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August 10, 2016 5:22 pm

Sex-Obsessed, the New York Times’ News Judgment Veers Astray

avatar by Ira Stoll

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Office of The New York Times, in New York City. Photo: WikiCommons.

The New York Times headquarters. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Sometimes the bias in the New York Times comes not in the news that it prints, but in the news it chooses not to print.

Here is a selection of recent news stories that the Times either entirely has ignored or handled with wire-service briefs that ran only on the newspaper’s website, not in print:

  • A Saudi Judo competitor at the Olympics forfeited a match to avoid having to face an Israeli in the next round. (Saudi Arabia denied that was the reason.) This came after Olympians from Lebanon refused to allow Israelis to board their bus. (The Times did run a wire-service story online about the bus situation, but the newspaper appears to have assigned none of its own staff to the bus matter, and the wire-service brief doesn’t seem to have appeared in the print newspaper.)
  • Iran executed a teenager for the crime of being gay. The Times, again, handled the story with a wire-service account that seems to have appeared online only but not in the print newspaper. This wire service account adopted the Iranian government’s account that the boy’s crime had been “rape,” without mentioning the youth’s defense that it was a consensual interaction.
  • Israel rejected President Obama’s false public claim that its government had revised its assessment of the nuclear deal with Iran. This was a big flap in relations between Washington and Jerusalem, as the Israeli government likened the pact to the appeasement of Hitler at Munich, then somewhat backed down after an American protest. The Times handled this with a brief from the Associated Press that did not appear in the print newspaper.
  • Ali Shroukh, the Palestinian doctor whose assistance to a Jewish settler injured in a terrorist attack was the subject of a Times news article back in July illustrating “an act of kindness in a conflict that is often bereft of it,” was fired from his job, as a punishment for helping Jews. No follow-up story from the Times.

Here, by contrast, are some of the Israel- or Jewish-related news articles that the Times did find the resources to cover in print, or with its own talent, during pretty much the same period:

  • Nine hundred words from an Israeli New York Times columnist about his lesbian sister.
  • Eight hundred words from an Israeli New York Times columnist about sexual practices of Gur Hasidic men, who “sometimes get prescriptions for antidepressants to suppress [their] sex drive.”
  • Thirteen hundred words on Miss Trans Israel, “an Arab transgender woman.”
  • Three thousand, five hundred words — 1,500 in the Sunday magazine, then another 2,000 the following Sunday in the Style section, about James Altucher, who got rid of his home and worldly possessions and “now carries nothing but a bag of clothes and a backpack containing a computer, an iPad and a smartphone.”

I’m not saying that any of the stories the Times did choose to print or publish with its own staff were unworthy or even uninteresting. But you’d think that if the newspaper could find room or resources for all that, it might also be able to find room for all the things it skipped or shrugged off. Over the long term, journalistic quality depends on using judgment to allocate limited resources. On the basis of the past few weeks of work, the editorial judgment of the Times about what is “fit to print” and what is not seems at the very least to be highly idiosyncratic, and at worst to be unmoored from the traditional news standards that originally won the Times its reputation for excellence.

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

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  • louis dumouchel

    Here is how the liberal American reports a news story:
    A Harley biker is riding by the zoo in Washington , DC when he sees a
    little girl leaning into the lion’s cage. Suddenly, the lion grabs her
    by the cuff of her jacket and tries to pull her inside to slaughter
    her, under the eyes of her screaming parents.
    The biker jumps off his Harley, runs to the cage and hits the lion
    square on the nose with a powerful punch.
    Whimpering from the pain the lion jumps back letting go of the girl,
    and the biker brings her to her terrified parents, who thank him
    endlessly. A reporter has watched the whole event.
    The reporter addressing the Harley rider says, ‘Sir, this was the most
    gallant and brave thing I’ve seen a man do in my whole life.’
    The Harley rider replies, ‘Why, it was nothing, really, the lion was
    behind bars. I just saw this little kid in danger and acted as I felt
    The reporter says, ‘Well, I’ll make sure this won’t go unnoticed. I’m a
    journalist, you know, and tomorrow’s paper will have this story on the
    front page… So, what do you do for a living and what political
    affiliation do you have?’
    The biker replies, ‘I’m a U.S. Marine and a Republican.’ The journalist
    The following morning the biker buys the paper to see if it indeed
    brings news of his actions, and reads, on the front page:
    That pretty much sums up the lame media’s approach to the news these days!

  • Jay Lavine

    Most news media show bias of one kind or another.

    Regarding the statement that a Saudi Arabian Judo competitor forfeited her match to avoid facing an Israeli, this was an allegation, not a statement of fact, and it was denied by the Saudis, who said that she had suffered injuries. Whom to believe? Believe what you wish, but an important Jewish teaching is that, given alternative reasons for a person’s actions, we should always try to give him or her the benefit of the doubt. This is the Jewish way of avoiding bias, which is often an inherent part of secular ideologies.

  • Reform School

    It appears New York Times editors realize Associated Press reporters are no worthier of the title ‘newspaperman’ than their own. Like the decision to keep everything they knew about the Holocaust off their pages until the war ended, recent stories are so protective of Democrat Ruling Elite, (saying everything but “Vote for X” or “Don’t Vote for Y”) interviews lacking hard questions, rigged “debates”, skewed exit polls, and rigged vote counts by a broadcast news consortium representating every outlet except FOX are signs of the Times. Not-for-profit organizations plying voters with socialist “idiology” {sic) without losing their broadcast licenses—and tax exemption—are signs of corrupt governments. Where are theindictments?

  • At times it is sad that we have ‘freedom of the press, when that press freedom is misused or abused. The New York Times is a disgrace to the freedoms that we enjoy. Close them down please or do not buy their rag. A once great paper is now a toilet paper/

  • Ephraim

    If it were still a newspaper, it would have. However, at this point, the National Inquirer prints more ‘news’ than does the Times, with all the news that’s fit to ignore.

  • Lia

    Thank you, Mr Stoll! You are a ‘lone soldier’ against the NYT’s hopeless journalism.

  • richard sherwin

    what about ‘internal stories’ like: what does tom friedman ‘have on’ the editors and publishers of NYT that keeps him getting published; what do gideon levy and amira haas have on publishers of HA’ARETZ that keep them published even tho JJ can’t believe such stuff is legit media (and THAT takes a great deal to disbelieve for a NYT person). let alone ‘real’ issues like ‘black antisemitism despite liberal jewish community’s support of black ‘matters”, or even a public discussion of real problem of black community violence on blacks, difficulty ANY policing of such by white and black and latino police, whatever their politics’ vs ‘black lives dont matter’. or heaven forfend, a day with the police in the black ghettos experienced by OWNERS of NYT…. or what it’s like to live in south tel aviv as experienced by mr shocken? or to expect the impossible: what it’s like to deal with hormones vs decency re sexuality by religious and secular males, females, et al?