FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Leaving the Truth Out?

Truthout, an online newsletter and website boasting 250,000 subscribers, wants to outflank the distortions of mainstream media by disseminating news of interest to left-liberals. But its commitment to truth-telling seemingly stops short when it comes to Palestine.

On May 7, the Truthout newsletter linked to an Associated Press story about the Rishon Letzion suicide bombing. The AP report correctly refrained from identifying a perpetrator. (The party responsible is still unknown, although Hamas looks like the most likely culprit and the PA has since arrested 15 Hamas members in response.)

But Truthout flagged the story with a headline spun out of thin air: “Palestinian Authority Strikes Killing 15 Israelis.”

Worse was soon to come.

Truthout (http://www.truthout.org) is, or at any rate purports to be, one of the hip new breed of independent news sources providing alternatives to the biases of corporate media. (Of these, the Indymedia operation is probably the most celebrated; the libertarian Antiwar.com is possibly the most useful.)

Truthout’s editor, Marc Ash, claims the publication has no organizational affiliations and is entirely reader-supported — though five staffers, and the server power necessary to support a quarter-million users, don’t come cheap. Given its incessant showcasing of Beltway Democrats — even career hacks like Daschle and Gephardt get flattering headlines whenever they say anything remotely progressive — I’ve sometimes wondered whether it’s actually a James Carville-style undercover operation, aimed at cajoling Naderites back into the Democratic fold.

(Suggestively, of all the questions I asked Ash about Truthout’s history, purpose, and funding, the only one he was willing to answer was whether the publication is connected in some way with the Democratic Party. It is not, he said, and I’ll take him at his word — though I suspect a list of contributors might make interesting reading.)

At any rate, Truthout has frequently attacked the Bush administration for lying about its aggressive global agenda, and has criticized mainstream media for reporting those lies uncritically. Typically, however, an exception is made where Palestine is concerned.

After reading the May 7 number, I was one of many readers who emailed Ash asking for a correction. None was forthcoming. Instead, on the following day all 250,000 readers received an apologia via mass email — one containing a lie so easily detectable that not even the wildest pro-Sharon propagandists would touch it.

“Yes, Hamas has claimed direct responsibility for this latest act of insanity,” Ash wrote. “But do any of you honestly believe this could have happened while the IDF had Arafat under detention? It could not. Did you not notice that while Arafat was ‘besieged’ and exile was on the table the bombings stopped? Now he is once again a free man and the bombings have resumed.”

This, of course, is a very serious charge — if true, it would lend considerable moral weight to Sharon’s claim that the IDF’s recent invasion of the West Bank was a defensive operation. But it’s wholly false. In fact, at least six suicide bombings took place between March 29, when Israel confined Arafat to his Ramallah compound, and May 1, when he was granted partial liberty.

The truth was easy to check — it took me about 45 seconds on Yahoo. And it’s pretty hard to believe that the editor of a daily newsletter covering international affairs could have been ignorant of the bombings, all of which received banner headlines in the newspapers.

What we have here, in other words, is a prime specimen of The Big Lie. Does it matter? Hell, yes. A lie that remains unchallenged quickly acquires the status of a “fact” which can be cited in service of further slaughter. Moreover, this kind of open contempt for journalistic standards and ethics plays neatly into the hands of traditional media types, who are always looking for reasons to dismiss alternative news sources as rumormongers and conspiracy theorists.

To date, despite repeated requests, Truthout has declined to run a clarification, explanation, or retraction. Says Ash: “I spoke the truth and I am glad.”

After all, quoth jesting Pilate, what is truth?

Jacob Levich is an online editor living in Queens, NY. He can be reached at: jlevich@earthlink.net

More articles by:

Jacob Levich is a university administrator and independent researcher who tweets as @cordeliers.

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail