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June 27, 2018 5:21 pm

New York Times Caught Flat-Footed in Upset of Congressman by Israel Critic

avatar by Ira Stoll

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

The New York Times is being criticized for missing the story about the upset defeat of a veteran New York City congressman by a 28-year-old challenger in a Democratic primary.

It’s also missed the story of the role Israel policy played in the election surprise, in which a former organizer for the presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, defeated Rep. Joe Crowley, a Democrat who represented parts of Queens and the Bronx.

A former executive editor of the Times, Jill Abramson, tweeted this morning, “Kind of pisses me off that @nytimes is still asking Who Is Ocasio-Cortez? when it should have covered her campaign. Missing her rise akin to not seeing Trump’s win coming in 2016.”

The Times played catch-up with at least four pieces: A Frank Bruni column, a staff editorial, a profile, and a news article. Israel wasn’t mentioned in the text of a single one of the articles, though one did include an embedded tweet in which Ms. Ocasio-Cortez faulted a Crowley surrogate for supporting President Donald Trump’s move of the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

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Unlike Crowley, who was generally seen as supportive of Israel,  had friendly ties with New York’s large Jewish community, and was considered a possible successor to Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, Ocasio-Cortez had been harshly critical of Israel. She tweeted an Al Jazeera article about fatalities at the Gaza border and commented, “This is a massacre. I hope my peers have the moral courage to call it such. No state or entity is absolved of mass shootings of protesters. There is no justification. Palestinian people deserve basic human dignity, as anyone else. Democrats can’t be silent about this anymore.”

The Times coverage of the Israel aspect of the story is missing as much as the overall coverage of her campaign was lacking. It’s a disappointing lapse, especially since the story unfolded in the Times’ own backyard.

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

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