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NYT Comes Clean in Omitting Palestinian’s Murderous Past But Does Not Apologize

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The New York Times was left with egg on its face on Monday after it published an opinion piece from a convicted Palestinian murderer/terrorist.

The liberal newspaper had to issue an editors’ note after multiple commenters blasted their labeling of him as a “Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” The note disclosed that the Times “neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization.”

At the end of their correction, the editors added that “Mr. Barghouti declined to offer a defense at his trial and refused to recognize the Israeli court’s jurisdiction and legitimacy.”

The liberal newspaper, somehow, first thought it was fit to grant this “parliamentarian” a platform to promote his hunger strike against the “colonial power.” They then tried to worm their way out of the corner they had painted themselves in, but still didn’t tell the whole story.

The Times also left out other key details in the criminal case against the Fatah official.

Barghouti “had been charged with direct responsibility for 37 attacks resulting in the deaths of scores of people,” according to a June 6, 2004 article from the left-leaning Israel newspaper Haaretz.

The court acquitted him on 21 murder charges due to “insufficient evidence.” He was convicted on the remaining murder charges related to his “direct responsibility” for three separate attacks in 2002, and was given five life sentences. One of the murder victims was a Greek Orthodox priest.

The Times should have explained that despite his refusals to file a defense and to recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli court, his opponents still “exonerated” him, as Haaretz put it, regarding the bulk of the charges.

Liz Spayd, the public editor for the newspaper, addressed the reaction to the column in a Tuesday column titled “An Op-Ed Author Omits His Crimes, and The Times Does Too.” She led her item by hyping that “Barghouti is an unusually popular political figure among Palestinians, especially for a man behind bars. He is a charismatic leader who has…has commanded an outsize presence beyond the Israeli prison where he is serving time.”

Spayd acknowledged that the convicted murderer “does not say the crimes for which he was convicted. More crucially, neither did the editors of the Opinion pages.” She then outlined the fierce response to the column, the newspaper’s one-line bio about the author, and the addition of the editors’ note.

However, the Times public editor never explicitly apologized for their omission. She merely promised that her newspaper would do better in the future.

…This isn’t a new issue for the Opinion section. I have written before on the need to more fully identify the biography and credentials of authors, especially details that help people make judgments about the opinions they’re reading….In this case, I’m pleased to see the editors responding to the complaints, and moving to correct the issue rather than resist it. Hopefully, it’s a sign that fuller disclosure will become regular practice.

The publication actually only went part of the way to “correct the issue.” If they want to preserve what little credibility they have left outside of the leftist elite on the Israeli/Palestinian issue, the Times needs to not only be completely upfront about the carnage that Barghouti and his fellow travelers have left in their wake; but also admit that they have a clear slant on the dispute.

[image via screengrab]

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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