Wash. Post's atrocious news judgment

Editors of newspapers from far and wide had no problem grasping the relative news value of what happened on July 18 in Damascus and in a seaside resort in Bulgaria.

The top story obviously was the Syrian rebels' deadly bombing of Assad's inner circle, wiping out his top security leadership.  It was a transformative event that dramatically demonstrated the rebels' ability to bring their revolution to the heart of the Assad regime.  The dictator suddenly has become highly vulnerable.

The second story, also widely played out on front pages, was the deadly terrorist attack on Israeli vacationers in Burgas, Bulgaria, on the Black Sea.  With Israel blaming Iran, this obviously also was top news -- and easily qualified for the second spot on front pages.

But not at the Washington Post, which bumped the slaughter of Israelis to the back page. "Blast kills at least six Israelis on a bus in Bulgaria:  Netanyahu blames Iran" bottom of page A18).

Post editors attached more importance to a poll about the mayor of Washington, D.C., the oil boom in North Dakota, Sen. McCain's defense of a Clinton aide tied by some Republicans to the Muslim Brotherhood, and Britain's obesity problems on the eve of the Olympics.  Each of these stories topped in significance the murder of six Israelis in Bulgaria.

Actually, one shouldn't be too surprised by this example of atrocious news judgment by the Washington Post.  The paper consistently downplays or even ignores terror attacks against Israeli civilians, whether from Gaza, the West Bank or places beyond the Middle East.

To make matters even worse, Karin Brulliard, the Post's Jerusalem bureau chief, plays the equivalence game in her dispatch, putting Israel and Iran on the same enmity scale.  Here's how she puts it:

"Israel and Iran are bitter enemies that have been engaged in an escalating rhetorical battle and, security analysts say, a covert war of attacks and assassinations." 

Somebody needs to inform Brulliard that Iran repeatedly has vowed to wipe Israel off the map -- and one of its former presidents, Ali Rafsanjani, even suggested this could be accomplished with a single nuclear bomb.  By contrast, Israel never has threatened to wipe Iran off the map.  Contrary to Brulliard's formulation, the conflict between Iran and Israel is not a neatly symmetrical proposition - a simple game of tit for tat.   It's an asymmetrical affair--- with Iran making no bones about its agenda to eliminate the Jewish state, while Israel poses no such threat to Iran.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

Editors of newspapers from far and wide had no problem grasping the relative news value of what happened on July 18 in Damascus and in a seaside resort in Bulgaria.

The top story obviously was the Syrian rebels' deadly bombing of Assad's inner circle, wiping out his top security leadership.  It was a transformative event that dramatically demonstrated the rebels' ability to bring their revolution to the heart of the Assad regime.  The dictator suddenly has become highly vulnerable.

The second story, also widely played out on front pages, was the deadly terrorist attack on Israeli vacationers in Burgas, Bulgaria, on the Black Sea.  With Israel blaming Iran, this obviously also was top news -- and easily qualified for the second spot on front pages.

But not at the Washington Post, which bumped the slaughter of Israelis to the back page. "Blast kills at least six Israelis on a bus in Bulgaria:  Netanyahu blames Iran" bottom of page A18).

Post editors attached more importance to a poll about the mayor of Washington, D.C., the oil boom in North Dakota, Sen. McCain's defense of a Clinton aide tied by some Republicans to the Muslim Brotherhood, and Britain's obesity problems on the eve of the Olympics.  Each of these stories topped in significance the murder of six Israelis in Bulgaria.

Actually, one shouldn't be too surprised by this example of atrocious news judgment by the Washington Post.  The paper consistently downplays or even ignores terror attacks against Israeli civilians, whether from Gaza, the West Bank or places beyond the Middle East.

To make matters even worse, Karin Brulliard, the Post's Jerusalem bureau chief, plays the equivalence game in her dispatch, putting Israel and Iran on the same enmity scale.  Here's how she puts it:

"Israel and Iran are bitter enemies that have been engaged in an escalating rhetorical battle and, security analysts say, a covert war of attacks and assassinations." 

Somebody needs to inform Brulliard that Iran repeatedly has vowed to wipe Israel off the map -- and one of its former presidents, Ali Rafsanjani, even suggested this could be accomplished with a single nuclear bomb.  By contrast, Israel never has threatened to wipe Iran off the map.  Contrary to Brulliard's formulation, the conflict between Iran and Israel is not a neatly symmetrical proposition - a simple game of tit for tat.   It's an asymmetrical affair--- with Iran making no bones about its agenda to eliminate the Jewish state, while Israel poses no such threat to Iran.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

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