NYT's Journalism of Misdirection

Richard N. Weltz
Imagine: The President of the United States of America pays a friendly visit to Jamaica's Prime Minister in the capital city of Kingston. Shortly after his plane touches ground, the city of Ocho Rios is hit by a rocket fired at it by terrorists from nearby Montego Bay, injuring over a dozen adults and babies, some critically.

Then, it turns out that the rocket has all the "fingerprints" of having been manufactured and supplied by Cuba.

What do you suppose the US news coverage of that event would look like?

Well, the actuality is that it was President Bush visiting Israel to help celebrate its 60th Birthday; the rocket was fired from Gaza; it hit the coastal city of Ashkelon; and it was manufactured and supplied by Iran.

Front-page, top right column coverage in The New York Sun:


Iran Role ‘Clearly Visible' in Attack on Israeli Mall

Rocket Falls Amid a Visit by Bush

By Benny Avni, Staff Reporter of the Sun | May 15, 2008

A rocket attack from Gaza at the heart of a major Israeli city, occurring just as President Bush launched a three-day visit to celebrate the Jewish state's 60th anniversary, may signify a major escalation in the intensifying regional confrontation between pro-American countries and Iranian-backed Islamist forces.

The New York Times, on the other (left) hand, chose to take note of the incident at the bottom of Page 6, and the rocket attack was deferred to its third paragraph, after reporters Sheryl Gay Stoler (who has apparently replaced Elisabeth Bumiller as the paper's designated Bush attack dog) and Ethan Bronner (seemingly leading the Jerusalem Bureaus antipathy-toward-Israel squad) first describe an action in which "Four Palestinians were killed, including two militants, and nine were wounded in a series of Israeli Army strikes and incursions into Gaza, said medics and witnesses there."

Another lesson in the journalism of indirect misdirection.
Imagine: The President of the United States of America pays a friendly visit to Jamaica's Prime Minister in the capital city of Kingston. Shortly after his plane touches ground, the city of Ocho Rios is hit by a rocket fired at it by terrorists from nearby Montego Bay, injuring over a dozen adults and babies, some critically.

Then, it turns out that the rocket has all the "fingerprints" of having been manufactured and supplied by Cuba.

What do you suppose the US news coverage of that event would look like?

Well, the actuality is that it was President Bush visiting Israel to help celebrate its 60th Birthday; the rocket was fired from Gaza; it hit the coastal city of Ashkelon; and it was manufactured and supplied by Iran.

Front-page, top right column coverage in The New York Sun:


Iran Role ‘Clearly Visible' in Attack on Israeli Mall

Rocket Falls Amid a Visit by Bush

By Benny Avni, Staff Reporter of the Sun | May 15, 2008

A rocket attack from Gaza at the heart of a major Israeli city, occurring just as President Bush launched a three-day visit to celebrate the Jewish state's 60th anniversary, may signify a major escalation in the intensifying regional confrontation between pro-American countries and Iranian-backed Islamist forces.

The New York Times, on the other (left) hand, chose to take note of the incident at the bottom of Page 6, and the rocket attack was deferred to its third paragraph, after reporters Sheryl Gay Stoler (who has apparently replaced Elisabeth Bumiller as the paper's designated Bush attack dog) and Ethan Bronner (seemingly leading the Jerusalem Bureaus antipathy-toward-Israel squad) first describe an action in which "Four Palestinians were killed, including two militants, and nine were wounded in a series of Israeli Army strikes and incursions into Gaza, said medics and witnesses there."

Another lesson in the journalism of indirect misdirection.