third World suffering is the world’s lead news story only if it can be blamed on Israel.

HonestReporting Canada (HRC) communicated our concerns to senior editors at the CBC requesting that a review be conducted and that an on-air correction be issued promptly to remedy this error.

In a written response that was sent to HRC by the CBC, a senior editor said that the mistake was more than just problematic, “it is an error; although I certainly do not share Mr. Rubin’s view that it indicates CBC’s “profound anti-Israel bias”. In an effort to give viewers a clearer picture of the Gaza Strip, the introduction to the report that night from Washington included statistics about Gaza’s area, population, unemployment and infant mortality rates. However, in one instance, we inadvertently included inaccurate information. In fact – and as Mr. Rubin pointed out – according to the CIA World Factbook, a highly regarded source for such information, Gaza is about half way in a ranking of over 200 countries or regions, (109 out of 224) with an infant mortality rate of almost 18 per thousand live births, a little over four times Israel’s. We regret the error. The Friday night (June 11) editions of The National included an on-air note offering viewers correct information.

To view the on-air notice which was read by CBC National anchor Heather Hiscox, please click here or on the image immediately below.

Ms. Hiscox stated the following: “Earlier this month we reported the Gaza Strip has an infant mortality rate among the highest in the world, but according to the CIA World Factbook, Gaza ranks 109 out of 224 regions in the world, with an infant mortality rate of almost 18 deaths per thousand live births.

While we appreciate and commend the fact that the CBC was quick to investigate this matter and to take the appropriate action in correcting this mistake, with that said, there was no indication given about how this error had occurred and how it had gotten past the trained eyes of the CBC’s most veteran editors. Many questions still remain unanswered such as: What was the source of this original erroneous information? It certainly wasn’t the CIA World Factbook, was it Amnesty International’s (AI) error, as this CBC report attributed various statistics as being derived from AI? Was this just gross incompetence or intentional subterfuge? And finally, since when did the Palestinians achieve statehood? Why is it that this CBC report included a graphic which referred to the West Bank and Gaza as “Palestine” instead of the Palestinian territories?

We trust that this intervention will serve as a teachable moment for the CBC’s reporters and editors who are keenly aware that their Mideast reporting is being vigilantly watched and scrutinized.
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