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October 19, 2017 3:40 pm

New York Times Launches ‘Strident’ Attack on Ambassador Haley for Iran Truthtelling

avatar by Ira Stoll


The headquarters of The New York Times. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The New York Times cheerleading for Iran is spilling over from its editorial and op-ed pages into its news columns.

The Times recently published seven editorial or op-ed pieces in 12 days supporting the Iran nuclear deal that the Israeli government and its American friends oppose. But now you don’t even have to read the Times editorial or op-ed page to find pro-Iranian commentary: it’s available in the news columns, starting with a dispatch by Rick Gladstone that is just terribly tilted.

The Gladstone article appears under the online headline “U.S. Ambassador to U.N. Escalates Confrontation With Iran.” At least three times, it applies different standards to covering the Iran-Israel-US dispute than the Times applies in other situations.

The first double standard is a sexist one. Describing comments made at the UN by the American ambassador, Nikki Haley, the Times said “her remarks were among the most strident denunciations Ms. Haley has made of Iran since she became President Trump’s ambassador in January.”

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My authoritative Webster’s Second unabridged dictionary defines “strident” as “creaking; harsh; grating.” When it is applied to liberal women, like, say, Hillary Clinton, the Times says it is a term that can signal sexism. Here, for example, is a 2008 column by Times public editor Clark Hoyt, discussing coverage of Clinton: “I asked my assistant, Michael McElroy, to run a database search for some key words that might indicate sexism in The Times — ‘shrill,’ ‘strident,’ ‘pantsuit’ and ‘giggle,’ among them.” A 2016 opinion piece in the Times by the president of Smith College, Kathleen McCartney, published after Clinton’s election loss, said, “If women stay boxed in by the norms of our gender — passive, gentle and congenial — we may not be viewed as leadership material. If women adopt the norms of a leader — commanding, decisive and assertive — we may be punished for being too bossy, too pushy, too strident, too ambitious, too scary.”

What the Times describes as “strident” coming from Haley strikes me as “principled” and “brave.” It’s another example, among too many, of the Times hurling negative adjectives at Israelis or at pro-Israel politicians or public figures.

I asked Gladstone on Twitter if he thought the term “strident” as he used it was sexist and he did not immediately respond.

The second double standard in the Times article has to do with foreign meddling in American politics. When it comes to alleged Russian interference in the American electoral process, the Times is up in arms about it, devoting editorials and front-page news articles to breathless, outraged accounts. Yet on the Iran nuclear deal, there is a different standard. The Times matter-of-factly reports that Britain, France, and Germany “have exhorted Congress to preserve the deal, which they say is doing exactly what had been intended — thwarting Iran’s ability to attain a nuclear weapon. They have warned that the United States is risking isolation, loss of credibility, and increased global insecurity if the deal unravels…China and Russia, veto-wielding members who are parties to the Iran nuclear agreement, are strong supporters of it.”

The British, French and German arguments about how “the United States is risking isolation” are taken at face value, without any kind of skepticism. Maybe the British and French and Germans don’t really care much about American security or credibility but do have their own strong commercial interests in commerce with Iran, such as the $4.8 billion deal recently made with Iran by the French oil company Total. Maybe the French, British and Germans don’t actually have that good a track record at protecting Jews from genocide of the sort that Iran is promising. Witness the horrors of the World War II era, including Vichy France and the British refusal to admit Jewish refugees into what was then the British Mandate of Palestine.

What, precisely, the British, Germans and French are doing in respect of the Iran deal and the American Congress would be a worthy topic for Times investigation. How are these foreigners wooing American lawmakers? With fancy diplomatic receptions? Expensive entertainment? Phone calls? Meetings? Meetings between Russians and Trump campaign officials generate extensive Times coverage and headlines. But an ongoing European pro-Iranian campaign aimed at the American legislature merits just a sentence or two, as if the Times thinks it’s no big deal. The paper does mention a letter from “a group of 25 former foreign ministers.”

A similar double standard is on display with the Times reporting of the claim by Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Gholamali Khoshroo, that “’no country has done more than Iran’ in fighting Middle East terrorism.” When President Trump makes demonstrably false claims, the Times pats itself on the back for bluntly pointing them out, using terms like “falsely” or “lie.” “Times Editor Dean Baquet on Calling Out Donald Trump’s Lies,” was one Times headline. Yet when an Iranian ambassador — and Times op-ed contributor — makes the nonsensical and false claim that Iran is the world leader at “fighting Middle East terrorism,” the Times doesn’t call it out. The newspaper might have told readers that that Iran actually is, according to the US and Israeli governments and even American courts, a leading funder and mastermind of terrorism.

The Times writes that Haley injected Iran into “a Security Council meeting that had been meant to focus on developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” The newspaper makes it sound like the two matters are unrelated, but how can one discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without mentioning Iran, which funds and encourages anti-Israel military and terrorist attacks? It’s the elephant in the room.

If anyone is being “strident” here, it’s not Ambassador Haley, but the New York Times. That newspaper aims to reap more than $1 million in revenues for its ailing business by offering readers a series of luxury tours of the Islamic Republic, guided by Times journalists and by former Obama administration officials who were involved in crafting the Iran nuclear deal. The Times has also started translating some of its editorial content into Farsi as a way to reach Iranian readers. This particular news article is one that would probably find a more appreciative audience over there than over here. It would fit right in not only with Iran’s foreign policy agenda, but also with the Islamic Republic’s retrograde attitudes toward women.

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


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