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Readers subjected to slant and error

HANAN Ashrawi thinks The Age newspaper in Melbourne is too pro-Hamas. That's what she was talking about when she criticised pro-Hamas reporting in Australia recently on SBS's Dateline. She's right, but her criticism of Fairfax Middle East correspondent Ed O'Loughlin's recent coverage of events in Gaza is only part of the story.

The Age used to bill itself as one of the world's great newspapers, and there was a time when that was probably true. The paper no longer uses that slogan, and just as well. These days, the Canberra bureau apart, its standards fall far short of those set by the world's best newspapers. Things have become much worse since Andrew Jaspan, a left-wing Englishman, took over as editor in October 2004.

Jaspan, the former editor of the obscure The Sunday Herald in Scotland, has always been a puzzling choice for a self-confident Australian city such as Melbourne. His singular notoriety emerges from the astonishing story he commissioned after al-Qa'ida murdered 3000 Americans and others on September 11, 2001. Jaspan's reporter was given extensive space to make the following extraordinary claims:

"Who do you think they were? Palestinians? Saudis? Iraqis, even? Al-Qa'ida, surely? Wrong on all counts. They were Israelis; and at least two of them were Israeli intelligence agents, working for Mossad, the equivalent of MI6 or the CIA. Their discovery and arrest that morning is a matter of indisputable fact.

"To those who have investigated just what the Israelis were up to that day, the case raises one dreadful possibility: that Israeli intelligence had been shadowing the al-Qa'ida hijackers as they moved from the Middle East through Europe and into America, where they trained as pilots and prepared to suicide-bomb the symbolic heart of the US. And the motive? To bind America in blood and mutual suffering to the Israeli cause." (The Sunday Herald, November 2, 2003)

In the 1960s, under Graham Perkin, The Age threw off its staid conservative image and became a crusading liberal newspaper in the true sense of the word. For instance, it campaigned against White Australia and the death penalty. Under Jaspan, however, The Age's liberalism has morphed into a peculiar sort of bitter and twisted extremism, borrowed from Britain's The Guardian.

Nowhere is the corruption of The Age clearer than in its coverage of foreign affairs, characterised by systematic anti-Americanism, symbolised by horrible Michael Leunig cartoons showing Americans and Israelis as Nazis. It is to The Age's eternal shame that Leunig was welcomed by the mad bigots in Iran for their competition denigrating the Holocaust.

I am no great fan of the Bush administration, but there is a difference between criticising a particular president and the reflexive hostility to everything American that now pulsates from the columns of The Age. Australians whom I know do not have that visceral hatred of all things American. These are alien views. These views are being shoved down the throats of Age readers, mainly interested to read Epicure and know what is happening in Melbourne.

Even worse is The Age's news coverage of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Since 2002 The Age's correspondent in Jerusalem has been O'Loughlin. Like many people, I have given up subscribing to The Age because of its primitive coverage of the Middle East. Getting angry over breakfast spoils my day. Fortunately, other people make it their business to monitor O'Loughlin's writing and expose his errors of fact and interpretation.

One of these is Tzvi Fleischer of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, who writes the Media Watch column for the Jewish News. Fleischer has documented literally dozens of cases in which O'Loughlin has got basic facts wrong, or else placed his own anti-Israel spin on stories. As Fleischer says: "O'Loughlin's bent is clearest in his longer features, which have generally been simply attempts to make and sell the Palestinian case to his readers." According to O'Loughlin:

  • Palestinian suicide bombers are militants whose murder of Israeli civilians is an understandable reaction to Israel's brutalisation of their families.
  • Israel's security barrier, which has saved hundreds of Israeli (and Palestinian) lives, is a wall, imposing apartheid on innocent Palestinians.
  • Israel's withdrawal from Gaza was all part of a cynical Israeli scheme to occupy the West Bank forever.
  • Israel and Hamas are morally no different, since neither wants peace and both are dominated by rejectionists.

