Over at The New York Times, social media sleuths noticed when a Tuesday morning story about the Hamas attack had been changed by Tuesday evening. The first headline accurately described “Hamas terrorists” who had become “Hamas gunmen” hours later.
The journalistic avoidance of “terrorist” has also been noticed at major news outlets The Washington Post, The Association Press, and the BBC in Great Britain.
In a letter leaked to the group Stop Antisemitism, the government-funded Canadian Broadcasting Company told its staff not to refer to any of the combatants in the Israeli-Hamas war as terrorists. The letter said the term is too heavily politicized and used "militants" and "soldiers" in describing the combatants.
Tim Graham is documenting media coverage of Israel at the Media Research Center. He says if ever there was ever a justified use of the term terrorism, it would be now after reporters toured the blood-soaked kibbutz communities near the Gaza border.
“What kind of words do you describe fighters – that's what some of them are calling Hamas – who just gunned people down, who go house to house gunning down Jews,” he says.
One possible justification for using “militants” or “gunmen” is that Hamas sent trained soldiers last weekend across the Gaza border, who committed acts of terror against civilians and against key IDF outposts. Critics of those word choices have pointed out Hamas is recognized by democratic governments as a terrorist organization. Hence its fanatic militant gunmen are “terrorists” by definition.
One other explanation is that newsrooms are dominated by the Far Left. Going back to their undergraduate years, those Ivy League-educated correspondents and editors have sympathized with the Palestinian people ever since a professor-activist described Israel as an “apartheid state” in a class at Harvard, Yale, and Columbia University. After all, after the 9/11 attack against the U.S., the president of ABC News was asked – but refused to answer – if he believed the Pentagon was a legitimate military target.
Regarding news coverage of the 9/11 attack, a Reuters editor famously defended the decision to not describe the hijackers as “terrorists.” Why? Because “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” he said.
That moral equivalency would presumably be more difficult to abide by now, after Hamas raped and mass-slaughtered partygoers in the desert, but it appears the national media is determined to maintain its narrative that “gunmen” burned babies and massacred families.
Graham calls it “downright weird” to witness the “both sides” terminology in light of a literal massacre of civilians by Hamas. He compares that to reporters suggesting the Allies and the Axis powers were the same during World War II.
“Clearly the consumers of media can see through what these people are doing,” he concludes, “but it's especially offensive coming from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC, PBS, NPR --- our government-funded news outlets.”