CAMERA’s continued assault on NPR and the truth

“National Public Radio reporters may not be fair or balanced when it comes to covering the Middle East, they may not be paragons of accuracy, or exemplars of journalistic ethics, but say this much for them they are consistent. When it comes to putting forth a pro-Palestinian line, day in and day out, they have no equals in the United States.”

So says the pro-Israeli group CAMERA (“Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America”) in its latest attack on National Public Radio (NPR). But it is CAMERA that once again proves that it is the party that has regard neither for accuracy nor for ethics.

CAMERA’s August 12 action alert “National Public Radio - All Bias, All the Time” [See] cites just two reports to make its case, one on July 27 and one on August 9, both by NPR’s Linda Gradstein.

But NPR broadcast more than 20 reports between July 27 and August 12, so why did CAMERA only pick two to comment on? The answer is that CAMERA relies solely on omission and distortion to make a case.

CAMERA writes: “On the morning of July 27, for example, there were two Middle East stories for NPR to cover: (1) Palestinian gunmen shot and killed a seventeen-year-old Israeli boy named Ronen Landau as he was driving home with his father and brother. Just before this attack the same gunmen had shot at Israeli children in a playground. (2) The funeral of Saleh Darwazeh, a senior Hamas operative who had been killed by Israeli troops. Darwazeh had engineered numerous fatal attacks against Israelis.”

“Which story did NPR emphasize,” CAMERA asks, “which person did the publicly-funded network humanize with details and names and interviews?” “In an 1141 word story,” CAMERA complains, “NPR devoted exactly 26 words to the murder of the Israeli boy in front of his father and brother, not even bothering to mention his name.”

In fact, in addition to this report, NPR ran several news spots the same morning which gave prominence to the killing of the Israeli teenager. Only a few days before, on July 24, by contrast Gradstein filed a news spot which reported graphically on the killing of another Israeli teenager without mentioning a 15-year old Palestinian boy killed just hours earlier by Israeli occupation troops [See].

CAMERA complains that Gradstein’s July 27 report “interviewed no Israelis who might have articulated” that Palestinians started a “virtual war” against Israel, and describing the dangers that Israeli settlers face on the roads. In fact, if we look at NPR’s reporting in just the three days following the July 27 report, up to and including July 31, we find that it interviewed the following Israelis in addition to some Palestinians:

  • Raanan Gissin, Israeli government spokesman
  • Yaakov Levy, Israeli diplomat
  • Shmuel Rabinovitch, Rabbi of the Western Wall
  • Danny Ayalon, Israeli government spokesman
  • Chemi Shalev, Israeli analyst, Maariv newspaper
  • Michael Kleiner, Knesset Member from “hard right”
  • Chaim Shebe, Israeli analyst, Yediot Aharonot newspaper
  • Michael Orrin, historian, Shlaim Center
  • Hirsch Goodman, senior fellow, Jafee Center for Strategic Studies (Tel Aviv)
Not only did all of these people provide Israeli perspectives, but on July 31, the same day that Israel carried out a missile attack on Nablus killing eight Palestinians, including two children, Gradstein filed a report on “Israel’s options” which included interviews with four Israelis and no Palestinians at all. [See].

Prior to this, on July 30, NPR’s Jennifer Ludden filed a report that focussed exclusively on how Israelis are coping with the stress that they feel as a result of the conflict (All Things Considered).

As for the August 9 All Things Considered report that CAMERA cites, about the bombing that day in Jerusalem which killed 15 Israelis, CAMERA complains that Gradstein

“first interviewed Israelis, but then gave the last word to Yasser Abed Rabbo, the Palestinian information minister.”
This is correct, but it came only after Gradstein had already interviewed an Israeli eyewitness, an Israeli government spokesman and Israel’s “Mayor of Jerusalem” Ehud Olmert, who together provided a combined total of 177 words as against the precisely 31 from Mr. Abed Rabbo.

More importantly, having earlier complained that NPR does not “humanize” Israelis with “details, names and interviews,” CAMERA does not mention that Gradstein’s August 9 report contained vivid details and eyewitness interviews of a kind Gradstein almost never provides for Palestinians [See].

Nor does CAMERA acknowledge in any way an interview Gradstein gave to NPR anchor Melissa Block on All Things Considered for Friday August 10, whose sole purpose seemed to be to humanize the Israeli victims of the bombing with names and details, in particular one family that lost five members. This segment, unparalleled as far as NPR’s coverage of Palestinian funerals is concerned, included the following exchange:

LINDA GRADSTEIN: They were living in Petach Tikva, which was in central Israel. About seven years ago they moved to a small settlement in the West Bank called Niryah(ph). It was west of Ramallah. They went because they felt that they wanted to strengthen Israel’s tie to the West Bank. Mordecai was originally an importer of chemicals, but a year and a half ago he opened a school for first-, second- and third-graders. And Syra was a speech therapist in an institute for the deaf. And several people who knew her said she was very empathetic to the children she was working with, and that she really tried to understand where they were coming from. Three of the sons, the three oldest sons were not at the restaurant. Two of the sons are in the army, and they had to identify the bodies. And it was obviously very wrenching for them. Then there were also two of the daughters who were injured.

BLOCK: I wonder if this kind of violence is the sort of thing that people on the West Bank would associate with the West Bank but not necessarily with Jerusalem.

GRADSTEIN: Well, there’s something sort of ironic in that three months ago their car was shot at. And Mordecai was very nervous about having his family traveling on the roads. And just last week, somebody from a settlement right near theirs had been killed in a drive-by shooting, and so they came to Jerusalem to take a vacation from the tensions that they had been living with, and then obviously this tragedy happened.

BLOCK: It’s hard to imagine the speed at which people, especially children, might have to absorb a tragedy like this. And I understand that one of the daughters who was injured in the explosion yesterday actually went to the funeral today to see her family be buried.

GRADSTEIN: Yes. Leah(ph). She insisted on coming to the funeral. She is eight years old, and she was actually wheeled into the funeral on a stretcher with an intravenous drip stuck into her. And she had said that she very much needed to attend the funeral. And when she came in, everybody—many of the mourners started crying. And it was obviously very emotional. Syra’s father, Avraham Freidman(ph), obviously was sobbing. And he said that he had survived a concentration camp, his parents had survived concentration camps and then they came to Israel to, as he said, ‘be murdered by people who were worse than the Nazis.’ It was a very emotional funeral. Ben-Sion(ph), the eldest son, who’s 22, who’s in the army, said, ‘Father, you were always so afraid of us traveling on the roads and, here, look what happened right in the center of Jerusalem.’ (END EXCERPT)

Why is it that between July 27 and August 12, CAMERA only managed to find two NPR reports out of the dozens broadcast to complain about? Is it because they weren’t listening, or because they don’t want their followers to know just how distorted their view of the world is?

Related Links

  • Ali Abunimah’s Bitter Pill: Uncovering Media Myths about the Middle East
  • Learn more about CAMERA’s distortions at:
  • Learn more about NPR’s coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict at:
  • Visit NPR and hear archived reports at