Hell freezes over: NY Times issues an apology for ‘incorrect’ reporting on Gaza hospital attack


Citing propaganda proved painful for the Gray Lady as an uncommon step was taken to amend for pushing claims from terrorists.

Debunked reports about Israel’s responsibility for an explosion at a hospital may not have stood in the way of Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s (D) continued screeds, but it was problematic for the editors at The New York Times. As a result, nearly a week after backpedaling headlines brought further shame on the once exemplary paper of record, a rare stand-alone editors’ note was published as a mea culpa.

“The Times’s initial accounts attributed the claim of Israeli responsibility to Palestinian officials, and noted that the Israeli military said it was investigating the blast. However, the early versions of the coverage — and the prominence it received in a headline, news alert and social media channels — relied too heavily on claims by Hamas,” noted the editors, “and did not make clear that those claims could not immediately be verified. The report left readers with an incorrect impression about what was known and how credible the account was.”

Dancing around their own willingness to run a pro-Hamas angle in the wake of the slaughter of more than 1,400 people by the terrorists, the newspaper described a readily changed headline by stating, “The Times continued to update its coverage as more information became available, reporting the disputed claims of responsibility and noting that the death toll might be lower than initially reported. Within two hours, the headline and other text at the top of the website reflected the scope of the explosion and the dispute over responsibility.”

In practice those changes played out as ever-softening pander to the terrorist narrative that began as “Israeli Strike Kills Hundreds in Hospital, Palestinians Say,” became, “At Least 500 Dead in Strike on Gaza Hospital, Palestinians Say,” and wound up as, “At Least 500 Dead in Blast at Gaza Hospital, Palestinians Say.”

The editors’ note concluded with the admission, “Given the sensitive nature of the news during a widening conflict, and the prominent promotion it received, Times editors should have taken more care with the initial presentation, and been more explicit about what information could be verified. Newsroom leaders continue to examine procedures around the biggest breaking news events — including for the use of the largest headlines in the digital report — to determine what additional safeguards may be warranted.”

“Too little, too late,” barely covered the response to the note from the editors as social media users saw beyond the meager self-flagellation that would hardly garner the same attention as their dangerously misleading initial reporting.

“Shouldn’t this report also include a large headline at the top of The Times’s website and the same prominence in news alerts and social media channels?” asked one user, including the hashtag “shame” as the Spectator’s contributing editor Stephen L. Miller aped, “We at The NY Times should not have just repeated what a terrorist group told us and we regret the error.”


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Kevin Haggerty
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