Joe the Plumber to report from Gaza
Joe the Plumber to report from GazaIsrael News Photo

Joe the Plumber, the Ohio handyman who became a front-line personality in the campaign for Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain, is on the way to Israel and Gaza to cover the war for the pro-Israel Pajamas website. The new journalist, whose real name is Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher, is scheduled to spend 10 days on the front to report the fighting from the view of the  "average Joe."

He became famous when he asked then-presidential candidate Barack Obama about the effects of his tax plan for the average American worker.

During the campaign, Wurzelbacher agreed with a McCain supporter who asked if he thought a vote for Obama was a vote for the death of Israel. He later said, however, that he did not consider McCain to be the best choice for a presidential candidate and has disclaimed specifically campaigning for the Republican candidate. Nonetheless, he is now considering a run for Congress in 2010, on the Republican ticket.

Professional media correspondents have pooh-poohed his entry into journalism. MSNBC correspondent Nora O'Donnell said he is totally unqualified.

The Pajamas website charged that media stars may feel "threatened that a common man can be a reporter simply by asking common sense questions… Of course, experts are valuable, but so are those who ask the seemingly too obvious questions of the supposedly uninformed - dumb questions that can end up having more value for the public than all the experts combined."

Established media have covered the war with analyses that generally have been aimed at showing Hamas to be the underdog and often have tried to show the failures of Israel's counterterrorist campaign.

"Led by CNN and the BBC, and by newspapers such as the TheNew York Times and the UK Guardian (which published a respectful obituary of slain Hamas leader Nizar Rayan), the media is framing the latest outbreak of fighting as a David versus Goliath affair, according to Pajamas.

Media generally have reported that Israel's retaliation for rocket attacks on civilians has been "disproportionate" and that the conflict "can and should be resolved by international diplomacy," Pajamas continued.

"Meanwhile, stories of Hamas’s atrocities against fellow Palestinians, of Hamas diverting medical supplies from civilians to treat its fighters, and of Israel treating Hamas terrorists in its hospitals go largely unreported outside the Israeli press and pro-Israel blogs."