Tuesday, March 01, 2011

So Just Who is Sheera Frenkel?

Something caught my ear in Sheera Frenkel's vacuous piece on the Palestinian Papers this morning. Discussing effect of the Palestinian Papers on Saeb Erekat, Frenkel says,
"Erekat says he resigned in disgrace, because of leaks someone in his own office provided to Al-Jazeera, the popular Arabic satellite news channel. Thousands of documents - nicknamed the Palileaks - revealed much about the peace talks over the last decade."
"Palileaks"? I'm a bit of a news junkie and follow developments in the Middle East, but I have never seen or heard the Palestine Papers described as the "Palileaks." I thought maybe I had missed something and did a Google search on the term. The results are quite interesting: almost all of them are pro-Zionist sources. The first two are telling: The Jerusalem Post (that Frenkel has written for) and the an article from CBN (the far-right Christian Broadcasting Network). Interestingly if you search "Palileaks" on Al-Jazeera or The Guardian (the two press outlets that actually released the Papers) you get nothing.

Sheera Frenkel has done some pretty awful reporting from Israel, and I want to know who this reporter is - you know, the basics: her education, what jobs has she held, has she done internships, etc. NPR has no bio on her, and I still haven't found anything substantive online, except that she has written for the Christian Science Monitor, The Jerusalem Post, The Times of London, and McClatchy. I did turn up two interesting bits on Frenkel: she has an article on the Christian-Zionist Frontline Israel website and in the PDF brochure from a Crossing Borders Media Conference, August 2007, in Bonn, she is identified as being from California and an Israeli citizen (which seems relevant for a reporter covering the Israel/Palestine conflict).

If anyone finds a legitimate and relevant bio of Sheera Frenkel and can send it to me, I'll post it here. Until then I'll drop a line to the Ombudsman and request that NPR at least provide the basics on Frenkel who is a frequent contributor.

As a postscript, I should note that back on January 25th, I posted on NPR's distorted coverage of the Palestinian Papers back when they were released. A few days later Lourdes Garcia-Navarro did a decent piece that looked at the Palestinian negotiators' disappointment in the Obama administration as revealed in the papers. But that's it, and the critiques of my first post remain valid: NPR has been mute on the major revelation of the Papers: the utter sham of the entire "peace process" which has only furthered the violent US-supported Israeli policy of colonizing the Occupied Territories and destroying the possibility of any meaningful Palestinian state.


Porter Melmoth said...

Interesting. This could be an increasing trend: for NPR to 'Cheney-ize' their sources - that is, sources from 'the dark side'.

I fully expect that US corporate media are working on some scheme to keep Al Jazeera from getting too uppity or too popular.

If such personalities as Wolfowitz are saying that Al Jaz is 'no friend of the US' on mainstream CNN, I assume it's just the beginning of a suppression campaign, which will no doubt have some pretty big players behind it.

Subcontracting contributors like Frenkel, in order to work the propaganda lines from beyond the NPR 'establishment', is no doubt a factor in the subversive angles of such a campaign.

NPR keeps their bio section spruced up to appeal to their target audiences, who can think, 'NPR has PEOPLE LIKE ME getting the news, so it must be OK'. It's very important that NPR's audience identify with the on-air personalities, but others, conspicuously absent from the bio page, will be enlisted for specific propagandist purposes.

Subtle or even subliminal approaches can be most effective in influencing a listenership, and NPR's got a mission to perform.

gDog said...

Some time ago I wondered about another, even larger NPR figure, David Sweeney, who is also without portfolio...or, at least, without bio. He tends to pop up as Alicia's backstop when she's in a pinch. Most recently with the Giffords untimely death imbroglio, where "close family friend" Simon was also a heavy on the clean-up. I've asked Alicia repeatedly about his missing bio, without answer.

Anonymous said...

NPR "augments" with part-timers all of the time. Think "private contractors."

bpfb said...

That's funny, Geoff.

Scott... (MWF tm), cleanup in aisle 5.

Anonymous said...

Sheera Frenkel's reporting in the middle east has been anything but biased. You may disagree with some of her choices of language, or even with a couple of her articles, but such obsessive findings can be extricated from any writer who covers the middle east on a daily basis.

If you read more of her articles, you will find a great many writings which seem to purport the Palestinian cause. I have yet to read anything from her which seems zionistic, although we all see through different lenses.

After all she was the one who broke out the story on the IDF using white phosphorous.


(Not sure if this was the original article.)

Give her a chance, I'm sure you'll enjoy some of her articles, I did!

With love,

Check NPR Check ;)

gDog said...

And then again there's ‘NPR’ doesn’t quote Palestinians because their view is ‘predictable’, which pretty well exposes the anti-Palestinian biases of NPR via subcontracting contributors, especially Frenkel.

Anonymous said...

The Times article is interesting. More of an encyclopedia entry then reporting on the subject. A very thread bare article if anything.

Anonymous said...

This interesting from the NPR in 2009 Ombudsman Alicia Shepard:


from NPR:


Mytwords said...

Hey anon,
Thanks for the link to Frenkel's Times piece - does look like she was the first to break the story - which was a good thing.
Doesn't change her many reports on NPR that fit right in with NPR's generally pro-Israel/US coverage of the Israel/Palestine conflict.
Regardless of what one thinks of Frenkel's work, it doesn't change my critique: NPR has a responsibility to provide its listeners access to a basic bio of its reporters - be they regular staff or frequently used freelancers like Frenkel.

David said...

In today's story, when asked about he plaestinian reaction to the Fogel masacre, she said that Abbas went on Israeli radio and condemned it.

True, but only after 48 hours of NOT condemning it, finally bowing to pressure from Obama.

Karin Kloosterman said...

I don't see any issue with an Israeli covering the conflict in the region anymore than an American reporter in Afghanistan. Sorry, but your entire thesis if off-color. A reporter strives to do her job, regardless of religion, color or nationality.

Anonymous said...

She's now the Middle East Correspondent for Buzzfeed.

Anonymous said...

I know Sheera enough to say that she's not a biased right-winger. She's pretty left (I don't know her well enough to say how left). The Mondoweiss report mentions that she wrote another article on Jewish vigilantes for The Times that was more balanced than the version that appeared on NPR. They also seem to suggest that this is an NPR problem. Scrolling through her Buzzfeed posts, none of the headlines seem particularly pro-Israel and most of them are pretty challenging.
As for "Palileaks," she obviously has to read right/religious/Zionist news sources as well as others, so it sounds like she just carelessly picked up on the nickname to me. It may be that she's not meticulous or doesn't fight hard enough not to be used a pawn, not to be edited or to get the story just right, etc., I'd have no idea, but I don't think she's the source of the problem here. I know you don't have any reason to believe me, but it kind of sounds like you're grasping at straws yourself here...