Scott Wilson, The Washington Post’s anti-Israel attack dog: Slouching towards Harriet Sherwood?

A guest post by AKUS

I first noticed Scott Wilson specifically when he managed to have a three page article published in the Washington Post about the role of drones used by Israel over Gaza: The Washington Post’s coverage of Israel: Slouching towards the Guardian?

The theme of the story was one of poor innocent Gazans fearing assassination by Israel when spotted going about their daily business by Israeli drones. Strangely enough, this article was followed by numerous articles in the WP that covered America’s use of drones in various countries, but never mentioning the effect, if any, they have on civilians.

Wilson’s specialty in his articles is slipping in nuanced misrepresentations about Israel that are probably overlooked by the majority of Washington Post readers. They help to paint a subtly inaccurate picture of Israel. For example, drones are not used to detect and deter terrorists – they are there to terrorize the innocent Gazans.

CAMERA  caught Wilson out in an attempt to avoid naming Israel’s capital as Jerusalem when he wrote in an article headed Obama to Iranian people in holiday message: ‘Americans seek a dialogue:

Obama’s more aggressive message this year reflects the increasing concern in Washington, Tel Aviv and other capitals about Iran’s enrichment program, which Israel believes will be used to produce a nuclear weapon.

The Washington Post amended the article with a rather lame and excessively detailed apology:


An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel. Israel designated Jerusalem as its capital in 1950, although many countries maintain embassies and other diplomatic missions in Tel Aviv because of the Palestinians’ competing claim on Jerusalem as their capital. This version has been corrected.

They corrected the text of the article to:

Obama’s more aggressive message this year reflects the increasing concern in the United States, Israel and other countries about Iran’s enrichment program, which Israel believes will be used to produce a nuclear weapon.

Thus the editors avoided the heinous sin of actually acknowledging that Jerusalem is, in fact, Israel’s capital. (But perhaps their real purpose was that by removing the equally disputative term “Washington” they avoided a confrontation with the 500 survivors of the Patawomeck tribe that once lived in the area now occupied by 2.6 million “settlers” in the Northern Virginian suburbs alongside the Potomac River, and perhaps even the grounds on which their own office now stands in the District of Columbia).

Of course, Jerusalem-avoidance is a popular sport these days in Washington, at least when the subject is Israel (or Jews) and Jerusalem. This was demonstrated at the State Department press briefing on March 28, 2012 by Victoria Nuland when she refused to say that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital:

QUESTION: Does that mean that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?

MS. NULAND: Jerusalem is a permanent status issue; it’s got to be resolved through negotiations.

QUESTION: That seems to suggest that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Is that correct or not?

MS. NULAND: I have just spoken to this issue –

In any event, Mr. Wilson needs watching. Once I became interested, I found that although I had noticed in his drone article how closely the Post’s former Jerusalem correspondent hews to the line laid down in the Guardian and followed by the likes of Harriet Sherwood, his track record of Israel bashing is lengthy. It has not gone unnoticed, though never garners the notoriety that it deserves.

Here’s one example of Wilson’s bias. 

March 16, 2010: Scott Wilson, Washington Post: For Israeli leaders, snubbing the U.S. may not be a political win attacks AIPAC with the toxic narrative that AIPAC controls the political process in the U.S.:

the Obama administration shows no sign of cooling off, despite the sense that only masochistic U.S. politicians pick fights with Israel because the powerful Jewish lobby punishes anyone who does so at the polls.

Here are two exposes by Leo Rennert, who has also noticed Wilson’s bias:

November 10, 2010 – Leo Rennert: A WaPo reporter’s anti-Israeli bias stretches from Sderot to Jakarta

When Washington Post reporter Scott Wilson did a stint as the paper’s Jerusalem correspondent, he earned a well-deserved and well-documented reputation for anti-Israel bias, shading and spinning his copy to portray Israel in the darkest of hues while swallowing Palestinian narratives hook, line and sinker.  Wilson spared no effort in writing lengthy up-close and personal features about the plight of Palestinians in Gaza, but studiously avoided chronicling the plight of Israeli residents of Sderot when they were prime targets of thousands of missiles launched from Gaza.

 March 4, 2012: Leo Rennert: On Scott Wilson, The Washington Post, And How Israel Is (Mis)Represented To Readers

Obama said he’s confident that Israel takes him at his word.  “The Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don’t bluff,” he remarked.  “Both the Iranian and the Israeli government recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapons, we mean what we say.”

Yet, in its March 3 … main front-page article  [“Obama to urge Israel’s patience – A Caution Against Strike On Iran – Plans to ask Netanyahu to let sanctions work” by Scott Wilson] , the Post cast the summit not as a meeting of two allies about how to confront the Iranian threat, but instead about Obama grappling with a possibly premature Israeli military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.  Reading the Post, you’d think the main danger comes from Israel, not from the mullahs in Tehran.

And in a revealing peek into Wilson’s animus against Israel, there is his description [in the March 3 article] of  AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, not as a U.S. group, which it is, but as an Israeli one, which it isn’t – in his words, “the Jewish state’s most conservative and politically influential U.S.-based advocacy group.”

