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October 19, 2018 10:33 am

Pressure Mounts on New York Times to Cancel Its Iran ‘Journeys’

avatar by Ira Stoll

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

Pressure is mounting on The New York Times to cancel its money-making trips to Iran.

The “Times Journeys” tours are back in the news after the Times was shamed into canceling an upcoming journalist-guided trip to Saudi Arabia.

The Times-branded Saudi Arabia trip was one of the first things I thought of after reports emerged that a team of Saudis had dismembered a Washington Post columnist. Back on October 8, I asked Clifford Krauss, the Times journalist scheduled to lead the tour, “Do you still plan to lead the $10,995 a person ‘Times Journey’ to Saudi Arabia scheduled to depart in less than a month in light of reports Saudi government killed and dismembered a Washington Post columnist?”

Krauss didn’t reply.

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On October 9, The Daily Caller, a conservative online publication, wrote a news article about the upcoming Times-guided trip to Saudi Arabia, reporting, “The paper did not respond to requests for comment.”

On October 10, amid growing public concern about the fate of the Post columnist, the Times announced that it would withdraw as a sponsor of a conference in Riyadh. On Twitter, I replied, “Great. What about the upcoming Times Journey?”

By October 15, the Times backed down and canceled the Saudi Times Journeys, telling CNN’s Hadas Gold, “In light of the uncertainty surrounding the disappearance of the Washington Post’s Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey, The New York Times has decided to cancel all upcoming Times Journeys departures to Saudi Arabia.” The company told CNN it would refund fees to vacationers who had signed up for the tours.

That decision, in turn, triggered a new round of attention to the Iran tours. One Canadian human rights activist, Kaveh Shahrooz, tweeted sarcastically, “The @nytimes decides it can’t run its Saudi Arabia tour for $11,995 because it has killed #JamalKhashoggi The $7,895 trip to Iran is still OK though. Because Iran doesn’t kill dissidents, apparently.” He followed up, “To clarify: the NYT is right to cancel the trips to Saudi Arabia in response to the almost-certain murder of Khashoggi. All I’m saying is that the same moral principle ought to apply to Iran.”

The executive director of the Washington Institute For Near East Policy, Robert Satloff, asked, “Question for @nytimes: concern for fate of @JKhashoggi notwithstanding, by what rationale are you suspending tourism to #SaudiArabia but proudly advertising money-making ‘Journey’ tours to #Iran, world’s leading sponsor of terrorism?” Satloff’s question was retweeted or liked about 3,000 times, but, so far as I can tell, has drawn no official public response from the Times.

The “Times Journeys” website, which had listed nearly monthly departures to Iran for the trip, now lists just one, November 10 to 22, 2018, with a price starting at $7,895. Separate from the Saudi issue, Iran is coming under increasing sanctions from the Trump administration. That could complicate commercial activity in Iran of the sort being undertaken by the New York Times Co., which has been aggressively seeking alternative revenue streams to replace its declining print advertising business.

Both Israel and the US fault the Iranian regime for its support of terrorism, and American and Canadian courts have found Iran responsible for killing American citizens.

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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