Monday, November 25, 2013

The New York Times Rejects Repeated Reqeusts for an Article on Israel's Channel 2 Milchan Report... Says Uvda's Report is "Nothing New" and Based Entierly on The Book 'Confidential'.

By Eric Wilder - Hollywood

I'm not a journalist, but I play one on TV...
I use other peoples material and pretend like its mine 
Based entirely on the book indeed: After watching the program, there is simply no question that the New York Times had it right and that book 'Confidential' served as the entire script for the Uvda show, in some cases almost word for word.

Her show would not have been even remotely possible without the book which served as her inspiration, her road map, her script and even her dialogue. Ilana Dayan gave a very quick "thanks to Joe Gelman and Meir Doron, the authors of the book" at the end of the show as the credits rolled... almost as an afterthought.

The authors are surly thankful for the "thanks", but fairness would dictate something a little more substantial than a legal ass-covering.  

'Uvda' is Israel Channel 2's leading investigative reporting program, anchored by Ilana Dayan. A year ago, Channel 2 approached the authors of 'Confidential' for help in putting together an investigative program based on the groundbreaking reporting in the book. The authors agreed and co-author Meir Doron was interviewed extensively for background information.

The report aired on Monday, November 25.

As it turned out, a funny thing happened on the way to the airing of that program. Suddenly, Ilana Dayan and her staff began to describe their report as "exclusive discoveries",  "for the first time", "until now only rumors"... etc... forgetting their source.

It should be noted that Mr. Milchan has never denied a single assertion in the book 'Confidential' despite every opportunity to do so, and had interviewed in person for tens of hours for the book. The Uvda program was merely Mr. Milchan's way of coming out and publically saying: THE BOOK IS ACCURATE.

In a desperate and obvious ploy to cover and deflect from her utter dependence on the book, Ilan Dayan then used a source, NBC's Robert Windrem, who was referred to her by anti-nuclear gadfly, Avner Cohen; both of whom are hard-left ideologues with a substantial history of an anti-Israel agenda. Windrem's contribution was based on and limited to his understanding of Milchan's activities in South Africa, written about extensively by the authors of Confidential

With authors research in hand, Uvda's producers then made every effort to promote the show as original material and exclusive findings when it was not. Fortunately, aside from their own website (and the wildly unprofessional right-wing publication "Yisrael Hayom" in Israel), prior to the show, no serious publication agreed to cover the issue without crediting the book

Haaretz, New York Daily News, UK Daily Mail, UK Independent, Hollywood Reporter, The Times of India, The Voice of Russia, The Hong Kong Daily Apple.... etc....

Even following the airing of the show, as the story went viral around the world, most publications had the decency to at least reference the book that made the story possible.

Examples: Fox News, NBC, CBS, The UK Daily Mail, The UK Guardian... etc... some even placing pictures of the book's front cover in their stories. A level of professional courtesy not displayed by Uvda.

But the New York Times, to their credit, went even further:

They refused to publish any report on the 'Uvda' story as a matter of journalistic principle. After being "badgered" by 'Ilana Dayan's producers to do a story, the New York Times responded that there is nothing in the Uvda story worthy of reporting on that has not already been revealed in the book 'Confidential' two years earlier, which the New York Times covered extensively.

Arguably, other than the many elements left out of the Uvda story that are in the book, the ONLY semi-meaningful elements in the 'Uvda' story that differ from 'Confidential' involve:

1) Mr. Milchan implicating former director Sidney Pollock in his espionage activities. Of course, Sidney Pollock is conveniently dead and is not in a position of confirm or deny Mr. Milchan's words. Out of respect to Mr. Pollack and his family, and out of journalistic integrity because it could not be reasonably confirmed, the authors of Confidential left that claim out of their book, refusing to take Mr. Milchan's sole word on that matter at face value.

2) The other element that 'Uvda' claims as 'groundbreaking' is Mr. Milchan's amazingly blatant assertion that he USED actor Richard Dreyfuss to lure one of the fathers of the hydrogen bomb, Author Biehl, to a meeting with Israeli intelligence. That story was mentioned in the book 'Confidential' on pages 137 and 138. The book gave both Mr. Milchan and Mr. Biehl's versions of the story and let the reader decide who was telling the truth, without directly and unfairly involving/implicating Mr. Richard Dreyfuss, who was an unwitting partner to the affair. 'Uvda' simply repeated that story but greatly highlighted the involvement of the Academy Award winning actor to increase the sex appeal of the story at Mr. Dryefuss expense. One wonders how Mr. Dryefuss feels about that? And it is surprising that Ilan Dayan did not seek a reaction from Mr. Dreyfuss, if only as a matter journalistic integrity.

But Ilana Dayan's cynical hijacking did not end there. In promoting the show, Uvda published material almost word for word from the Hebrew version of 'Confidential', and from an article in the respected news website Tablet Magazine, and even used an almost identical graphic for their story that was published in Tablet Magazine... and again claimed the revelations to be "for the first time"... "exclusive"... etc.... Below are posts of the two almost identical stories. I would challenge those who are fluent in English and Hebrew to find the "exclusivity" in the Uvda article:

The 2011 Tablet Magazine article here, and graphic below:

The 2013 Uvda article on Mako here, and graphic below:

          In the end, Uvda and Ilana Dayan do have one achievement that cannot be denied or taken away; they successfully got Mr. Arnon Milchan on camera to publicly admit to the very serious clandestine activity that was revealed in the book 'Confidential', which he had not denied since the publication of the book in the first place. That alone is an impressive achievement on her part. Thus, one wonders why Ilana Dayan felt the need to embellish and claim "exclusive"... "for the first time" credit on the actual substance of journalistic discoveries that she had absolutely nothing to do with.

One of Israel's leading media critics, Dvorit Shargal put it best in her stinging report on the matter in her website Velvet Underground: "'Uvda' did not reveal Milchan's Secret Life" ... Confidential did that!

The Aftermath:
Perhaps one of the most appalling aspects of this journalistic malfeasance, were the efforts by Israel's channel 2 to block international media outlets from using their footage in reporting on the story. When NBC News' Andrea Mitchell called to seek approval to use Uvda footage on a story for NBC Nightly News' broadcast nationally in the US, Israel's channel 2 resisted giving authorization. In the end, NBC used the material after a legal determination that it fell under the "fair usage" rule for news.

So what we have here is Israel's channel 2 using other peoples material without extending due credit, and then throwing up roadblocks to those, like NBC News, who would use their material legitimately.

I believe the word for that is Chatzpah.

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