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News Busters
Newsbusters
21 Oct 2023
Alex Christy


NextImg:Maher Blast New York Times's 'Terrible' Gaza Hospital Headline

HBO Real Time host Bill Maher condemned the New York Times on Friday for their “terrible” headline on the explosion at the Gaza hospital earlier in the week where they uncritically repeated Hamas’s line that the explosion was the result of an Israeli airstrike. At the same time, Times columnist Bret Stephens criticized his employer and the media as a whole on the wider issue of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, comparing it to trusting North Korea.

Maher began, “I don't want to get you in trouble with the people who write your paycheck, but the New York Times is the story somewhat this week because they put out a headline, Israeli Strike -- the horrible happening at the hospital-- the hospital in Gaza was blown up. I'm not quite sure this is quite the scandal they think it is but I agree it's a terrible headline: Israeli Strike Kills Hundreds in Hospital, Palestinians Say. That was the headline.”

Equivocating a little, Maher declared it was possible to read the “Palestinians say” portion of the headline in a mocking tone, “I feel like putting ‘Palestinians say’ at the end of it saves their bacon a little bit, I mean, you can interpret that like ‘Palestinians say,’ but I agree it's terrible to just put the first part ‘Israeli strike kills hundreds’ when we know now it did not.”

Recounting his 25 years of experience covering the issue including time spent as editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, Stephens declared, “The media has a real problem here, because when they cover Palestinian issues, they are covering an authoritarian society where people live in fear of telling the truth. So, everything that comes out of it has to be checked, double-checked, and triple-checked.”

As for “Palestinians say,” Stephens reminded people that, “When you're talking about Palestinians in this case are talking about Hamas, every time health authorities are mentioned in Gaza it's not like the FDA showed up or something or the Red Cross, it's Hamas.” 

It’s not just on the question of the hospital, the difference between Israeli and Palestinian societies should give journalists pause when repeating claims made by the latter, “And this goes to the basic difference between what we have on the Israeli side and the Palestinian side. On the Israeli side, for all of its problems, it is an open democratic society. Journalists do not live in fear that the government is going to hurt them for what they report. When you're writing about the Palestinians, they are living in fear.”

Trying to come up with an analogy, Stephens continued, “So, think of it -- it's not the same, but to some extent it's like reporting from North Korea or South Korea. Everything that comes out of North Korea has to be treated with a major, massive amount of skepticism and things that are coming out of Israel are likely true because it kind of resembles the society we have here.”

It's not just the media spitting out bad ideas and fake news, it is also academia as Maher later compared Harvard to the Wuhan wet markets:

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Here is a transcript for the October 20 show:

HBO Real Time with Bill Maher

10/20/2023

BILL MAHER: I don't want to get you in trouble with the people who write your paycheck, but the New York Times is the story somewhat this week because they put out a headline, Israeli Strike -- the horrible happening at the hospital-- the hospital in Gaza was blown up. I'm not quite sure this is quite the scandal they think it is but I agree it's a terrible headline: Israeli Strike Kills Hundreds in Hospital, Palestinians Say. That was the headline. I feel like putting "Palestinians say" at the end of it saves their bacon a little bit, I mean, you can interpret that like “Palestinians say,” but I agree it's terrible to just put the first part “Israeli strike kills hundreds” when we know now it did not. 

BRET STEPHENS: So, without trying to get myself--

MAHER: Yeah.

STEPHES: -- in trouble with my employer, I have been covering this story for 25 years. I was editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post

The media has a real problem here, because when they cover Palestinian issues, they are covering an authoritarian society where people live in fear of telling the truth. So, everything that comes out of it has to be checked, double-checked, and triple-checked. When you're talking about Palestinians in this case are talking about Hamas, every time health authorities—

MAHER: Right.

STEPHENS: -- are mentioned in Gaza it's not like the FDA showed up or something or the Red Cross, it's Hamas. And this goes to the basic difference between what we have on the Israeli side and the Palestinian side. On the Israeli side, for all of its problems, it is an open democratic society. Journalists do not live in fear that the government is going to hurt them for what they report. When you're writing about the Palestinians, they are living in fear. 

So, think of it -- it's not the same, but to some extent it's like reporting from North Korea or South Korea. Everything that comes out of North Korea has to be treated with a major, massive amount of skepticism and things that are coming out of Israel are likely true because it kind of resembles the society we have here.