New York Times Deletes Reader Comment Calling Netanyahu ‘Parasitic Thug’
The New York Times has deleted a reader comment describing Prime Minister Netanyahu as a “parasitic thug” after The Algemeiner published an article critical of the Times’ decision to award the comment a gold ribbon and single it out as a “NYT Pick.”
In a comment to a letter writer involved with the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), the associate managing editor for standards at the Times, Phillip Corbett, explained:
the comment had been posted and flagged inadvertently. Our automated system initially sent this comment to a “deferred” queue for review. A moderator going through those comments then intended to hit “reject” but must have mistakenly hit “highlight” for this particular comment.
The comment has been removed, and the editors are considering whether further safeguards could prevent something similar from happening in future. While there are bound to be some problems in quickly handling tens of thousands of comments a day, this should not have happened.
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CAMERA, the watchdog group, characterized the comment as “anti-Semitic” and said it “used classic, anti-Semitic tropes evoking Goebbels-like stereotypes of Jewish disloyalty and parasitism.”
The editorial director of the reader center at the Times, Hannah Ingber, replied to a reader who sent her a link to The Algemeiner story about the comment by writing, “Thanks for flagging. It’s been deleted.”
The Times’ explanation was met with skepticism from some of the newspaper’s online critics. “Frankly, I don’t buy the @nytimes excuse that it was an accident. Not with their anti-Israel history,” tweeted Mark Jacobs, who had prompted the reply from Ingber.
Gary Weiss tweeted, “I doubt very much that their comments people are so dense that they could have made such a ‘mistake’ and not caught it.”
Times readers are thus left with a choice of believing that the newspaper’s editors are either malevolent or incompetent. Neither one is a particularly attractive option.
More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.