From RTÉ’s Nine O’Clock News on Wednesday

On the RTÉ Nine O’Clock News on Wednesday there was a segment by RTÉ’s Carole Coleman on the Gaza-Israel conflict, during which a woman in Gaza was on camera shouting.

As the woman is in the frame, Ms Coleman says in her report, ‘This Palestinian says she’s ready to strap on an explosive device and fight.’

Further to this, Abubakr Elsayed, in Donacarney, Co Meath, has created a petition calling for an apology from RTÉ.

From his letter to RTÉ:

I am writing to express my displeasure with your report on RTE news called “Hamas leader rules out ceasefire before negotiations” broadcast on 23/07/2014. In this report the news reporter states that the women in the segment says “She is ready to strap on an explosive device and fight”. Though this is not the case as she clearly said in Arabic “Everyday four kids die, everyday five kids die, where is the world, where is the religion”. This is obvious biased and deceitful reporting.


Watch RTÉ’s report in full here

Immediate apology for obvious biased and deceitful reporting on the Gaza issue (

Thanks Droidus McMoidus via Snackbox O’Flaherty

83 thoughts on “Dear RTÉ

  1. Damian

    This is the same RTE that last week opened their Primetime special with the words ‘400,000 dissapointed Gareth GATES fans in Ireland’

      1. Bacchus

        why would need a link to something hundreds of thousands of people saw? Are you so desperate to shill for Israel that you’re lowered to this?

          1. Robbie

            I believe this is something that got out of hand with word of mouth. They called it ‘The GarthGate saga’ on RTE Six One and someone decided to take liberties to make it funny on twitter.

    1. Violet

      Mass sackings are the cause of the horrible sloppiness of the last few years. They’ve lost hundreds of staff, and you can see it in every shot.

      1. Gerry

        These mass sacking were to replace staff with integrity with political cronies from the various parties who will “report” in the interest of our true rulers the IMF/Zionist Banker/Rothschilds. This is a perfect example of what is happening on every station in every western country. People must use independent media groupls for their new and view everything reported by RTE with suspicion

  2. trobuff

    This is nothing but pure laziness. There’s no great conspiracy here. No one in RTE News speaks Arabic and they went on a translation from what is obviously an unreliable source. Horrendous stuff.

    1. droid

      It is evidence of an uncritical and unexamined acceptance of (presumably) Israeli sources. Its not just lazy, its negligent. ‘I want to strap explosives to my body…’ Its pure propaganda and completely unbelievable. The fact that they accepted this without question speaks volumes about theiir attitudes towards Palestinians.

      RTE seriously needs to examine how they are reporting on this topic. Much of their radio an long format coverage is reasonably balanced, their headline coverage is mostly appalling. At the very least I want to see the broadcast of Hamas translations of Israelis claiming they wish to drink the blood of Palestinian children.

      For balance, like.

      1. realPolithicks

        Do you mean “balanced” like your comments on this topic. You state “It is evidence of an uncritical and unexamined acceptance of (presumably) Israeli sources” even though you have no idea whether this is the case or not. I’m afraid you’re comments are the equivalent of a Fox news broadcast, they have zero credibility.

        1. droid

          Sure, its possible Im wrong, its happened before, but as i have mentioned several times, this is nothing new.

          Have a look at MEMRI and the various scandals they have been involved when their dodgy translations are uncritically reported by mainstream media outlets. Look at the influence that well organised and professional mutl-million euro Israeli PR campaigns and propaganda have on media. Look at the political pressure placed on media wrt coverage of Israel, the BBC’s indefensible refusal to run the Gaza DEC emergency appeal in 2009 being an exemplar. Look at the wider structural problems with media in democratic societies and RTE’s record, in particular on Israel and the Iraq war. Finally, look at the resources issue, as Trobuff has pointed out, and the fact that it is easier to just play a clip without questioning its provenance than to do real journalism.

