New York Times Columnist Under Fire Over Claim that Israel Targets Journalists, Public Editor Mulls Response

November 28, 2012 8:55 pm 0 comments

The spray-painted car carrying terror operatives that was targeted by the IDF. Photo: IDF.

A New York Times columnist, who covers media and culture, has come under fire for falsely suggesting in a recent column that Israel deliberately targets journalists that it doesn’t agree with.

Referring to Israel’s recent “Pillar of Defense” operation, David Carr, who gained recognition for his role in the documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times, wrote in a Nov 25th column entitled Using War as Cover to Target Journalists:

“…three employees of news organizations were killed in Gaza by Israeli missiles. Rather than suggesting it was a mistake, or denying responsibility, an Israeli Defense Forces spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, told The Associated Press, ‘The targets are people who have relevance to terror activity.’”

“…Mahmoud al-Kumi and Hussam Salama worked as cameramen for Al-Aqsa TV, which is run by Hamas and whose reporting frequently reflects that affiliation. They were covering events in central Gaza when a missile struck their car, which, according to Al-Aqsa, was clearly marked with the letters “TV.” (The car just in front of them was carrying a translator and driver for The New York Times, so the execution hit close to our organization.) And Mohamed Abu Aisha, director of the private Al-Quds Educational Radio, was also in a car when it was hit by a missile.”

“…While it is true that news media operations have become one more arrow in the quiver of modern warfare, a direct attack on information gatherers of any stripe is deeply troubling. And such attacks are hardly restricted to Israel: recall that in the United States assault on Baghdad, television stations were early targets.”

The IDF however asserts that they were targeting a high level terror operative in the strike. An IDF spokesperson confirmed to The Algemeiner that Muhammed Shamalah who was in the car, was a ”commander of Hamas forces in the Southern strip and head of the Hamas militant training programs.” This “places him as a pivotal figure in force buildup and the execution of operations in the area,” Eytan Buchman, another IDF spokesman confirmed in an email.

“We knew who it was that was in the car,” said the spokesperson, “there was the proper intelligence and confirmation to back it up before we hit the car.”

They  spray painted the letters TV on his car in a cynical effort to “exploit the cover of journalism,” Buchman wrote.

Anonymous pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon added:

“In the case of Mohamed Abu Aisha, he clearly was a uniform-wearing member of Islamic Jihad. Islamic Jihad doesn’t describe him as a journalist, but as an instructor for the Mujahideen of Al-Quds Brigades in Deir al-Balah Battalion Brigade.

Similarly, Hamas message boards refer to Hussam Salama as a “mujahid.” That is not a word used to describe civilians.”

Bloggers and pundits from various publications roundly criticized Carr. Elder of Ziyon wrote, “Carr is making a really sickening assumption: that when the IDF targets so-called “journalists” that they are trying to stifle the free exchange of ideas. It doesn’t even cross his mind that the “journalists” themselves are actually militants.”

“Of course, Carr’s not wrong to want to defend journalists. But what about the truth?” wrote Adam Chandler in Tablet Magazine.

Responding to the allegations in an email to Tablet Magazine, Carr wrote:

“The three men who died in missile strikes in cars on Nov. 20 that I wrote about were identified as working journalists by Reuters, AP, AFP, and the Washington Post and many other news outlets. The Committee to Protect Journalists, which I treat as a reliable source in these matters, identified them as journalists as well. (as did Reporters without Borders.) I also ran my column by reporters and editors at our shop who are in narrative with current events in the region before I printed it. I don’t believe that an ID made by the IDF is dispostive or obviates what news outlets have printed. Doesn’t mean that I could not have gotten it wrong, only that the evidence so far suggests that they were journalists, however partisan.”

Carr’s critics responded to his defense sharply. In a post entitled NYT journalist has a laughable defense of his anti-Israel libel, Elder of Ziyon wrote:

“Carr – a journalist, mind you – is using proof by assertion to double down that the people targeted were nothing but innocent journalists themselves”

Commentary’s Alana Goodman went further, writing:

“So because another news organization reported it, that automatically makes it accurate? Carr never even informs readers that he was relying on the reporting of other news outlets, and doesn’t attribute his information to the AP, AFP or the Washington Post (as the New York Times ethics policy requires). Instead, readers are given the impression that Carr verified the information himself.

Carr claims he used the Committee to Protect Journalists as a “primary source,” even though he didn’t cite the organization. The problem is, if you check the CPJ website, it never independently confirmed that the terrorists killed in the Israeli strike were journalists. It clearly noted that it was citing outside news organizations, which means it wasn’t a primary source in this case.”

Contacted by The Algemeiner regarding the matter, the New York Times’ Public Editor Margaret Sullivan said she is familiar with the matter and is deciding as to whether or how to approach it. ”I haven’t looked at it very hard,” she said, ”I may write about it at some point.”

Reached on the phone, media desk editor Bruce Headlam declined to comment on the matter saying that his associate, Asst Business Editor Bill Brink was responsible for editing the column.  At the time of publication Brink has not responded to The Algemeiner’s request for comment.

Danielle Rhoades-ha, Director of Communications at The New York Times Company also declined to comment.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Theater US & Canada New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views. At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    A Jewish comedy troupe released a parody video on Wednesday of Taylor Swift’s hit song Shake It Off in which they joke about taking extensive time off from work for Jewish holidays. “And the goyim gonna stay, stay, stay, stay, stay. And the Jews are gonna pray, pray pray, pray, pray. I’m just gonna take, take, take, take, take. I’m taking off,” goes the chorus for I’m Taking Off. Menachem Weinstein, the video’s lead singer, is the creative director at [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    JNS.org – The 75th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on Dec. 15 presents an opportunity to examine the Jewish influence on one of the most popular films of all time. That influence starts with the American Civil War epic’s famed producer, David O. Selznick. Adjusted for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” remains the highest-grossing movie ever made. It earned the 1939 Academy Award for Best Picture, the same honor another Selznick film, “Rebecca,” garnered in 1940. Selznick [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Music US & Canada EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    Matisyahu got candid in an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Monday about his religious and musical journey – after shedding his Chassidic skin, yarmulke, long beard and all – from the start of his career in 2005 when he became a reggae superstar with hits King Without a Crown and Jerusalem. The singer-songwriter embarks on his Festival of Light tour this month, an annual Hanukkah event that stops in Montreal, New York, and other cities before ending in San Juan, [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Personalities ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    JNS.org – It was an era of steel strings, guitar heroes, and storytellers—high on heroin, rebellious. Outlaw country music, the hallmark of Nashville’s powerful and angry music scene of the 1970s, was the brew of greats such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Townes Van Zandt. But there is another, little-known music hero of that era: Daniel Antopolsky. A Jewish lad from Augusta, Ga.—the son of immigrants who settled in the south and ran a hardware store on Main Street—the [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi replaced Israeli star Gal Gadot as the female lead in the new Ben-Hur remake, Hollywood.com reported on Tuesday. The Homeland actress will play Esther, a slave that Ben-Hur sets free and falls in love with. Gadot quit the movie when it became clear that filming conflicted with her schedule for the Man of Steel sequel. The Israeli actress plays Wonder Woman in the superhero film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Actor Jack Huston takes on the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.