Monday, March 12, 2007

3/12/07: Using a fake picture to further humiliate, smear a gay Israeli ambassador


As you read this article, it will be useful to keep in mind the following:
"I actually believe that the news is not right-wing news or left-wing news, it's the news."
- Arianna Huffington, May 5, 2005

"A lot of the discontent with traditional journalism is because too many reporters have forgotten that the highest calling of journalists is to ferret out the truth, consequences be damned."
- Arianna Huffington, July 29, 2008

[Arianna Huffington]
is offended and bewildered by the suggestion that other news outlets think she's getting a free ride. She sees herself as the future of journalism, not the end of it.
- Time, March 19, 2009

"We only delete those comments that include
the following transgressions: racist, sexist, homophobic and other slurs..."
- Comment Policy (Note: The above is a partial list of "transgressions"; more here)
* * *

On March 12, 2007, HuffPost published a story on its
front page (though not as its splash headline, it was located nearby), entitled:
Israel Recalls Envoy After He's Found Outside Drunk, Naked And Tied Up

The story page that the front-page teaser* linked to is shown below (*described below):

The following screen was captured on June 20, 2009 --- showing that the key content is similar to how it appeared more than two years earlier (although the stature of HuffPost's advertisers had clearly been elevated):

The copy on the HuffPost story page reads as follows:
Two weeks ago, El Salvador police found Raphael naked outside his residence, tied up, gagged and drunk, Israeli media reported. He was wearing several sex toys at the time, the media said. After he was untied, Raphael told police he was the ambassador of Israel, the reports said.

Ben-Hillel said the reports were accurate and that Raphael has been recalled, although he did not break any laws.

Read the whole story: Associated Press

Imagine you were visiting HuffPost for the first time on March 12, 2007, having heard about this hot new political "news" and blog site, which claimed it was committed to reporting "the news," and having "the truth" as its guiding principle. We contend you (and probably anyone else who saw the same thing, on HuffPost's front page --- via its teaser*) would have automatically assumed that the picture was of the Israeli ambassador.
*If you're not familiar with what we mean by "teaser," below is one example (from this story on Huff-Watch):

You might also wonder, with everything else that was going on in the world at the time, why this particular story merited notice on HuffPost's front page (unless it had some other motivation for wedging it in with important news items?).

HuffPost's editorial story-selection aside, the focus of the article you're now reading is actually not on the story about the Israeli ambassador to El Salvador. Rather, our focus is on the fact that...

The man in the picture HuffPost chose to run with this story is
not the Israeli ambassador to El Salvador.

As is documented below, this was no mistake or journalistic error; HuffPost knew this going in --- yet it used this fake picture both on the story page, above, and on the teaser that it ran on its front page.

Below is a picture of the real Israeli ambassador to El Salvador at the time, Tsuriel Raphael, taken in the years preceding this incident (third from the right):

At the time that HuffPost ran its story, the above was the only photo available of him, via a search on the Google (it was located here, but was taken down sometime later).

So what is the "story" with the picture the picture that HuffPost sandwiched with this titilating article it decided to run --- starting on its front page? Well, when one right-clicks on the image (to determine its lineage/file name), all that comes up is: "bondageguy.jpg":

Try it for yourself, here.

So essentially, HuffPost had a choice:
  • To use the actual picture of Raphael that was readily-available at the time* it published its take on this story (*further proof available if required) --- or...

  • To invest its time to hunt down a picture that it knew was not Raphael, but just depicted a man in a bondage scene to use on its front-page teaser, and in the story page

    (By the way, it's nice to see that Liberty Mutual, one of America's truly great companies, is supporting HuffPost, eh? --- click the above image, see right side)

To give you an idea of just how much time HuffPost must have invested to find this particular picture (rather than just using the actual picture that was readily-available), where would you start?

You'd probably start searching Google Images with some relevant terms... say, "bondage man" or "bondage male" or "bondage ball gag male", and see what comes up.

Observe how many pages of extremely-explicit images you have to go through, to find the one that HuffPost chose to use for this story. Not just a man in a bondage situation, enjoying it --- but one who is looking right at the photographer, with an unmistakably guilty (or at least embarrassed) look on his face.

You get the idea; this was no small amount of time that HuffPost invested, to find this particular picture.

But it actually gets a bit worse. Because not only was Raphael caught in such a situation, embarrassing not only himself but the state of Israel --- it turns out he's a homosexual who had come out in 2002, five years before this story.

So at the end of the day, what we have is a juvenile locker-room stunt, augmented with a homosexual-humiliating punctuation mark, perpetrated by one or more news editors who were/are employed and supervised by a fast-rising political news and blog site, which claimed that it was committed to presenting "the truth." Then, add in the fact that this was the ambassador representing Israel --- which, as Huff-Watch has documented, had been and became even more of a particular target of biased news coverage practices by HuffPost (see this extensive archive).

Ultimately, what you have is a mutli-faceted assault on anything that even remotely resembles "journalism," which could serve no purpose but to advance anti-Israel perceptions, at the expense of a man whose sexual proclivities are practiced by those whom HuffPost routinely celebrates, and goes apoplectic on behalf of, whenever anyone attacks them on that basis.

Note: For comparison, take a look at how --- which HuffPost and its users routinely lambaste as "faux news" --- played this story, here.


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