The United States One Sided Media : A Survey of 4 newspapers and USA Today. – Part Three of Four
Hasan A. Yahya, Professor of Sociology
This is part three of the survey published by The Electronic Intifada about media bias in the United States. And came to the conclusion that Arabs and Muslims have a long way to go in America! The survey titled: Israeli and Palestinian voices on the US op-ed pages, made by Patrick O’Connor, Palestine Media Watch, 13 March 2006. In this part we will cover the five media newspapers including USAToday.
The Wall Street Journal published 105 op-eds on Israel/Palestine during the five year and three month period. 36 were written by Israelis and seven by Palestinians, an average of 5.1 Israeli writers for every Palestinian writer. The Journal has the greatest imbalance between Palestinian and Israeli writers over the full period of the intifada. After publishing an astonishing 28 op-eds by Israelis and a single op-ed by a Palestinian by a Palestinian through 2003, the Journal improved in 2004-2005, publishing eight op-eds by Israelis and six by Palestinians, including two by new Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Journal’s most frequent op-ed writers on Israel/Palestine are former US negotiator Dennis Ross (seven), Israeli historian Michael Oren (six), right-wing Israeli politicians Benjamin Netanyahu (five) and Ehud Olmert (four), and Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki (four). Among those writing three op-eds are right-wing Israeli politicians Natan Sharansky and Dore Gold and right-wing American academics Bernard Lewis, Daniel Pipes and Fouad Ajami.
Not surprisingly, most of the Journal’s writers are from the American and Israeli right. On the rare occasions when Palestinians are allowed to speak, they are “pragmatists” like Mahmoud Abbas and Khalil Shikaki who use language that is very acceptable to Israelis and Americans.
The New York Times published 144 op-eds on Israel/Palestine during the period, 68 by Israeli writers and 20 by Palestinian writers, an average of 3.4 Israeli writers for every Palestinian. However, The Times’ record has deteriorated since 2003 when David Shipley became op-ed editor, publishing 25 Israelis, and only six Palestinians, a three year average of 4.3 Israeli writers per Palestinian writer.
The New York Times also has the highest for the percentage of all writers on Israel/Palestine who were Israeli, 47%. The Wall Street Journal was the next highest with 34% Israeli writers.
The Times most frequent op-ed writers are Israeli left-wing politician Yossi Beilin (seven), former US negotiator Dennis Ross (six), former US negotiator Martin Indyk (five), former US negotiator Robert Malley (four), former Israeli politician Ehud Barak (four), Israeli writers David Grossman and Amos Oz (four each), and Israeli professor David Newman (four). The Times also published Israeli politicians Benjamin Netanyahu, Dore Gold, Ephraim Sneh, Shimon Peres and Ariel Sharon.
Thus The Times specializes in propagating the views of failed US negotiators like Ross and Indyk, and center and left of center Israelis (left within an Israeli political spectrum that is quite right). Still, Israelis like Grossman, Oz and Newman have little to no contact with the Palestinians that The Times may perhaps believe they are speaking for.
Palestinian/American negotiator Michael Tarazi (one), US academic Noam Chomsky (one) and US negotiator Robert Malley (four) are the only writers who have been allowed by the Times to stray slightly outside the mainstream discourse accepted in the US, with Tarazi suggesting a single, democratic state as the only remaining, viable solution. Yasser Arafat and Saeb Erekat were also published once each in The Times in 2002.
The Los Angeles Times published 272 op-eds on Israel/ Palestine, the largest number during the Second Intifada. 77 were written by Israelis and 33 by Palestinians, for an average of 2.3 Israeli writers for each Palestinian writer. The LA Times also publishes a Sunday “Current” section which includes opinion pieces which were classified separately and not included in these summary statistics. Only The LA Times and The Washington Post (“Outlook”) have these extended Sunday sections which are somewhat distinct from the standard daily op-eds carried in all five newspapers.
The LA Times Sunday “Current” published 85 opinion pieces on Israel/Palestine during the 2nd intifada, 37 by Israeli writers and ten by Palestinian writers for an average of 3.7 Israelis per Palestinian, a more imbalanced ratio than The LA Times daily op-ed section. Combining LA Times daily op-eds with “Current” yields an overall average of 2.6 Israeli writers for each Palestinian writer. In the last month LA Times op-ed editor Nick Goldberg was given responsibility for both LA Times Op-eds and the Sunday “Current” section.
