As Israel struck Gaza in a massive bombing campaign, CNN today featured what appeared to be drone footage of Gaza City reduced to rubble, but the reporter on air was in Israel, Jeremy Diamond in Ashdod.
MSNBC was little different. Josh Lederman was in Tel Aviv. Ali Velshi was in Ashkelon. So was Raf Sanchez.
PBS News Hour last night featured both anchor Amna Nawaz and reporter Leila Molana-Allen—reporting from Tel Aviv.
BBC was similar. Correspondent Nick Beake reported from Tel Aviv. While Jeremy Bowen was in southern Israel. Asked by an anchor about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, Bowen said, “It sounds like it’s absolutely dire.” But he said he was a few miles away.
Where are the network reporters in Gaza? There appear to be no English-language news network reporters, with the exception of Al Jazeera English. This reflects an unpardonable double standard for Palestinian and Israeli subjects. During the Iraq invasion in 2003, for instance, Peter Arnett was in Baghdad for NBC.
What is certain from the network coverage is that the numbers of network reporters in Israel are contributing to a profound bias on the part of the networks, a focus on Israeli victims in the fighting. CNN and MSNBC’s coverage has been unapologetically Israel-centric.
Andrea Mitchell interviewed former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren on MSNBC. While Boris Sanchez of CNN interviewed an Israeli former official, Michael Milshtein, saying that the onslaught is not a “blind attack,” and Israel has “no interest in harming civilians.” CNN also interviewed an adviser to rightwing Israeli politicians, George Birnbaum, likening Hamas attacks to Nazis. CNBC interviewed Nada Zafrir, an Israeli high-tech executive, calling for the flattening of Gaza.
Dana Bash of MNSBC interviewed former Israeli ambassador Danny Danon and allowed him to claim that Israel does not target civilians. Anderson Cooper reported for CNN from Tel Aviv.
Today BBC and MSNBC both featured videos from inside a Gaza hospital–but MSNBC said the video came from “our team,” while BBC ran footage a surgeon took of himself, describing desperate conditions.
And those network reporters have focused on the reports of Israeli children killed by Hamas militants, more than they have on the report by the Gaza Ministry of Health that Israel has killed 447 children in Gaza.
It appears that several network reporters are sympathetic to the Palestinians in Gaza. Ali Velshi, for instance, explained that “For the moment nobody can get out of Gaza,” so the Israeli army’s practice of leafleting neighborhoods is meaningless.
But such reports would be far more compelling and factual if the reporters were inside Gaza. Right now the coverage feels like: Israelis are human beings, but Gazans are beneath human empathy.
This is because U.S. networks are not in Gaza to tell the full story.