Meet the Mideast Reporter

What to do about bias on Israel and the Middle East in the mainstream media? Watchdog organizations have been on the case for years. But now seasoned investigative journalists Richard Behar and Gary Weiss have teamed up to launch a new online publication, The Mideast Reporter (mideastreporter.com).

The Mideast Reporter strives to become an oasis in the wasteland of Mideast journalism. A target audience is young readers who haven’t yet made up their minds about issues affecting the region and who seek the most informed and multifaceted perspectives.

The nonprofit news operation’s founders explain that a vicious propaganda war is under way in the Middle East, and modern journalism has succumbed to lazy, prejudiced practices.

They describe a scene in which reporters from different news agencies “stay at the same hotels” and “engage in pack journalism [using] the same fixers, stringers, [and] the same agenda-pushing, inaccurate sources.” Above all, Behar and Weiss charge that there is “widespread ignorance of the background of the [Arab- Israeli] conflict and routine failure to perform rudimentary fact-checking.”

They say that a true investigative news desk, guided by the journalism profession’s most time-honored ethics, is necessary to hold correspondents accountable and to pursue truthful reporting. Otherwise, the public digests news in what Weiss labels an “echo chamber.” In this stagnant and polarized environment, each news brand presents superficial reports in agreement with their viewers’ preconceptions. Consequently, “the media is a tool of the combatants,” Weiss says.

“This might be the first modern conflict that is simultaneously a PR war, fought for the public opinion of the Western world as much as it is a war of knives Weiss suggests, reflecting on the reporting that characterized the 2014 Gaza conflict.

“Associated Mess,” an article Behar and Weiss coauthored, exposes how the Associated Press misled the public through its probe of civilian deaths in the Israel-Hamas war. Citing “posed photographs, intentionally inaccurate categorizations, buried corrections, one-sided sourcing and cherry-picked quotes,” the pair systematically dissect a piece of otherwise- acclaimed reporting, proving that the Associated Press posted a “just-plain wrong conclusion about most Gaza casualties being civilians.”

Behar is an award-winning journalist with three decades of experience. He has covered everything from murderous Russian corruption to Chinese economic aggression in Africa, serving as a staff writer for Forbes, Time, and Fortune Magazine and contributing to the BBC, CNN, and Fox News.

Weiss, likewise, has a two-decades long distinguished career behind him. In particular, his stories for Businessweek reflect his trained eye for discovering business fraud and foul play.

The new publication will monitor the establishment reporting coming out of the Middle East and expose propaganda and false accounts, hopefully before they can influence public discourse.

by Jeffrey F. Barken/JNS.org

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