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November 24, 2014

NY Times Public Editor Tackles Israeli-Palestinian Coverage

hamasnytbillboard margaret sullivan.jpg

Margaret Sullivan, public editor for The New York Times, yesterday tackled the thorny topic of the paper's coverage of Israel and the Palestinians ("The Conflict and The Coverage"). By way of background, Sullivan mentions CAMERA's three-story billboard facing the newsroom at the The Times.

The Times is biased, both sides charge. The Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Rudoren, somehow manages to be — as the critics would have it — both wildly anti-Israel and practically a tool of the Israeli government.

One organization, Camera, even pays for a billboard across the street from the Times building to accuse the paper of regularly attacking Israel. And pro-Palestinian websites like The Electronic Intifada have detailed the ways in which, as they see it, Times coverage fails to do justice to an outcast people. Many readers have castigated me for not jumping into the fray to represent their position. I have searched for a way to write something useful and productive amid all this emotion and criticism, and have — until now — put it off.

Sullivan lays out a number of recommendations, among them:

Diversify. Strengthen the coverage of Palestinians. They are more than just victims, and their beliefs and governance deserve coverage and scrutiny. Realistic examinations of what’s being taught in schools, and the way Hamas operates should be a part of this. What is the ideology of Hamas; what are its core beliefs and its operating principles? What is Palestinian daily life like? I haven’t seen much of this in The Times.

The above recommendation addresses one of CAMERA's primary concerns about Times coverage: that the paper consistently exonerates Palestinians of any culpability for the conflict and downplays their incitement.

Nevertheless, concerning Sullivan's focus particularly on Hamas incitement, CAMERA's Gilead Ini tweets:

Gilead tweet sullivan.JPG

Another noteworthy element of Sullivan's column is a comment she cites by international news editor Joseph Kahn:

I asked Joseph Kahn, the top editor for international news, about this context complaint.

“I hear that criticism a lot,�? he said. But, he said, behind it are “people who are very well informed and primed to deconstruct our stories based on their knowledge.�? The Times does not hear this complaint, he said, from readers who are merely trying to understand the situation.

In other words, according to Kahn, uninformed readers who are unaware of the facts do not object to Times coverage. This he finds reassuring?

In a related development, Jodi Rudoren and this CAMERA writer both spoke at the same conference at Bar-Ilan University yesterday on the international media's coverage of the summer conflict between Hamas and Israel. The Jerusalem Post reports:

But the day’s most contentious figure was New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren, who drew criticism from members of the crowd as well as fellow panelists.

“I was going to bring my Kevlar vest, but I left it in the hopes of a good dialogue,�? she said before beginning her talk.

She said Israeli media culture is characterized by “myopia where each partisan looks at the articles or the TV reports focusing on the parts that they think offend their narrative or their arguments.�?

She singled out the advocacy group Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting, known as CAMERA.

“They are not for accuracy in Middle East reporting, they are for promoting the Israeli point of view,�? she said, adding that it is “perfectly within their right�? to pursue that mission.

Speaking at a later panel, CAMERA’s Israel director, Tamar Sternthal, said Rudoren’s remarks “misrepresented�? the organization’s strategy and goals. She went on to criticize the New York Times coverage of Israel, pointing out what she said were skewed headlines such as “Palestinians are suspected as two Israelis die in knife attacks,�? referring to the Har Nof attack. [sic. CAMERA note: That headline was regarding the earlier stabbings of Almog Shiloni and Dalia Lemkus.]

She also mentioned other incidents when, she said, CAMERA exposed unfair coverage in The Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.

Posted by TS at November 24, 2014 05:37 AM


CAMERA says that Rudoren misrepresents the facts. In the hopes of "good dialogue," Rudoren says CAMERA misrepresents itself. She also says that CAMERA promotes "the Israeli point of view." One might take that as an acknowledgement by her that the NYT does not. "Good dialgoue" is not possible with propagandists.

Posted by: Ben at November 24, 2014 01:43 PM

Interesting for a "biased" organization, CAMERA has managed to get SEVERAL media to retract false statements, or make corrections. Curious, but has any other organization reporting on Middle East accuracy been as successful calling main stream media to task? I think not.

Posted by: Mark Schneider at November 26, 2014 12:09 PM

Does anyone remember before WW II that most American Jews were indifferent to the plight of their brothers and sisters in Nazi-threatened Europe. Only the Orthodox protested en massde on the steps of public buildings. Note: I am not Orthodox).

And well after the existence of the death camps was known, most Americans -- particularly FDR --
carefully looked away. As word came out that the prisoners of Auschwitz begged the US to bomb the camp .."We are going to die anyway..." pictures from the belly cameras of US bombers showed them passing RIGHT OVER the camp en route to a military target a mile or two away.

The St. Louis, carrying desperate refugees from Naziism, was not only turned away from the U.S, but "we" intervened to stop the the refugees from landing elsewhere along the coast. Sent back to hell, very few survived the war.

Why this "ancient history"? The TIMES is deliberately pursuing an unfair and prejudiced approach to history that is unfolding before our eyes. Why do we get FACTS, not only from CAMERA,
whose veracity is unassailable, but from many other sources, on-line and via other media.

The TIMES proffers only risible excuses for its bias. Thisis a Jewish-owed major newspaper committing the worst offenses against serious journalism that would not be tolerated on the Podunk Post. One cannot help wondering whether they are deliberately repeating the crimes of the 30's and 40's against the Jews.

Posted by: Hypatia at November 26, 2014 05:02 PM

In her ostensible quest for fairness, even Sullivan unwittingly shows her tilt toward the same bias the Times overall has, mouthing the standard mantra which just assumes that Palestinians are "victims".
Would ask victims of whom? Their own leaders? It's also fascinating that no one from the Times ever seems to recognize Israelis as "victims", no matter how many are killed or wounded by totally unprovoked terrorism, rockets, stabbings, etc., etc.

Posted by: John Jaffe at November 26, 2014 07:01 PM

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