The broken record of the NY Times


So what's with the New York Times and its fabled fact—checkers? Is ideology driving facts——or non facts——to fit the mind set of the increasingly out of step editors?  It sure does seem that way.  Consider some recent examples which are definitely not casual errors.

Forced by the speed of the blogosphere, including American Thinker's Richard Baehr,  one of the star columnists of the op ed page, Paul Krugman, made a grudging, throw away admission that he was just wrong about the 2004 and 2000 presidential elections. 

And then there is lsrael and the Middle East. The Times' antipathy to the beleagured country is well known; however that does not justify distorting facts, compressing statements or taking them out of context to fit a pre arranged ideology.
Those who sympathize with Israel and think Bush and Company reflect their views were highly upset when, in the midst of Israel's traumatic and controversial retreat from Gaza, Rice was quoted as stating "It cannot be Gaza only."
Ah, but what if the Times misquoted her and she didn't quite say it that way?  Here is her statement in context, as appearing in the site Jewish Current Interests.

On the day of the Times story, a commenter at posted this comment: 

'This just doesn't sound right, or like Dr Rice. . . . She doesn't screw up like this.'

Indeed, it didn't . . . she doesn't . . .and in fact the Times made the quote up. 

The transcript of the interview was posted by the State Department this week.  It shows that the purported quote —— made the centerpiece of the Times story —— was constructed by the Times from two separate, unrelated comments by Rice —— one taken out of context, the other not even accurately quoted. 

The first part was lifted from Rice's response to the Times' question about how she could 'assure that [Gaza] is not the last step for a good while?'

I know, in having talked to [Sharon and his government] and watched how hard and I think everybody empathizes with what every Israeli has to be feeling and with people uprooting from homes that they have been in for a generation and the difficulty and the pain that that causes. And so I watched Prime Minister Sharon's address to the nation and it was really remarkable statesmanship.

* * *

And it's very easy to kind of move on to the next thing, but if you stop and reflect and pause, it also helps you to see that because —— and, you know, and we all hope that it continues to go relatively smoothly —— that because of this experience you would hope that confidence and trust between the Palestinians and the Israelis is also grown up because they had to have practically daily contact and meetings at every level of government in order to be able to pull this off.  And if they indeed do, I think you will have created conditions and a level of trust that is unparalleled between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

* * *

So I don't think you're going to see just something stop. I do think you'll have some momentum coming out of this.

The Times then asked other questions, including 'And so what should Israel do right now, after Gaza?' [can you discern a certain theme to the Times' questions?] and then [continuing with the same theme] 'Do you think you'll go back there in the fall to keep the momentum going?':

Let's see, you know, what's required. . . .  But by no means do I think that this is the end.

The other thing is, just to close off this question, the question has been put repeatedly to the Israelis and to us that it cannot be Gaza only and everybody says no, it cannot be Gaza only.  There is, after all, even a link to the West Bank and the four settlements that are going to be dismantled in the West Bank.  Everybody, I believe, understands that what we're trying to do is to create momentum toward reenergizing the roadmap and through that momentum toward the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state.

Ah, that's different.  While I personally don't agree with Rice and the State Department's thinking on this issue  and while I also think the NY Times is entitled to its (wrong) opinions it behooves the NY Times, as the self described "paper of record" to stop sounding like a broken record and get with the times.

hat tip: Little Green Footballs

Ethel Fenig   8 16 05

Richard Baehr adds:

Rick Richman has been covering Israel and the Jewish world with great intelligence and seriousness in his blog Jewish Current Issues.  In his August 26 article: "Condoleeza Rice and the New York Times," he proves that the paper is comfortable inventing a story to suit its purposes.  Richman exposes that the Times' story on Condoleeza Rice's remarks following Israel's initial efforts at disengagement from Gaza  were a fiction, and not as reported by Joel Brinkley and Steven Weisman. Weisman has for a long time been a dissembler about Israel, so no surprise to find him here.

But this is an important story. Rice did NOT chide Israel as the Times suggests for more withdrawals soon ("It can not be Gaza only").  Many pro—Israel supporters were surprised at the Rice statement as reported in the Times, and then widely circulated through the rest of the national media, which is so lazy that it takes its lead from the Times in unquestioning fashion.  The surprise reflected the fact that Rice and President Bush have been stalwart supporters of Israel since the Bush administration took office.  Clearly the Times is unhappy that this support was rewarded by a significant increase in Jewish support for the President in the last election.

Rice's remarks, supposedly demanding more from Israel, were a result of the Times putting together two unrelated comments she made in her interview with the paper. It would be hard to find more of a smoking gun than this as to how the Times creates "news" stories to push the themes the paper wants to promote.  A review of the questions to Rice is also revealing for what the Times has on its agenda.

Clearly peeved at how Rice's remarks were delberately misconstrued, the State Department has now issued  a transcript of the conversation . They are embarrassing to the Times, to say the least. Weisman and Brinkley can line up behind Paul Krugman for the next corrections cycle.

Last week, Marty Peretz ripped the Times for offering a very cold shoulder to Israel  on its editorial page during the disengagement. The Times' editors wanted more from Israel and faster, and offered Sharon no support for his undertaking....  In response to Peretz' article, the Times issued a new editorial this week that was much more sympathetic to Israel. Getting trashed by a respected writer for a magazine that leans left of center was something the paper probably felt it had to respond to.

Much as during the leadup to the 2004 Presidential election, the Times' editorial and "news" reports work in tandem to push a story line. What is the reason for the Times' impatience with Israel? Perhaps Publisher Pinch Sulzberger is tired of hearing about Israel from his social circle, full of members of  the liberal churches which are all pushing divestment from Israel. Sulzerger is clearly more comfortable with this anti—Zionist crew than he would ever be with a collection of Chassidics, or better yet, sitting down with a good history book on the conflict.