Israeli-American writer Yossi Klein Halevi, who writes for The New Republic and is a former member of Meir Kahane’s racist Jewish Defense League, tops The LA Times list of repeat writers with a record 35 op-eds. Lebanese-American activist Hussein Ibish wrote 15. Palestinian-American academic Shibley Telhami was published a total of 10 times in both The LA Times sections, and former US negotiator Dennis Ross nine times. Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab wrote seven op-eds, David Grossman wrote seven times total for both sections, and Israeli journalist Yossi Melman wrote seven pieces for the “Current” section.
Klein Halevi’s right-wing views clearly dominated The LA Times op-ed page, though he is now published much less frequently than earlier in the intifada. Otherwise, “centrists” like Dennis Ross, Shibley Telhami, David Grossman and Daoud Kuttab are frequent contributors. In 2004-2005, The LA Times has shown more willingness than the other newspapers to broach less accepted subjects, publishing California-based Palestinian American academics George Bisharat and Saree Makdisi on issues like the right of return for Palestinian refugees and Ariel Sharon’s violent legacy, and Robert Fisk on biased US reporting on Israel/Palestine.
The Washington Post published 112 op-eds on Israel/Palestine during the five plus year period. 29 were written by Israelis and 21 by Palestinians, an average of 1.4 Israelis published per Palestinian. Similar to The LA Times, the The Washington Post publishes a Sunday “Outlook” section which includes longer opinion pieces which were classified separately from op-eds. In “Outlook” the Post published 25 pieces on Israel/Palestine, 10 by Israelis and nine by Palestinians, for an average of 1.1 Israeli writers per Palestinian. Combining the results for the two Washington Post opinion sections yields an overall average of 1.3 Israelis published per Palestinian published.
The Washington Post’s ratio of Israeli to Palestinian writers is close to parity and is the most balanced, with the exception of USA Today which publishes few Israeli or Palestinian writers. On the downside, the range of opinions that Post writers are allowed to express remains narrow.
Located in the US’ political capital, not surprisingly the Post is dominated by politicians, negotiators, diplomatic correspondents and political pundits. Former American negotiators Dennis Ross, Robert Malley and Aaron Miller were published 14, five and three times respectively by The Post. Israeli journalists Gershom Gorenberg and Aluf Benn were published seven and six times respectively. Palestinian American Washington think tank academic Shibley Telhami was published three times, and Palestinian negotiators Michael Tarazi and Saeb Erekat twice each. “Pragmatic” Palestinian pundits Daoud Kuttab and Khalil Shikaki were published five and three times respectively. Israeli Ambassador Danny Ayalon was published twice, and Israeli politicians Dore Gold, David Ivry, Natan Sharansky, Benjamin Netanyahu, Shimon Peres, Silvan Shalom, Ehud Olmert, Yossi Beilin, Ephraim Sneh were each published once. Palestinian politicians Nabil Sha’ath and Marwan Barghouti were also each published once.
USA Today published the smallest number of op-eds on Israel/Palestine (47), and the fewest Israeli and Palestinian writers (nine). Of 47 op-eds, four were written by Israelis and five by Palestinians, a ratio of 0.8 Israeli writers for every Palestinian writer. USA Today also publishes what it titles “Opposing Views”. “Opposing Views” are written by outside writers to contrast with a USA Today editorial position. Because “Opposing Views” are unique to USA Today and are specifically intended to serve as a direct counter to a USA Today editorial view, per the suggestion of USA Today editorial staff, they were not tabulated as op-eds. USA Today published 18 “Opposing Views” on Israel/Palestine during the research period, two of which were written by Israelis and two by Palestinians.
Repeat op-ed writers at USA Today on Israel/Palestine include Columbia Journalism professor Samuel Freedman (seven), a member of USA Today’s Board of contributors, American professor Amitai Etzioni (four), also a member of USA Today’s Board on contributors, right-wing Israeli-American journalist Yossi Klein Halevi (three), former US negotiator Dennis Ross (three), and Palestinian-American activist Sherri Muzher (three).
While USA Today is the only newspaper that published slightly more Palestinian than Israeli writers, some of that balance is countered by these other repeat op-ed writers, like the members of USA Today’s Board of Contributors. Samuel Freedman is strongly pro-Israeli, and Amitai Etzioni was an Israeli citizen who fought in the Palmach for Israel’s independence in the 1940s and is quite sympathetic to Israel.
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