When the New York Times Is Against



By Tamir Morag  


"Saving the New York Times now ranks with saving Darfur as a high-minded cause."  


Translated by Viktoria Lymar

Edited by Steven Stenzler


24 March 2012


Even if the New York Times’ editors believe that an Israeli attack on Iran is not a desirable thing, their eagerness to pimp the newspaper’s pages in favor of the agenda coming from the White House casts a stain on them.


About three years ago, when the economic situation of the New York Times arrived at a nadir that endangered the continuation of the publication, the newspaper editor Bill Keller was invited to lecture the students of Stanford University. Those were the days of the height of the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, when millions had been displaced from their homes and hundreds of thousands had found their death from starvation or violence.

Keller took his place behind the podium, and declared without blinking: "Saving the New York Times now ranks with saving Darfur as a high-minded cause."1

The journalist with a rich media experience, all in all he wanted to draw attention to the predicament of the newspaper he headed losing readers; however, inadvertently, he exposed another important reason, besides the Internet revolution, that brought the Times to the abyss – an elitist disconnection bordering on blindness, and a sense of self-importance so arrogant that it could come up with such a distorted equation.

For some reason, even despite the readership of the Times being today less than one percent of Americans, it seems that in Israel, it enjoys a circulation of almost a hundred percent – so that each hiccup produced by the newspaper’s analyst or reporter immediately makes major headlines in the Hebrew press – most of whose editors and correspondents share the New York Times’ leftist agenda. So it happens also in the recent weeks, with the orchestrated campaign the Times promotes against an Israeli action in Iran.


Obama’s Ambitions


Every few days, the newspaper publishes a scary new report regarding a probable impending attack. The climax came last week, when the Times claimed, on the basis of unnamed sources in Pentagon: it stands to reason that Israeli operation in Iran would lead to the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers.

Whether this scenario is logical or exaggerated – it is part of a cynical publicity campaign of the Obama administration that uses the friendly newspaper as a mouthpiece of propaganda which the President and his officials cannot voice themselves.

Obama, as all know, has one key objective in these days: it is not to be found in Bushehr or Natanz, but rather way closer to the house – in practice, inside of the White House itself. The President is interested in continued residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and to that end, he has to ensure that the price his voters pay at the gas stations would not surge even more.

[For] should the labor market show signs of recovery – that would be the main thing able to jeopardize his winning the second term; and if Israel strikes Iran, the fuel price is expected to soar.


The Secret Keepers


Even if the editors of the New York Times sincerely believe that an Israeli offensive on Iran is not a commendable thing (and they could surely be given this credit), their enthusiasm to offer its pages for the sake of the campaign navigated directly from the White House and driven largely by political considerations, throws a stain on the newspaper that since its foundation has been proud of uncompromising journalistic standards.

The argument according to which it’s important to highlight the Times’ publications, since even if its readers are few – indeed, they include the designers of American policy, does not apply to  the current campaign, where it’s the administration that operates the newspaper like a string doll willingly giving in to it, and not the other way round. Therefore, any justification for over-coverage in the Israeli mass media of the NYT stuff on the issue of the assault on Iran, could be based only on the degree of its influence on public opinion in the U.S.

However, this influence is much less than it’s commonly thought in Israel. In the age of Internet, cable networks and the syndication on radio and in newspapers, there exists dozens of media outlets and individual journalists reaching broader publics, and affecting American public opinion more – even if the newspaper editors in Israel are not aware of their existence, or alternatively, have difficulty embracing the agenda they represent.

The Times goes on having an effect on a small group of policy makers – nonetheless, only in those cases when it’s leading an independent position rather than setting itself as a bulletin board for the administration’s posts. 

Thus, the next time the newspaper’s commentator on duty reports to you, through its admirers in the Israeli media, about the near Apocalypse that our government prepares for us – you could puff out your chest with pride and feel that you are exclusive top-secret confidants – for except you, almost no one reads the New York Times any more.

Original Hebrew article:




1. http://www.politico.com/blogs/michaelcalderone/0409/Keller_Times_will_be_left_standing_after_the_deluge_.h