Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Palestinian Journalist Rula Jebreal Blasts MSNBC for One Sided Palestinian Reporting

Press critics have to love Rula Jebreal. Heck, I love Rula Jebreal. My admiration for her has nothing to do with the fact she's drop dead gorgeous, or that she probably makes a lot of money. I am certainly not star struck behind Ms. Jebreal; I didn't know who she was until about three months ago. So why all this bliss for a woman I have never met and most of you never heard of?

Ms. Jebreal is hell bent on "keepin" it real and she's not scared to put a paycheck on the line to call out crass ass reporting. I sense some grinning head shaking shucking and jiving "expert analysis" clicking away from here right about now. That's cool, you can run but you can't hide.

Rula Jebreal is a Palestinian journalist, author, screenwriter and MSNBC go to girl for comments and opinion on Palestinian matters.

On the Monday July 21 edition of the MSNBC program "Ronan Farrow Daily," Rula went in on MSNBC accusing it of favoring Israel in the ongoing hostilities in Gaza. She got Ronan on the ropes and the beat down was underway.

Rula swung hard. "We're ridiculous. We are disgustingly biased when it comes to this issue. Look at how many airtime Netanyahu and his folks have on air on a daily basis, Andrea Mitchell and others. I never see one Palestinian being interviewed on these same issues, not even for.".

Farrow offered up a recourse that can be compared to a child slugging Floyd Mayweather.

"We've had Palestinian voices on our air."

To which Jebreal countered:
"Maybe for 30 seconds, and then you have 25 minutes for Bibi Netanyahu and half an hour for Naftali Bennett and many others. Listen, the Ayman Mohyeldin story, let's talk about this. We are home, and we can discuss this. Ayman Mohyeldin is covering the Palestinian side, and we get upset. It's too pro-Palestinian. We don't like it. We push him back. And thanks for social media, that brought him in. Let's talk about these issues,"

Farrow nervously came off the ropes and sounded just as shaky as the ground he was treading.

"Point taken, but doesn't it reveal equally our thinking that we now have Ayman Mohyeldin on air? And I think there's been very fair and balanced coverage of this."

Rula went in for the kill.

"Just thanks to social media and thanks for the pushback from the public opinion. And I'm not saying that everybody is like this, but it's one-tenth is given to the Palestinian voice and 99 percent of the Israeli voice, and that's why the public opinion is pro-Israeli, which is the opposite in the rest of the world."

Now most sensible entities and folk put on blast like that would have the good sense to do two things. One, right the wrong they were blasted for and two, avoid agitating the antagonist that put them on blast in the first place.

Not MSNBC. Shortly after the Farrow "spanking" Rula tweeted:

Seriously? These people went to messing with this woman's money because she practiced free speech?

MSNBC issued a statement that could have been interpreted as an explanation of Rula's tweet.

"Regarding the claim of cancelled appearances: Jebreal's pre-booked daytime appearance on Tuesday was bumped to accommodate the re-airing of Chris Hayes' exclusive interview with Tariq Abu Khdeir, a 15 year old Palestinian American beaten by Israeli forces. Jebreal was a guest on "All In" with Chris Hayes on Tuesday night.
While we don't publicly discuss contract specifics, Jebreal's contributor deal with MSNBC officially ended last month when she said she wanted to pursue new opportunities. We've welcomed her back on MSNBC several times since. Her voice is one of many Palestinian voices on MSNBC."

Social backlash from that Tweet must have triggered an impromptu meeting of the dummies in suits over at MSNBC. The agenda damage control. "What in the hell are we going to do about this Rula Jebreal mess?"

"Get Chris Hayes on speaker"

"Chris we're calling in a favor".

Chris Hayes, Host of MSNBC's All In, had Rula come on his show the following Tuesday night. Now Chris does a good show. He has steered clear of selling out as a total "Dem, Obama cheerleader platform" like that "other" show and Chris covers a diverse range of topics. Chris should not have gone up the "Rula" road- but he did.

Chris meandered around with a few opening topics and about mid-way into the show got down to the business of dealing with Rula.

Chris cordially approached Rula with a scripted summation of Jebreal's contention about the television cancellations and then said:

"Let me take you behind the curtain of cable news business for a moment. If you appear on a cable news network, you trash that network and one of his hosts by name on any issues, Gaza, infrastructure spending, sports coverage, or funny Internet cat videos, the folks at the network will not take kindly to it. Not some grand conspiracy at work. Fairly predictable case of cause and effect."

Translated: If you are employed by a cable news network and say something bad about that network you can expect ramifications. That sounds like a threat to me.

Hayes continued with what was a short dissertation that defended recent media coverage of the destruction in Gaza. Chris is slow to the hunting party. Everyone except him knew by now if you are going to take shots at Rula Jebreal, you had better damn well hit your mark.

She did not waste time pouncing on Hayes.

"Listen, if that`s true, then you have to explain to me why the public opinion is 99 percent for Israelis, if that`s true, why the
scholars, the most respected American scholars, Juan Cole, for example, who you invited, yourself, first to study that explained that, in 2011, -- actually `12, the last..."

HAYES: The last time we had the Gaza conflict.

JEBREAL: "You had -- on one network, CNN, you had 45 Israeli officials vs. 11.This time around, you have -- between June 13 and July 10, you had 17 Israeli public officials vs. one. Let me also finish."

HAYES: "Yes."

JEBREAL: "What I was talking about yesterday -- and my frustration comes from my love for journalism and media and my love for unbiased journalists.

I think we are really creating a disservice to our public opinion in America. Let me just explain why. Not only because we`re giving more airtime to the Israelis, but actually we are not covering the content in which -- the context in which the conflict is taking place. Most Americans think, OK, Israelis are minding their own business and Palestine wake up one day in Gaza and they decide, OK, let me fire missiles. This is not what`s happening. They don`t know anything about the siege, the 1.8 million Palestinians leaving under siege in extreme poverty with 90 percent didn`t don`t have access even to water.
So, the military occupation in the West Bank, they don`t understand and they don`t even know what`s going on."

After that, she did not have to say anymore. In that one paragraph she eloquently described the big ill plaguing modern day journalism while at the same time highlighting the negative impact biased reporting can have on its consumers. Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie crafted one of the most powerful TED talks of all time around Jebreal's core point: The Dangers of The Single Story.

Viewers and listeners have become so accustomed to consuming what is fed to them by news portals they take most of what they hear and see at face value. Moreover, most of the time they are getting one view of the story. No wonder Fox News emerges as one of the most listened to news formats year after year. It is high time everyone make a Rula move, lest we continue to be fed information made toxic because of overdoses of disparity.

Rula Jebreal gets two thumbs up from us for doing what a lot of other journalists and analysts are in the position to do-call out biased and one-sided reporting. These others however are going to do no such thing. They will keep grinning while spinning their opinions to conform to the mold conformed by the corporate dollars that designate them as experts.

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