AJC Statement on Media Misreporting of Muhammad Video

September 13, 2012 – New York – AJC Executive Director David Harris issued today the following statement:

“AJC is deeply troubled by the way major media handled reports about an Internet video that allegedly prompted the outrageous attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and Consulate in Libya.

“Initial reports identified the filmmaker as an Israeli-American who had received funding from 100 Jewish donors. This narrative was swallowed by credible news sources – newspapers, TV, wire services – hook, line and sinker, and repeated again and again in print and on screen.

“Later, after a few responsible journalists and bloggers did some basic fact-checking, it became increasingly doubtful that any of this was true. The individual behind the incendiary, offensive video did not appear to be Jewish. His reported name, Sam Bacile, was, in fact, a pseudonym. And no evidence has emerged to date about the so-called ‘100 Jewish donors.’

“Although the major media updated their stories accordingly, to the best of our knowledge not a single outlet has issued a retraction of the earlier coverage. Failure to admit error in this case is shameful, and, because of the nature of this particular news story, has potential long-term, dangerous consequences.

“Credible media should have rallied their journalistic instincts to examine more closely this evolving story at every step before publicizing developments in such an unfounded way. Media, beginning with major U.S. outlets, owe their readers and viewers an apology.”

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