On Israel, a media that lies to itself will lie to you too

On Monday, the New York Times published a rare editor’s note addressing an outrageous instance of journalistic malpractice.

The note acknowledged that the paper had “relied too heavily on claims by Hamas,” which runs the Gaza Health Ministry, in its initial reporting on an explosion at a Gaza hospital — a story the Times, but also pretty much the entire Western media, botched completely.

We now have verification — from U.S. and other countries’ intel operations, and multiple media outlets — that the explosion almost certainly came instead from a misfired rocket by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terror group in Gaza. But that initial claim from the Gaza Health Ministry led the Times and other outlets to spin Hamas propaganda as if it was legitimate. In subsequent stories this week, the Times has noted that the ministry is run by Hamas. (No apology for using an image of general Gaza rubble to illustrate the hospital story, however.)

The hospital debacle is just one example of knee-jerk anti-Israel instincts, or at least extreme skepticism, we’ve seen from the corporate media. Last week, the Washington Post published a story about the hostages taken by Hamas, and illustrated a photo of a mother with a caption describing her children as being merely “detained” by Hamas. After getting called out on social media, “editors quickly agreed this was an egregious choice of words and changed the caption,” wrote Post media reporter Paul Farhi. Who let it happen in the first place?

What we’re seeing here is a beltway media (or the “Acela Media” as I describe it, being situated in New York City and Washington, D.C.) disconnected from the average American, terrified of getting backlash on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, lying to themselves in the service of anti-Israel sentiment.

They seem to instinctually believe a Hamas propaganda arm, or describe hostages as being “detained” by a terror group, because they see no incentive not to. That lie to themselves reverberates throughout all their coverage, and has a very significant after-effect — it’s clear to the audience that a media that will lie to itself will lie to them as well.

The latest Gallup poll tracking Americans’ trust in “mass media” was published last week, and found a dire outlook on the state of the industry. When questioned about their trust and confidence in the press, 39 percent answered “none at all” — the highest of all time. And 32 percent said they had a “great deal or fair amount” of trust, tied for the lowest ever.

And this is a nonpartisan issue. Just 11 percent of Republicans and 29 percent of independents trust the media. While 58 percent of Democrats say they trust the press, that number is down 12 points from last year, and near historic lows. And how could they trust a media that — no matter what side you’re on — so blatantly lies to itself on such an important story, over and over again?

Here’s another example. On Friday, an organization called Forensics Architecture published an “analysis” that claimed to cast “significant doubt” on the claim that it was a misfire by a militant group that hit the parking lot near the hospital. The tweet describes the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, as the “IOF” — which stands for “Israeli Occupation Forces.” That should have perhaps been the first clue about this group’s lack of objectivity on the matter.

But this lack of credibility didn’t stop the most Extremely Online of our corporate media from instantly sharing it widely on X. MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan called it “a pretty huge twist to the story.” Evan Hill of the Washington Post, who happily shared content connecting Israel to the Gaza hospital blast in the moment last week, called it “interesting,” while Adam Elmahrek of the Los Angeles Times, who tweeted about the “leveled” hospital at the time (a false claim — the hospital wasn’t leveled), shared it multiple times as an example of “conflicting conclusions about the hospital strike.” Right, it’s every intel agency and multiple media outlets vs. some random group that calls Israel the occupiers.

Sure, all these stories work to confirm the priors of the journalists taking the ethically derelict actions. But it also represents a broader press so willing to lie to itself in the service of a specific narrative, rendering it fully untrustworthy to a discerning audience that deserves a media it can count on when a story is as important as this one.

On Tuesday, the day after the editor’s note ran, the Times published a story saying that 700 Gazans had been killed in the “highest one-day toll of the war.” In the sub-headline, the paper cites “Palestinian officials” with that figure. While acknowledging “it was not possible to independently verify the claims,” the Times continued as if it were true, adding a couple paragraphs later that “officials in Gaza say that 5,791 people there have been killed since October 7.”

Finally, in the 12th paragraph, the reporters acknowledge all these figures are coming not from any legitimate source but from the Hamas-run operation — you know, the monsters still holding hundreds hostage after brutally murdering over a thousand innocent Israeli civilians.

Just another example of the corporate press learning nothing — and lying to itself, while lying to you.

Steve Krakauer, a NewsNation contributor, is the author of “Uncovered: How the Media Got Cozy with Power, Abandoned Its Principles, and Lost the People” and editor and host of the Fourth Watch newsletter and podcast.

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