When ‘absolutely factual’ reporting deceives

In the confrontation between America and Iran earlier this month, Iran shot down a civilian airliner, killing 176 people:

Iran has admitted that it unintentionally shot down the Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed near Tehran Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board.

The plane was mistaken for a “hostile flight” after it turned toward a “sensitive military center,” at which point the plane was “unintentionally hit” with an anti-aircraft missile, according to an official Iranian statement released early Saturday morning local time.

The crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 occurred about three hours after Iran fired multiple missiles into Iraq, targeting U.S. military sites in retaliation for the American drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, one of its top generals.

As initial reports of this crash were coming out, there was confusion about the nature of the tragedy. Specifically, there was confusion over who shot the plane down. Not whether the plane was shot down, but who was responsible.

Logan Dobson takes a reporter to task for their characterization of the event as simply a “plane crash”—as if, maybe poor weather or engine failure were responsible, rather than an attack. A journalist named Jared Holt responds by defending the factually true, but deceptive, reporting:


“To say the plane crashed is absolutely factual,” but it also falls short of reporting the true nature of the event. And in this way it deceives.