By Huff Watcher
“[T]oo many reporters have forgotten that the highest calling of journalists is to ferret out the truth, consequences be damned.”
– Arianna Huffington
On July 24, 2014 the Simon Wiesenthal Center again condemned The Huffington Post, this time for “taking the art of lying and self-delusion to new depths,” in regards to its latest act of anti-Israel bias and incitement. That incident was merely the latest in a long string of exposes by the SWC, Huff-Watch, HuffPostMonitor and others of HuffPost’s pathological incitement of hatred against Israel and Jews, and whitewashing or legitimizing the Palestinian narrative.
On July 25, however, HuffPost broke the bonds of gravity and took its propaganda war against Israel into the heavens – literally. Specifically, it gave top coverage to a “news” story that had been debunked by multiple sources 24 hours earlier – that the explosions and rocket fire in Gaza are so massive, that they can be seen from space.
Here is a screencap of how HuffPost presented this “news” story on its front page:
HuffPost’s source for the story was a July 23 tweet by German astronaut Alexander Gerst, which read:
“My saddest photo yet. From #ISS we can actually see explosions and rockets flying over #Gaza & #Israel.”
Before you succumb to automatically believing whatever astronaut Gerst says, some facts to consider (which HuffPost’s army of “editors,” “researchers” and “journalists” either didn’t, or ignored):
The International Space Station orbits the Earth from an altitude of approximately 240 miles.
The rockets that Hamas fires at Israel, and those that are fired by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system to knock them down are each about 10 feet long.
The reason that stars appear to “twinkle” to the naked eye is because of a phenomenon calledscintillation. Passing clouds, combined with optical distortions caused by pockets of hot and cold air in the atmosphere, cause illuminated objects to appear brighter one second, and dimmer the next.
Given all these facts, do you really think that the exhaust from these rockets, and the explosions they cause, can be seen from 240 miles up? And if you were a (legitimate) news editor, wouldn’t these facts lead you to at least question the veracity of the astronaut’s claim?
Before you answer, consider some additional facts:
Twenty-four hours before HuffPost published that “news” story, numerous lone Internet sleuths had already debunked it. First, blogger “Dmartyr” at the Jawa Report blog pointed out this deception by comparing Gerst’s image to a map of Israel, proving that the areas of Gerst’s image that appear to contain “explosions” are actually major Israeli population centers – Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa – and that Gaza is enveloped in darkness.
Another blogger, “CandidBouncyGraySquirrel,” demonstrated this fact further, by constructed a two-frame overlay animation:
- Then, in his expose, “Now we’re getting propaganda from space,” blogger Thomas Wickter points out through video that at night, even while standing directly under Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system as it knocks down the rockets that Hamas fires at its civilians, one can barely see either projectile in flight. WATCH HERE.
Would it really be possible to see these rocket trails from 240 miles up, without the hyper-magnification of an NSA spy satellite? Of course not.
Keep in mind that these facts were uncovered by individual bloggers on July 24 – a full day before HuffPost published Gerst’s allegation as “news” on its front page.
One by one, legitimate news sources in Israel began picking up on these blog reports, and doing their own research. Notable among these was The Times of Israel, which enlisted geology professor Michael Harper for a story it also published on July 24, that completely debunked the astronaut’s allegations.
With all this knowledge in mind, it is reasonable to ask:
Is it really possible that HuffPost, which as of 2011 had a bigger “news” room than even The New York Times, and has only grown larger still in the following three years, missed all these reports – before it published its version of this story, one day after it was debunked?
Why did HuffPost editors change the basic allegation in astronaut Gerst’s tweet? In his version, he claimed the image showed “explosions and rockets flying over Gaza & Israel.” HuffPost’s headline, however, falsely claimed that the image focused only on Gaza (“This is what Gaza looks like right now”)?
Why did HuffPost not publish a retraction, clarification or apology in the 72 hours after posting this debunked story, acknowledging that it had deliberately misled its readers?
To know HuffPost, however, is to know the answers to these questions:
This was not an isolated incident, or an “accident,” as HuffPost likes to claim when it’s caught in one of these situations. Rather, it was a continuation of its pathological mischaracterization of news concerning the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, in a way that can only result in unjustifiable public hatred of Israel and Jews.
Since the start of this conflict, HuffPost falsely depicted Israel as the aggressor, and Hamas as merely acting in response to this aggression. And rather than presenting an accurate and contextual picture of this conflict, its causes, and the steps each side is taking to avoid (or deliberately cause) civilian casualties, HuffPost’s “coverage” has been so dishonest and lopsided that it could have been written and directed by Hamas itself.
For years, this dishonest, inflammatory approach has under-girded all of HuffPost’s “reporting” on Israel’s efforts to defend itself against Islamist terrorism, and has even extended to domestic Jewish issues. For example, who can forget HuffPost’s 2012 front-page “news” story that falsely claimed “a pack of Jews” chased Mitt Romney away from a wedding?
In the broadest context, HuffPost giving top-line coverage to a demonstrably false story alleging that the explosions in Gaza are so massive they can be seen 240 miles into space, after it had been debunked by sources large and small, is not that significant. But it does represent the grimly comical outer-orbit of HuffPost’s willingness to do whatever is necessary to ensure that its readership is incited to hate Israel, and sympathize with the very Palestinian forces that have caused this war, and are deliberately causing civilian casualties.
On the bright side, however, HuffPost has not completely lost its moral sense, and desire to correct erroneous public perceptions. For example, on July 28 it posted at the top of its front page a weepy-eyed defense of pit bulls.
Perhaps one day, HuffPost will decide to feature such a passionate defense of Israel, to correct the egregious public misconceptions and hatred that it has deliberately and maliciously fomented about it. And if it were really interested in atoning for its propaganda war against Israel, HuffPost would run the story so prominently that it could actually be seen from space.