Discover more from Truth About Threats
“If it bleeds, it leads”
The media mantra, that kills innocents around the world… every single day.
TAT readers, this article has been a longtime coming. Let’s just get this out there in the open, so that we can all better understand the truth about Israel/ Gaza reporting.
“Basically, if there’s violence, conflict or death involved, it gets top billing. Nowhere is this more true than in television news, which coined the expression, “If it bleeds, it leads.” - David G. Alm - Newsliteracymatters.com - November 11th, 2019
If it bleeds, it leads, is the mantra of Newsrooms. Of course, there are exceptions but in today’s world, they are few and far between. What prompted today’s TAT, is the abysmal, distorted reporting of the Israel/ Hamas conflict in Gaza and in fact, of nearly every story in the modern era. Where the hell are the ethics in journalism? Innocent people around the world die at the hands of sociopaths, evil terrorists, thugs like Putin, Xi, Modi and an endless stream of global conflicts. Still, most reporting seems to distort truth, in ever more dishonest ways. Reporting with tactics like, “both sides,” “false equivalency” and now, choosing to report one side of a story only, creates false narratives that do enormous harm and perpetuates conflict.
I will use the reporting regarding the war in Gaza and expanded Middle East, as the poster child for what serves as exceedingly poor journalism. Editors may believe in “if it bleeds it leads,” but by exclusively wallpapering your front page with nothing but one side of a story, devoid of context and less than credible facts, it is being willfully dishonest. In the case of the war in Gaza, you are NOT saving lives, but taking them. The law of unintended consequences via out-of-context reporting, leads to results you didn’t even consider. If ad dollars are more important than lives, you fail at ethical journalism… lethally so.
This will be a long TAT article so please, either settle in or save to read in sections. Human lives and suffering quite literally depend on everyone understanding this issue better. This is not exactly a rant, but an attempt at firmly providing much needed context to what we are experiencing from current Gaza reporting.
Let’s start with some basics:
Knowing the difference between credible and lesser reporting, is right in my wheelhouse. I not only know the difference, but it’s integral to my analysis of national security threats. The bottom line is, facts matter, all of them. Truth matters because like math, solving problems requires using the data you have, not what you think you have or want to have. Use the wrong data or don’t have the full context, the problem goes unsolved, or worse, it gives you an answer that fails.
For professional reasons and accuracy, I define truth as:
“Truth equals, all known facts, from credible sources and presented in ethical context.” - Cobaugh - 2019
When reality is war, or engineering solutions required for buildings, airplanes etc., failure to put solutions and problems into context, often leads to tragic results. This is what most media has done regarding so many sensitive topics in the past few years. This even applies to the media that I consider most credible, like, Reuters, The Associated Press and The BBC.Fortunately, I have decades of professional experience in the Middle East and an even deeper understanding of how media influences people, all-too-often, intentionally. This helps me to fill in, what media leaves out. Most news consumers though, do not have these advantages. I know how to look for what is missing and how to put context together. That is what I am doing today in this article. I will be providing the missing context of what is being reported from the Middle East, along with the facts required to add the necessary context. It is critical knowledge in order to save lives.
The attack on Israel, the perpetrators and enablers
Here is the specific issue that I am focusing on:
On Oct 7th, Hamas, backed by Iran and other, Gaza based terrorist entities, like Islamic Jihad, Russia, Iran and potentially, Chinese intelligence entities, launched the worst and most barbaric assault on Israel, in her 75-year history. This was a massacre of over 1400 Israeli’s, most young families, elderly peace activists and hundreds of young participants in a music and dance festival. Yes, the atrocities, such as the brutal rape, murder, mutilation and dismembering of victims from their late 80’s down to newborns, is stomach turning. This doesn’t include the 239 hostages taken, abused and held as a combination of human shields and as barter.
