[Editors’ note: The following is an introduction to, and summary of a new investigative report by Huff-Watch: “The Stimulus And The (Approved) Response: Anti-Semitism and Israel-Hatred on Huffington Post.” Click here for the full report.]
In its four years of existence,The Huffington Post (aka “HuffPost”) has grown from obscurity into the world’s most-visited blogsite, and one of America’s most popular news sites. It now has more monthly visitors than the Washington Post, and is supported by some of the largest advertisers in the world. Its representatives have been allowed to ask questions at presidential press conferences, and one was even given preferential treatment. It now enjoys access to, and influence over, the top levels of the U.S. government. Top members of the U.S. Senate are among HuffPost’s official bloggers, including John Kerry, Carl Levin, Chris Dodd, Barbara Boxer and others.
A significant reason for HuffPost’s success and “legitimization” are its claims that it is a nonpartisan “newspaper,” dedicated to “ferret(ing) out the truth,” and “debunking the left-right way of thinking.”
HuffPost also claims to be non-partisan in its moderation of user comments. Arianna Huffington, the site’s founder and Editor-In-Chief, claims HuffPost has “a zero tolerance policy” for hate speech, and that it acts vigilantly to keep its comment threads free of offensive content, 24-7.
Unfortunately, HuffPost consistently “frames” news stories in such a way that incites anti-Israel perceptions and hatred. Further, in violation of its own policies, it approves and tolerates user comments submitted in response to these stories that contain incendiary, hate-filled libels against Israelis and Jews, as well as links to anti-Semitic hate websites.
Given the fact that an estimated 135,000 of Huffington Post’s unique monthly visitors reside in Iran and Pakistan, there is great concern among informed observers that its incitement against Israel influences perceptions far outside the United States.
This report, the result of three years of observation, documents:
- Numerous examples of Huffington Post’s incitement of anti-Israel perceptions, and the defamatory user comments that have appeared on the site in response, with special focus on Israel’s recent Operation Cast Lead.
- The fact that many of the most egregious violators of Huffington Post’s stated policies, including some of its most prolific anti-Semitic propagandists, remain active users – some, with tens of thousands of comments in their archives.
- The fact that contrary to Huffington Post’s public statements, since at least March 2008, it has been pre-moderating all user comments, meaning that all of the hateful and defamatory comments that appear have been approved by its moderators.
All of the following anti-Semitic user comments were published after HuffPost announced, in March 2008, that the only comments that would appear on its site are those that a human moderator had reviewed, approved and made the decision to publish. Ms. Huffington confirmed this fact, several months later.
“Jews are evil. Israel runs the world. Lets kill ‘em all and give the land back to Islam; result-perpetual peace. Seig Heil.”
By “pedrothemigrant,” 5/23/08
“Funny how [Israelis] had NO problem with wiping the [Palestinians] off the face of the earth until they discovered they might actually be able to strike back in a meaningful way. proof that bullies like this are nothing but cowards.”
By “peacekitten,” 1/2/09
“There’s a reason they [Jews] have been the most problematic group for thousands of years.”
By “Amennyc,” 1/4/09
“[W]omen holding limp little bodies of children in their hands, crying, as an Israeli soldier aims an AK.-47 at her head. With each civilian casualty Israel gets closer to the regime in Germany that provided the impetus for the creation of Israel.”
By “SkepticHume,” 1/3/09
“Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, Here I am, stuck in the middle with Jooooz [Jews]“
By “JamesR.,” 11/22/08
“They [Jews] all need to be rounded up and gassed.”
By “markoze,” 12/30/08
Perhaps more shockingly, all of these comments were posted by users whose accounts are still active (they have not been banned), some of whom HuffPost has allowed to post thousands of additional comments. This stands in stark contrast to the fact that HuffPost routinely bans other users who don’t violate its policies — some after as few as six comments — but dare to challenge or mock the radical leftists that the site attracts.
These comments are representative of thousands of others containing anti-Semitic and Israel-bashing libels, hate and propaganda that have been published on HuffPost in recent years. Columbia University professor Lincoln Mitchell recently claimed that on nearly every HuffPost news story concerning international affairs, regardless of the topic, he and his friends usually find that it takes no more than ten comments before its users are finding a way to blame Jews.
The most incendiary of these comments are usually submitted in response to “news” stories that HuffPost publishes regarding Israel, which it consistently “frames” in ways that incite inaccurate and unjustifiably negative perceptions of the Jewish state, and particularly its military. HuffPost does this primarily through the use of inflammatory, decontextualized headlines and headline imagery, and biased “news” sources. Examples of this incitement include:
- Its daily depiction of Israel’s incursion into Gaza in December 2008, in which it cast Israeli soldiers as thuggish villains, Palestinian civilians as their targets, and Hamas terrorists (often labeled as “security forces”) as victims. One example of this was its headline on 12/29/08 that featured a picture of a dead Muslim toddler, alongside text that claimed, “Israeli assault targets symbols of Hamas power.”
- Its headline story on 3/11/09 featured Charles Freeman’s claims that a Jewish conspiracy led him to withdraw his nomination to a national security post. HuffPost did not post any indication of the broad, bipartisan opposition to his nomination.
- It uncritically uses biased Arabic “news” sources – including the jihadist-celebrating al Jazeera (also a past HuffPost advertiser) – as single-sources for its headlines. One example was its 5/29/09 article that used a little-known Arabic “news” source’s account of what it described as an “activist” that was killed by the Israeli military. 24 hours earlier, the “activist” was identified by CNN as a suspect in several deadly terror attacks, and that the Israeli military had attempted to arrest him. Instead, he opened fire on them, and was killed. None of this was covered in HuffPost’s depiction of the incident.
- Its prominent positioning on 8/19/09 of a blood libel against Israel — that it murders Palestinians in order to harvest their organs — even though the “reporter” behind the story admitted in the article that he has “no idea… no clue” if the allegations are true or not. Soon thereafter, credible sources determined that these allegations were physically impossible, and further discredited the “reporter.” Yet HuffPost gave these stories little to no “play” (certainly nowhere near the prominence of the original blood libel).
Given the growing resurgence of anti-Semitism worldwide, HuffPost — like every other “legitimized,” advertiser-supported “newspaper” — is obliged to ensure that its “news” stories concerning Israel are fact-based and contextual. Further, HuffPost is obligated to enforce its nonpartisan comment moderation policy. In both of these regards, HuffPost is failing profoundly.
It is hoped that this detailed report will spur HuffPost to take corrective measures to ensure that it is living up to its self-proclaimed standards, particularly in regards to Israeli and Jewish affairs.
Click here to read the full report.