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Shuttleworth distorts facts to suit bias in RNZ interview

Kate Shuttleworth Biased Distortions

04 Jul 2016

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Kate Shuttleworth is a New Zealand journalist based in the Middle East who is a regular contributor to RNZ (formerly Radio New Zealand) and other news outlets, including the Guardian. Her reports often show bias against Israel, which at times she makes little attempt to conceal. She has a history of factual inaccuracies and skewed reporting regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and in March was criticised by UK Media Watch for sharing, without clarification, a libellous anti-Israel conspiracy story from a propaganda website.

Today Kate Shuttleworth was interviewed by RNZ host Kathryn Ryan about the current situation in the Middle East, including the recent violence in Israel and the West Bank. Over the last few days Israelis have faced an escalation in the ongoing wave of terror attacks by Palestinians, starting on Friday with the murder of a 13 year old Israeli girl as she slept in her bedroom.

Shuttleworth commenced her report with a description of an “escalation of violence” in the “occupied West Bank”. She referred briefly to a shooting attack “killing a man and wounding three others”. The “man” was prominent and respected Rabbi, 48 year old Rabbi Miki Mark, the father of 10 children, two of whom were present during the attack, witnessing their father’s murder and receiving gunshot wounds in the hailstorm of bullets, along with their mother. Shuttleworth made no mention of the fact that the wounded included a mother and two children; to her they were simply “others”.

Shuttleworth went on to explain that the violence followed “the death of a 13 year old Jewish American settler girl”, referring to 13 year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel, murdered by 17 year-old Palestinian Muhammed Nasser Tarayra, who broke into her house, found her sleeping in her bedroom and slashed her throat and stabbed her repeatedly as she slept. Shuttleworth’s use of the description “settler girl” was telling. Not necessary for the story (she had already emphasised the fact that the attack occurred in the “occupied West Bank”), the words were likely chosen to reduce sympathy for the victim and imply some moral justification for the attack; the implication being that the victim somehow deserved it or had it coming because of where she lived.

Such a reporting style; the conscious use of judgement-laden terms, and the omission of context, dehumanises the victims of terror and muddies the distinction between victim and aggressor. When the facts do not fit her favoured narrative, Shuttleworth simply omits them or manipulates them to make them fit.

Thus, when Kathryn Ryan asked Shuttleworth why there is now a sudden escalation in violence, Shuttleworth’s answer was to blame Israeli government rhetoric – rhetoric aired after the murder of Hallel Yaffa Ariel.

Shuttleworth then mentioned the “punitive” step Israel was taking by witholding tax revenue to the Palestinian Authority. What Shuttleworth should have mentioned is that the tax Israel is withholding equates to the “reward” payments currently being made by the Palestinian Authority to terrorists’ families, through its “martyr’s fund”. The Palestinian Authority’s payment of such incentives has been widely reported through western media. However, Shuttleworth clearly preferred to leave the impression that Israel’s actions were based simply on punitive malice.

Responding to a question from Ryan about the status of the peace process, Shuttleworth referred to a recent report from the Middle East Quartet, in which she said Israel was heavily criticised for several reasons, while also acknowledging briefly at the end that Palestinian leaders have been pulled up for failing to consistently and clearly condemn terror attacks. Shuttleworth created the impression that Israel bore the lion’s share of blame from the Quartet. In reality, the Report placed a heavy emphasis on violence and incitement to violence against Israelis by Palestinians, including by some Fatah leaders and on Fatah social media. Shuttleworth failed throughout the entire interview to refer to the highly pertinent matter of Palestinian incitement.

Five days before Hallel Yaffa Ariel’s murder, an aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for gruesome violence against Israelis, demanding; “Wherever you see an Israeli, slit his throat”. On Friday, a 17 year old Palestinian heeded his call. Yet according to the logic of RNZ’s reporter, the death of the “settler girl” must somehow be Israel’s fault.

Kate Shuttleworth’s clear bias against Israel is well documented by HonestReporting and UK Media Watch. It is troubling that RNZ would continue to use a reporter who clearly does not live up to the standards set by the RNZ charter of providing “comprehensive, independent, accurate, impartial, and balanced regional, national, and international news and current affairs.” With so many journalists stationed in Israel, why does RNZ continue to rely on such an imbalanced source?

This report is simply the latest in a long and dubious history of highly partisan reporting on the Middle East by RNZ. If you, too, are tired of poor reporting, make your voice heard. Submit your complaint here within 20 working days of the broadcast, setting out the programme details, the broadcasting standards breached and why you think they were breached.

Let RNZ know: Jewish Lives Matter.

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