Graphic images and videos have overtaken media coverage of the Israel-Gaza conflict that re-erupted over the weekend with Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israeli civilians, and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow questioned Monday just how to best navigate them. As the conflict in the Middle East continues, the role of mainstream and social media has become thornier.
“Since the attack on Israel started on Saturday morning, we have seen these murders and hostage takings of civilians and otherwise. We have seen them being filmed and put online for a strategic aim — to advance the purposes of the people who are doing the murdering and the hostage taking,” Maddow said, hosting “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
The journalist shared her dilemma of whether or not to air these clips and images, and expressed that they put “every social media company on Earth” and “everybody in the news business” in a difficult position.
Whereas many families of victims want this footage to be publicly known both for general awareness and in the hopes that more exposure will help them retrieve their loved ones, airing this footage could “potentially” further the work of the Palestinian militant organization.
“They want it to be seen. They want it to augment the terrorizing effect of what they are doing with these innocent people,” Maddow said. “That is a very difficult thing to reckon with. All of these decisions are hard ones. I don’t think there is a right decision.”
Later on Monday’s show, Maddow did show a video of a man and his girlfriend being kidnapped. The host noted that she only aired the clip because the brother of the man who was held hostage specifically asked for her to show it. Maddow also played the video without its sound, in part as to not air the clip’s “propaganda music.”
War always presents a challenge for the media, from how much carnage should be shown to how a conflict should be described. But Israel’s ongoing war with Hamas is proving to be particularly challenging.
For example, X, the company formerly known as Twitter, has noted that the graphic content that’s emerged from the war will remain on the platform due to the “public’s interest.” That being said, the platform also removed “several hundred accounts attempting to manipulate trending topics” and has taken action against “tens of thousands of posts for sharing graphic media, violent speech and hateful conduct.”