August 10, 2006
Dear HonestReporting Canada subscriber:
CBC’s coverage of the Israel-Lebanon crisis has focused disproportionately on two parties: Israeli soldiers and Lebanese victims. Too little of CBC’s coverage shows Israeli victims and Hezbollah terrorists. This distorted coverage inevitably leads viewers to the conclusion, conscious or subconscious, that Israel is the aggressor and the Lebanese are its victims.
CBC’s Israel-based reporters focus primarily on Israeli soldiers, tanks and artillery crews, while coverage of death and destruction in Israel has at times consisted of a two-second clip of brushfire. Meanwhile, CBC’s Lebanon-based reporters show civilian suffering, but do not show Hezbollah terrorists and rocket-launchers. If they cannot gain access to Hezbollah terrorists, or are not allowed to film them, why not admit that to viewers?
CBC fails to inform viewers of Hezbollah’s repeated attacks on Israel over the past six years. As a result, Israel’s response to the most recent provocation looks “disproportionate.” CBC also reverses causality, as in this exchange between an anchorwoman and reporter Peter Armstrong on CBC Newsworld’s August 3 noon report:
Anchor: “So Peter, tell us what Israeli troops have been doing today in south Lebanon.”
Armstrong: (Describes Israeli military activity)
Anchor: “And how has Hezbollah responded?”
Later that day, a (1:25 PM) roundup of Middle East news included these items:
- 5 Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza
- Israel carries out new strikes in Beirut
- Israel apologizes for deaths in Qana
- UN pushes for Israel-Hezbollah ceasefire
- Body of peacekeeper killed by Israel to return home.
After a commercial break, CBC returned with a report about Lebanese environmental damage caused by Israel. Missing from the news lineup: the fact that Hezbollah rockets killed 8 Israeli civilians that morning.
Meanwhile, in a July 26 interview on CBC Newsworld, anchorwoman Portia Clark repeatedly grilled Israel’s ambassador to Canada to the point of exasperation about Israel’s alleged targeting of civilians. Click here to watch the interview.
In contrast, the eager host of CBC Radio’s “Ottawa Morning” played nice with a senior Hezbollah figure in a July 25 interview, with questions like:
“What can you do for the families of civilians who’ve been attacked by Israel?”
Click here to listen.
And for an August 2 on-air radio panel of Jewish and Lebanese Canadians, CBC Toronto’s Metro Morning found that rarest of species: a Jewish woman who had served as an adviser to the PLO. Whether she was meant to represent the Jews or the Arabs is unclear.
CBC.ca Web site
CBC’s Web site has for 18 months introduced its “IN DEPTH: Middle East” section with a picture of a flag-waving Palestinian lying in front of a massive Israeli bulldozer. (Click image for a larger view.)
Despite updating the page numerous times (most recently on June 14), CBC refuses to replace the prejudicial photo with a more balanced one. Even worse, CBC falsely labels it a “Feb. 1” photo without mentioning that it is from Feb. 1, 2005. This false-dating, in violation of norms and standards of professional journalism, continues month after month.
CBC’s “IN DEPTH: Middle East in Crisis” section, created specially for the current crisis, opens with a picture of a Beirut neighbourhood flattened by Israeli bombs. Why not a picture of an Israeli neighbourhood flattened by Hezbollah missiles?
As for CBC.ca’s photo collections, a photo gallery called “Mideast Crisis: A Week of Conflict” consists predominantly of Lebanese and Palestinian victims, contrasted against pictures of Israeli soldiers. Another photo gallery, “The Children of War,” shows four times as many Lebanese and Palestinian children as Israeli children. While it includes 4 images of injured Lebanese and Palestinian children, it shows no injured Israeli children.
And CBC.ca’s timeline of the crisis, which is updated daily, still claims that an Israeli attack in the village of Qana killed 56 people, even though that number was revised to 28 on August 3. While appropriately highlighting the “special tie” between Canada and Lebanon, the CBC Web site fails to include any similar information on Canada’s ties with its fellow democracy, Israel.
Finally, since August 4, CBC.ca’s “Viewpoint” section has hosted an opinion column asserting that:
“The truth is that the UN made a horrendous mistake in 1948 when it partitioned Palestine to create a sovereign Jewish state on Arab land. Imagine how we would feel if the UN decided to make a homeland for Muslims in Canada by partitioning, say, Nova Scotia. Yes, it’s too far fetched to take seriously, but that’s roughly what happened to the Palestinians.”
While the national broadcaster is entitled to host opinions of all kinds, the false claim that Israel was created on Arab land, and the absurd claim that creating Israel in historical Palestine is equivalent to creating a Muslim homeland in Nova Scotia, are blatantly false. Does the CBC have no standards about what it will publish?
It would be unfair to say that CBC’s coverage is uniformly one-sided. CBC’s Adrienne Arsenault, who is soon leaving the Middle East for London, has been especially good at exploring some of the Israeli human perspective.
But taxpayers who spend a billion dollars annually to subsidize the national broadcaster expect fairer and more accurate news coverage of events abroad.
How You Can Make a Difference
Click here to leave your online input on CBC’s feedback page, or
Contact CBC Audience Relations at: 1-866-306-4636
media coverage of Israel and the Middle East