Matti Friedman hits back at AP, and so do I

Matti Friedman, my friend and colleague, wrote a well researched article about how Western media misplay the Israel-Palestinians story, and how the Jerusalem bureau of The Associated Press is part of that. Steven Gutkin, the bureau chief at the time, hit back with a rambling, disingenuous reply. Matti has set the record straight, and Steve weighed in again. This time it was my turn to reply, and I did. Steve has already called this “crap.” I would not expect a more reasoned response.

Hi, Steven Gutkin, let me start out by saying that I’m glad we’ve remained friends over the years despite our professional differences. I’m not named in Matti’s article, either, but I am the “furious” one who discovered the Israeli peace offer in early 2009, got it confirmed on the record and brought it to you. You banned me from writing about it. That is by far the worst journalistic fiasco I have been involved in, and we’re talking 50 years of journalism here. No denials on your part can erase the truth–and this is the truth: The AP suppressed a world-changing story for no acceptable reason. I am not ascribing motives to the decision–oh, hell, of course I am. It fit a pattern, described by Matti, of accepting the Palestinian narrative as truth and branding the Israelis as oppressors. This drove Matti, by far the most talented writer on our staff, away from AP. It drove me out of the Jerusalem bureau to Cairo. There, for two years as a regional editor, I tried to balance the slanted stories coming out of Jerusalem, often fighting for every letter and comma. Now I’m retired, and no one is filling that role. The world suffers as a result. If you are interested in the full, truthful and unexpurgated version of what happened in 2009 in your bureau, it’s Chapter 31 in my book:…/dp/B00J4XABAI/ref=sr_1_1…

In this second edition of “Broken Spring,” veteran Middle East Correspondent MarSee More

20 thoughts on “Matti Friedman hits back at AP, and so do I

  1. Wow, Gutkin really just vomited out his true colors at the end of that second article. Is your book available at google books as an ebook? Amazon’s platform sucks so bad.

  2. Bravo, I have been part of this messy affair since
    the early 70’s, no more! For privacy reasons
    I remain anonymous. I congratulated Mr. Friedman
    because I know he tells the truth. The A.P has been
    reliably hostile to Israel, the Jewish people since its
    founding. Having spent a great deal of time in Israel
    during the first Intifadah and its follow up, I clearly recall
    some incidents with distinguished notoriously hostile
    photographers “Staffers” from Paris)
    and Spain who were urged to depart
    due to activities that I cannot describe but I believe
    the security forces had something on the fellow)
    It is well known that the A.P
    used stunts to manipulate photos, enhance, airbrush,
    cut, paste, omit, delete, which also works with facts
    and various news items, it is all a question of what is reported
    as opposed to what is deleted and ignored.
    I do not have the entire record of journalistic
    malpractice- that can be attributed to the A.P
    or to Reuters, the New York Times, the Guardian,
    and many other squalid publications, but I have no doubt
    that they contributed little to the general understanding
    of the situation in the region from their sleazy reporting.
    Therefore, I wish to acknowledge with thanks your rebuttal and that of Mr. Friedman! (To whom I am not related, nor have I ever met)

  3. Mark Lavie: You and Matti are brave and honest reporters! Thank you for revealing the lack of integrity that the majority of journalists demonstrate when reporting on Israel.

    I am a British Jew living in the UK. I hope that you and Matti will come to the UK to organise and head a discussion on ‘reporting about Israel during this summer’s conflict in Gaza’. We badly need to hear from journalists like yourselves.

    Much appreciation for putting yourself out there and for supporting your colleague, Matti’s, Tablet piece which, in my mind, has become an icon for everything that I felt but could not articulate when reading accounts about Israel’s actions in Gaza.

    • My book is available on as an e-book. I understand it’s also available on other platforms, like Nook. Thanks for your interest — I hope you enjoy reading it.

  4. Good for you, Mark Lavie. As an investigative journalist for mainstream media outlets for three decades (Time, Fortune, Forbes, etc), I’ve been cringing over AP’s Middle East coverage for years. In fact, I reached out to their most senior editors more than a year ago about it, and again recently, but it’s not a topic they want to discuss. (Knock, knock, AP head of international coverage, John Daniszewski, anybody home?)

    As for Steven Gutkin, the more he talks, the bigger the hole he seems to create for him. Hell, I was still drying my eyes over his statement in his first piece about how, “Yes, I have a strong Jewish identity. But what I believe most is humanity.” Violins, please. (What he was suggesting was that reporters like Matti Friedman put humanity second.)

    And now comes Gutkin again, with a real dinger of a kicker on a second piece on the topic: He asserts that “the real danger” is reporters like Friedman “feeding a beast that keeps Israel on a disaster course. By pandering to the worst fears of those who feel the world is out to get the Jews, Matti and the recent slew of other journalists who’ve written similar pieces help stoke the fires that prevent a two-state peace, doing little to further the Zionist goal of a Jewish and democratic Israel.”

    I see. So the people of Israel are in no position to make critical decisions for themselves. Only humanity-loving Jewish reporters like Gutkin can do so. Well, as one of that “slew” of reporters who recently exposed Western big-media’s coverage of the Israel-Hamas war, I think that Gutkin is not only way out of his depth here, he is demonstrating that he should never have been running AP’s bureau in Jerusalem in the first place. Shame on AP’s decision-makers.

  5. I’m not a newsperson, have no familiarity with any of the individuals involved in this brouhaha; in fact I never before have heard of Matti Friedman, Steve Gutlkin, or Mark Lavie but it strikes me as significant that Gutkin has gone from being head of a major agency’s important bureau to being an ex-employee who is now publisher of what is essentially a foreign language weekly covering “news and entertainment” in a backwater like Goa.

  6. It is comforting to see that FINALLY somebody is speaking out about what many of us have decried for years. All we want is a level playing field – cover the story here like you would any other – information in context. As for Mr. Friedman’s position on what are commonly referred to as ‘the settlements’, I would welcome the opportunity to see him elaborate on his position, as I have a thought or two of my own on the subject. I look forward to seeing it soon.

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