On Tuesday, numerous media outlets reported that Israel bombed a Palestinian hospital. Did they actually see Israel strike the hospital and kill hundreds of people or confirm that it happened? No, they were just reporting it as if it were fact.
Of course, some left-wing congressional Democrats in “the Squad” seized on the reporting and immediately used it to castigate Israel on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., has made her sympathies clear, which is why she immediately condemned Israel for the hospital explosion.
Israel just bombed the Baptist Hospital killing 500 Palestinians (doctors, children, patients) just like that. @POTUS this is what happens when you refuse to facilitate a ceasefire & help de-escalate.— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) October 17, 2023
Your war and destruction only approach has opened my eyes and many… https://t.co/mZYoifT7bj
Here’s Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.:
Bombing a hospital is among the gravest of war crimes. The IDF reportedly blowing up one of the few places the injured and wounded can seek medical treatment and shelter during a war is horrific.@POTUS needs to push for an immediate ceasefire to end this slaughter. https://t.co/dPJ48dyDe8— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) October 17, 2023
No surprise there. But is there any truth to the claim that Israel is just wantonly bombing hospitals?
One should always be skeptical of information coming out of a war zone. Not only can war zones be chaotic, but the belligerents often have a strong incentive to manipulate information for propaganda purposes.
In the case of Hamas, the government of the Palestinian territories, it’s a terrorist organization with a history of hiding behind civilians as human shields, in hopes of dissuading Israel from attacking their military assets and to cause bad press for the Jewish state.
Despite what you’ve heard, both Israel and Hamas have their own version of defense given to them by Western countries. Israel has the Iron Dome; Hamas has left-wing media.
Hamas understands that. The only way they can “win” a war against Israel is by creating outside pressure and persuading Israel to restrain its military efforts so much as to be ineffective.
That’s why if media outlets are concerned about the truth and reporting the news—a fanciful notion, I know—they would at least be cautious when Hamas tells them that Israel blew up a hospital and killed hundreds of people.
That didn’t happen. Instead, countless legacy media outlets didn’t even wait for the dust to settle before they went with the narrative Hamas wanted to tell—that the hospital was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike.
“The New York Times, Reuters, the Associated Press, PBS, the BBC, and many others raced to repeat with utterly undue credulity the claim that Israeli forces wantonly attacked a hospital, producing upwards of 500 fatalities,” Noah Rothman wrote in National Review.
Here’s Ben Collins, NBC’s “disinformation” reporter.
In the hours after the explosion at the hospital, new information began to trickle in that contradicted the initial reports. The Israel Defense Forces immediately denied that they attacked the hospital. They claimed that the blast came from an Islamist militant group, Palestine Islamic Jihad, hitting their own people from Gaza.
IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari holds up poster showing that “rockets were fired from within Gaza at the time of the explosion” on the al Ahli al Arabi hospital – an accusation the Islamist militant group denies.https://t.co/MHDJXzsW8P— Sky News (@SkyNews) October 18, 2023
📺 Sky 501 and YouTube pic.twitter.com/wo5DbdJI8o
As we showed yesterday, pictures from the area appear to show that the hospital wasn’t even struck at all, and the explosion came from the parking lot.
And we now have footage of the (partially) burnt-out parking lot at the Ahli Hospital in Gaza.— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) October 18, 2023
Overall damage to the structures in the complex appears to be limited, a clay-tiled awning adjacent to the parking lot is still mostly intact. pic.twitter.com/Tf0EAUJLR5
“Independent analysts poring over publicly available images of Tuesday’s explosion at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza and its aftermath say the blast site doesn’t bear the hallmarks of a strike with a bomb or missile of the types usually used by Israel,” the Wall Street Journal reported the day after the blast.
Al-Ahli Arab Hospital is actually a Christian hospital run by Anglicans.
Now, even U.S. intelligence and the Biden administration have said that they think the explosion was caused by militants in Gaza.
While we continue to collect information, our current assessment, based on analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts and open source information, is that Israel is not responsible for the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday.— Adrienne Watson (@NSC_Spox) October 18, 2023
In 24 hours, the story figuratively went from “Israeli airstrike hits Palestinian hospital, 500 killed” to “Islamist militants bomb hospital parking lot, maybe 50 killed.”
Given the stakes here, you might expect some kind of mea culpa. Instead, we get a shrug.
Oliver Darcy at CNN tried to write off this mass media whoopsie as news outlets just struggling to adjust to the “fog of war.”
Confusion in a war zone is one thing; reporting on it basically like this is another.
“Hello BBC, Israel did it. We’ll provide evidence later, trust me bro.” pic.twitter.com/Y1Njk6Vd0U— Chris Rose (@ArchRose90) October 18, 2023
They should have known better.
Sometimes mistakes and corrections are made. But the fact that legacy media outlets were willing to jump headfirst into the story Hamas wanted to tell says a lot about their judgment—and unfortunately, about what we can expect from this war.
The initial reports on the explosion will almost certainly stir up more trouble in the Middle East and increase tension in what’s already a potential powder keg.
The Squad members who immediately rushed to promote an unconfirmed story and blame Israel have yet to delete their posts as of now, so this story is persisting.
The fact is, citizen journalists did a better job finding the facts and getting to the bottom of this story than professional journalists with the support of huge newsrooms, massive budgets and—presumably—editors.
And yet these same media outlets want to be the gatekeepers of what is reported as right and wrong, truth and disinformation.
Instead, they’ve rightfully earned the mistrust of the American people.
Jarrett Stepman is a columnist for The Daily Signal. Original here. Reproduced with permission.