Media / Media Bias

Mistakes made in good faith — no big deal

By arthur Weinreb

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

On June 22, the Globe and Mail reported a story about a meeting that was held between Israeli Prime Minister ariel Sharon and Mahmoud abbas, the Palestinian president. Written by freelancer Carolynne Wheeler, the article stated that the meeting was held in Sharon’s residence in the Muslim Quarter of East Jerusalem when in fact it was held at the prime minister’s official residence in west-central Jerusalem. The piece also went on to state that Sharon had purchased the home in 1987 and had removed the arab tenants from the premises. The truth was that Sharon had purchased the home from another Jew and had paid the tenants to vacate.

Honest Reporting Canada, a group that monitors the Canadian media for anti-Israel bias, wrote to the Globe and pointed out the factual errors in Wheeler’s story.

The Globe and Mail issued a correction and in a letter to Honest Reporting, explained that the freelancer had not been at the scene where the meeting was held as if that were some sort of excuse for a major newspaper. Despite the fact, as mentioned by Honest Reporting, that Wheeler had used descriptive language such as "grim faced" and "flag draped", she had written the entire article from information gleaned from wire services and television accounts.

In defense of their mistakes, the Globe told Honest Reporting Canada that the issue of Sharon’s residence was "tangential" to the main story and was "written in good faith". In other words, so what?

It is beyond dispute that at this time in history, meetings between Israelis and Palestinians at the highest levels are important; certainly more important than where those meetings take place; in this respect the location was tangential. It was tangential in the same way that one soldier flushing one Koran down one toilet was tangential to the war on terrorism. But in both the war on terror and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the passions of many people holding differing views are easily inflamed. People died as a result of the report in Newsweek about how a single Koran was flushed down a toilet, tangential or not.

The Globe and Mail simply doesn’t understand or doesn’t care about what an erroneous report about a prominent Jew throwing arabs out of their home so that he can "occupy" it, can do to fuel feelings of anger and resentment. To Canada’s National Newspaper, that is simply not sufficient.