By B. Cohen
When Matt Seaton, an opinion editor for the New York Times, declared on Twitter last month that his paper would refrain on commenting on Palestinian racism until the Palestinians “have a sovereign state to discriminate with,” (sic) he was reflecting a long-established editorial policy, a new study by independent media watchdog CAMERA has found.
“The New York Times is nearly seven times more likely to publish pieces primarily critical of Israel than those primarily critical of the Palestinians,” the study says. “The newspaper is also twice as likely to publish opinion pieces that predominantly support the Palestinian narrative about which side deserves more sympathy or criticism than pieces that predominantly support the Israeli narrative.”
CAMERA’s analysis, which examined staff columns and guest Op-Eds during the year period from October 5, 2013 through October 4, 2014, is based upon the 75 opinion pieces that focused on Israel or the Palestinians. “Of those, 31 were either predominantly critical of Israel or sympathetic to Palestinians; 14 were either predominantly critical of Palestinians or sympathetic to Israel; the remaining 30 did not predominantly criticize or support one side over the other, although they often suggested a moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas by criticizing both in roughly equal measure,” CAMERA says.
The study also noted that “the disproportion was nearly identical in pieces by columnists employed by The New York Times (for example Thomas Friedman and Roger Cohen) and in pieces by outside Op-Ed contributors.”
The discrepancy was also reflected in headlines, CAMERA says: “Over the course of the year, during which fewer than 2,500 people were killed in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, 18 headlines mentioned Israel. Syria was mentioned one time fewer, although about 20,000 people were killed there in just the 7-month period from March to September 2014.”
CAMERA Senior Analyst Gilead Ini, who authored the report, told The Algemeiner that there were several reasons for the disproportionate focus on Israel.
“Part of it is this now largely abandoned concept of linkage, which holds that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the one on which Middle East and world peace hinges,” Ini said. “Even President Obama made a speech recently saying that this idea isn’t true, but maybe The Times hasn’t got the message yet.”
Ini argued that the paper’s “worldview ” leads it to “cast a critical light” on Israel, “the party that is perceived to be more western.”
“In their eagerness to not excessively criticize a party that is outside their western, liberal context, they end up applying different standards to different countries,” Ini said. “Ironically the end result is anti-liberal, because countries are not judged by a single standard.”
The latest CAMERA study is consistent with previous findings of bias at the Times. A 2006-07 CAMERA study found, for example, “twice as many Op-Eds critical of Israel or espousing an Arab perspective as those supportive of Israel or critical of Arab policies.”
“We hope that someone at the New York Times is paying attention, and that the next time we do this study, the chart will be more balanced,” Ini said.