The New York Times has launched another attack on the staunchly pro-Israel American ambassador at the United Nations, Nikki Haley — and it’s being widely denounced by other journalists and figures from across the political spectrum.
The Times was last seen describing Ambassador Haley as “strident,” a term that the Times has called sexist when it is applied to Hillary Clinton.
This time around, the Times is attacking Haley for spending $52,701 on customized, mechanized curtains for her official residence in New York.
Friday afternoon, the Times appended an editor’s note to the article, conceding that the original presentation had been “unfair.” Said the editor’s note: “An earlier version of this article and headline created an unfair impression about who was responsible for the purchase in question. While Nikki R. Haley is the current ambassador to the United Nations, the decision on leasing the ambassador’s residence and purchasing the curtains was made during the Obama administration, according to current and former officials.”
The Times editor’s note went on: “The article should not have focused on Ms. Haley, nor should a picture of her have been used. The article and headline have now been edited to reflect those concerns, and the picture has been removed.”
Yashar Ali, a journalist with New York magazine and the Huffington Post, called the original Times headline “misleading” and “irresponsible.”
Kaitlan Collins, who covers the White House for CNN, tweeted that a key paragraph in the Times article seemed to be the one acknowledging, “A spokesman for Ms. Haley said plans to buy the curtains were made in 2016, during the Obama administration. Ms. Haley had no say in the purchase, he said.”
Another CNN journalist, Jake Tapper, devoted a thread of six tweets to debunking what he called the “false meme bopping around about Nikki Haley’s $52,701 curtains.”
The opinion editor of the Forward, Batya Ungar-Sargon, observed, “Six graphs in before they tell you Obama’s Administration ordered the damn curtains. A better headline would be, ‘Haley Fails To Cancel Obama Era Curtain Order.’”
A columnist of the New York Post, Benny Avni, described the Times article as “a weird hit piece, slamming Nikki Haley for a spending decision made in 2016.”
A columnist at Politico, Ben White, wrote, “I don’t know how you headline it and frame it as a Nikki Haley gotcha piece when the curtains were purchased under Obama.”
Donald Trump Jr. tweeted, “it was Obama’s State Dept. Will you print a correction or just leave it as is because you want it to be true???”
The publisher of Encounter Books, Roger Kimball, commented, “Why people distrust the NY Times, Part 8,967,465. Breathlessly announces curtains in Nikki Haley’s official residence cost $52,701 at a time of ‘deep budget cuts.’ Forgets to mention curtains had been ordered in 2016 by Obama admin.” The Times article does mention that, it just does it lower down in the story, not in the social media promotion of it or in the headline.
Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, tweeted, “Want an example of subtle ways media pushes their bias? See this completely false & misleading headline about Nikki Haley. They are not ‘her curtains’ & buried deep in story is the fact that this purchase was made under Obama administration.”
The Times reporter whose byline appeared on the Haley curtains story, Gardiner Harris, has had a series of recent train wrecks.
A profile Harris wrote in May of the chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Mark Dubowitz, was the subject of an “epic” four-part Times correction.
An article Harris wrote in August about a reduction in American aid to the Palestinian Authority also was subject to a Times correction after it inaccurately described the Israel Project, a non-partisan organization, as “right-leaning.”
In an as-yet-uncorrected Times article published earlier this month, Harris inaccurately claimed that the secretary of state “outranks” the secretary of defense. While it is true that in the event of the deaths of the president and vice president, the secretary of state is, by statute, above the defense secretary in line for succession to the presidency, that does not mean that the secretary of state “outranks” the defense secretary. Both men report to the president, and they both have cabinet rank. The defense secretary oversees a larger budget and more personnel. The secretary of state, unlike the defense secretary, is not part of the “National Command Authority,” which is the military term for the chain of command that authorizes military force.
The big question left unanswered is how many more of these blunders Harris will make before it is curtains for his own Times career.
The Algemeiner . 2018 . Ira Stoll