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Media Analyses





New York Times Increasingly Resembles Glenn Greenwald's Advocacy Journalism


New York Times editorial writers, as usual, have been churning out anti-Israel opinions.

Today, the judgmental voice of the newspaper lamented that the failure to close a nuclear deal with Iran has "given an opening to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who excoriated the proposed agreement as the ‘deal of the century' for Iran before it is made public, to generate more hysterical opposition."

And just three days earlier, The Times editorial board offered a similar opinion, replacing "hysterical" with "strident," an equally subjective if somewhat milder judgment term, but this time going so far as to pretend its contemptuous hyperbole speaks for the entire world:

... Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is doing what he is best known for, and perhaps best at: He is speaking out, in strident tones, despite the inevitable discomfort for a high-profile guest from Washington.

And now, the dramatic twist: Although both passages clearly opine, one of them didn't actually appear on the opinion pages, but rather — in violation of journalistic norms calling for opinion journalism to be clearly labeled — on the news pages.

Can you guess which one? Are you sure?

The truth is, the line between opinion and news has slowly been fading in the New York Times. In October alone, Israeli government officials were called "shrill," "strident," "stubborn," "abrasive" and "derisive."

And the lack of restraint seems to be the case mostly in coverage of Israel. A news report about extremist Hamas textbooks — books teaching that the Western Wall "belongs to the Muslims," that the Jewish scriptures are "fabricated," and that Zionism wants to drive Arabs out of Cairo, Damascus, Amman and the rest of the land between the Nile and the Euphrates river — describes these teachings not as abrasive, not as derisive, but merely as "questionable."

Even as The New York Times news reporters were leveling their subjective slurs at Israel, Bill Keller, a former Times executive editor, bragged in a debate with advocacy journalist Glenn Greenwald about being part of a tradition in which newspapers "expect reporters and editors to keep their opinions to themselves unless they relocate (as I have done) to the pages clearly identified as the home of opinion."

To separate his newspaper from Greenwald's brand of journalism, which tells readers what they ought to think and shares only what journalists feel would help them make their case, Keller talked of impartial reporters adept at "suspending their opinions and letting the evidence speak for itself."

But despite Keller's high-minded words, the levees seem to have broken. New York Times reportage is inching closer and closer to Greenwald's advocacy journalism, at least when it comes to Israel. CAMERA's six-month study of the newspaper's coverage found a clear and consistent pattern of anti-Israel bias. And things have only gotten worse.

(The solution to the riddle above: The passage claiming that Netanyahu is best at, and "best known" for, "strident" speech appeared in a news story by Jodi Rudoren. The passage referring to "hysterical" opposition to an Iran deal appeared in an editorial.)


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