Tal Heinrich, spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Research/Study Research/Study

Fox News spent just 12 minutes covering “flour massacre” in Gaza

CNN and MSNBC spent a combined four hours covering the hundreds of deaths and injuries linked to Israeli forces opening fire on an aid convoy in Gaza

On February 29, in what is being called the “flour massacre,” Israeli forces opened fire on a crowd of Palestinians gathered near a food aid convoy in Gaza. The gunfire and resulting chaos left at least 118 Palestinians dead and another 760 injured. Over the next four days, cable news outlets CNN and MSNBC devoted hours of coverage to the carnage while Fox News almost ignored it.

  • Key findings

    • From February 29 to March 3, Fox News dedicated just 12 minutes of coverage to the “flour massacre.”
    • During that period, Fox News aired only 1 interview about the carnage: a conversation with spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which she blamed Hamas for Israeli military violence without evidence. 
    • CNN devoted 2 hours and 39 minutes of coverage to the “flour massacre,” while MSNBC followed close behind with 1 hour and 57 minutes. 
    • CNN and MSNBC coverage emphasized the humanitarian impacts of the imminent famine in Gaza.
  • bar chart showing Fox News lagged behind CNN and MSNBC in covering the "flour massacre"
  • Israeli forces fired on Palestinians attempting to get to an aid convoy, resulting in hundreds of deaths and injuries

  • Israel confirmed that its forces had fired on Palestinians seeking food aid on February 29, claiming that the crowds “threatened their troops” and “looted the supplies” from the aid trucks. 

    The head of a Gaza City hospital that treated some of those wounded in the violence estimated that “80%” of the wounds his hospital treated had been caused by gunfire, while Israel has claimed that many of the dead perished in a stampede that ensued from the chaos. 

    According to CBS News, an eyewitness reported that people “ran towards the food aid” and then the “soldiers then started firing at us, and so we left the food and ran.” 

    Some have labeled the tragic event as the “flour massacre” because the food aid convoy “trucks carried sacks of flour to feed starving Palestinians.” 

    More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas War, with at least 576,000 facing “catastrophic levels of deprivation and starvation.” 

    United Nations experts have condemned Israel’s attack, which they called a “massacre,” and have warned that Israel’s tight restrictions on aid entering Gaza are pushing Gaza to “the brink of famine.” 

    UNICEF’s Adele Khodr called the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which has left a growing number of children starving, “man-made, predictable, and entirely preventable.”

  • Fox News covered the “flour massacre” for only 12 minutes, focusing on Israeli talking points

  • From February 29 to March 3, Fox News covered the carnage for only 12 minutes in total. Fox correspondent reports -- which made up the majority of coverage, at 9 minutes in total -- frequently emphasized the IDF talking point that their troops had felt “threatened” by those seeking aid.

    In one segment, Fox anchor John Roberts cast doubt on the estimated number of people killed and injured, saying that the number was given by “the Gaza health ministry, which is Hamas.” 

    The only person Fox News interviewed about the incident was Tal Heinrich, spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who claimed that “like every other tragedy throughout this war, it should be blamed on Hamas.” 

    Without pushback from Fox guest anchor Mike Emanuel, Heinrich also claimed that images from the incident were Hamas propaganda meant to foment international opposition to Israel and its war on Gaza. 

    “They [Hamas] hope that by producing these types of images and civilian suffering Israel will succumb to international pressure and take the fire for their own vile actions,” Heinrich said. “And by doing so they hope we will stop crushing them on the ground."

  • CNN and MSNBC covered the “flour massacre” for a combined 4.5 hours

  • Both CNN and MSNBC covered the event far more than Fox. The former clocked in at 2 hours and 39 minutes of coverage, while the latter devoted 1 hour and 57 minutes to it. 

    Both networks aired thorough segments about the incident and the ongoing humanitarian crisis. 

    As a guest on CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip, Zeteo founder and former MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan debunked the narrative that the deaths were mostly caused by a “stampede” by pointing out that most of the wounds were from gunshots.

    On MSNBC’s Ayman, U.N. special rapporteur Michael Fakhri said incidents like this one show that Israel is denying the human right of “good food” to Palestinians in Gaza and argued that Israel “has a responsibility under international law to ensure that it provides humanitarian relief or that it enables relief reaching people in Palestine.” 

    The UN Human Rights office has also made this case, claiming, “Israel is not complying with these obligations.”

  • Methodology

  • Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC for either of the terms “Israel” or “IDF” or any variation of either of the terms “Palestine” or “Gaza” within close proximity of any of the terms “massacre,” “death,” “die,” “shot,” “shoot,” “bomb,” “stampede,” “gunshot,” “wound,” or “fire” or any variation of any of the term “kill,” “injure,” or “murder” also all within close proximity of any of the terms “food,” “aid,” “line,” or “truck” or any variation of the term “hunger” from February 29, 2024, when Israeli Defense Forces fired on Palestinians in line for food aid, though March 3, 2024.

    We timed segments, which we defined as instances when the incident of Israeli forces firing on Palestinians in line for food aid was the stated topic of discussion conversation or when we found significant discussion of the incident. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed the incident with one another.

    We also timed mentions, which we defined as instances when a single speaker in a segment on another topic mentioned the incident without another speaker engaging with the comment, and teasers, which we defined as instances when the anchor or host promoted a segment about the incident scheduled to air later in the broadcast.

    We rounded all times to the nearest minute