Stealth edits and linguistic laments couldn’t keep The Washington Post from getting slammed over decisions that editors had allowed to “happen in the first place.”
“Who agreed to publish ‘the egregious choice of words’?”
Corporate media outlets were left confronting inherent biases differently in the wake of the Hamas terror attacks on Israel as a softened portrayal of atrocities readily aligned with perceptions of anti-Semitism.
On Thursday, conservative author Bethany Mandel pointed to an example on X with a screengrab of a Post article that described the image of an Israeli mother whose children had been kidnapped.
“Interesting choice of words from Washington Post. ‘detained,'” wrote Mandel of the caption that read, “Hadas Kalderon, a resident of Kibbutz Nir Oz, in an apartment in Tel Aviv on Thursday. Two of her children have been detained by Hamas.” (emphasis added)
Interesting choice of words from Washington Post. “detained” pic.twitter.com/kiuKHPjIwo
— Bethany S. Mandel (@bethanyshondark) October 20, 2023
Within an hour of that callout, the caption had been revised with no note of the change to read,”Two of her children have been taken hostage by Hamas,” prompting Mandel to comment of the stealth edit, “Well that was fast.” (emphasis added)
Well that was fast. pic.twitter.com/DxuYCw3dIQ
— Bethany S. Mandel (@bethanyshondark) October 20, 2023
Reactions to both the edit and the original choice of words circled around the same conclusion that, “However much you hate the mainstream media, it’s not enough.”
However much you hate the mainstream media, it’s not enough.
— Cecelia (@Ceceliaism) October 20, 2023
There are no words for how evil it was to use the word “detained” instead of “kidnapped.”
— John William Sherrod (@jwsherrod) October 20, 2023
They are trying to convince us Hamas arrested them?
— Lilly Wilson (@RealLillyWilson) October 20, 2023
WaPo running top cover for Hamas.
— NormieUtah (@NormieUtah) October 20, 2023
It is impressive how hard they work to spin even this monstrous event as somehow less awful than it was.
— Hank (@HankRacette) October 20, 2023
Backlash over the word choice warranted an entire piece published Friday defending the “balancing act between striving for accuracy and inflaming a volatile situation.”
As Paul Farhi wrote, “Users of X (formerly Twitter) reacted with fury Thursday when a photo caption in The Post said Hamas had ‘detained’ the children of an Israeli woman featured in a news story. Editors quickly agreed this was an egregious choice of words and changed the caption to ‘taken hostage.'”
Of course, explicit in the writer’s defense of the newspaper was the reality that the word choice was reviewed and approved despite an objectively different meaning in the disparate description of what happened to Kalderon’s children.
Farhi had stated after riffing on the AP Stylebook’s take on “‘Terrorist’ vs. ‘militant'” that “Other news organizations have their own style guides tailored for the current conflict. The Washington Post’s standards desk decreed last week that Hamas’s attack can be called ‘terrorism,’ ideally in the context of a quotation from an individual. ‘In the rare cases in which we would use it without attribution, we require approval from a department head’ or deputy managing editor, The Post’s guidance says.”
The Spectator’s contributing editor Stephen L. Miller tackled that reality when he called out Farhi’s take on the initial use of the word “detained” and wrote on X, “Editors suddenly agreed with the ‘fury’ of TwitterX users? Why did editors suddenly agree? Why was ‘detained’ published in the first? How was this changed? Who changed it? Who allowed it and why is there no editors note? Which editors let that happen in the first place? Who wrote the caption? Not good enough.”
“Who agreed to publish ‘the egregious choice of words’? Someone did. Someone signed off on Hamas ‘detaining’ kids. Does Democracy die in darkness or not?” he went on to add.
@farhip Who agreed to publish “the egregious choice of words”?
Someone did. Someone signed off on Hamas “detaining” kids.
Does Democracy die in darkness or not?
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) October 21, 2023
Putting the decisions from The Post in perspective, even a Saudi Arabian host on the Al-Arabiya Network was willing to confront the leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashal, directly over the propaganda the terrorist organization has been pushing after slaughtering more than 1,400 people and wounding hundreds more.
During a Friday interview she questioned whether or not apologies would be issued to Israeli civilians and blasted leaders like himself for hiding out in “an air-conditioned room” while others did his dirty work.
In response, Mashal denied the claims that Hamas attacked anything but military targets while softening language about terrorists, instead labeling them the “resistance.” The backlash against The Post and corporate media continued:
Some people did something.
— Aldous Huxley’s Ghost™ (@AF632) October 21, 2023
This is why censorship is bad, don’t do it.
— J Bagger (@JBagger4) October 21, 2023
Democracy dies when the media sacrifices its principles on the alter of DE&I
— CRC (@crc817517) October 21, 2023
The media is hopelessly biased against Israel. They are trying to whitewash the slaughter of innocent people and those taken hostage, while knowingly spreading disinformation about the blast near the hospital in Gaza. It’s sickening. Let’s keep calling this crap out.
— HoneyBadgerMimi (@TamaraCunn78733) October 21, 2023
The “we can’t believe that happened, we’ll do better next time” mistakes all go one way..
— Rorschach’s Journal (@rorschachsjernl) October 21, 2023
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