The Age and O'Loughlin are, of course, entitled to their opinions. If their anti-Israel polemics were confined to editorials and signed opinion articles, I could just ignore them. But anti-Israel bias seeps into The Age's news columns as well, and that is another matter. The Age was an influential paper, and its systematic anti-Israel bias has a real effect on public opinion.

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see letter in this weeks AJN from 'the Australian"' editor he even has a go at Al'age's Ed [al] 'Oloughlins coverage of the Middle east...

Posted by Faygale on 2007-09-29 01:53:02 GMT

Note Colin Rubenstein article today 24th.Transparent attempt to"prove" they are not biased.

Posted on 2007-09-24 09:04:34 GMT

Peter, I have Given Michael Danby more than his due, you have no argument from me he has nothing to prove I wish he was Labours foreign minister the fact is he is not and the problem with the labour party is they are made up of many factions and many or most of them are hostile to Israel and soft on the islamo fascists that’s the bottom line.A\labour party will jeopidise Australias security whilst liberal critics will argue they are too tough on the war against extremist islam labour will go too far in the opposite direction in order not to offend their very large Muslim/arab population,human rights,civil rights activists and all the other ratbags . What you are saying is let us join them the Palestinians and their supporters and vote labour...

Posted by michael on 2007-09-20 12:37:56 GMT

This debate is degenerating into a pre-election political debate. Give Michael Danby is due, he has shown himself to be a supporter of Israel, as did Bob Hawke and Dr Evatt who were not even Jewish. When the Melbourne Cub, a backbone of the Conservatives allows Jews to become members, and when they put a Jewish candidate in a winnable federal seat (let alone make a Jew a cabinet minister I will think their credentials much better.

Posted by Peter on 2007-09-20 11:55:29 GMT

Michael you are right Muslims seem to vote labor, which shows how real their religion is to them.. If they really believed in what they say, 'Morality' they should look up Labors aim for Australia.. I have typed out a small portion from their own 1988 conference;;; The Australian Labor party policy statement from their 1988 Conference is binding on every ALP politician. . Legalise homosexuality..... . Legalise abortion on demand, making no distinctions between abortion and any other medical procedure.... . Open the floodgates for Pornography by Abolish Queensland Film and Literature Board of Review. Remove any compulsion on teachers to conduct Bible studies... Introduce poker machines. Policy points are from their 1988 Policy Document and branch Members Handbook... -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Consider also the ALP's socialisation agenda. Page 162 of A2000 states: "A glance at the ALP's Platform and Rules (P. & R.) updated in 1982, showed just what Australia is in for. It included: * Commitment to the international socialist movement as represented by the Socialist International. * Commitment to the New International Economic Order. * Commitment to the introduction of a Bill of Rights, based on the United Nations model. * Commitment to an Australian republic. * Commitment to changing the Australian flag. * Commitment to emasculating the Senate. * Commitment to reducing any independent power of action by the Governor General. * Commitment to regionalisation in Australia with the amalgamation of Local Authorities". A2000 was first printed in August 1997. To my knowledge nobody has challenged the above description of the ALP's 1982 P. & R.

Posted by Gaye on 2007-09-20 11:04:45 GMT

Young Liberals Website... ------------------------------------------- FREE GILAD SHALIT Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit has been held by the cowardly terrorists of HAMAS since June 2006 in violation of international ---------------------------------------- Dialogue Magazine is a publication of the NSW Young Liberal Movement. Launched in 2006 by the Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard MP, Dialogue is the voice of the Young Liberal movement in the market place of ideas. Dialogue is compiled every three months by the Policy For more details contact

