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CNN Tricked Into Running Anti-Israel Propaganda?

3:29 PM, Jan 9, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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It was an irresistible story for Western media. A Gazan cameraman was working valiantly to bring the images of war's brutality to the world from a war zone blocked to media access by the Israeli government. While he was performing his heroic task, violence hit home with a deadly blow. Ashraf Mashharawi got a call that his family's home had been hit by a rocket, and he rushed to the hospital to find doctors trying to save his 12-year-old brother's life.

The life-saving measures were in vain. Mahmoud and one of Mashharawi's cousins, who had been playing on their roof after being holed up in their Gaza home for days, both died in what the family claims was an attack from an Israeli drone.

When I first read the story at CNN.com, it sounded odd that Palestinian parents had their children playing on a roof after a week-long air campaign, and that Mahmoud's brother's first instinct was to film the final suffering of his sibling.

When one watches the video report CNN aired on the incident, the problems with the story become more clear:

CNN has yanked the video from both its website and the on-air rotation without explanation, but the print story remains. The doctor in the video is Mads Gilbert, a radical Marxist Norwegian with a history of backing terrorists who works in a hospital where Israel's government claims Hamas hides weapons.

The "freelance cameraman," it turns out, is the owner of an Internet company in Gaza that has hosted websites for Hamas.

Bob Owens has collected the objections of doctors and other critics about the tepid CPR being performed on the boy and the relative lack of damage done to the roof of Mahmoud's house.

There were plenty of red flags for this, but CNN chose to ignore them when handed a conveniently poignant anti-Israeli story with conveniently compelling video. Now, CNN is choosing to ignore the consequences of those actions by pulling the video without explanation. Its audience deserves a prominent retraction, explanation, and apology.

As a result of its sloppy work, the iffy story of Mahmoud and his brother is caroming across the world's social networks--a Twitter search pulls up two pages of references to the story.

The execrable UK Channel 4, for whom Mashharawi was filming footage, is running the story, though their version claims Mahmoud died as a result of Israeli gunfire, not rocket fire.

The video legitimized by CNN has been uploaded to YouTube six times, and Reuters recounts the incident as evidence of the "humanising force" of relying on Gazan freelancers for coverage. They're so close to the conflict, they're able to "convey the horror" properly, you see.

The Reuters columnist revels in the tendency of this conflict, where Western journalists are banned, to bring "Palestinian voices, rather than western commentators, to the fore." It reads like a wanted ad for more Mads Gilbert productions, and utterly dismisses the fact that the last time Israel let Reuters, CNN, et al. into a war zone where it was trying to do business, it got an overwhelming amount of funny business in return. Anyone remember a dearth of Arab-street pathos and Muslim-world opinion from the coverage of the Lebanon war? Yeah, me neither.