By Oct 10th or 11th, most media had already transitioned from focusing on the barbaric massacre, to exclusively focusing on the inflated death tolls of Palestinian victims, as reported by Hamas run entities in Gaza. This hasn’t changed until just yesterday. These three weeks of a complete focus on what Hamas claims are official casualty numbers, also deprived Israel a fair hearing in the court of public opinion. There was even the rush to condemn Israel for a collapsed hospital, killing hundreds of Palestinians, which turned out to be utterly false. The scant apologies from the media were few and far between. Even those that did correct their earlier, sensationalized stories, amounted to less than muted utterances of corrections. To be absolutely clear, the Hamas run Health Ministry is a propaganda arm of the butchers of Hamas.
In the last three weeks, we’ve heard hardly anything from any media about Israeli victims, except for the intended guilt and shame being imposed on Israel and the West for what Hamas “claims, are” civilian casualties. These claims are historically, greatly exaggerated by Hamas as evidenced by the lone media voice to clearly voice concerns about the Hamas “numbers.” That voice is Time Magazine.
This is not only wrong, but establishes a narrative, extremely difficult to dislodge and does serious damage to Israel, her right to self-defense and hence her national security. Israel’s security in the region, has a significant impact on our national security. Now, public pressure has settled dishonestly, against them. This is a horrific case of “blame the victim,” and all because media cannot seem to find real balance in reporting, instead of the artificial version they most often portray. The other narrative that is now nearly impossible to dislodge, regarding the reported casualty numbers of Palestinian victims, is falsely assumed to be done intentionally at the hands of the IDF/ Israel Defence Forces. This is dead wrong, on a variety of levels. This will be addressed in detail later in this article.
Now I will go through the points that contradict the false narratives that dishonest, out-of-context media reporting has created or failed to address. I will add the context and an expert look at the whole picture, not just what Hamas broadcasts, and which the media drinks like Kool-Aid. The points to be corrected are many, but I will focus on explaining, the most important.
Israel does not bomb and kill, indiscriminately.
Like most nations, Israel does their best to adhere to the Geneva Convention and LOAC, The Law of Armed Conflict. In fact, the prestigious Leiber Institute at West Point, has taken the time and dedicated effort, to analyze the entire situation from a wide variety of angles, legal, battlefield rules and otherwise.
The problem with the state-sponsored (Iran) terrorism of Hamas, Hezbollah, and countless other similar organizations, is that they make zero effort to follow any of the same laws.
Hamas, like AQ, ISIS, ISKP, global far-right terrorists, Modi’s BJP, MAGA, White Supremacists, antigovernmental terrorists, anarchists and others, play by their rules exclusively, not the LOAC. Civilians are nearly always, targets, hence the definition, “terrorists.”
Battlefields are messy and this is nearly impossible to avoid when engaged with barbarians that use their own people as human shields, propaganda tools and as bait. Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and more, do this habitually.
Like the intentional, planned brutality (yes, they even had a handbook), Hamas’ attack was designed to inflict pain, suffering, mass murder and civilian atrocities.
“In the booklet, recovered in the battlefield on a Hamas terrorist who was killed after taking part in the attack on Israel, terrorists are advised in detail on how to carry out kidnapping. According to the description, the kidnappers are required to create chaos and intimidation, coercing and blindfolding captives, using electric shocks, and instructs executing any person who may pose a threat or distraction. They were also instructed to collect the captives and use them as human shields, if necessary, without distinction of religion, race or sex.”
Hamas’ has a long history of hostage taking and using their own people as human shields.
Hamas, an Islamist militant group and the de facto governing authority of the Gaza Strip, has been using human shields in conflicts with Israel since 2007. According to the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the war crime of using human shields encompasses “utilizing the presence of a civilian or other protected person to render certain points, areas, or military forces immune from military operations.” Hamas has launched rockets, positioned military-related infrastructure-hubs and routes, and engaged the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) from, or in proximity to, residential and commercial areas.
