Media Coverage Of Massive “Walk With Israel” Event Downplays Huge Attendance, Highlights Tiny Group Of Protesters

June 11, 2024

On the morning of June 9 in north Toronto, more than 50,000 people – Jews and non-Jews alike – gathered to participate in the annual “Walk with Israel” event.

Due to the current Hamas-Israel war, the walkathon was the largest on record, and has been billed as the biggest such annual event in the world. Participants included city councillors,  members of provincial parliament (MPPs) and provincial cabinet ministers, ,embers of parliament (MPs), the mayor of Vaughan, and celebrities such as Brendan Shanahan, president of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

A group of anti-Israel protesters, who promised to carry out a massive “disruption,” failed to materialize when only a few dozen ended up showing up and were kept entirely to the sidelines.

But that did not stop media coverage from paying them inordinate attention, downplaying the huge attendance at the walkathon, and emphasizing the security aspect.

CP24, The Toronto Star and CBC News also reproduced a Canadian Press (CP) wire story on the event.

On CP24, the massive walk garnered one two-minute clip, but in another report, garnered only 33 seconds of coverage in one clip followed by 19 seconds of coverage for the miniscule anti-Israel occupation on the University of Toronto campus.

The Toronto Star, which has produced relentless sympathetic coverage of a few dozen protesters at the University of Toronto, no report was published from any of the newspaper’s staffers, instead relying on the CP wire article.

The headline from the newspaper, meanwhile, gave attention to security and protesters, writing “Toronto ‘Walk with Israel’ event held amid high security, faceoffs with protesters.”

In The Globe and Mail, which published the same wire story, the headline read: “High security, protesters on hand at ‘Walk with Israel’ event in Toronto.”

As noted by Jesse Brown, publisher of Canadaland, “Headline stresses TENSION & presence of pro-Palestine protesters, who are the 1st voices quoted. Record turnout/lack of conflict seem downplayed.”

Similarly, CTV News’ headline read: “Toronto ‘Walk with Israel’ event held amid high security, faceoffs with protesters.

CBC News, which also failed to write its own story, wrote in its headline that: “Thousands march in Toronto’s ‘Walk with Israel’ event. Police report 6 arrests.” Only in the sub-heading did the article say that “tens of thousands” were expected, not “thousands.”

Compare the Walk with Israel, one of the biggest such events for any cause in Toronto, to the dozens of people illegally occupying part of the University of Toronto campus, which has created endless sympathetic coverage, including portrayed as being on the vanguard of a popular movement, and not part of a tiny fringe overwhelmingly rejected by Canadians.

If news media outlets like CBC News, The Toronto Star, The Globe & Mail and others decide that a group of some 40 protesters merits endless news media coverage and commentary, then why does a huge group roughly 1,000 times larger garner only a tiny fraction of that reporting, and even then, focus inordinately on security and a small group of counter-protesters?

This heavily-skewed reporting bears significant consequences. It helps to platform a marginal group of anti-Israel protesters, making them seem larger and far more mainstream than they really are, and significantly downplays the voices of a massive group of mainstream Canadians in a peaceful march for Israel.

Given that these outlets have given breathless and sympathetic coverage to the dozens of anti-Israel campus occupiers at the University of Toronto, and nation-wide, their selective coverage is demonstrative of their anti-Israel bias.

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