The Associated Press (AP): A History of Biased and Anti-Israel Media

Public By Amotz Eyal/TPS • 20 May, 2021

Jerusalem, 20 May, 2021 (TPS) -- The AP news agency is the leading news agency in the world. It has approximately 15,000 media customers that in turn shares its reports  to half of the world population every day. 

The immense power of the AP often sets the world agenda. Their narrative dictates what we talk about, what will be discussed in the UN and parliaments around the world. Each picture of the agency tells a story in itself.  In the United States, the largest media outlets- The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fox News – carry the AP’s reporting. It’s the agency’s power. 

Problems with the agency’s work are readily apparent  if one explores the depths of the articles, reads the headlines or examines the angles of their coverage.  The agency, which is supposed to be international, objective and professional, repeatedly reveals serious biases in their reporting on Israel. 

These biases, in my opinion, often go against the very heart of the press profession.  

An AP headline reads “Israeli policeman shot a man in East Jerusalem”, which in actuality followed a car ramming terror attack or a shooting attack in which a baby and a young girl were murdered. This framing is often apparent in their coverage of Gaza.  The AP depicts Israeli aggression on a daily basis and ignores significant stories that do not fit the narrative.

Evidence of this can be heard from Mark Lavie, a former agency editor. He laments to this day that the agency chose to ignore coverage of an Israeli peace initiative because it did not fit their narrative. 

In 2014 Matti Friedman, a respected journalist who worked for the AP for years, attacked the agency’s bias.  He said that the AP censors details from stories about Hamas with no mention of it; however, when the IDF wants to censor something for security reasons, the article will be framed accordingly.  

In his piece in The Atlantic that was published the same year, Friedman says that, according to his sources, the AP staff chose to ignore the launching of rockets next to their offices. Also, in articles regarding the Israeli assertion that Hamas fires from residential areas, AP chose to ignore the facts. 

It continues with turning off a camera when terrorists arrive at a Gazan hospital, and turned back on again when civilians arrive. And failing to report that Hamas terrorists broke into AP offices as well as hiding the event, among other examples. 

A foreign journalist with whom I spoke this week told me that already in the first decade of the 2000s, it was known that Hamas in Gaza had its activists take staff positions in AP.

We can see the bias in daily coverage, blaming Israel for Palestinians’ lack of vaccines, showing Mahmoud Abbas as one who has always shunned violence, headlines that describe Arab attackers as victims and the Israeli victims as attackers, the tendency to place guilt on the Israeli side, diminishing or leaving out facts and actions that support Israel, and more.

About 5 years ago an important article was published in the British Guardian  a newspaper which is identified with the left side of the political map.  In the article, historian Harriet Scharnberg revealed that the AP news agency collaborated with Nazi Germany to gain access to the country prior to the war.  Initially, the AP did not receive access to the country, but when it pushed for entry, Hitler’s party set two conditions:

  1. The AP would not publish articles that offended the Nazi party. 
  2. The AP would hire reporters who worked for the Nazi Party’s Propaganda Department.

The world’s most powerful news agency decided to cooperate.  Thus, they were the only Western News Agency granted access to Germany.  So while they gained access to Germany, they served as messengers and spokesmen for the Nazi party.

The AP greatly influenced global coverage of the war and not necessarily for the better. 

Following the publication of the article, AP published a denial of the story. The AP’s article on its denial was published by hundreds of media outlets around the world, without criticism and without scrutiny.  Simply because the AP provided. This is another example of the power of the AP to influence the media.  Even when they are the story- they can control the narrative. 

More recently, the AP has been accused of having a similar agreement with the North Korean dictatorship. In 2014, NK News alleged that executives at AP had in 2011 concluded an agreement with North Korea to distribute propaganda created by the North Korean government.  According to the leaked draft of the agreement, the AP was apparently willing to let the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) place their agents in the local AP bureau.

There is an old saying that history repeats itself.  Last week the IDF bombed a building that housed Hamas’ intelligence and technology offices. The same building served as the AP’s Gaza office. 

Media coverage in Gaza runs through the totalitarian dictatorship that is Hamas. How many untold stories could the agency’s reporters provide us with?  How many exclusive photos could they share of Hamas activity on the ground?  But of course we will never see any of these. Is there a bond of silence and arrangements that were relevant in the 1930s continuing to this day? 

In a few decades from today, will a historian publish a study on how the AP collaborated with Hamas and helped the terrorist organization with their propaganda?  And in 202–  Is the AP controlling the discourse, publishing denials and supporting organizations working against Israel?