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April 19, 2016 11:09 am

Latest Cohen Column in New York Times Carries Two Blatant Errors

avatar by Ira Stoll

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New York Times columnist Roger Cohen. Photo: Twitter.

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen. Photo: Twitter.

In an opinion column in the New York Times, Roger Cohen praises Bernie Sanders’ positions on Israel. Mr. Cohen is entitled to his opinion, but not to his own facts, and at least two of the “facts” he marshals in his piece are clearly incorrect.

Mr. Cohen writes, “A suicide bombing in Jerusalem on Monday was a further escalation in the simmering violence of the Israeli-Palestinian impasse.”

When the Times column was published, no fatalities had been reported in the bus bombing. Can it be a “suicide bomber” if the bomber isn’t killed? The Times news article about the attack does not describe it as a “suicide bombing”; to the contrary, it quotes a police official as saying, “The police were still investigating the circumstances surrounding the blast, including whether one of the people who was wounded had brought the bomb onto the bus.”

As far as I can tell, it isn’t yet clear whether it was even an attempted suicide bombing; the bomber may have been hoping to survive the attack. The column would be more accurate if it referred simply to a “bombing” or to a “bus bombing,” rather than to a “suicide bombing.”

Second, Mr. Cohen writes that the Iran nuclear deal “won congressional approval.” That’s not accurate, either. Opponents of the deal failed to muster the supermajority of votes in both houses of Congress that were needed to block it. The key vote in the Senate was 56 to 42, with 42 senators siding with the deal and 56 opposed. In the House, the vote was 162 in favor of the Iran deal and 269 against it. The New York Times itself reported the vote at the time in its news columns under the accurate and truthful headline, “House Rejects Iran Nuclear Deal.” For Mr. Cohen, less than a year later, miraculously to transform that rejection into “approval” is an inaccuracy that demands a correction, just as the suicide-bombing reference does.

No one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. The test of the Times in this case will be whether it forthrightly and promptly corrects the errors in this column, or whether it enters its more usual defensive crouch, pretending to perfection and refusing to acknowledge its mistakes. We shall see.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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  • John Train

    Your article indicates that at this time there are two comments in response.
    David R Zuckerman has a very interesting response which is visible for me to read. I do not see the second response which I would also be interested in. How can I access all the responses to your articles? I click on various places and I’m not been successful, to date, in retrieving the multiple responses which you indicate have occurred.

  • James Nasium

    This article is missing an email address for Mr. Cohen so that the readers can follow up with him directly.

  • In Leftworld, Cohen is probably accurate. The Iran deal got all the congressional approval it needed, a minority of the House and Senate, not withstanding the provision in the Constitution where
    treaties must have approval of two-thirds of the Senate. The Republican Senate leadership approved turning upside down the Constitution’s provision on Senate approval of treaties.

    And so, Mitch McConnell joined forces with the left in making a mockery of the Constitution. Chief Justice John Marshall noted at the end of his opinion in Gibbons v. Ogden that “[p]owerful and ingenious minds” will by artful reasoning so perplex ordinary understanding as to leave the Constitution “totally unfit for use.” The left, joined by establishment Republicans, have succeeded in turning the Constitution into
    a battering ram for its agenda.

    Consider the statements from Clinton and Sanders at their April 14 debate vowing to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who willbe committed vote to overturn Citizens United. I have read no statement in the media how Clinton and Sanders will end the idea of an independent judiciary and make the Supreme Court
    a political arm of the White House. I am sure the left applauds Clinton and Sanders in their aims to traduce our founding legacy of liberty.

    Alas, our answer to Benjamin Franklin has become perfectly clear: we are simply no longer interested in keeping the USA a republic.