On October 7, four photojournalists who provide reporting and photos for the likes of the Associated Press (AP), CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, and other outlets were allegedly at the Israeli border with Hamas terrorists who committed acts of atrocities against innocent Israeli civilians that shocked the world. Since an Israel-supporting news watchdog website reported the claim, everyone wants to know if these Gaza-based reporters knew in advance about the attack and, more importantly, if they could have saved lives by alerting the world about it. The question arises: Did the AP, CNN, the New York Times, and Reuters know about the Hamas terror attack in advance?
The allegations have sent major media into panic mode and generated even more mistrust in the corporate press.
The website HonestReporting, which chronicles coverage of Israel by an increasingly one-sided press to contrast the “Pallywood” and crisis actor coverage by Hamas and its agents, asks: “Is it conceivable to assume that ‘journalists’ just happened to appear early in the morning at the border without prior coordination with the terrorists? Or were they part of the plan?”
Hamas terrorists paraglided and drove into the civilian populations that day and committed acts of horrific brutality. They wanted their murders and acts of terror chronicled for the world, which is why they wore GoPro cameras and apparently arranged for these traditional media photographers to go in with them.
HonestReporting reported that “four names appear on AP’s photo credits from the Israel-Gaza border area on October 7: Hassan Eslaiah, Yousef Masoud, Ali Mahmud, and Hatem Ali.” The news watchdog took a close look at Elsaiah, a “freelancer who also works for CNN, crossed into Israel, took photos of a burning Israeli tank, and then captured infiltrators entering Kibbutz Kfar Azza.”
Elsaiah “did not wear a press vest or a helmet,” the website reported. He posted a video of himself on Twitter/X saying that “everyone who were inside this tank were kidnapped, everyone who were inside the tank were kidnapped a short while ago by al-Qassam Brigades [Hamas’ armed wing], as we have seen with our own eyes.”
The website later featured an older photo of Elsaiah with the Hamas leader who planned the attack.
In war reporting, journalists are often given a heads-up and allowed to chronicle American troops heading into battle, for example. But this wasn’t an act of war — it was terror. It was murder for murder’s sake. There hadn’t been an Israeli offensive to which the Gaza terror organization was responding. Indeed, if Hamas had been wearing uniforms and acting as an “army” they would be accused of war crimes. As it is, they’re accused of crimes against humanity.
I’ve spent considerable hours at seminars and panel discussions sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists discussing journalistic ethics. One scenario considered the ethics of a photojournalist seeing and then helping someone in peril or taking a photo. Back then, the consensus was that you should be a human first and a reporter second, so of course you helped a person first and worried about a photo later. Is the answer still the same?
The AP has ended its relationship with Eslaiah and swears it did not know about the October 7 attacks in advance.
Reuters accused HonestReporting of “irresponsible” and “baseless” misinformation, but did not end its relationship with the freelancers who knew to be at the Israeli border with Hamas terrorists on October 7.
CNN has ended its relationship with Eslaiah.
The New York Times defended its use of freelancer Yousef Masoud, who embedded with Hamas before the attack, as NewsBusters’s Curtis Houck noted.
The NYT said that it had no advance knowledge of the Hamas attack and that any allegations were “untrue and outrageous” and “reckless.” Indeed, the Times said the allegations put “our journalists at risk.” And then the Grey Lady defended the use of Masoud, writing that “though Yousef was not working for The Times on the day of the attack, he has since done important work for us.” The Times editors, writing in a special statement, said, “There is no evidence for Honest Reporting’s insinuations. Our review of his work shows that he was doing what photojournalists always do during major news events, documenting the tragedy as it unfolded.” Further, they wrote that they were “gravely concerned that unsupported accusations and threats to freelancers endangers them and undermines work that serves the public interest.”
After the questions about their knowledge of the attacks in advance and using reporters on the ground who sided with Hamas, there were even more questions and concerns. This Twitter/X comment was emblematic of the reaction and concern.
HonestReporting’s stories raise appropriate questions for the news media and their consumers about the fairness and veracity of their reporting. And they should be able to defend this reporting with an unassailable track record.
Americans need to be able to trust their news outlets, but those outlets must be worthy of trust. The news media aren’t known as the 4th and 5th Estate actors for nothing. Society can’t survive without a free press. News outlets used to try to give a fair-minded picture of events. And if they had been doing that, there would be no need for the conservative press.
Corporate news outlets have definitely chosen sides in the Israel-Hamas war. Some journalists have signed a letter siding with Hamas and the Palestinians. The Palestinians have been known for their fake reporting, crisis actors, and for goading the mainstream media into reporting fake news, such as the “Israeli strike” on a hospital that wasn’t from an Israeli munition at all.
The Washington Post just deleted a political cartoon because it accurately depicted Hamas as hiding behind civilians. It is not even a question that Hamas hides munitions and materiel under schools, mosques, and hospitals. What we need are journalists who are more interested in the truth and fairness than their personal or corporate politics. It would also be nice if journalists liked Western civilization, but, hey, one thing at a time.