CAMERA Prompts NYT to Pull Anti-Semitic Talkback

An anti-Semitic comment on a New York Times article which was highlighted as a NYT pick was deleted after communication with CAMERA.

The comment that appeared on an article about an Israeli investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used classic, anti-Semitic tropes evoking Goebbels-like stereotypes of Jewish disloyalty and parasitism.  The published talkback by a reader identified as “Richard Marcley” read:

That, along with the 4 billion every year from US taxpayers!
netanyahu likes to influence our elections and he likes to control the US Congress through AIPAC. And he always, ALWAYS has his hand out for another 40 billion or so from his fifth column of followers in the US!
He’s a parasitic thug!

The comment provoked outrage by many New York Times readers, not only because it was apparently deemed acceptable discourse by Times moderators but because it was highlighted as a “NYT pick.” Several media critics publicly criticized this. And CAMERA staff pointed out to editors that the State Department views “stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective—especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions” as meeting its definition of anti-Semitism.

New York Times editors thanked CAMERA staff for bringing it to their attention and removed the offensive comment, stating that “it was posted by mistake” and that they would “never approve, let alone highlight that type of content.”

In response to a complaint by Stephen A. Silver, recipient of CAMERA’s 2002 award for letter-writing,  New York Times Associate Managing Editor for Standards, Phillip Corbett added:
On further review, [the comments editors] realized that the comment had been posted and flagged inadvertently. Our automated system initially sent this comment to a “deferred” queue for review. A moderator going through those comments then intended to hit “reject” but must have mistakenly hit “highlight” for this particular comment.

The comment has been removed, and the editors are considering whether further safeguards could prevent something similar from happening in future. While there are bound to be some problems in quickly handling tens of thousands of comments a day, this should not have happened.