Jewish Media Watchdogs in Uproar Over Latest New York Times ‘Fake News’
by Ira Stoll
A New York Times news article is describing the claim that Palestinians pay pensions to the families of terrorists as “far-right conspiracy programming.”
The reference came in a cover article in Sunday’s Times business section. The article was a profile of Campbell Brown, a television reporter turned Facebook executive.
The Times reported:
Ms. Brown wants to use Facebook’s existing Watch product — a service introduced in 2017 as a premium product with more curation that has nonetheless been flooded with far-right conspiracy programming like “Palestinians Pay $400 Million Pensions For Terrorist Families” — to be a breaking news destination.
It’s odd that this got past Times editors. Palestinians do indeed pay hundreds of millions of dollars to families of terrorists, as has widely been reported, including by the Times itself. It’s not a “far-right conspiracy.” It’s reality.
I emailed the Times reporter, Nellie Bowles, who wrote the story, asking if the Times plans to issue a correction. I also asked her why she chose to use this particular headline as an example of a “far-right conspiracy.” She did not reply to my email, at least by the time this article was filed.
The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, a watchdog group, said it had “contacted Times editors to request a correction.” CAMERA asked, “Does The Times‘ Bowles consider her own paper part of the vast “far-right conspiracy”? The Times has repeatedly reported the fact that the Palestinian Authority pays the families of terrorists.”
CAMERA’s Tamar Sternthal wrote, “New York Times journalist Nellie Bowles herself delivers up fake news, falsely characterizing the well-documented fact that the Palestinian Authority pays hundreds of millions of dollars to the families of terrorists as a ‘far-right conspiracy.’”
Tablet’s Liel Leibowitz also nailed the Times for the paragraph. Liebowitz wrote,
As those of us who are in the reality-based community know, the Palestinian Authority’s financial support of terrorists and their families is very, very far from a conspiracy, far-right or otherwise. Reading Bowles’s report, for example, Lahav Harkov, the Knesset reporter for The Jerusalem Post, took to Twitter to share some of her meticulous reporting on the Palestinian pay-for-slay program with Bowles: Read the real news, and you’ll learn that, in 2017, the PA doled out more than $347 million to families of terrorists who had murdered Jews, increasing the amount to $403 million this year. Between 2013 and 2017, the PA spent $1.12 billion on supporting terrorists and their families, as Yosef Kuperwasser, the former head of the IDF intelligence’s research branch, reported in Tablet last May.
This information, of course, was available to Bowles and to anyone else with Internet access, and only she and her editors may know whether it was malice or sheer incompetence that stopped her from looking up a simple fact before presenting it as an ideologically tainted conspiracy theory.
A video that matches the headline in the Times article is distributed by Dick Morris. Morris is famous because he was a political consultant to Bill Clinton, who isn’t usually considered “far-right.” The Taylor Force Act, an American law cracking down on the Palestinian payments, was also praised last month by the Anti-Defamation League and its CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, a former special assistant to President Barack Obama. Neither Greenblatt nor Obama are usually considered “far-right.”
As David Gerstman put it at the web site Legal Insurrection, “a throwaway line in a technology story shows the deep corruption plaguing America’s major newspapers when it comes to reporting on the Middle East.” The editor of Commentary, John Podhoretz, called it, “a humiliating and disgraceful error.”
More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.