          Occam’s razor applies here. What will likely happen next is that RTE will (hopefully) apologise and say that they were provided with a media ‘package’ which turned out to feature a mistranslation… Just a technical problem, no big deal. They will almost certainly fail to mention where this package originated from, or discuss the implications thereof… but you never know.

      1. WhoAreYa

        Plus the fact is that RTE collect a subvention from viewers by law.

        This alone would lead one to believe they might be able to afford a professional Arabic translation service.

    2. droid

      If only this woman could get in touch with John Waters’ solicitor. This is about as clear a case of defamation as you could imagine.

  3. PK

    RTE are usually pretty pro Palestine, this could have been an edit mistake with the wrong shot or a mistake from the news wire service. I would guess that there are not any people in RTE news room who speak fluent Arabic. Carole Coleman is a great journalist and let’s not forget her interview with George Bush where she grilled him so much on the Iraq war that RTE were never allowed back to the White House again in that administration. I doubt she deliberately threw in her own words over the shot of the woman. RTE should apologies if it is the case that she was saying something totally different.

    1. trobuff

      Agreed. It’s a horrendous error, but the suggestion that it’s deliberate implies some Zionist conspiracy at the heart of Montrose, which is nonsense. An apology should certainly be issued though.

    2. droid

      Nope, it suggest a willingness to uncritically accept the Israeli viewpoint and Israeli translations a fact when they should be doing actual journalism. Not unlike the BBC (but not near as bad).

    3. Luvin Lunch

      Rte keep referring to Israel’s attack on Palestinian militants. Obviously they’re taking the Israeli name for what’s going on because it’s actually an Israeli attack on civilians. Why do they use that wording?

        1. jungleman

          Calling civilians “militants” is in your view impartial? Whether RTE are actually doing that or not, I now know you’re full of horseshit.

    4. Karol Coalmine

      wasnt it veronica guerin who grilled george bush and was not allowed back or could it have been orla coleman…. this is the same RTE news who told listeners the Paris Bakery was solvent and managed by honest business folk

  4. Smashmouth

    Could it not be a case whereby the woman in question did state what the reporter said but the clip used was of another quote?

    At the very least let’s hear RTE’s response before assuming the worst

    1. PK

      I think it’s as simple as that. There’s no way they would throw out some random quote that they made up. It was just a mixup. RTE are not some evil empire…

      1. LaRouge

        Associated Press/Eurovision News, where they probably got the clip from, is a different story however.

  5. Joe Burns

    Just because she said something else on a short clip doesn’t mean she didn’t say exactly what is alleged. As a photographer usually you have to shoot many minutes to get a few good seconds. A journalist doesn’t make the news they just report what people say and the video footage will prove it.

    Seems like a whiny complaint to me. There’s no shortage of Shahid’s in Gaza and no shortage of videos on YouTube professing their love of death. Becoming a martyr in Gaza is something ingrained in Palestinians from birth. As this Hamas video shows.

    1. droid

      I see. So your argument is:

      “Just because she didn’t say it here doesn’t mean she might not have said elsewhere at some other time, and anyway, other people have said similar things and theyre all the same anyway”

      Its really great that youre happy with that excuse, but the job of journalists is to report what actually happened and what people actually said, not to put the propaganda phrases into the mouths of an agonised people as they are slaughtered slowly in a cage.

      1. trobuff

        I think what he’s saying is that she may have said it at another point in the same footage, RTE took a few seconds out of the clip throwing the translation of the “explosive device” bit underneath, but the footage they used wasn’t the correct bit. He’s not assuming she MAY have said it somewhere sometime, he’s assuming the full unedited recording of the woman includes that quote, which the journalist has reported.

        1. droid

          Yeah, thats a lot of assumptions. You might say its an incredible set of assumptions predicated on a fundamental assumption that RTE would never do something like this.

          Perhaps Im just cynical, but I dont share this faith in RTE. This stinks to high heaven.

