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January 10, 2019 11:52 am

New York Times Pro-Iran Tilt Outlasts Its Journalist-Guided Luxury Tours

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avatar by Ira Stoll


The New York Times logo. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The New York Times late last year, under pressure, said it was suspending its moneymaking “Times Journeys” journalist-guided vacation tours of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Has the paper’s news coverage of Iran gotten any better as a result?

Not if three recent examples are any indication.

The January 10 Times features a tale of woe about a Norwegian Air Boeing 737 jet that has been sitting in Iran for a month after an unscheduled emergency landing.

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“The jet appeared to be caught up in United States sanctions on Tehran’s nuclear program that prohibit civilian aircraft sales, including services and parts,” the Times reports.

The newspaper quotes a managing director of the consulting firm Aviation Advocacy, Andrew Charlton, as saying, “It’s an example of how this sort of sanctions is a dampener on safe international aviation.”

The Times doesn’t seem to consider that it might be “a dampener on safe international aviation” to give the terror-sponsoring Iranian regime a bunch of “civilian” passenger jets that the regime can then use to airlift Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps troops and weapons around the world, or even to fly, September 11-style, into American or Israeli targets.

The January 9 Times carries a dispatch reporting, “The European Union penalized Iran on Tuesday over allegations that the country’s intelligence service orchestrated a series of assassination plots in Europe in recent years, including the killing of two Iranians in the Netherlands with ties to anti-government extremist groups.”

The use of the description “anti-government” to describe these assassination victims is bizarre. They don’t appear to have been doctrinaire anarchists, opposed to all government. Rather, they oppose the current terror-sponsoring, Israel-hating, dissident-jailing regime in Iran. It’s as if the Times were going around describing Nancy Pelosi, or Charles Schumer, or its own editorial writers and Washington bureau, as “anti-government” because they oppose President Trump. It’s as if the Times had been around during the American Revolution and described George Washington as “anti-government.” Not that every Iranian oppositionist is a Pelosi, Schumer, or Washington. But language such as “anti-government” obscures rather than enlightens, serving the Iranian regime’s interest in marginalizing possible alternatives.

And the January 4 New York Times, in an article about Iran’s “space program” and whether it is motivated by military purposes, reports, “Western experts worry that space launchings can act as technology tests for the development of ballistic missiles that can hurl warheads around the globe.”

That understates the level of concern. It’s not just “Western” experts who worry about that; it’s also experts in Israel and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and Egypt and Russia and India.

When British businessman James Dyson “referred to growth markets in Asia as the ‘Far East,’” the Times, writing about the interview, hammered him with a trigger warning for having “expressed antiquated and at times offensive views.” I guess the point that East and West depend on where one sits is at least theoretically valid, but if the Times is going to apply that standard harshly to Dyson, it might also want to tell its own news reporters. The Times online still has a section called “Middle East.” Maybe “Middle East” is acceptable but “Far East” is unacceptable? Maybe Israel is Western and Middle Eastern simultaneously?

In any event, some of us had hoped that Times Iran coverage would improve now that the newspaper no longer has to worry about the risk of the Iranian regime holding its Times Journeys participants and their guide hostages or the chance that the regime itself would cut off a lucrative Times revenue stream by barring entry. I remain hopeful that the coverage will indeed show signs of improvement. Perhaps it was too cynical to think that the Times Journeys had anything to do with the coverage. On the evidence so far, alas, the Times tilt in favor of Iran seems to have extended past the lifetime of the newspaper’s $7,000-a-person luxury tours of Persia.

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. More of his 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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