On July 26, we criticised the Globe and Mail for quoting Lebanese who claimed Israel intentionally kills civilians. Some of the claims Globe Middle East bureau chief Mark MacKinnon printed include:
"‘Israel has failed on the ground, so they’re hitting civilians.’"
"They’re just hitting civilians. I don’t think there’s a reason for it."
This past Friday, August 4, the Globe’s sister company CTV broadcast a similarly irresponsible claim, this time by a Human Rights Watch employee named Peter Bouckaert. CTV’s Middle East bureau chief Janis Mackey Frayer showed Bouckaert offering this opinion:
"We’re talking about a deliberate policy by Israel not to distinguish between civilian and military targets."
Click below to watch the full CTV report.
However, what Mackey Frayer failed to report is that Human Rights Watch’s credibility on Israel is controversial and widely questioned. For years the organization has been accused of anti-Israel bias, singling out Israel for especially harsh criticism. NGO-Monitor reports that Human Rights Watch campaigns in favor of boycotts and other measures against Israel, and participated in the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic 2001 Durban conference. (See NGO Monitor’s dossier on the organization, and a recent op-ed by the Anti-Defamation League calling the organization "irrelevant or immoral.")
Considering that Bouckaert did not offer any evidence to support his explosive and damaging claim, fairness requires that Israel be provided an opportunity to respond. But Mackey Frayer did not include any Israeli representatives in her report. (CTV has staff in Israel who could have interviewed an Israeli spokesperson; alternatively, the network could have done so remotely via satellite from Canada.)
What do you think of CTV’s handling of this report? Let us know in the Comments section below. The CTV newsroom can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is not the first time we’ve criticised Janice Mackey Frayer’s reporting. Two years ago (August 8, 2004) we criticised her entirely uncritical portrait of the lead terrorist in Jenin, in which she reports that he just wants to get back to "resisting the occupation," shows him drinking tea and holding his baby, but never mentions that he is responsible for killing civilians.
And a year ago (August 19, 2006), we complained to CTV about a report in which Mackey Frayer included this claim:
?It is also about trust, something Abdul ‘al Abu Rass has little of. During the 1967 war, 28 men from his family alone were rounded up by Israeli soldiers and never seen again.?
In response to HonestReporting Canada’s complaint, CTV stood by Mackey Frayer’s claim, but did not provide evidence to support it.
(Watch the CTV video here.)