          1. trobuff

            I used to work in RTE, and would be highly critical of its many failings, so my assumptions aren’t based on nothing. I know the speed with which those packages are thrown together. Your assumption that RTE has all these hidden agendas assumes way too much of the news-making process. It’s not round tables and Bloomberg Group representatives. It’s cups of tea and complaints about crappy shifts. This isn’t just any TV, this is Irish TV.

          2. WhoAreYa

            Trobuff your insider’s axe to grind sound like weasel words to me.

            This is not some over-heated soufflé but rather a distinctly over-egged omelette.

            Pong to match. Someone left the cake out in the rain.

          3. trobuff

            WhoAreYa, I think you’ve misread my tone. I enjoyed working in RTE. Sure it’s the semi-state. Twas great. I left the job, which wasnt permanent, for another country. Not much of an axe to grind. I’m critical of its many failings, yes, but what else are you meant to do about a company’s failings? Applaud them?

          4. trobuff

            When I criticise the speed with which the packages are thrown together, I mean that as an indirect criticism of RTE understaffing and lack of resources. One person throwing something together, often in under an hour, due to the demand for them to get it into a particular news bulletin.

          5. droid

            Trobuff, I know people in media so Im well aware of how these things are done. But to the contrary, Im not making any assumptions about hidden agendas, RTE is simply taking the easiest route in its coverage.

            Forgetting about the kinds of institutional bias exposed during their coverage of Iraq (and endemic in most Western media) and just concentrating on the practical side of things – it is simply easier to accept the words of Israel as fact and to source stories from Israeli sources. If they were to go the the other way they’d need to do proper journalism, they need more resources, theyd get flak from the embassy and other lobby groups… it creates all kinds of problems, and lets face it – who’s going to complain about, or even notice – this kind of thing?

            And thats the problem. Not they they willingly distorted the facts, but that they willingly parroted propaganda without examination or suspicion. This to me is much more serious than a ‘zionist conspiracy’ because it points to fundamental problems with their processes.

          6. WhoAreYa

            I think you missed the bit where I described them as weasel words trobuff.

            As in ‘I would be very critical… but’

            This is typical Irish doublespeak for ‘now I am not going to criticise and I don’t want to say bad anyway but sure aren’t they just people doing their best at the end of the day to be sure and isn’t it terrible about the pay cuts’

            Why not stick to calling a spade a spade? This is at best, low standard reportage, at worst a deliberate attempt to manipulate and mislead.
            It may be somewhere in between or both. Either way call it what it is instead of bullshitting.

          7. trobuff

            You’re right WhoAreYa, perhaps I am too forgiving of these errors and placing too much blame on management issues, resources etc. It is very poor reporting, I don’t dispute that, but there when it comes to these translations and the wires through which RTE receive much of their information, the onus to verify is taken away from the journalist, clearly, in this situation, to the massive detriment of the reporting. With this in mind, I really don’t believe it was a deliberate attempt to mislead or manipulate. It’s just poor work and, as droid says, poor processes in RTE. With that regard I suppose myself and droid are actually in agreement, as his concerns lie with the processes. Apologies to you droid for assuming you were leaning on the hyper-conspiratorial side of things, and I would agree when you say that often, not just with Gaza, “RTE is simply taking the easiest route in its coverage.”

          8. droid

            No problem. I’m an advocate of Chomsky & Herman’s propaganda model, which describes how institutional bias affects the media – which places the blame for this sort of thing on a number of structural and organisational factors rather than on any kind of conspiracy. ‘Resources’ i think is something that could be added to their five filters – especially when you Nick Davies’ estimation that about 90% of all stories in the UK print media come from either PR or Government sources.

            Thats not to say RTE is FOX news or anything, simply that I believe it would be remarkable if they were unaffected by the kinds of pressures which affect media in other democratic societies


      2. Jon Mark

        No, Droid, I think what Joe was saying is that the lady in the clip might have made the comments about strapping on an explosive device in precisely the same piece of film in which she made the other comments that were translated by the Arabic-speaking viewer in Ireland, but that RTE did not play the full audio of her comments. I’m sure it happens quite frequently that the newsroom selects a clip that is not precisely the clip that the reporter on the ground is referring to. Remember that Carol Coleman is in the Middle East and the person putting together the segment for the news is in Montrose, and neither of them speak Arabic!

