Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Marquadt-Bigman - MJ Rosenberg, Media Matters and misinformation

Petra Marquadt-Bigman..
The Warped Mirror..
27 March '12..

Media Matters for America (MMfA) describes itself as a “progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.” As a partner project, it operates Media Matters Action Network (MMAN), which is described in very similar terms as “a progressive research and information center dedicated to analyzing and correcting conservative misinformation; ensuring accuracy, appropriate balance, and accountability in the media through targeted public action campaigns; empowering and expanding progressive voices in the media by providing a full range of resources to assist the larger progressive community in creating and disseminating progressive information and views; and engaging in other activities at the confluence of progressive thought, policy, and media.”

It should go without saying that anyone who works for an outfit that is monitoring political opponents for “misinformation” will obviously be expected to be very careful about the information they are putting out. However, this is apparently not a standard embraced by Media Matters.

One of the people who work for MMAN is MJ Rosenberg. He holds the position of Senior Foreign Policy Fellow, writes a blog at the Huffington Post and contributes regularly to Al Jazeera – including a recent piece that promotes the demagogic trope that the Israel Lobby controls Washington.

Unfortunately, it seems that Rosenberg is prone to spreading even worse misinformation about Israel. As I documented in a blog post yesterday, Rosenberg claimed in a tweet that Ha’aretz had reported that a “Palestinian infant died in incubator which went dead due to Israeli electricity shutdown.”

But the relevant Associated Press (AP) report published by Ha’aretz did not blame Israel in any way; instead, it stated explicitly that the power shortage that led to the baby’s death had “been caused by a cut-off of Egyptian fuel.”

Due to the fact that Rosenberg had blocked me on Twitter some two months ago after I had challenged him about his enthusiastic endorsement of a controversial essay, I was not able to draw his attention to my post, but since many others on Twitter mentioned it, there is little doubt that he was aware that his slander had been noticed.

Yet, for much of the day, Rosenberg did not react in any way, and did not retract his false claim, even though he was very active on Twitter throughout the day, with many of his tweets devoted to praising Peter Beinart’s recently published book and denigrating its many critics:

Eventually, however, Rosenberg posted this tweet: “AP corrects report I linked to that Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza caused electricity short & baby’s death. Not so.”

It is a sad reflection of MJ Rosenberg’s professional ethics and competence if he thinks that this is an appropriate retraction of his completely false claim that adds to so many similar accusations echoing ancient blood libels against Jews.

Let’s list the many falsehoods Rosenberg managed to pack into his half-hearted retraction:

1) Contrary to his claim, Rosenberg’s original tweet about the death of the baby did not link to any AP report; instead, as I documented, he simply referred to a Ha’aretz report without providing any link

2) The AP report Rosenberg now links to is not a correction of the original AP report published by Ha’aretz; indeed, the report is dated as “4 days ago,” which means it was published before the report on the death of the baby – and therefore, it does of course not mention this incident.

3) However, as documented by Camera, AP did actually issue a correction of the original report published by Ha’aretz, and it is a riddle why Rosenberg avoided linking to it. One possible explanation is that he didn’t like the fact that the rewritten AP report gave Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev the opportunity to comment on the apparent attempt by Hamas to alter details of the baby’s death in order to use it for political propaganda.

4) Rosenberg’s tweet implies that there was actually an AP story that blamed “Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza” for the electricity shortage that caused the baby’s death – but of course, there was no such story.

5) While Rosenberg will certainly be able to quote opinions that agree with his view that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is “illegal,” the fact of the matter is that the UN Palmer Commission found it to be legal.

Rosenberg certainly managed to give a master class demonstrating how much misinformation can be packed into a single tweet. But by doing so, he exposed himself as a reckless partisan campaigner who is not only unwilling to take responsibility when he is caught spreading lies, but who seems to think he can make do with a disingenuous “retraction” that replaces one big lie with lots of little ones.


Cross-posted from my JPost blog.

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