By Ben Cohen
As reported yesterday by Matzav.com, the Associated Press news agency is under fire for a headline it ran yesterday following the terrorist attack in Jerusalem which injured several people and claimed the life of a three month-old baby, U.S. citizen Chaya Zissel Braun.
In its first report of the attack, AP ran the headline: “Israeli police shoot man in east Jerusalem.” As Jonah Goldberg pointed out at the National Review, AP then “changed [the headline] to ‘Car slams into east Jerusalem train station.’ Finally, after widespread outrage on social media, they changed it to ‘Palestinian kills baby at Jerusalem station.'”
However, the first iteration of the story remains online, for example at the website of the Lebanese daily newspaper The Daily Star. In addition to the offending headline, which makes no mention of the terrorist attack, the words “Occupied Jerusalem” appear as the location of the story.
“There’s absolutely no excuse for AP’s choice of headline, which was in use for nearly an hour, even while it was clear that the story was about a car being driven into Israeli civilians and causing serious injuries,” Gilead Ini, Senior Research Analyst with media monitoring organization CAMERA, told The Algemeiner. “By conveying that the most important element of the story was Israel’s use of force in reaction to an apparent terror attack, and not the attack itself, AP’s headline embodied the worst tendencies in distorted coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
Ini, who wrote about the AP story on CAMERA’s blog, added: “The wire service eventually did the right thing by changing the headline, but one hopes they acknowledge and address the failure that led to this situation.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, declared that “someone at the AP needs to come forward and take responsibility for what they did.” Interviewed by The Algemeiner, Cooper said of the headline: “This was an editorial decision not necessarily made by the reporter on the ground. Is AP suggesting that the Israeli police routinely shoot people at the site of traffic accidents? Why wasn’t there even a suggestion that the shooting was related to a terrorist attack? This not only shows poor judgement, but also potentially bias.”
The AP headline met with an angry response on Twitter. Among the agency’s many critics was Jerusalem-based journalist Matthew Kalman, who stated sarcastically, “Kudos to AP for clear take on Wednesday’s hit-and-run driver who killed a baby, injured 8.”
AP’s coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has consistently attracted accusations of bias from Jewish groups. Earlier this month, Richard Behar, a leading contributor to Forbes magazine, slammed the agency for using statistics supplied by Hamas as the basis for its claim that the “vast majority” of Palestinians killed in the recent war in Gaza were civilians.