Challenging NPR’s cunningly worded “correction”

This letter is a follow up to NPR hides an atrocity but highlights the reaction, Ali Abunimah (4 January 2005).

Dear Mr. Dvorkin,

On Morning Edition on 6 January 2005, NPR issued the following correction:

“In a story about upcoming Palestinian elections, Presidential candidate Mahmoud Abbas was quoted as labeling Israel as the “Zionist enemy.” We could have given more context for his statement. We said it was in response to violence, but did not specify that the violence was an Israeli tank shell that killed seven Palestinians.”

While context was a part of what was flawed about the report, the far larger problem was that NPR did not report the obviously big story — Israel’s killing of 7 children — and chose instead to focus on Abbas’ comments. We all know that NPR would have luridly covered any Palestinian attack that left 7 Jewish children dead. And even when you’re called on this neon sign of a double-standard, you don’t rush to make it right, you just offer an extension of the original problem.

NPR still needs to address the fact that it dedicated a report to what Abbas said rather than the slaughter that preceded and informed what he said — which Israel subsequently ludicrously claimed was of “Hamas members”. How can it not be news when a state government and ally kills seven children and blatantly lies about it? Isn’t that exactly the kind of information that we require to be a healthy nation, to be a democracy?

NPR’s cunningly worded correction simply underlined the sadly documented pattern which suggests that you folks don’t consider Arab life as important as Jewish life. It doesn’t matter how much you say this is not the case. What you do day after day, month after month, year after year, makes it clear that this is the case. I can’t imagine where this racism comes from and nor do I care. What does concern me is that, when promoted on public airwaves, the effect leaves the nation — for whom NPR was created to serve — none the wiser and preprogrammed to accept the kind of propaganda pumped out by the Israeli government.

Our ignorance will continue to be punctuated by gruesome milestones of children’s body parts strewn across strawberry fields in Gaza as long as NPR continues to deliver biased reportage and, when caught delivering biased reportage, offers pathetic “corrections” characterized by sophistry rather than clarity.

NPR really has no excuses left after years of exactly the same reporting patterns being documented.

Hire an Arabic-speaking reporter, based permanently on the ground, in a Palestinian area. Until then, your effect will just be that of another hostile force helping to colonize Palestine at the expense of the indigenous people.


Nigel Parry
[address deleted]

Nigel Parry is a cofounder of the Electronic Intifada.

Related Links:

  • Background to this letter: NPR hides an atrocity but highlights the reaction, Ali Abunimah (4 January 2005).
  • Audio from Israel’s killing of 7 children in Gaza and NPR’s coverage, Interviewer: Dennis Bernstein, (5 January 2005).
  • Ali Abunimah’s Letters to NPR archive
  • National Public Radio’s Middle East coverage archive
  • Special report: NPR’s Linda Gradstein takes cash payments from pro-Israeli groups, The Electronic Intifada, 19 February 2002
  • NPR Mideast correspondent broke ban on speaker fees, Current, 11 March 2002