The New York Times knows more than one way to lie

As I read the New York Times' recent report about clashes in Jerusalem, subtitled, in the best man-bites-dog tradition "The violence broke out as an extremist Jewish supremacy group marched in the city, chanting, “Death to Arabs,”" my mind turned not to the scenes of violence or the admittedly vile chant, but to something that Aristotle said twenty-five centuries ago regarding the rules of story-telling: the story should have the beginning, the middle, and the end.

Why this turn to philosophy? Because as I read on,  it became clear that the Times' Isabel Kershner decided to start her story at the end rather than at the beginning, sensationalizing her headline at the expense of chronology, context, and therefore, journalistic accuracy.

Cutting her so-called "report" into snippets and putting them into chronological order turns the story she is trying to tell into a commonplace report of Palestinian violence propelled by Ramadan and PA propaganda:

"Israeli-Arab tensions have been on the rise since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan about 10 days ago. Fueling the friction, Palestinian youths posted some clips on the video-sharing app TikTok in recent days showing attacks on religious Jews, including one being slapped in the face while riding the light rail in Jerusalem. Another had a drink thrown at him while walking in the Old City …an Orthodox Jewish man was beaten by Arab residents, setting off protests and clashes [...] Young Palestinians... have been clashing nightly with police in the vicinity of the Old City. In response, Jewish youths have been attacking Palestinians in downtown West Jerusalem, and Lehava called for Thursday night’s march to restore Jewish “honor.” [...] hundreds of police officers, some mounted on horseback, created a buffer between the Jewish and Palestinian protesters, and both camps ended up clashing with the police, who dispersed the crowds with stun grenades and water cannons. [...] Palestinian leaders blamed Jewish extremists and the Israeli government for the outburst of violence. “East Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine and is a red line,” the office of Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, said in a statement on Thursday. [...] Video images showed Palestinians pouring into the mosque for prayers on Friday chanting “Allahu akbar,” or God is Great, and “Martyrs are marching to Jerusalem in their millions,” a Palestinian rallying cry."

Put the events in sequence, and where is the drama? No man bites a dog. This is business as usual -- drunk on religion and PA incitement, Palestinians resort to violence, some Israelis respond in kind, and Israeli authorities bring a measure of order by police action. Not much to write home about.

But Ms. Kershner has to write home. The Times has to show how bad the Israelis are. And where there is a will, there is a way -- reshuffle the facts, put the end at the beginning, mention the beginning at the end, and you have a "story" to report, a sensational story of vile Jews chanting “Death to Arabs!”

We often see the Times lie by omission -- a key fact is quietly dropped, totally altering the picture, as the paper does on a regular basis in its pro-Iran "reporting," as was noted in the past.  But there's more than one way to skin a cat. Simply transposing facts does the trick, too. Change the sequence of events -- and you crated enough confusion to convince the reader that whoever is guilty is innocent, and whoever is innocent is guilty.

This is, of course, is the classical propaganda technique -- but the New York Times has yet to learn the difference between journalism and propaganda, and the value of Aristotle's advice in separating the two.

Image: NY Times

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