Reporting Palestinian Atrocities

In their Oct. 29 editions, the Washington Post and the New York Times each devotes a half page of copy and picture to Israel's release of 26 Palestinian terrorist prisoners convicted of killing Israelis.

But that's where the similarities end.

At the Post, Jerusalem bureau chief William Booth devotes a couple of paragraphs high up in his article -- the fifth and sixth paragraphs, to be precise -- to identification and description of some of the victims, including a Holocaust survivor, and the horror of their last moments. Later in his piece, Booth goes on to inform his readers about the releases' emotional impact among Israelis, including public criticism by some members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet ("Israel to free 2nd batch of Palestinian prisoners as part of deal" page A9)

At the Times, Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren relates the event with markedly different journalistic priorities. What interests and grabs her is not Israeli victims of Palestinian butchery but rather the politics of freeing Palestinian murderers. Thus, the start of her lead paragraph, "The fractured politics of Israel's governing coalition were spotlighted...." Having set her own priorities right from the start, Rudoren goes on and on and on about disagreements between government ministers, even speculating that Netanyuhu's coalition might fall apart -- "There is no sign that the coalition may actually break up, but if it did...." ("Prisoner Release Stirs Anger in Israeli Coalition" page A6).

Rudoren's article runs for 19 paragraphs. Tellingly, under her byline, Times readers are not given close-up views of the victims until the 18th paragraph. A single paragraph at the tail end. In the world of Rudoren and the New York Times, petty politics rates more attention and concern than the spilling of Jewish blood.

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

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