NATO Stratcom COE (Centre of Excellence report)
First paragraph of the Executive Summary
June 23, 2021, | Memo
Leiber Institute, West Point
Oct 23, 2023
"Second, we concluded that Israeli positions on the law of targeting are well within the mainstream. Israel is not a party to the 1977 Additional Protocol I (AP I) to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which sets forth the key treaty-based targeting rules for parties to the instrument. But like the United States, Israel is of the view that most targeting rules contained therein reflect customary international law in international and non-international armed conflict, which does bind the IDF." - Leiber Institute, West Point - John Merriam - Oct 23, 2023
MS. SINGH: I can't emphasize enough how clear we have been both publicly and privately for the Israelis to uphold the law of war and preserving humanitarian corridors or innocent civilians to leave. But I think also we have to remember that Hamas is the one that is putting civilians into harm's way and using that as human shields. We are going to continue to engage with the IDF and with the Israelis on their operations and making sure that they are, in their thinking, prioritizing civilian lives. We'll just leave it at that. - Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh Holds an Off- Camera, On-the-Record Press Briefing - DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY SABRINA SINGH - Oct. 30, 2023
The logistics of evacuation
Two weeks ago, the IDF issued an evacuation order to over a million Palestinian civilians, requiring them to leave Northern Gaza within 24 hours. They were to go to Southern Gaza where they would be far safer, from the fighting and from Hamas, who as discussed above, told them NOT to leave, so as to use them as they always do, as human shields. Instead, Israel allowed two weeks. Gaza is tiny, roughly 3-4 miles wide and roughly 24 miles long. Even a child could walk to safety, somewhere between two and four hours, depending on what part of Northern Gaza, they started from. Hamas told them not to leave and, in many cases, would not allow them to.
The BBC continues to offer a series of maps that are valuable to anyone trying to better understand the geography of Gaza. I highly recommend perusing these maps to better comprehend just how small, Gaza is. I will share a couple here:
As you can see in the second map, Hamas has an elaborate and very large (hundreds of kilometers) of concrete reinforced tunnels under Gaza and that are beneath and connect with refugee camps. This is how Hamas moves men, weapons and war-fighting logistics. Under the cover of civilian refugees (human shields), Hamas has for decades, stolen the mountain of aid provided to the Palestinian people for their military purposes. On a related note, it is the West that provides the overwhelming amount of aid to the Palestinians, not their brother Arabs in the region.
Israel ended her occupation of Gaza in 2005 and Hamas took power, in what can only loosely be called an election. At the point of a gun and other coercive tactics, Hamas “won” the election to rule Gaza in 2007. Since then, it is they, not Israel or anyone else who has been responsible for stealing the mountain of supplied aid, to better the lives of their fellow Palestinians in Gaza. They chose not to. Between using their own people as human shields, torturing, denying and intimidating them, it is Hamas, no one else who has showered an endless rain of misery on their countrymen.
Israel’s right to self-defense
Let’s get this straight, Israel has a right to exist. Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran and dozens of other extremist groups do not agree. The much-discussed Hamas Covenant makes it clear that there is no room in the region for Israel, or Jews.
There is nothing religious about Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad or any of the other militaristic similar terrorist groups. Just saying that they are religious movements is negated by not only religious texts of different schools of Islamic Jurisprudence, but by their own actions. Like most gangs, Hamas is only interested in their own wants and needs, not some ethereal “cause.”
As you can see from the quote above, Hamas will not rest until they achieve their goal. This is a fantasy, not an achievable goal. The point is that Israel will never be safe so long as these thugs exist in the capacity to undertake attacks like the one on Oct. 7th. To everyone screaming for a cease-fire or truce, your insistence will kill far more on all sides if this large-scale attack infrastructure is not disassembled, here and now.
Public opinion, as generated by malfeasant journalism this past three weeks, is the reason that Israel has never been allowed to dismantle Hamas before. As soon as Israel responds, the Hamas and related entities’ propaganda machines launch into high speed. Major media picks up on their propaganda like the casualty figures released by the Hamas run “Health Ministry” and before you know it, Israel is hobbled by the global court of public opinion.
