After Shocks In The AP Story
When I first wrote about Matti Friedman’s Tablet essay I gave it the title “A Media Earthquake Started”. I wasn’t wrong. Matti deliberately refrained from naming anybody in that piece but at least two of the people alluded to in that piece have identified themselves and spoken up.
Steve Gutkin, bureaux chief at AP for most of the time Matti covers, has written two pieces: part 1 and part 2. A large part of part 2 concerns specific allegations about the squashing of a story in 2009 about a peace plan put forward by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Here on Israellycool, Mirabelle has covered this with a great piece.
Matti replied with another piece in the Tablet and now a third person has spoken out, this time to support Matti’s account.
Writing on his own blog, Mark Lavie identifies himself as the reporter who took this story to Gutkin only to have it suppressed:
Hi, Steven Gutkin, let me start out by saying that I’m glad we’ve remained friends over the years despite our professional differences. I’m not named in Matti’s article, either, but I am the “furious” one who discovered the Israeli peace offer in early 2009, got it confirmed on the record and brought it to you. You banned me from writing about it. That is by far the worst journalistic fiasco I have been involved in, and we’re talking 50 years of journalism here. No denials on your part can erase the truth–and this is the truth: The AP suppressed a world-changing story for no acceptable reason. I am not ascribing motives to the decision–oh, hell, of course I am. It fit a pattern, described by Matti, of accepting the Palestinian narrative as truth and branding the Israelis as oppressors. This drove Matti, by far the most talented writer on our staff, away from AP. It drove me out of the Jerusalem bureau to Cairo. There, for two years as a regional editor, I tried to balance the slanted stories coming out of Jerusalem, often fighting for every letter and comma. Now I’m retired, and no one is filling that role. The world suffers as a result. If you are interested in the full, truthful and unexpurgated version of what happened in 2009 in your bureau, it’s Chapter 31 in my book:
I’ve bought his book, it’s queued up behind The Aleppo Codex by Matti Friedman which I’m enjoying immeasurable. I’m happy to support anyone blowing the whistle on the ideological corruption at the base of our news feeds.
It’s also a good moment to consider the financial underpinnings of most of the media today. This is the way it works for any large, commercial media organisation.
YOU (the reader or viewer) are the product, and you are being sold to the advertisers. The actual NEWS is little more than a bag of nuts and bolts the media outlet buys from a supplier (the news wire for example) to put in front of you in the hope that you’ll see some adverts too.
The reason I’ve been focusing on The Times of Israel, not directly on AP, is because I am not a customer of AP. The Times of Israel pays AP for its product. So The Times of Israel has leverage. They can cancel their subscription to AP’s news wire. I have no direct relationship with the AP.
In the meantime the other thing I can do to support people willing to blow the whistle on how our news is made, is buy their books and write publicly in support of them. I suggest, if you want things to change, you do the same.