The IFC Media Project

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Airdate: 5-5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18 (IFC)

A new series, "The IFC Media Project," promises the truth about American journalism or, as host Gideon Yago calls it, "the modern sideshow that passes stuff off as American news."

With that attitude, it's no surprise that the series can be as guilty of bias as the reporting it seeks to expose.

The two main stories in the premiere are on TV news' tendency to sensationalize stories of white child abductions and media failure to report on the Middle East without a pro-Israel bias.

While the HonestEngineTV production carefully documents TV's failure to put missing-child stories into perspective, it utterly fails to make a reasoned case on the charge of pro-Israel bias.

The pro-Israel accusations are leveled by Mark Levine, a Middle Eastern history professor at UC Irvine. His basis for accusing the media of one-sided coverage is simply that he can't remember seeing or reading stories from a Palestinian perspective. Yep. No searches. No analysis of news programs. Nothing that remotely resembles real research.

Having built this premise on an unproven foundation, Levine then goes around asking others to explain it. The answers often suggest a conspiracy by a "large number of people in the media" who are "deeply devoted to Israel."

Levine notes that the U.S. has given Israel $100 billion in aid during the past four decades but, significantly, makes no mention of the equally sizable amount given to neighboring Arab states. It's a glaring omission for someone asserting a lack of evenhanded reporting.

There is a crying need for a TV series to explore and explain why we get the news we see and read and how forces shape the content. But this is only helpful if those who do the reviewing come to the subject without an agenda of their own.

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