Although Israel has the capacity to wield influence via influence campaigning, they are largely alone. On the world stage, Israel must have at a minimum, honesty from normally credible media. Since the Trump era of “fake news” landed on the ethics of a nation like a ton-of-bricks, credible media is harder to find. Normally, I recommend Reuters, Associated Press, BBC and USA Today but during this crisis, even they leave out so much context, that it enables the propaganda efforts of the axis of evil, beginning with China, to Russia, to Iran, to Hamas and Hezbollah or as I have come to use, CRIHH.
The US and NATO should be helping out, along with other nations but, the US and NATO are nearly impotent when it comes to campaigning effectively, with ethical influence operations. This cedes the whole influence battlefield, to the axis of evil, without a fight. This is another critical vulnerability to US national security, that the national security community refuses to rectify. They have failed for at least forty years and still fork over billions, to the same alleged experts that caused forty years of failure.
The risks of our current level of media malfeasance
What media malfeasance accomplishes, is a long-term guarantee of thousands more innocent deaths on both sides. Without all of the facts, presented in expert context, one-sidedness occurs. In the case of Israel’s right to exist, these media failures have created a false narrative that will take generations to repair, even if we began doing everything right today. This is how Narrative Warfare works.
The driving intent of Israel’s invasion is two-fold, first to dismantle the network and operational capacity of Hamas, once and for all. Secondly to do so with the minimum number of civilian casualties. Israel neither started this war nor wanted it. Sure, Bibi’s extreme, right-wing government poked the beehive, but Hamas’ barbaric attack, directed exclusively at innocent civilians, had already been in the planning stage, for nearly two years. Surely, mainstream media could at least get this right.
Israel has been under attack from their very first minute of statehood in 1948. Total annihilation was at first, at the behest of their Arab neighboring states. Over time and after horrific losses, Arab nations (Sunni Islam) switched to backing terrorists like Hamas and others. Then Iran backed Hezbollah. Ironically, it is now the Shia theocratic state of Iran, that is mostly footing the bill to drive Israel into the sea and kill all Jews. As my father would have said: “geo-politics makes for strange bedfellows).
More missing context is the role of all of the links in the chain of evil, that includes, China, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. I have well covered this in earlier pieces on this topic. I will include below links to those articles in the series, in chronological order. Today’s will be the 11th in the series.
Israel - by Paul Cobaugh - Truth About Threats
Let's unpack the complex, barbaric attack on Israel and those to blame. (truthaboutthreats.com)
Short Friday notes after yesterday's long report on Israel (truthaboutthreats.com)
A quick Sunday update regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in Gaza (truthaboutthreats.com)
Three things about the war in Gaza that we all must understand. (truthaboutthreats.com)
5th in the series, Israel and Hamas updates. (truthaboutthreats.com)
Has all media, good and bad, forgotten how to report with facts and context? (truthaboutthreats.com)
Friday updates - by Paul Cobaugh - Truth About Threats
The other critical context that mainstream media refuses to cover, is the role of not just Iran in this conflict, but Putin and Xi as well. At some point, the media world must consider just how close to Yellow Journalism that they have become. Don’t get me wrong, I still trust many publications for basic reporting but when lives are at stake, I hold them to a much higher standard and apparently one higher than they hold themselves to. They report certain facts accurately, but when existing false narratives exist and take lives by the thousands, their reporting should be the arrows shot at false narratives, not incomplete, non-contextual reporting, that helps to maintain those dangerous false narratives.
I want to end this long piece by making it as clear as possible, that I write not to take sides, but to tell the truth for the greater good. As mentioned in earlier posts, my occasionally severe PTSD, is born of civilian casualties, at the hands of terrorists, and not just once. My goal is to tell the truth that leads to untying the Gordian Knot of a sustainable peace. So long as false narratives rule the media, peace always be out of reach. If this report moves readers, even one step closer to a better understanding that supports a sustainable peace after this war, I will be grateful for the time spent on this finicky old keyboard.
The unwritten mantra of the finest warriors that I ever served with was “leave it better than you found it.” Between this mantra and the long family tradition of serving the greater good, I have an ironclad obligation to try to achieve both.
If you’ve read this far, I am beyond grateful.
My best for your week,