      3. Joe Burns

        You’re such a troll. No rational debate and you slip in propaganda.

        “People living in a cage”? You do realise the “cage” has a 12Km border on one side with Egypt? Wouldn’t you think the humanitarians in Egypt wouldn’t want to see their brothers and sisters being antagonised and slowly slaughtered and maybe let them into Egypt?

        Turns out that while 5,000 deluded Irish terrorist supporters marched in Dublin, that only 100 protested in Egypt, and the protesters were Palestinian not Egyptian. They weren’t even protesting the deaths and the invasion, they protested that Egypt wont open the border to allow humanitarian aid in. While deluded Irish terrorist supporters were screaming for blood, Egyptians were cheering on Israel because they hate Hamas more than Israel.

        But don’t worry about your buddies in Hamas, all the senior officials fecked off on holiday and told Palestinians they have to be human shields.

        1. droid

          Joe, TBH, Im sick of dealing with this kind of nonsense, so Ill let others judge who is engaging in rational debate and propaganda here, me or someone who claims that the protests today are full of ‘deluded Irish terrorist supporters’.

          One point I will make. Egypt controls the Rafah crossing as part of a security treaty with Israel, backed up via agreement with the US. Egypt cannot simply open the border, nor do they wish to considering the current regime are bitter enemies of Hamas who deposed their sister organisation in a coup.

          1. bruce01

            Rational debate like “It is evidence of an uncritical and unexamined acceptance of (presumably) Israeli sources.”. Whereby you show your own bias and do almost exactly what you are (presumably) opposed to? That is hypocrisy by definition which is unfortunate and diminishes your argument from a rational standpoint.

          2. droid

            Well no, its a rational assessment based on previous experience with dozens of similar cases. As I said above, I could be wrong in terms of the factors in this case, but evidence of Western media’s acceptance of the Israeli viewpoint is not hard to find. Theres been volumes of quite serious analysis on the topic, as well as acres of examples dating back years from the likes of FAIR and Media Lens.

            And what kind of bias are you suggesting? Bias against RTE? Sure, Im probably guilty of that, Im Irish after all.

          3. bruce01

            Rational, but based on previous experience. So not based on the case at hand. So biased. You need a dictionary instead of glib remarks.

  6. C. Flower

    The clip and the way it was inserted without any context is very odd. Was the woman at a protest, or a funeral?
    I would like to know if Coleman was asked to insert it during an edit at RTE.

    RTE has relentlessly been reporting that Ukraine rebel militia refused to collect bodies from MH17 and obstructed investigators. OSCE and the EU Commission on 18th July requested that no one touch the bodies until expert investigators arrived. They only arrived a couple of days ago – “rebels” were asking why they were not arriving, when could they come, for days. RTE has been supplied with OSCE and EU docs and should know their reports are incorrect.. Laziness and establishment outlook meet and bingo, you get **** journalism.

    1. Jon Mark

      C.Flower: I think it’s pretty well established that the pro-Russian separatists obstructed investigators, in many different ways.

    2. trobuff

      What are you on about? OSCE investigators arrived on July 18. ( There have been numerous reports, internationally, corroborating that the debris and the bodies have been tampered with, property stolen. And what do you mean the rebels refused to move the bodies? No one wants them to move the bodies. That’s the problem.

      Sure even a quick Google today shows that the Malaysian don’t yet have full access to the site, because they’re being obstructed by the Pro-Russian forces.

  7. Fergus the magic postman

    Let’s hear the RTE explanation then.

    RTE is a lovely little Irish station with no hidden agendas, or bias whatsoever. That’s what I’m getting from a lot of the comments on this right now.

