This is as far as the NYT will go in apologizing for bad and harmful reporting

October 23, 2023 • 12:00 pm

They’re apologizing for the first headline, which changed over time:

Here’s a screenshot of the Times’s Instagram post, which for some reason refuses to embed:

They can’t bear to say that the weight of the evidence shows that an errant Palestinian missile, fired at Israel by terrorists, is what caused the explosion.  It’s “Hamas said” on one side versus “Israel denied” and “Americans have said” on the other. They apologize only for reporting taken from the mouths of Hamas.

Why don’t they cite the DATA, instead of giving both sides’ statements? Why don’t they say, “We apologize for misreporting what was likely a terrorist missile strike, and that this misreporting caused the Middle East to erupt in a frenzy of Israel-hating?”

Why not? Because they’re the NYT, and one side is Israel.

I’m also curious if they’ll put this mea culpa on the Times website, or in the paper.

35 thoughts on “This is as far as the NYT will go in apologizing for bad and harmful reporting

  1. To add, the NYT statement:

    1) Doesn’t comment on or apologise for the misleading impression made by running an image of a destroyed building — which is actually nothing to do with this incident — directly underneath the headline.

    2) Says that the paper led with “… claims by Hamas government officials …”, while their actual wording was about claims by the “Palestinian Health Ministry” (no mention of Hamas in the piece).

    3) Does not comment on the fact that “at least 500 dead” statement was not even presented as a claim but is presented as factual. The “Palestinians said” addition was that “the number of casulties was expected to rise”.

  2. Surreal.

    “… relied too heavily on Hamas and did not make clear that those claims could not be verified”.

    Yep, quoted Hamas and did not make clear that the claims made by a Jihadi group that had just killed hundreds of humans, raped women and burned babies could not be verified.

    Cancel your subscription.

    1. Yes indeed. That line screams out at me. The Times is trying to claim that the report suffered from a lack of clarity, as if there were a bit of of carelessness at the copy editing stage. The problem with the report is that it *was* clear and that it contributed to an explosion of protest in the Middle East and around the world that shows little sign of abating. By its action, the Times became a participant, rather than an observer and reporter.

  3. This absolutely needs to be in print and in their website. I don’t look at Instagram and would never have seen this. These types of statements belong in the same media that the original piece was published.

          1. Probably, those responsible are the latest batch of young journalists from the elite universities. All woke and steeped in the sewer of anti-enlightenment.

  4. Start from the point that all previously respectable journalism outlets are filled with nothing but yellow journalism AT BEST, and wait for them to do something to prove their honesty.

    Still waiting on that, by the way.

    1. I wonder whether a golden age of journalistic integrity ever existed. Before the internet, most people relied on one newspaper only, and this made them fairly easy to fool.

  5. It is a bitter but familiar lesson. Only now, as this war progresses, when a similar incident happens, maybe The NY Times and other outlets will be more cautious about statements from a terrorist organization. That might be true for this war, but promptly forgotten for the next one over there.

  6. Rockets explode. It is far from coincidence that Cape Canaveral is on the ocean. The same holds for Europe. The USSR conducted its launches from a remote part of Kazakhstan (not remote enough).

  7. We are being told about data we have no way of interpreting because it is not being presented. How can we weigh what Hamas, Isreal or US say.

    1. At least one side has videos and a recording supporting their side. The other side, known to be habitual liars, has nothing. I suppose you weigh some evidence versus lack of evidence as of equal value?

      BTW, your IP address keeps changing. Please just use one.

      1. Let’s not be naive. This is a war, so truth is the first casualty. I have no idea who is responsible for the hospital bombing, but we know that it is in neither side’s interest to accept responsibility. On the one hand, I wouldn’t put it past Hamas to have targeted the hospital deliberately in order to discredit Israel, or simply to have hit it inadvertently because their munitions are not very sophisticated. On the other hand, Israel has form when it comes to mis-assigning blame – after initially attributing Shireen Abu Akleh’s shooting to Palestinian militants, they ultimately admitted that the fatal shot probably came from an IDF sniper, and we can decide for ourselves to what extent they are truthful in claiming that she was shot unintentionally. In the propaganda war, it is worth trying to sow short-term uncertainty and confusion, since by the time the truth comes out (if it ever does), the immediate impact of events will have blown over.

        In the middle of a war it seems to me unhelpful to characterize one side as “habitual liars”, as we have to assume that they will both lie in order to promote their interests. In the current situation, we might describe Hamas as brutally honest in that they deliberately, viciously and overtly killed over a thousand noncombatants and have taken maybe 200 hostages. I would like to see them eradicated, but as the death toll of civilians and particularly children rises in Gaza, and as popular sentiment in the democratic world turns against Israel, I’m afraid that it will win the war but lose the peace. We know that politically under BN it has already been moving in a very worrying direction, and beyond Israel, as we know, the tide of antisemitism is rising again.

        * To clarify my personal stance, I learned this year, at the age of 66, that my mother – who told me that she grew up before WW2 in a Polish Catholic family in Western Ukraine (then a part of Poland) – was actually from a deeply orthodox Jewish family, the grand-daughter of a Rabbi. The survivors of her scattered family (many dead in the camps of both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) ended up in the UK and chose to conceal their origins.

        1. In any case, there are video clips that show what happened. One could certainly wish for better lighting, but it really does look like a barrage of rockets from Gaza, where one rocket goes astray, and shortly after there is an explosion on the ground directly beneath. The time stamps and skyline make it really look like the rocket landing at the hospital came from that rocket barrage. These interpretations don’t come from Hamas or from Israel. They come from independent sources.

