There was a time when the New York Times for good reason had a deserved reputation as the newspaper of record. The Times was once overseen by editors and staffed by reporters who cherished the publication’s once unrivaled credibility that distinguished it from the rest of the U.S. media. The public’s perception that the Times valued and strived for honesty defined the publication’s brand.
Such was the Times’ commitment to report the news accurately that it was also known as the world’s best second day newspaper. The Times often waited a day or two to report facts that other publications rushed to print. Competing publications often didn’t believe their own stories until the Times confirmed their accuracy. The Times placed a bigger premium on being right than being first.
Those days are long gone, which is why the Times is embroiled in one journalism embarrassment after another. Its latest debacle was rushing out to publish this headline earlier this week: “Israeli Strike Kills Hundreds in Hospital, Palestinians Say.” The headline was deliberately deceptive because the claim was made by the Gaza Health Ministry, which is controlled by Hamas, the terrorist organization that a week earlier went into Israel and barbarically murdered and mutilated more than 1,000 civilians, including 30 Americans.
A responsible journalist wouldn’t believe a weather report issued by a Hamas, let alone a damning and unsubstantiated claim about Israel. But the U.S. media was as naïve and gullible as the editors running the Times, with the once staid and responsible AP tweeting, “BREAKING: The Gaza Health Ministry says at least 500 people killed in an explosion at a hospital that it says was caused by an Israeli airstrike.”
One shouldn’t expect balanced reporting from the AP in Gaza. Check out this story about the background and publicly stated positions of the news service’s reporter in the region.
Israel Defense Forces promptly denied they bombed a hospital, and said they believed the damage was caused by a wayward rocket fired nearby by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad aimed to hit the Israeli city of Haifa. The claim has been confirmed independently by the Pentagon, by a Hamas conversation intercepted by Israel, and other sources.
The damage from the falsely reported Gaza hospital stories is irreparable because far more people are aware of the false claims. As noted by Elliot Kaufman in the Wall Street Journal, the AP’s tweet saying Israeli rockets had struck a Gaza hospital had 13 million views, while a subsequent clarification that Israel attributed the strike to a Palestinian rocket had fewer than 200,000 views. The fallout from the false report was widespread, resulting in worldwide protests and the storming of the Israeli embassy in Jordan.
That the New York Times is now more concerned about being first to report its false narratives was officially confirmed by an unidentified PR person in a statement to the Wall Street Journal.
“During any breaking news event, we report what we know as we learn it,” the Times spokesman said. “And as the facts on the ground become more clear, we continue reporting. Our extensive and continued reporting on the hospital in Gaza makes explicit the murkiness surrounding the events there.”
This might come as a shock to the Times’ newsroom, but the public has the same access to X and other social media accounts as you do, so amplifying unsubstantiated claims as you hear them is hardly a valued added service. It’s also a disgrace that the editors of the New York Times rely on a PR person to explain critical editorial policies and procedures. WSJ was remiss not identifying the PR person, as that person should be held accountable for their statement.
The Journal also granted anonymity to the publication’s own spokeswoman who declined to comment about that publication’s Gaza coverage. A spokeswoman declining comment to her own publication – she’s even more shameful than her counterpart at the Times. One might expect that Emma Tucker, WSJ’s new editor, might want to explain her position in her own publication, but it appears she prefers speaking to the New York Times.
That the U.S. media would so willingly publicize the claims of barbaric murderers comes as no surprise, particularly for those who are familiar with the history and deceptions of the New York Times.
Senator Ted Cruz, who the Anti-Defamation League once disgracefully accused of antisemitism, predicted the Times would fall for Hamas propaganda well before the publication’s false hospital bombing reports.
Some Times readers, including David Rusenko who spent 11 years growing up in Morocco, publicly declared they can no longer stomach the Times’ blatant anti-Israel bias.
The Times is a dumping ground for students from once prestigious universities known as the Ivy League, whose students are making news for supporting and sometimes applauding Hamas’ murderous Israel rout. University professors also are avid readers of the Times, including George Washington University’s David Karpf, who likened Jewish columnist Bret Stephens to a bedbug. One need only read the personal attacks that Times readers post to Stephens’ columns to get a taste of the antisemitic composition of the publication’s readers, including self-hating Jews who preface their attacks on Stephens noting they are Jewish.
I’ve long been bothered by the Jewish community’s silence about the departure of former Times writer Bari Weiss, who said in her eloquent resignation letter that she was subject to repeated bullying for “writing about the Jews again.” Weiss is an authority on antisemitism, having published a book on the subject.
“The lessons that ought to have followed the (Trump) election—lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned,” Weiss wrote three years ago. “Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.”
The Times isn’t alone in publishing its anti-Israel narrative. As noted by Sean Durns in the Algemeiner, hours after Hamas’ barbaric rampage in Israel, the Washington Post’s Claire Parker suggested Israel provoked the attack because of recent violence at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and increased settler attacks.
According to the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), Palestinian terrorist groups have long used the false claim that Jews seek to damage or destroy the mosque to incite anti-Jewish violence, including the founding father of Palestinian nationalism, the future Nazi collaborator Amin al-Husseini, who used the claim to justify a 1929 pogrom in which 133 Jewish men, women, and children were murdered and 339 were injured.
Israel didn’t even exist in 1929.
One must be awfully naïve to believe that America’s mainstream journalists are chastened by their disgraceful Gaza reporting. In mainstream U.S. journalism, there’s no shame in getting stories wrong, providing the overriding narrative was correct.
Ben Smith when he was the editor of BuzzFeed proudly published the contents of what became known as the “Steele dossier,” a collection of unverified intelligence that subsequently was proven as false. Smith later published another Trump report so erroneous that special counsel Robert Mueller felt compelled to break his silence and issue a denial. Smith went on to become the media columnist for the New York Times and has since founded Semafor, a news website.
Betsy Reed, an editor who was instrumental in spiking a column by Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald questioning the media’s quick dismissal of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story, is now the U.S. editor of The Guardian, publishing stories that fit the media’s preferred narratives. The Post’s laptop story has been verified by multiple publications, including the New York Times and Washington Post.
The New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media is much more diverse than it was in the days when the Times was the gold standard for journalism accuracy, but in the American public’s mind that hasn’t resulted in more responsible and trustworthy journalism. A Gallup Poll released today revealed that U.S. trust in journalism again has fallen to the record low first recorded in 2016.