Former AP journalist Matti Friedman wrote an article for the Atlantic called “What the Media Gets Wrong About Israel“ which explains the anti-Israel bias of the Associated Press’ Jerusalem. In the piece Friedman reveals well-known Israeli scholar Dr. Gerald Steinberg, Professor at Bar Ilan University and President of NGO Monitor was the only person ever subjected to an interview ban by the AP Jerusalem bureau.
On Tuesday morning, the Associated Press distributed a press release denying all of Friedman’s claims. Specifically on the Ban of Dr. Steinberg the AP release said:
There was no “ban” on using Prof. Gerald Steinberg. He and his NGO Monitor group are cited in at least a half-dozen stories since the 2009 Gaza war.
Actually there were eight articles. Two of them (Nov. 12, 2012 and Aug. 21, 2012) were irrelevant because they were published after Frieidman’s tenure (he left at the end of 2011). Another three came from outside the Jerusalem bureau where the ban was imposed (Nov. 13, 2009, Aug. 6, 2009, and June 8, 2009).
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The remaining two stories had nothing to do with NGOs or Gaza. A July 23, 2009 article interviewed Steinberg regarding the promise of a U.S. Umbrella to shield Israel from Iranian nuclear weapons. The remaining story on December 15, 2011, was about Jewish extremists, lone wolf-type terrorists committing violence against Arabs in Israel.
Not one of these three instances weakens Friedman’s claim. In fact when the Jewish Press contacted one of Friedman’s colleagues in the Jerusalem bureau Mark Lavie, he verified that there was a ban on Gerald Steinberg:
Lavie was also an AP reporter who worked in the Jerusalem bureau during and after Operation Cast Lead [2008-2009]. In fact, Lavie covered the Middle East as a journalist for more than 40 years. For more than a dozen of those years, Lavie was a reporter in the AP’s Jerusalem bureau. He later moved to the Cairo bureau where he had a front row seat for the “Arab Spring.” That experience was his last as a journalist, but it spawned his new profession as an author.
[…]The Jewish Press asked Lavie whether he knew if there was an AP ban on quoting Prof. Gerald Steinberg around the time of Operation Cast Lead.
Lavie said he did.
He said he knew there was such a ban because, when he put a quote from Steinberg in one of his articles sometime in 2009, the AP Jerusalem bureau chief made him remove it. That editor then told him that AP reporters “can’t interview Steinberg as an expert because he is identified with the right wing.”
Subsequently it was made clear that NGO Monitor’s reports were not to be quoted, either, because it was pro-Israel or anti-Palestinian or right-wing, however it was put.
In denying Matti Friedman’s report the Associated Press opened up themselves to further revelations of their bias and mendacity.