BBG Watch Commentary
Both U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) and Russia’s propaganda outlet RT wrongly described as a veto U.S. “no” vote at the UN Security Council on the Palestinian statehood resolution. The U.S. would have used its veto, but it didn’t have to as the resolution had failed to get the minimum nine “yes” votes required for adoption by the 15-member council.
The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America posted a screenshot of the misleading Voice of America headline on its SNAPSHOTS blog with an explanation as to why the VOA report was wrong. SEE: Voice of America Wrong on American Veto, SNAPSHOTS, December 31, 2014.
SNAPSHOTS: “Voice of American incorrectly reports in the lead of its article on the failed Palestinian statehood bid in the United Nations:
‘The United States has vetoed a United Nations Security Council draft resolution on Palestinian statehood that demanded Israel withdraw from the occupied territories.’
Likewise, the VOA headline incorrectly states that the U.S. vetoed the Palestinian resolution.”
The initial VOA headline proclaimed “US Vetoes Palestinian Statehood Resolution at UN.” VOA later changed the headline to “US Rejects Palestinian Statehood Resolution at UN,” which is technically still incorrect as the resolution was rejected by the UN Security Council with eight “yes” votes, five abstentions and the U.S. and Australia voting against it.
Among major U.S. and international media, only the Voice of America and Russia’s RT went out of their way to describe the U.S. “no” vote at the Security Council as a veto, but RT’s headline, “Palestinian statehood bid fails at UN Security Council as US, Australia vote against,” was less deceptive than VOA’s initial headline, “US Vetoes Palestinian Statehood Resolution at UN.”
RT: “The veto power US and Australia voted against the move with 5 abstentions.” (…) “The draft resolution gathered only 8 votes in favour, so it was automatically defeated. The US however still used its veto power and voted against the resolution. Another veto power state, the UK, along with Lithuania, Nigeria, Korea and Rwanda have abstained from the vote.”
Even after VOA changed its headline to, “US Rejects Palestinian Statehood Resolution at UN,” the first sentence in the VOA report still said:
VOICE OF AMERICA (VOA): “The United States has vetoed a United Nations Security Council draft resolution on Palestinian statehood that demanded Israel withdraw from the occupied territories.”
The New York Times had a correct explanation as to why the U.S. “no” vote was not a veto and why it was important to the United States that it would not have to exercise its veto power at the UN Security Council. The New York Times headline said: “Resolution for Palestinian State Fails in United Nations Security Council.”
THE NEW YORK TIMES: “So Mr. Kerry worked to line up enough abstentions from American allies like South Korea and Rwanda so that the United States would not have to wield its veto.
“By avoiding a veto, the United States also avoided a fresh irritant in its relations with Arab nations, some of which have joined the United States in the campaign in Iraq and Syria against militants from the Islamic State.” Emphasis added.
Later, VOA issued a clarification:
VOICE OF AMERICA Clarification: This story was updated to clarify that, while the U.S. vote against the Palestinian statehood measure had the effect of a veto, U.S. veto power was not needed because the resolution did not get the required nine votes to pass.
This VOA clarification, however, was not added to the VOA report “US Rejects Palestinian Statehood Resolution at UN,” which still says as of 11:30 PM ET, January 2, 2015 that “The United States has vetoed a United Nations Security Council draft resolution on Palestinian statehood that demanded Israel withdraw from the occupied territories.”
In addition to VOA’s veto headline, we could find only one other headline that described the U.S. “no” vote as a veto. That headline, “US Vetoes Palestinian Statehood Resolution,” which mirrors almost exactly the VOA headline, was in an article on the peoplesvoice.org website which accused Israel of “land theft,” “ethnic cleansing” and keeping “Thousands of Palestinian political prisoners in its gulag.”
Most international media outlets made no references to any U.S. veto at the Security Council vote because there was none. Al Jazeera had a correct headline: “UNSC rejects resolution on Palestinian state.” “Bid to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories by 2017 garners eight votes, one short of total needed to pass,” Al Jazeera reported.
With Voice of America director David Ensor lashing out at his critics on the outside of the U.S. taxpayer-funded organization who have pointed out numerous failures and inaccuracies in VOA news reporting in recent years under his leadership, despite issuing a clarification, VOA still left misleading information on the web and continues to defend its sloppy journalism.
There is no doubt that the U.S. would have used its veto power if the resolution had secured the required nine votes. That point should have been made. But VOA was alone with Russia’s RT and anti-Israel U.S. blog in actually presenting the U.S. “no” vote as a veto. Even RT did not put this misleading information into the headline, but the Voice of America did.