      2. At these times of fake news everywhere, the “known to be habitual liars” is the most important fact that was not included in the original news, nor was it mentioned later, which guaranties that such “honest mistakes” will happen over and over again.

        The fact is this blatant lie served the Hamas even after it was exposed. When lies are rewarded, they will flourish. With deep fakes just around the corner this is going to be a huge problem.

        A possible solution: Respectable news agencies should establish a system of ranking their sources according to their reporting history, and supply that rank when refering to the news, e.g. “Hamas {r1} claims… IDF spokesman{r3} said…” . Not only will that put the news in a more realistic light, lies will be punished by lowering the ranking, thus helping to judge later such “news”with appropriate skepticism.

  8. This is such convoluted writing, W(ho)TF is going to take the trouble to parse it? Plus, like Jerry’s wapo letter to correct/add some science to their giant front-page article on race and science, this nondenial denial will get nowhere near the exposure of the otiginal article.

  9. Two thoughts: First, the Times repeated the false information offered by Hamas at the beginning of its note, thus continuing the spread of misinformation for readers who scan. Then continued to try to weasel out of responsibility for its rush to judgement on the hospital blast.

    Second, if the Times and other media had stuck to known facts in their headlines and first paragraphs, leaving competing claims about responsibility, number of victims, and how it happened to the body of the articles, they could have seemed more objective and avoided much of the ensuing blowback. Objective over point of view reporting and headlines, I wish major news outlets would return to that journalistic culture.

  10. NYT stinks. Cancel your subscription.

    They have no scruples apparently so maybe getting hit upside the head by an exodus of subscribers might do something…

  11. It was a bit of a middling statement from the NYT.

    On the other hand…it’s something. And it reminds me of Sam Harris’ point about the false equivalence often made by cynics about The Media, as if all media outlets are equally biased on uninterested in the truth. As Sam points out, one of the signs you are dealing with a more reputable outlet is that something like the NYT can actually be embarrassed by or scandalized when getting something obviously wrong. To that degree they will seek to correct errors afterwards even if they get it wrong at first. You don’t get that in the pure axe-grinding outlets that exist purely to feed biases-for-profit.

  12. NYT has an apology deficit disorder.
    To drop kick what you would have thought is standard practice, follow the evidence to using the word of liars, manipulating (propaganda) terrorist would be a big flag front and centre.
    Confirmation bias and heuristics is not a good newspaper make.

  13. Wonder if some of the bloggers and commentators over at Pharyngula/FreeThoughtBogs will issue corrections?

  14. For the “both sides lie” contingent, (and yes you do have a point), Canada’s military intelligence service has announced that its own review of the evidence available to it indicates with high degree of certainty that what landed in the parking lot outside the hospital was not Israeli ordnance. It concludes further that the explosion was most likely that of a malfunctioning rocket fired from within Gaza. This dovetails with the WSJ’s excellent analysis. Short of going in and inspecting the site, this is as good as you’re going to get.

    Why does it matter what Canada says? Canada, while not neutral, is only a lukewarm ally with Israel and enjoys putting distance between itself and the United States when it suits it. We were left out of the “Quint” statement condemning Hamas and supporting Israel. From our work in UN peacekeeping and from combat in Afghanistan the Army has expertise in determining which direction mortar rounds (say) came in from, when both sides blame the other.

    Particularly in this case, our Prime Minister and at least two cabinet ministers (not the Minster of Defence) were quick to condemn the “attack” on the hospital as a war crime, stopping short of naming Israel but who else would it be? In the circumstances, with the pro-ethnic cleansing faction in the Liberal Party nipping at the PM’s heels, if there was a shred of evidence that this was an Israeli bomb, the government would be trumpeting it to the skies. That the PM had to let the Minster of Defence make such a categorical statement exonerating Israel says it all.

    Our Prime Minister richly enjoys apologizing for (and thus criminalizing) the actions of others long dead. For his own missteps, not so much. You’ll hear nothing further from him.

    This is an interview on the CBC with an intelligence expert at Royal Military College giving background on the credibility of the Army’s explanation. Note the interviewer’s hostility then disappointment that Israel got off scot-free again, then she asks him, So why should Canada care who’s rocket this was?

    1. “Our Prime Minister richly enjoys apologizing for (and thus criminalizing) the actions of others long dead.”

      Correct, there will be no field of teddybears for this one.

  15. It’s more than a little surreal to see a strong atheist and hardcore naturalist defend a state whose raison d’être is the covenant of the God you believe to be imaginary on the basis of a book you believe to be plagiarized Babylonian mythology.

    > A self-styled hardline atheist that just happens to live in a high fantasy setting brimming with both huge pantheons of gods rampaging around the landscape constantly causing all sorts of things to happen, and the worshipers that pray to (and immediately hear back from) said pantheons of rampaging deities. Maybe they don’t believe in the gods at all and are totally nuts, maybe they’re completely in denial about the existence of gods, or maybe they’re feigning disbelief in hopes of ending their worship and bringing about some kind of Götterdämmerung or whatever. Sometimes the character himself is a god (typically a loony one). Sometimes this is a direct attempt to discredit science by comparing it to religion: instead of using the scientific method, as a scientist does, the strawman atheist relies himself on a devout faith — in this case a faith that “science” holds all the answers, despite obvious proof to the contrary.

    NEVER deride the Gospels for being unrealistic when they portray Jesus’s enemies as stubbornly refusing to convert in the face of awe-inspiring miracles. You have forfeited that right.

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