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September 23, 2013

NY Times Makes a Tweeter Out of Rouhani

The New York Times today paints an image of Hassan Rouhani, Iran's latest Holocaust-questioning president, in front of his computer Tweeting nice things to the Jews:

What is new is Mr. Netanyahu’s explicit comparison of Iran to North Korea — a rhetorical device devised to undermine Mr. Rouhani’s image as a moderate leader who posted greetings on Twitter to Jews for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

As we know, though, Rouhani did not "post" any such greetings to Twitter. He doesn't run a Twitter account.

Factual error aside, the passage is also noteworthy in that it continues a pattern at the newspaper of casting Israeli concerns as "devised rhetoric" or cynical spin, while statements by Israel's adversaries are often portrayed as genuine, reflecting inner feelings that can evoke reader sympathy.

Our monograph Indicting Israel, which reports on the results of CAMERA's six-month study of New York Times reporting, provides several examples of this double standard.

In stories about peace negotiations and the Palestinian move for UN statehood recognition, the newspaper asserted that "fruitless negotiations with Israel made [Mahmoud Abbas] feel as if he had little choice — and little to lose — by taking his case to the sympathetic world forum." The Times further justified Abbas's move by saying Israel left Mr. Abbas "a sense of having no alternatives." Palestinians were "despairing" of the negotiations process, and "Mr. Abbas felt let down."

In contrast with these credulous descriptions of Palestinian feelings, Israel's position was generally, and appropriately, relayed as a position: "Israel says...," "Israeli officials argue...," "The basic Israeli position [is]...."

Or worse: As with the recent example describing Israeli worries as "a rhetorical device devised to undermine," the newspaper had described Israel's position about the peace process as spin, as in the passage, "Mr. Netanyahu's office "seemed eager to sound open" to renewed talks...."

This double standard is subtle, but undoubtedly has an impact on readers' views.

Posted by GI at September 23, 2013 12:25 PM

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