Posted by faygale on 2007-09-20 05:47:00 GMT

Dear Pipe smoker I too am a Danby supporter he is a great man and passionate Zionist but I am also a supporter of a Party that in practice [not in rhetoric]supports Israel; you cant' be half pregnant either you put up or shut up, Rudd is a nice Guy but when it comes to foreign policy he will be restricted to what his party and the bulk of his constituents want and believe in. It is fact Pipe Smoker the majority of labour supporters which include the Muslims and Arabs along with all the socialists, trade unionists, academics, media and other rat bags all support the other side, you can't deny that. The Muslim population is fast growing due to births and immigration and they all vote labour {the ones that do vote] that has been established by pollsters they certainly do not vote for a government that supports Israel’s right to exist and defend it self that’s for sure. The Muslim and Arab community are entitled to lobby their party to support the Arab cause and use their majority of 400,000 against Jews 100,000 to their advantage and they do so , why is it so different for Jews that support Israel unconditionally [not like all Jews} to support the LIbs.Nobody is saying Rudd is anti Israel but he has demonstrated that he is unable to go all the way and show his support where it counts at the ‘’UN”’ bottom line..please put that in your kebab and eat it ,smoking is a dirty habit!

Posted by Michael on 2007-09-20 03:28:53 GMT

This is one of several daily libels cropping up in respectable cities around the world. We just heard the Iranians explain that the Lebanese politician wasted by Assad's henchmen was also a victim of another Israeli intrigue. At the same time the Durah affair resurfaced with reports that the IDF finally woke up and demanded to view the entire take managed by a hostile French-Israeli reporter for the French Television Channel 2. Ofcourse the nomination of a retired judge to become Secretary of Justice in the U.S is puzzling to many in the States because he is an Orthodox Jew and the second Jew in the cabinet. Another conspiracy could be explained from this one. Ofcourse the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank lowering the rate of borrowing by 1/2 a point while the Secretary of State was visting with Tzipi Livni in Jerusalem is one more reason why the conspirateurs are having their day on the blogsphere. There is never a dull moment when it comes to the Jews.

Posted by A Ramy on 2007-09-20 03:15:17 GMT

A courageous effort by Michael Danby, a man that must suffer terribly from his social justice ideals that make him Labor, and the stealth-like capture of his own party and the Left generally by Islamicists and other enemies of freedom

Posted by Gwundu on 2007-09-18 09:57:51 GMT

Oh Boy, I am sick of hearing negative reports about Bush and co... In face there has been so much from the leftist press, and left wingers that I am now wondering if indeed that he is a good man, simply because the left hate him so much...because of the medias bias (as in other wars) we must be doing the right thing as the left seem to be against every thing good... It was the left wing bias media and lefties who helped me to decide who to vote for...I could see the lies and the distortions being told, which showed me a party which I didn't want in government.. if they lie there where else will they lie and who to... us.... I have articles which prove that there was WMD in Iraq..and that Iraq shipped them out, but only a few smaller papers printed them... WHY...

Posted by Gaye on 2007-09-17 11:13:57 GMT

The sydney morning herald is no different, and its reprinting of articles from the Guardian in the UK, plus its reports from O'Loughlin are consistently one-sided. Let's hear more of this so both the Age and SMH will be shamed.

Posted by Meyer, Sydney on 2007-09-17 09:59:32 GMT

Michael Danby is an example to other Jewish leaders and Jews who claim they support Israel [aijac Boys and Danny Lamm excluded} of how a true Advocate of Israel should conduct him/her self, he is not afraid to speak up even though most in his party will further ostracize him. The Socialists, trade Unionists, Academics, NGO’s, Human rights, civil rights and all the other anti Zionists and in many cases anti Semites would be choking on their Kebabs if they read Michael’s expose on al’age this morning {although I doubt they would read any other paper other than Green Left Weekly, al’age or Syrian Morning Herald {SMH} Jewish community leaders take note stand up and be counted!

Posted by Michael on 2007-09-17 07:19:53 GMT

In support of Michael Danby...he is always at the front lines standing up against bias and anti Zionists/anti semites whether from within his party or without. It's on public record and all you have to do is go back through Hansard or any back issues of our national newspapers to realise this fact. Michael's record is impeccable in this regard!

