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Media Analyses

NY Times Mum on Palestinian Leader's "Son of a Dog" Slur

Undiplomatic Immunity?

When Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas called the U.S. ambassador a "son of a dog," the New York Times didn't cover the slur…

…but when Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netayahu said comments by the previous ambassador were "unacceptable and incorrect," it was covered in a news story and slammed in an editorial.

On Monday, the Palestinian president called an American ambassador a "son of a dog." On Tuesday, a handful of U.S. news outlets mentioned Mahmoud Abbas's verbal attack on Ambassador David Friedman, the top U.S. diplomat in Israel. The New York Times was not among them.

It is a striking omission from a paper that, at other times, seems fixated on events in that part of the Middle East. Indeed, the same newspaper that ignored Abbas's slur, which the U.S. State Department slammed as "outrageous and unhelpful," had in 2016 covered a much milder critique by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the previous American ambassador. After Netanyahu described a statement by ambassador Dan Shaprio as "unacceptable and incorrect," the New York Times not only covered Netanyahu's response in a news story, but also focused an editorial on what it described as his "unfair" remarks.

How is it newsworthy when a prime minister says an ambassador's words are "unacceptable and incorrect," but not when a president describes an ambassador as a "son of a dog"? The skewed news judgment is likely to deepen concerns that the New York Times tends to ignore or downplay news that reflects poorly on the Palestinian government while shining a bright light on perceived missteps by the Jewish state.

In recent months, the Times has also neglected to forthrightly report on anti-Semitic comments and unhinged conspiracy theories by the Palestinian president. By contrast, when a 10-year-old recording of Benjamin Netanyahu's wife screaming into a telephone surfaced, the newspaper was on the story. It has also recently referred to "crude behavior" by the prime minister's son.
Clarification: The New York Times online search engine returns items by the Associated Press and Reuters, both of which did cover Abbas's remarks. The newspaper itself, though, did not cover those remarks, an did not use the relevant AP or Reuters coverage for its own print or online editions. 

For more on New York Times coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict, see CAMERA's Times Line.

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