  8. Fat Frog

    Loving that so many of you are prepared to jump to the defense of RTE with the “she probably did say it, it is just on the cutting room floor” argument

    Supposing she did say it amongst other things, she is filmed in despair talking about the numbers of children killed, a decision to pick out a quote about strapping on a belt still represents an editorial decision that is highly questionable, if not indefensible under the circumstances when take out of context.

    But there is a lot of supposition here, so let’s just stick with the facts. RTE have attributed something to someone that, given the video evidence available, she did not say.

    1. Huppenstop

      Exactly. And most reasonable non-Arabic speaking people would assume that a reporter voiceover that begins “this woman says…” is a translation of what the person in the clip is saying.

      1. droid


        I assume you mean, successful, crusading, wealthy and attractive as opposed to anti-semetic, creepy, stupid and facile. ;)

  9. Melina Harris

    Surely, “This Palestinian says she’s ready to campaign for same sex marriage in the Gaza Strip.” #pantiblissdome Now that really would be a way to improve the world.

  10. Niall Sheridan

    I have a friend who is a linguist and is fluent in several middle Eastern languages. I sent this item to him and indeed the woman was saying He says “She says. “4 children die, 5 children every day. Where is the world? Where is faith/religion.”

  11. David j

    Reminds me of that scene from ‘drop the dead donkey’ where they are subtitling a video of a wailing Eastern European man to say he is saying his sister was raped and family killed. A cleaner who understands the language the man is speaking in the video says – that’s not what he’s saying, he’s saying he was so sad when elvis died and used to play elvis records all day long.

  12. john manhan

    RTE is funded by an inept government.its part of an inept government and it Is an inept,ill informed,lazy,tired monopoly.It would be nice to think that the tired old hacks who are employed there would read messages like these here,but even if they did they’re so blindly indifferent i doubt they’d care.RTE is an embarrassment.
    Sloppy news reporting.Pathetic debates where homophobes sue a national broadcaster and silence it.Horrendous chat shows like the late late or worse Saturday nite whateva its called now.An over rated,hyped mediocre homegrown show in Love Hate and rubbish after rubbish.If you don’t pay your license for this muck you can be jailed.Democracy?Yawn.Its a stinking rotting national disgrace with no governing.It needs massive culling of the movers and shakers.But its too cosy a clique to rustle feathers.Vote with your remote.BBC ,channel 4 etc are just a click away

  13. S McCaffrey

    Wether it was a mistake or not it is totally unacceptable for a ‘professional’ organization to go on air without proof reading their broadcasts before hand. How many more times have they done this?

  14. Thomas O'Rourke

    The RTÉ report of Wednesday July 23rd is distorted, even if you can’t understand what the Palestinian woman is saying in the clip mid-way through. Distortions run right through the piece, to such an extent that focusing solely on RTÉ’s skewed interpretation and mistranslation of the clip misses the wider point of their skewed assumptions and framing at every turn since the Israeli assault on Gaza began. I was so infuriated on seeing the piece (which exemplified RTÉ reporting on Gaza), that I immediately began writing an open letter to the reporter Carole Coleman. I sent the criticisms directly to her and the Director of News and Current Affairs on Friday, but obviously don’t expect a reaction from them. I have linked the criticisms below. If you think that they are reasonable, feel free to share them:

  15. Joseph

    @Thomas O Rouke. Your criticism isn’t justified but mainly a tainted dislike of how RTE isn’t a pro Hamas mouth piece.

    1. Thomas O'Rourke

      The specific focus of the open letter is RTÉ’s uncritical treatment of Israeli propaganda. This is evidenced for the report in question. You cannot infer from my criticism that I would prefer RTÉ to spout Hamas propaganda. In fact, the concluding paragraph directly contradicts what you say. The inverted scenario points out how flawed such an RTÉ report would look if Hamas had killed a vast amount of Israeli civilians. The imaginary report is obviously absurd in how it treats Hamas propaganda and effaces human suffering. RTÉ’s actual reports are similarly ludicrous for acting as an Israeli mouthpiece and not reporting the brutality of Israel’s assault.

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