News and Analysis

Media Outlets Tie Themselves In Knots To Avoid Saying Jewish Man Was Killed In Fight With Pro-Palestinian Protesters
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 14: A counter-protester grips an Israeli flag during a rally in support of Palestinians on October 14, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. Several thousand people attended the protest which gathered outside the Israeli Consulate in West L.A. (Photo by Ethan Swope/Getty Images)
Ethan Swope/Getty Images

A Jewish man was killed in California after a confrontation between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian rallygoers resulted in an altercation — but if the mainstream media reports are to be believed, he might have just died after falling on the sidewalk and hitting his head.

Paul Kessler, 69, hit his head on the pavement as a result of the altercation and later died of his injuries at a nearby hospital.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department reported: “Upon arrival, responding deputies located Kessler, who was suffering from a head injury. Witness accounts indicated that Kessler was involved in a physical altercation with counter-protestor(s). During the altercation, Kessler fell backwards and struck his head on the ground. Kessler was transported to an area hospital for advanced medical treatment. On November 6, 2023, Kessler succumbed to his injuries.”

The Sheriff’s office said in a press conference on Tuesday that officers detained a 50-year-old suspect who was “advocating for Palestine” during his confrontation with Kessler. The Sheriff’s Department later released the suspect after authorities conducted a search warrant at his home. The medical examiner’s office ruled the cause of death to be homicide, and authorities have “not ruled out the possibility of a hate crime” charge.

Still, media was rife with headlines that left out the fact that he was involved in a “physical altercation” with pro-Palestinian protesters when he hit his head.

T. Becket Adams, program director at the National Journalism Center, shared an NBC headline that read, “Man dies after hitting head during Israel and Palestinian rallies in California, officials say.”

“Woman dies after stepping into oncoming traffic during Charlottesville rally, officials say,” Adams commented, adding, “You can’t deny the effort to obfuscate and obscure what’s happening out there, and you can’t ignore that the effort is being spearheaded by the same people who scare-mongered these past 10+ years over this exact sort of thing.”

Adams went on to point out the fact that the article did include the ME’s official ruling of “homicide” and asked what could possibly have factored into an editorial decision to leave that out of the headline.

“Homicide is the obvious news angle, and no newsroom is immune to ‘if it bleeds, it leads.’ How did NBC manage to fight this old tendency for this story specifically?” he continued.


The next headline he highlighted came from The New York Times: “Jewish Man Dies After Dueling Protests In California.”

“An ‘altercation’ you say? Did something happen during said altercation? Or did the Jewish man die of, say, a heart attack?” he wondered.

ABC News ran with a similar angle: “Elderly Jewish man dies after confrontation with pro-Palestinian protesters in Westlake Village.”

And from the BBC: “Jewish man dies after dispute at duelling Israel-Palestinian protests.”

TIME Magazine: “Jewish man in California dies after confrontation during Israel-Hamas War protests.”

“Jewish man Paul Kessler is killed during dual Israel and Palestine rallies at California intersection as his wife is left in ‘a state of total shock,'” came from The Daily Mail.

PBS Newshour ran with the following headline: “A Jewish man in California has died after getting into a confrontation during dueling protests over the Israel-Hamas war, authorities said.”

Local outlet KTLA joined in as well, reporting, “Elderly Jewish man dies after incident at pro-Palestinian rally in Thousand Oaks.”

Televised coverage was not much different, as noted by Newsbusters managing editor Curtis Houck.

“‘CBS Mornings’ ignored it completely,” he noted, adding that they had instead filled the time with a piece about the “true cost” of the war between Israel and Hamas and how it would be “counted in the lives of children killed or broken” in Gaza.

“ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ had a full story on the brutal killing, but it was naturally watered down. First, the chyron: ‘U.S. Tensions Rise as Mideast Conflict Rages; Jewish Man Dies After Incident at California Protest.’ Seriously? This is like those stories when a “truck” commits mass murder,” Houck continued.

The Los Angeles Times was one of the few to put Kessler’s death in the proper context, publishing a headline that read, “Jewish man dies after being hit in the head amid dueling protests sparked by Israel-Hamas war.”

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Media Outlets Tie Themselves In Knots To Avoid Saying Jewish Man Was Killed In Fight With Pro-Palestinian Protesters