Thus, when Obama addresses AIPAC this weekend, according to Wilson, he will be the guest of an influential subsidiary of the state of Israel.  In one swoop, Wilson strips AIPAC of its U.S. identity.

For media monitors who followed Wilson’s stint as a Mideast correspondent, the bias is all too familiar.

Unfortunately the Washington Post, which still has relatively frequent articles from columnists like Jackson Diehl and blog extracts from right-wing bloggers like Jennifer Rubin and even occasional editorials that fairly represent Israel, seems to be unaware of Wilson’s tilt towards a Guardian-like view of Israel and the Palestinians.

We should keep an eye open for more of his nuanced prejudices surfacing in that paper, and call him out when needed.

9 replies »

  1. I certainly deserve to be taken to the woodshed for my recent error. There was no sinister intent, however. The mistake was the result of rushed, sloppy writing (the sentence was so poorly written that I actually also placed Washington in Europe – “and other European capitals..”) My apologies to all. I do take issue, as you might expect, with your characterization of me as an “anti-Israel attack dog.” I strive to write accurately and fairly about Israel, the Palestinians, and the greater Middle East – despite evidence to the contrary suggested by my recent mistake. I’m also surprised that I only came to Mr. Levick’s attention in November given that I served as the Post’s Jerusalem Bureau Chief for three years, concluding at the end of 2007. I loved living there with my family, an incomparable experience and a highlight of our years overseas. I hope you will, as a result, give my past reporting a more thorough review – beyond the examples of past complaints posted on similar websites that you cite in your piece. It may give you a more complete view of my years of work writing about Israel and what I consider to be its essential balance and fairness. Until then, thank you very much for your careful attention to my current work.

    • Your comment here seems sincere – but if you spent three years in Israel, you should surely know that the Knesset is in Jerusalem.

      I can understand why govt. officials across the world do not recognise the city as the Israeli capital. But they certainly do not pretend Tel Aviv has that status.
      There are various ways that journalists can circumvent the terminology issue.

      That said, I find this part of the article above rather questionable:

      Of course, Jerusalem-avoidance is a popular sport these days in Washington, at least when the subject is Israel (or Jews) and Jerusalem.

      “Or Jews”??? WTF is that? A suggestion that Victoria Nuland is anti-Semitic?

      • No

        The same delicacy is not exhibited when the words “Arabs” and Jerusalem” are coupled.

    • Scott, I know Americans are poor when it comes to geography, but you go on to say you strive to write accurately after admitting you placed Washington in Europe? Could some other “draft errors” weren’t picked up before making to print?

    • Hello, Mr. Wilson. You lost me with this quote: “[O]nly masochistic U.S. politicians pick fights with Israel because the powerful Jewish lobby punishes anyone who does so at the polls.”

      The Jewish Lobby. As if it’s a real thing, and not some psychobabble that tries to explain just why a democratic nation like ours (with a whopping 2 debating political parties) could possibly be impartially biased towards a democratic allie (with much more than 2 debating political parties) especially in regards to an all out, multi-decade war whose sole purpose is the obliteration of ANY Jewish regional state.

  2. The Washington Post is politicized beyond repair. With Warren Buffett , Obama propagandist and bundler sitting on its Board of Directors, the new/old anti-semitism is alive and well. Sally Quinn quietly mainstreams the Religious Left which is Anti-Israel. Never, ever is she called on it.

    Mr. Buffett’s pals and money managers Bill and Melinda Gates quietly funnel millions of dollars to Gaza. This is also never reported on.

    The anti-Israel activists/reporters at WaPo, NY Times, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, etc play an interesting game with their choice of language and by what they omit. They underestimate the intelligence of the American people at their own peril.

    I would think that the Sulzbergers,Grahams etc would have learned an important history lesson way back when. They obviously did not.

  3. I am very sad to think that people who believe that they are benefitting mankind are actually paying for rockets that are fired on our civilians.

    When we talked of ceding Gaza to the Palestinians there was an expectation that it would continue to be used by the Palestinians as it had been used by the Israeli farmers who lived there and who were withdrawn so traumatically.

    I suppose that we were naive.

  4. Sally Quinn is, for those not aware of her, the person running the “On Faith” section ( , which I have found to be a cess-pit of anti-Semitic comments BTL that exceeds even the Guardian readers’ efforts. I have noticed from time to time that one gets a better quality of anti-Semite in the Guardian, on the whole, and WP anti-Semites are as bad and crude as those infesting the HuffPo.

    Notably, they had to remove a nasty article about “the Jews” by Arun Gandhi (Mohandas’ grandson) when there was an uproar about his bias. As a result of his article, even following an apology which did not satisfy most of those objecting to the original article, he was dismissed from his post at the University of Rochester’s M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence.

    The WP has relatively recently implemented a moderation policy on the comments in this and other areas which seems to have cleaned up some of the worst of the anti-Semitic posts, but they are beset by trolls returning under new monikers to repost their comments.