Minnesotans Against Terrorism Campaign Sparks Media Condemnation of Star Tribune's "Double-Standard" On Reporting Anti-Israel Terrorism

MINNEAPOLIS, MN, April 12, 2002 -- The Minneapolis Star Tribune -- under fire by 350 prominent Minnesotans who signed an April 2 Minnesotans Against Terrorism advertisement criticizing the newspaper's policy of refusing to call Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians "terrorism" -- has been caught repeatedly doctoring stories about anti-Israel terrorism that were supplied by national news wires, while insisting that the Star Tribune would not do so.

Five times, the Minneapolis newspaper expunged the word "terrorism" from an April 3 New York Times wire story. As recently as April 10, the newspaper also altered a syndicated Washington Post story on a suicide bombing -- again deleting references to Palestinian terrorists.

Astonishingly, the Star Tribune's cleansing of the New York Times' references to terrorism was made on the very day that the Star Tribune's managing editor Pam Fine publicly declared that her newspaper's refusal to identify Palestinian terror groups as "terrorists" was no different from that of "the New York Times." Fine also publicly assured readers that the Star Tribune "will continue to publish the word 'terrorist' when . . . it appears in wire stories," even as her newspaper was expunging the word "terrorist" from the New York Times wire story.

How the Star Tribune Altered the New York Times Story
The New York Times' April 3 story, entitled "White House Feels Its Way As Crisis Deepens," repeatedly labeled Palestinian violence against Israeli targets as "terrorism" and referred to Israel's attempts to root out "terrorists." But when the Star Tribune reprinted that Times' story that day, the Minneapolis paper sanitized the references to terrorism -- either deleting the word "terrorism" completely or replacing it with words like "attacks," which altered the meaning of the original New York Times article and obscured the reason why Israelis and Americans have found these attacks so despicable.

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In addition, the New York Times' story informed readers that: "Secretary of State Colin L. Powell persistently talked about hopes for a cease-fire and starting a political dialogue, even as Israel broadened its military campaign to rout terrorism suspects in Palestinian areas." When the story appeared in the Star Tribune, the " terrorism suspects" had vanished, stripping the paragraph of the stated justification for Israeli military action: "Secretary of State Colin Powell persistently talked about hopes for a cease-fire and starting a political dialogue, even as Israel broadened its military campaign in Palestinian areas."

The New York Times also stated that for peace to occur in the Middle East, both sides would need to stop fighting, "which would include an end to Palestinian terrorism." Yet when the Star Tribune reprinted the same paragraph, it delicately changed the phrase to read "which would include an end to Palestinian attacks."

What's more, the Star Tribune deleted entirely the New York Times' report that "Bush administration officials insist over and over that Mr. Arafat is not doing enough to rein in terrorist" violence. As a result, the Star Tribune's readers were not told that the President of the United States had repeatedly made clear our government's insistence that Arafat stop Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians.

How The Star Tribune Doctored April 10 Washington Post Story
The Star Tribune similarly doctored Washington Post news copy, distorting the meaning of the Post's coverage of the Middle East.

On April 10, the first sentence of a front-page story in the Washington Post informed readers that " Palestinian fighters who laid an elaborate ambush killed 13 Israeli soldiers Tuesday . . ." But when the same Washington Post story was reprinted on the cover of that day's Star Tribune, the Minneapolis editors had made the Palestinian terrorists responsible for the attack literally vanish: "An elaborately laid ambush killed 13 Israeli soldiers Tuesday . . ."

Equally remarkable, the Washington Post reported on April 10 that "a suicide bomber boarded a bus near the town of Yagor in northern Israel, detonating a blast that twisted the bus like an accordion and flung bodies and body parts across the roadway." But when the Star Tribune reprinted that paragraph, its editors expunged the suicide bomber, leaving Minneapolis readers unclear as to who detonated the explosives: "A bomb blew up a commuter bus during morning rush hour near the northern city of Haifa . . ."

The Washington Post story also reported that Secretary of State Colin Powell said "that the Israeli offensive in the West Bank had been effective in stopping the waves of suicide bombings that killed scores of Israelis in March." But when the Washington Post's story was reprinted in the April 10 Star Tribune, Powell's entire quote about the success of Israel's efforts to reduce terror attacks had vanished.

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Last April 2, Minnesotans Against Terrorism questioned the Star Tribune's policies in a full-page advertisement that was signed by Governor Jesse Ventura, Senator Paul Wellstone, Senator Mark Dayton, and such leading Minnesotans as Congressmen Bill Luther and Martin Sabo, Attorney General Mike Hatch, and former U.S. Senators Rudy Boschwitz and David Durenberger. Reproduced in the ad was a February 2002 Wall Street Journal online editorial by James Taranto, who condemned the Star Tribune for concluding that Palestinian suicide bombers, in Taranto's words, enjoy this kind of special editorial protection: "If you murder only Jews, you are not a terrorist -- at least in the eyes of those who edit Minnesota's largest newspaper."

Since the April 2 advertisement, the Star Tribune has been criticized for its policy by media across the United States -- including on Fox TV News with Brit Hume, MSNBC-TV, Wall Street Journal and Jerusalem Post. The Washington Times reported that phone calls came in to the Star Tribune running 3 to 1 against the newspaper's policy.

A Denver Post editorial criticized the Star Tribune on April 7, calling the newspaper's defense of its policies "obtuse." Commenting on Star Tribune managing editor Pam Fine's insistence that her newspaper's policy on anti-Israel terrorism was a matter of 'not taking sides,' the Denver paper said "this reasoning doesn't seem to make much sense." The Denver Post concluded that the Star Tribune "as is its right, has tended more than most U.S. media outlets to lambaste Israel."

Local media coverage of the fairness issues raised by Minnesotans Against Terrorism has appeared on Twin Cities stations WCCO-TV, KMSP-TV, KSTP-TV, KARE-TV, WFTC Fox TV, KSTP-AM Radio and Minnesota Public Radio. On April 10, the Minneapolis weekly City Pages newspaper termed the Star Tribune's attacks against Minnesotans Against Terrorism and the advertisement's 350 signers as "arrogant," "defensive," and "condescending."

The non-profit Minnesotans Against Terrorism was founded by Minneapolis attorney Mark Rotenberg and marketing executive Marc Grossfield, two Minnesotans who were eyewitnesses to a terrorist bombing in Israel, Rotenberg and Grossfield were visiting Jerusalem last December 5, when a terrorist detonated himself just seconds before their taxi cab stopped at a red light in front of the Hilton Hotel. Although the two Minnesotans escaped injury, they were shocked at how U.S. media coverage of subsequent terrorist attacks in Israel were ascribed to "militants," "gunmen" or "activists" in media coverage -- particularly in the Star Tribune.

For more information, contact Minnesotans Against Terrorism via e-mail at, visit the Web site, or write Minnesotans Against Terrorism, P.O. Box 368, Hopkins, MN 55343-0368.


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April 3, 2002 Articles (see both side by side)
A) Star Tribune B) NY Times

April 10, 2002 Articles (see both side by side)
A) Star Tribune B) NY Times

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