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Media Biases in Middle East War Coverage?

The topic of Howard Kurtz’ Reliable Sources yesterday is one that many are gabbing about from Washington’s bomb-free vantage point. The ghastly pictures of dead women, children and older people being carried out of rubble in Qana, Lebanon as a result of Israel’s mistaken bombing of a residential area were the backdrops for the this week’s discussion.

Michael Ware, a CNN correspondent who’s been in the Lebanon for several days, told Kurtz that crowds of Lebanese very quickly turned their rage on the United Nations headquarters in Beirut. “Israel is not just attacking Hezbollah, it’s attacking Lebanon, is the sentiment on the street,” said Ware. It “feels punitive,” like “collective punishment,” he added.

“All right,” said Kurtz, and then came the pro-Israel section of the program.

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Lara Logan, CBS’s chief international correspondent said that Hezbollah is without question “winning the war of images” “Would people be happier if they saw more Israelis dead?” she asked at one point. Dean Reynolds, an ABC News correspondent, added that Israelis assume that the media are against them.

“Why should they lose the PR war?” asked Kurtz, later saying that there’s “some talk in the states that the American press is too pro-Israel.” He also asked Ware whether Hezbollah putting rocket launchers near civilian apartment buildings was meant to purposely expose the country’s people to attacks.

Meanwhile, over on Tim Russert’s Meet the Press, the show’s top guest, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman was suggesting that “no matter how far fetched it sounds” Hezbollah may have forced the people to live in an area that Israel was bound to bomb, “using woman and children as human shields.” Said Gillerman, “This is exactly what the Hezbollah wanted.”

Somehow, Russert didn’t seem to think that the idea was all that far-fetched. And the debate goes on.

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