Monday, May 28, 2018

Quantification Biased The New York Times Coverage of Gaza Riots

[After hearing complaints about biased coverage by The New York Times (no surprise) about the Hamas-orchestrated riots on the Gaza border, I decided to check it out myself and see whether I could quantify some of the bias. I looked for all the articles about Gaza over a 30-day period and checked references to certain words, related to the words protest, riot, violence and terror. It turned out to be worse than even I would have expected. On Saturday, May 26, I wrote the following to several editors at The New York Times. I await a reply. - Alan Stein]

I have long been distressed at what I felt was a deterioration in the objectivity of The New York Times, the paper I grew up reading and looked at as the standard to which other newspapers should strive. Long ago, I realized The Times had seemed to abandon objectivity in its news articles; in fact, as far back as 2004 the Hartford Courant published an op-ed I wrote describing the bias inserted into news articles even on the front page of The New York Times.

Being particularly interested in reporting on the Arab-Israeli conflict, I was also particularly concerned with what seemed to be a clear anti-Israel bias, but for years I still defended it, telling others that even though the articles were biased, one could usually read between the lines and figure out the truth. Unfortunately, even that no longer seems to be the case.

With all the biased reporting, not just in The New York Times, about the series of riots organized by Gaza on its border with Israel, and the apparent reluctance of various media to accurately describe them as such, I decided to check for myself.

I looked for all recent articles in The New York Times referring to the Gaza riots and within those articles looked for the use of terms relating to protests, riots and violence along with their context and blame either clearly attributed or implied. Although my research was done quickly and was somewhat ad hoc, so a more careful study might come up with slightly different counts, the statistics are overwhelming in showing a clear bias and blatant misleading of the readership regarding the nature of the events in Gaza.

This is what I found.

Over the last 30 days, I found 37 articles relating to the Gaza riots. In those 37 articles, variations of the word "protest" (protest, protests, protesters, ... ) appeared 154 times, while variations of the word "riot" were used only 4 times, and each of those times they came from quotes or paraphrases of Israeli sources or - once - in a letter from a supporter of Israel.

Although the "protests" were far from peaceful, the words "violent" or "violence" were used in relation to the riots only 32 times, 6 of which came from Israeli sources.

Most damning, of those 26 remaining occurrences, blame was either explicitly or implicitly attributed to either Israel or America 14 times, with the term being used fairly neutrally 4 times, leaving only 8 times that blame was either explicitly or implicitly attributed to the Palestinian Arabs, despite the fact that all the violence was initiated by the Palestinian Arabs!

I also find it amazing that variations of the word "terror" (terror, terrorism, terrorist) were used only 15 times, despite the fact that Hamas, the main party orchestrating the riots, is a terrorist group so recognized by the United States, Israel and just about every other country that's not afraid it will be targeted if it dares to accurately describe Hamas.

I can find no reasonable rationalization for such biased and misleading news coverage, especially from "the newspaper of record" in the United States. Your newspaper is doing a gross disservice to its readers, to the country and, indeed, to the entire world.

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