A New York Times Year in Review

In the March 2019 issue of Commentary magazine, CAMERA senior research analyst Gilead Ini looks back at a year of New York Times promises and coverage

On the first day of 2018, the publisher of the New York Times wrote a letter to his readers. Quoth A.G. Sulzberger: “The Times will hold itself to the highest standards of independence, rigor and fairness—because we believe trust is the most precious asset we have.” Fairness and accuracy would be paramount, he promised, “and in the inevitable moments we fall short, we will continue to own up to our mistakes, and we’ll strive to do better.”

The date of the letter suggests it would be only fair to look closely at the 12 months of journalism that followed and judge whether the Times delivered on Sulzberger’s promise of impartial, accurate reporting. That is what the media-monitoring organization CAMERA did when producing a timeline assessing a year’s worth of the newspaper’s coverage of the Arab–Israeli conflict. The timeline, alas, makes clear that the Times fell far short of those promised standards when it came to its coverage of Israel and its opponents.

Again and again, the newspaper distorted the news, downplayed inconvenient facts, and departed from journalistic norms. And while the chronological list of the newspaper’s stumbles is striking, a more damning picture still emerges when we sort those stumbles by common theme—a picture of a newspaper eager to tilt public opinion by glossing over news reflecting poorly on Palestinian actors while at the same time zooming in on perceived Israeli misdeeds. 

“More Than Just Victims”

At one point during her tenure as public editor of the New York Times from 2012 to 2015, Margaret Sullivan delivered a stunning message to her colleagues. In an otherwise gentle 2014 column about the paper’s coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Sullivan called on Times reporters to remember that the Palestinians “are more than just victims.” Her colleagues, don’t forget, are professional journalists at the country’s most reputable newspaper. …

continue reading at Commentary.