U.S. corporate media outlets have granted Israeli military commanders pre-publication review rights for “all materials and footage” recorded by their correspondents embedded with the Israel Defense Forces during the invasion of Gaza, a precondition condemned by press freedom advocates.
“Journalists embedded with the IDF in Gaza operate under the observation of Israeli commanders in the field, and are not permitted to move unaccompanied within the Gaza Strip,” Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN‘s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” explained in a segment on Sunday.
“As a condition to enter Gaza under IDF escort, outlets have to submit all materials and footage to the Israeli military for review prior to publication,” he added. “CNN has agreed to these terms in order to provide a limited window into Israel’s operations in Gaza.”
Now the Israeli government gets to censor what CNN and other agreeable media outlets report from Gaza. How's that for "freedom of the press"? #Gaza #Gaza_under_attack @FAIRmediawatch @Roots_Action https://t.co/bBjbDldRnv
— Norman Solomon (@normansolomon) November 6, 2023
In a clip featuring correspondent Raf Sanchez – who is embedded with an IDF unit tasked with finding and destroying Hamas tunnels in Gaza – NBC News also acknowledged that it has “agreed to share raw footage” as “an operational security requirement.”
Responding to Zakaria’s admission, U.S. journalist Dan Cohen asserted that “CNN is explicitly acting as a propaganda mouthpiece for the genocidal Zionist regime.”
U.S. photojournalist Zach D. Roberts said on social media that “what CNN is doing here is creating ad b-roll for the IDF. It’s nothing resembling news and the CNN employees that participated in it aren’t anything resembling journalists.”
Omar Suleiman, founder and president of the Texas-based Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, said Sunday on social media that “Israel is killing the journalists that expose their crimes, then bribing the journalists that cover for them.”
Beware of any reporting out of Gaza in which news organizations are embedded with the IDF as CNN and ABC just did. They’re not allowed to release or broadcast any of it without the IDF signing off on it which is not journalism. It’s propaganda.
— Laila Al-Arian (@LailaAlarian) November 5, 2023
Israel does not allow foreign journalists into Gaza unless they’re embedded with IDF units under the aforementioned preconditions, placing almost all of the responsibility – and danger – of reporting on Palestinian correspondents.
As Common Dreams reported Friday, at least 31 Palestinian journalists have been killed in Gaza since Israel began bombarding the densely populated strip in response to the October 7 Hamas-led attacks that left more than 1,400 Israelis and others dead in southern Israel, with another 240 or so people taken hostage.
One Lebanese journalist was also killed in Gaza, while four Israeli media professionals were slain during the Hamas attacks.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the past month has been the deadliest four-week period for media professionals since the U.S.-based group started keeping records in 1992. CPJ has also documented at least eight injuries, three missing people, eight arrests, and “multiple assaults, threats, cyberattacks, censorship, and killings of family members.”
“We are waiting for our turn, one after the other.”
A Palestinian journalist from Gaza ripped off his protective gear during a live report after one of his colleagues was killed in an Israeli attack. pic.twitter.com/6SgOg0vkg6
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) November 3, 2023
Suleiman said that the world can “expect more coverage humanizing IDF soldiers while they murder thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians in cold blood.”
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said Monday that Israeli forces have killed at least 10,022 people in Gaza, including 2,550 women and more than 4,100 children, while wounding over 25,000 others.
During the eight-year U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, embedded journalists were used by American officials in an attempt to control the war’s public narrative. Research has shown that embedding “channeled reporters toward producing war coverage from the soldier’s point of view,” while minimizing civilian casualties and other negative consequences.
In fact, it’s worse than bias. It’s assuming the role of propagandist for the Israeli side in this conflict.
When it’s so clear that Israeli air strikes are ripping babies apart limb from limb, crushing them and their parents, you can’t reserve these words for Palestinians alone
— Adam Elmahrek (@adamelmahrek) October 25, 2023
U.S. and other Western mainstream media have long been accused of one-sided coverage in favor of Israel. During the current war, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) and other media monitors have noted how numerous outlets have broadcast unverified Israeli and U.S. claims of babies beheaded by Hamas, of Gaza-based militants operating from beneath hospitals, of Hamas using human shields, and other unsubstantiated reports.
Lara Witt and Tina Vásquez of Prism Reports recently wrote that the U.S. media “is evading its responsibility to acknowledge the Gaza genocide.”
Today @prismreports' editorial director Lara Witt and I have a new op-ed up that I hope folks in the media (in particular) will read and circulate. It's about how our industry is very negligently evading its responsibility to report on genocide in Gaza. https://t.co/q76iI4NePD
— Tina Vasquez (@TheTinaVasquez) October 26, 2023
“The American media is failing,” they wrote. “Through journalistic sleight of hand – including the use of passive language, ever-shifting headlines, bothsidesism, and the myth of objectivity – reporters across the U.S. are fueling the genocide their newsrooms are refusing to acknowledge is taking place,” Witt and Vásquez added.
Brett Wilkins is is staff writer for Common Dreams. Based in San Francisco, his work covers issues of social justice, human rights and war and peace. This originally appeared at CommonDreams and is reprinted with the author’s permission.