Posted by Ronit on 2007-09-17 06:37:41 GMT

Michael Danby has only found that "The Age" has turned so far to the left in September 2007. Where has he been in last 6 years? Has his approach anything to do with the fact that "The Age" served the Australian Labour Party and Unions politically well? What has Michael Danby done to change the great admiration and support of his Party and Unions colleagues for those Palestenian terrorists? The Australian Labour Party and most Unions are known to take harsh stands towards Israel, but support those terrorists in their evil deeds against innocent civilians. Common Michael, clean your house first.

Posted by Moses on 2007-09-17 06:31:33 GMT

Integrity in news reporting seems to have followed the "day the music died". GS don morris, Ph.D. Netanya, Israel

Posted on 2007-09-17 04:49:53 GMT

Michael Danby MP makes allegations that Fairfax Age/SMH and AfR coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are bias and not fair and balanced, so lets check out a few facts on the ground. 1. The new Editor Jaspan replaces a left wing Editor sent to Washington whose new job was to send back daily negative reports s on America. Jaspan comes from a Scottish Newspaper that said ‘’Israelis deserved to be attacked by Palestinian suicide bombers”’ or words to that effect.. 2. The Jerusalem based corespondent Ed Oloughlin has a virulent hatred towards Israel and going back on all his articles 99.99% are all-negative towards Israel and very little if any outright criticism of Palestinians or Arabs. His replacement even admits in an interview that Fairfax needs to be more balanced. 3. The Age has a Palestinian activist/Advocate Maher Muhgrabi as a staff writer to contribute articles on the Israel/Palestinian conflict. 4. . The Age have a Muslim activist/advocate Waleed Aly spokesman for Islamic council of Victoria as a Staff writer He also contributes articles on Israel/Palestinian conflict, and terrorism. 5. The AFR Middle east corrosopnadnat based in the Middle East Tony Walker has written 2 biographies on Yassas Arafat and only contributes negative articles on Israel and USA. 6. . The Age allow members of ‘Australians for Palestine’ and ‘Woman for Palestine’ Moammar Mashmi and Dora Mcphee to continually write in letters attacking Israel but the Age refuse to let their readers be aware of these advocates affiliations and never allow right of response. 7. . The Age give Op- Ed space to Australians for Palestine’s Moammar Mashmi to vilify Israel and support the Palestinians with right out of response. 8. . Michael Leunig occasionally advocates for the Palestinians and constantly vilifies Israel and Jews in his cartoons but never Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims. 9. . Occasionally The Age allow a pro Israel op ed but the very next day allow severe criticism of the author’s views but will not publish any views that agree with the author. These are just a quick over view of the way in which Fairfax operates. It is hard to believe Fairfax can claim any partiality on it reporting of the Israel /Palestinian conflict and be taken seriously. Imagine the outcry from the left and Palestinian supporters if a Pro Israel Zionist eg ‘Colin Rubenstein” was engaged by The Australian as a staff writer on Israel /Palestinian issues.

Posted by faygale on 2007-09-17 04:15:37 GMT

Never heard of The Age. Now I know it's an Jew-hating anti-American rag. Good to know. Thanks from the U.S.

Posted by Reb Aaron on 2007-09-17 02:53:47 GMT

It is excellent that Michael Danby has made this criticism. It is time that the Age were taken to task on this issue. The Micky Mouse section of academia have had their own way for too long.

Posted by Peter Cohen on 2007-09-16 23:45:47 GMT

Sadly, this insignificant take is for local consumption. None Australian can go back to sleep!

Posted by A.R/L.A on 2007-09-16 23:26:28 GMT

I agree with everything Michael Danby says re The Age today. As a very sympathetic supporter of things Jewish and with a widely-read academic background, I hardly ever bother with the paper these days...I go for The Australian every time. Re Leunig's cartoons...quite overboard, nagging and dispicable so often. He's another lost cause to me. I've told them so.

Posted by tango2t on 2007-09-16 23:14:38 GMT