By Ira Stoll
Not only did The New York Times find the murder of Ari Fuld, an Israeli-American who was fatally stabbed last month by a Palestinian Arab, not fit to print, but now the newspaper has taken the additional step of purging from its online archives the wire service accounts of his death.
In an article for The Algemeiner last month, I wrote that a search for “Ari Fuld” on the Times website turned up “a wire-service report by Reuters and another by the Associated Press. But there’s no staff-written report by the Times. The wire service reports did not make it into Monday or Tuesday’s print version.”
Now even those two wire-service reports have been erased from the Times website. Clicking on the links that once brought them up now generates the message, “Page No Longer Available. This news-agency article is no longer available on nytimes.com.”
Some readers thought that I had been too critical of the Times for not assigning its own reporter to the Fuld story. In comments on social media, those readers reasoned that the wire-service accounts online were adequate. But wire-service accounts online differ from printed Times staff-written accounts in important respects. Staff-written accounts remain archived on the Times website, while wire-service articles are routinely deleted after about two weeks. That renders them invisible to historians who might consult the Times in the future.
In addition, some influential readers — including, by many accounts, President Trump — rely exclusively or primarily on the print New York Times. Those readers don’t frequent the Times website.
A few more recent wire-service accounts mentioning the after-effects of Fuld’s killing do remain on the Times website. In a couple of weeks, though, according to the terms of the Times’ deal with the wires, those accounts almost certainly will be vanished too.
Meanwhile, Times print readers have been treated to a succession of op-ed pieces and an editorial denouncing the Trump administration for cutting aid to the Palestinians. “A Vengeful and Shortsighted Act,” one Times staff editorial called it. “The Broken Pieces of Middle East Peace,” was the headline of a Thomas Friedman column. Those editorials and columns remain available on the Times website, unlike the articles about Ari Fuld’s murder.
Had the Times assigned a reporter to the case and published his or her findings, readers might have found out some interesting things. They might have learned that Fuld, despite a reputation as a hardliner, often gave food on Friday to a needy Arab family. They might have learned of reports that the parents of Fuld’s assailant called authorities to warn them of the attack before it happened. They might learn of how the assailant’s family is being compensated and rewarded by the Palestinian Authority. They might have learned how Fuld’s family is coping.
It’s not too late for the Times to publish a follow-up article of its own — ideally, one that might remain in the historical record permanently rather than being erased automatically after a couple of weeks. Fuld will be remembered regardless of what the Times does. But what the Times does will be remembered too.
(c) The Algemeiner Journal