The U.S. media watch group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) is challenging the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for making false and biased claims after a campaign by groups that advocate for uncritical coverage of Israel.
The campaign was launched in response to CBC’s October 23, 2008 airing of the 2003 educational documentary Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land. The film cited a FAIR report on U.S. media coverage of the Israel/Palestine conflict, prompting the CBC’s French-language radio ombud Julie Miville-Dechêne to question the independence of FAIR’s research, referring to the organization as a "pro-Palestinian" and "militant group."
FAIR is an independent nonprofit group whose research is widely cited by respected media scholars in both the U.S. and Canada. Its spokespersons have appeared on several occasions on the CBC to discuss issues ranging from media coverage of the Kosovo War to radio host Rush Limbaugh.
Faulting the film for "failure to account for the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip," Miville-Dechêne also cited a 2001 FAIR study that found only 4 per cent of U.S. network news reports "concerning Gaza or the West Bank mention that these are occupied territories" as an example of an "anachronism" in the documentary, because Israel had subsequently withdrawn military forces and settlements from Gaza.
Under international law, however, Gaza remains an occupied territory, because Israel continues to control its borders. FAIR’s finding of a chronic failure by leading American media organizations to mention the occupation is actually even more true today: a search of the Lexis Nexis database during the most recent war (12/2/08-1/18/09) reveals that the percentage of network news programs about Gaza or the West Bank that mentioned the occupation has fallen from four to only two per cent.
While the ombud said FAIR’s 2001 finding that only four per cent of U.S. news reports mentioned the occupation was "shocking," the coverage on CBC’s own evening newscast, The National, from the same period was roughly equivalent, with only 5 per cent of reports concerning Gaza or the West Bank referring to occupation.
FAIR contributing writer Seth Ackerman, who authored the report, has issued a response to the president of the CBC, which is available online.