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December 16, 2016 4:01 pm

New York Times Hurls Negative Modifiers at Trump Israel Pick, Positive Ones at Left-Wing Protesters

avatar by Ira Stoll

Attorney David Friedman, who has been chosen by President-elect Donald Trump to be the next US Ambassador to Israel. Photo: Kasowitz website.

Attorney David Friedman, who has been chosen by President-elect Donald Trump as the next US Ambassador to Israel. Photo: Kasowitz website.

One of the easiest ways to detect the bias in the New York Times is to look past the subjects and verbs to the modifiers.

Here, for example, is how the Times reports the news of President-elect Trump’s selection of an ambassador to Israel:

President-elect Donald J. Trump on Thursday named David Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer aligned with the Israeli far right, as his nominee for ambassador to Israel, elevating a campaign adviser who has questioned the need for a two-state solution and has likened left-leaning Jews in America to the Jews who aided the Nazis in the Holocaust.

Mr. Friedman, whose outspoken views stand in stark contrast to decades of American policy toward Israel, did not wait long on Thursday to signal his intention to upend the American approach.

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Not just aligned with the Israeli right, but the Israeli “far right,” as the Times puts it, hyperventilating. And not just in contrast to decades of American policy, but, as the Times puts it, in “stark contrast.”

This sort of clobber-them-over-the-heads-with-it approach isn’t just bad journalism; it’s extremely bad journalism, as the Times itself might say. Not that the newspaper should flinch from telling it like it is. But in Mr. Friedman’s case, the contrast isn’t necessarily as “stark,” and the rightness isn’t necessarily as “far,” as the Times would have it. Instead, the modifying words seem designed to generate clicks and social media shares by fueling the pre-existing anxiety — verging on panic — prevalent among many far-Left (as the Times might put it) Times readers about the impending Trump presidency.

Nor does the Times news article even consider the possibility that the “American approach” — as the newspaper dishonestly characterizes the State Department’s tack in Arab-Israeli diplomacy, as if to suggest that any deviation from this orthodoxy is downright un-American — might at this point have failed to the degree that other approaches might be worth considering. It’s a remarkable display of closed mindedness by the ostensibly progressive Times news department. Having unsuccessfully pursued a two-state solution since Camp David (1978) and Oslo (1993), the Times seems so deeply committed to the idea, journalistically, that rather than listen to other ideas, it recoils in horror at even the suggestion that other possibilities might be considered.

Similar shiftiness is on display in another Times news article about an event in Washington hosted by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Embassy of Azerbaijan.

It includes this language:

“To say I was surprised would be an understatement,” Ann Toback of the Workmen’s Circle, a progressive Jewish organization, said of her reaction upon learning the location and the co-host of the party. “I was horrified. It made no sense to me, and it set off a lot of alarm bells.”…

Josh Katzen, the executive chairman of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, attended the event and described it as “very elegant, very nice.” The controversy was not palpable, he said. “The naysayers and complainers were completely ignored and not visible.”

Morton A. Klein, the national president of the Zionist Organization of America, said he found it “incomprehensible” that organizations would not attend the event.

“I find it astonishing that these groups care more about their left-wing political beliefs as opposed to caring about developing a good relationship with the incoming president of the United States of America,” Mr. Klein said.

Allen Fagin, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, attended Wednesday’s party and said in a statement, “We believe that the fundamentally important issue is to focus on the nature and purpose of this event and not its venue.”

IfNotNow, a social-action group formed during the 2014 war in Gaza, organized the protest outside the hotel…“Early indications are that people are using their pocketbooks in accordance to their values,” said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, the executive director of T’ruah, a rabbinical human rights organization.

Again, look at the modifiers the Times uses. The groups that are protesting are described by the Times as “progressive” — in favor of progress — “social action,” “rabbinical human rights.” The groups that aren’t protesting — CAMERA, ZOA, the Orthodox Union — don’t get any descriptions at all, even though they also are in favor of both human rights and progress. (Never mind that the 2014 war is inaccurately described as being “in Gaza,” notwithstanding that the war reached also into Israel, whose civilians were repeatedly targeted by Hamas terrorist rockets.)

An enterprising reporter could doubtless easily do to IfNotNow and T’ruah precisely what the Times did to David Friedman — depict them as extremist and out of the mainstream. But that’s the bias of the Times. It treats one side differently from the other side. It describes pro-Israel Jews as un-American, while it describes Israel’s hard-Left critics as progressive, human-rights activists. That’s not objective news reporting; it’s partisan propaganda.

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

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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