Dubai: Speaking out about what she calls ‘disgustingly biased’ US coverage of the Palestinian conflict, MSNBC contributor Rula Jebreal has given compelling first-hand accounts of the pressures she has been under reporting the Palestinian conflict in America.
Born in Haifa, Jebreal is a Palestinian who holds Israeli citizenship. She later move to Italy after receiving a scholarship to study there and has a long and succcessful career in journalism covering Italian and Egyptian politics. Her latest position as an MSNBC contributor however has landed her in hot water after she appeared on Ronan Farrow Daily and criticised American media and even her own network for alleged bias in covering the Palestinian issue. “We are disgustingly biased when it comes to this issue.
Look at how much airtime Netanyahu and his folks have on air on a daily basis. I never see one Palestinian being interviewed,” she tells Farrow. He interupts her and says they do have Palestinian voices on the network.
“Maybe for 30 seconds, and then you have 25 minutes for Netanyahu and half an hour for Naftali Bennett and many others. Ayman Mohyeldin is covering the Palestinian side, and we get upset. It’s too pro-Palestinian. We don’t like it. We pull him back. And thanks for social media, that brought him back in,” she retorted.
Jebreal later received an email that her future appearances on the network would be canceled. She said she asked producers whether the cancelation was due to what she had said on air, but no one responded.
“I worked in Egypt. I was kicked out of the country when I asked about torturing. When I pushed Silvio Berlusconi on corruption my TV show was shut down. I’m accustomed to this. I did not expect this from us, liberal media in the US,” she said in an interview on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now programme.
Jebreal points out studies done by respected American scholars on US media bias. “In 2012 you had, on CNN alone, 45 Israeli officials interviewed versus 11 Palestinians. In 2014, you have 17 Israeli politicians interviewed versus one Palestinian. So we are going backwards regarding this issue. And that forms and shapes the public opinion in America, that then transfers into political support, unconditional, to Israel, to a policy that is very destructive for both sides and affects America’s image abroad.”
While Jebreal’s contract with MSNBC is up, she is waiting to hear if she will be asked to renew by her network. However, she hopes that her critical comments will help stir up a national debate in America whose taxpayer dollars support Israel in the billions of dollars. She says the media has the most important role in shaping the national debate on the issue, pointing out that critical context is being left out of media coverage giving a distorted image of what is really happening in Palestine.
“Politicians do what is popular, not what is right. We need to do what’s right. We, in the media, have a mission. We are truth tellers and we can shape public opinion to protect public interest.”