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July 15, 2014 8:51 pm

New York Times Public Editor Reports 1,000 Emails Critical of Israel-Hamas Coverage

avatar by Joshua Levitt

A billboard paid for by CAMERA lambasting The New York Times ahead of its headquarters in January. Photo: Screenshot / Twitter / @JCCWatch.

A billboard paid for by CAMERA lambasting The New York Times ahead of its headquarters in January. Photo: Screenshot / Twitter / @JCCWatch.

Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor of The New York Times, said she had been away last week as the Israel Defense Forces retaliated against Hamas’s rocket attacks on civilians across nearly all of Israel, but she wrote on Monday that she had received “a deluge of reader complaints” in more than 1,000 emails.

Before broaching some of the most contentious articles, Sullivan pointed out that her colleagues at The Guardian and at National Public Radio also had to respond to similar accusations of bias, missing context and controversial headlines from both sides critical of their coverage.

Over the past week, Blogger Elder of Ziyon, along with many other media watchers, have written scores of long articles to unpack the mistakes in coverage by The Times, but one example, the first that Sullivan mentions, seems to have been the most blatant case of bad reporting, as judged by the many comments posted by readers to her explanatory piece on Monday.

Sullivan wrote: “An article and an editorial that included an error. An editorial picked up on a factual error in a news article, stating that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel had not responded immediately to the killing of a Palestinian teenager, and that ‘days of silence’ had followed. The Times corrected the error, both on the news pages and the opinion pages. Many readers also objected to The Times‘s interpretation of a poem quoted in the editorial, saying that its intended meaning was the opposite of that interpretation.”

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Readers of the newspaper found her explanation lacking. One, Isaac in New York, pointed out in the comments section that the editorial and news article both somehow missed the earlier article from “their own reporter,” Isabel Kershner, who had reported on Netanyahu’s immediate condemnation, in the harshest terms of those who killed the Palestinian, calling it an “abominable murder.”

Isaac wrote: “While it is comforting that The Times issued a correction regarding Mr. Netanyahu’s response time, the question must be asked how can The Times made such a mistake when their own reporter Isabel Kershner wrote in an article on July 2, ‘Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Tuesday to hold accountable those who killed the three young men in the West Bank, pointing a finger at the Palestinian militant group Hamas. On Wednesday, after the body of the Palestinian teenager was found in the woods, the prime minister called on Israelis to obey the law, and asked investigators to quickly look into what he called ‘the abominable murder.'”

Isaac said, “It can be expected that media outlets make mistakes from time to time but to not even check the facts reported in its own paper is quite another thing.”


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