On Thursday, Fox broadcast its morning show, “Fox & Friends,” live from Second Avenue Deli on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, a New York institution that bills itself as “an authentic Jewish dining experience.” It was the site of anti-Semitic vandalism last month after someone drew a swastika near the restaurant’s back door.
Lawrence Jones, the show’s co-host, received a loud applause from customers eating corned beef, bagels and scrambled eggs when he said the media had not done an adequate job of reporting on Israel’s plight.
He highlighted coverage last month of an explosion at a hospital in Gaza. Initially, several media outlets said in headlines that Israel had bombed the site, citing an official in Gaza. Hours later, Israel said the explosion was caused by an errant Hamas rocket. Those early reports, he said, were a “hoax.” (Fox News initially reported that Hamas claimed Israel was responsible, but also noted that Israel had not confirmed this.)
Then, addressing criticism that some outlets like Fox had been too pro-Israel, Jones said it was legitimate to choose a side in this conflict. “I think we have come on the side of life.”
One of the deli’s customers, Elliot Galpern, who lives in Manhattan and works in real estate, thanked Mr. Jones off camera after the segment ended. In an interview, Galpern, a registered Democrat, said that six months ago he couldn’t have imagined he would turn to Fox News, which he said he probably would have laughed at as “fake news.”
Now, he said of Fox: “We’re so glad they’re covering this. We are not getting enough coverage. And it is extremely important to see what is happening.”
Galpern pulled out his phone to show the headlines of Israeli publications reporting on various atrocities perpetrated by Hamas, as well as the group’s vows of revenge against Israel. “These should be headlines in America,” she said.
His sister, Ariel Stern, said she viewed Fox’s reporting as a counterweight to the bias of other American media. “It seems that any possibility of blaming Israel is the fault of the media.”
But Fox can also overreach. This week, the network was accused of Islamophobia after one host, Jesse Watters, declared, “We’re sick of them,” referring to Muslims. A White House spokesman condemned the comments.
Fox, as a corporation, has not only dedicated extensive coverage to the Israeli perspective, but has also begun running public service announcements on Fox News and Fox Sports. A recent ad produced by Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Anti-Semitism laments: “When hate arises, everyone does.”
In many ways, Fox’s coverage of the conflict between Israel and Hamas is reminiscent of the way the network covered the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The Fox News hosts left little light between their comments and the policies of the Bush administration. American flags and red, white and blue graphics fluttered on the screen.
“This is our 9/11,” Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, said in a recent interview on Fox News.