Major News Outlets Criticized for Israel-Hamas Coverage

By Robyn Spradlin

by Danielle Dolin

Major news outlets received criticism for their coverage of the Isarel-Hamas war in recent days, after a media watchdog group raised concerns over potential bias in the reporting of Gazan-based freelance reporters and photojournalists.

HonestReporting is a nonprofit whose mission is to ensure truth, integrity and accuracy while combating ideological prejudice in journalism pertaining to Israel. In early November, the organization questioned several major news outlets using photographs, video footage and reporting standups coming from the Oct. 7th massacre of innocent Israeli civilians.

The nonprofit alleged CNN, the Associated Press (AP), The New York Times, and Reuters had all participated in an ethically challenging situation. HonestReporting questioned the freelancers being privy to the daybreak attack before its occurrence. Pointed questions on notifying authorities, if the freelance journalists had advance notice and possible close ties with Hamas were raised by the group. The media watchdog also questioned the lack of “press identification” on the so-called reporters, usually when in a hostile zone a bullet proof vest and hard-hat the say, “press.”

In a social media post, HonestReporting asked The New York Times how the freelancer they used was wakened by rocket fire at 5:30 AM when the rockets didn’t start until 6:30 AM, after Israel accused the freelancers of foreknowledge. Israeli officials had slammed the new outlets and demanded clarification over the use of the freelancers’ work chronicling the brutal attack on Israeli civilians after HonestReporting’s exposé was released.

The Jerusalem Post reported that media integrity lines were crossed by the news outlets, as their investigation of Hassan Eslaiah, one of the photojournalist’s, Telegram channel showed he not only likely knew about the attack, but had close ties to Hamas and supported the killing of innocent victims.

The Jerusalem Post reported, Eslaiah’s first post on October 7 was at 5:59 a.m.: “We wake up to the great gifts of God,” he posted, according to ChatGPT translation. “The spirit has returned, and our blessings have increased,” within a half an hour he started posting about rockets being shot toward Israel. Shortly thereafter he was live inside Israel beside a burning tank. Since the HonestReporting exposé released CNN and AP have cut ties with Eslaiah.

Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren told Just the News, No Noise, “This is a completely different set of journalistic, violations of journalistic values.” He indicated the news outlets must be taken to task.

“AP takes every word spoken by the Hamas Health Ministry,” Oren said, “And immediately reports their statistics, their version of events without any type of journalistic inspection.” He recounted incidents where AP reports had caused global outrage against Israel and days later the truth unfolded different than the original report. A recent example is the rocket striking the Al-Ali Hospital in Gaza City. The media quickly blamed Israel, but investigation later showed a failed rocket from rebels was to blame (You can listen to Oren’s entire interview here).

Robyn Spradlin is a freelance journalist working as a contributor for Christian News Journal covering news and politics on the national and state levels. She has worked as a copywriter for Victory News on the Victory Channel since 2022. Robyn has an BA in Communication Studies and MA in Journalism from Regent University and is a member of the Evangelical Press Association. She is an author, evangelistic minister and a musician.

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