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New York Times faced intense scrutiny in 2023 over Israel-Hamas coverage

The New York Times faced intense criticism throughout the final months of 2023 over its coverage of the Israel-Gaza war following the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack.

The Times began drawing ire as the horror unfolded in southern Israel on Oct. 7, immediately portraying Palestinians as the victims with the headline “Gaza Has Suffered Under 16-Year Blockade.”

But perhaps the biggest blunder from the Gray Lady during the Israel-Hamas war was its botched coverage of the explosion at a Gaza hospital. 

The Hamas-controlled Gaza Ministry of Health alleged that Israel bombed the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital through an airstrike killing over 500 civilians. Subsequent reporting and intelligence found it was an explosion in the hospital’s parking lot stemming from a misfired rocket fired by Hamas ally Islamic Jihad, resulting in a death toll a fraction of what Hamas alleged. The initial reports from the Times and others prompted several Arab leaders to cancel meetings with President Biden and sparked riots outside of U.S. and Israeli embassies across the Middle East.


While many news organizations uncritically ran with Hamas’ narrative, The Times stood out with its blaring headline that read “Israeli Strike Kills Hundreds in Hospital, Palestinians Say” and even included an unrelated photo of rubble from a bombed building from a separate incident. 

The following week, The Times published an editor’s note admitting it relied “too heavily” on Hamas’ version of events.

The conclusion from Hamas’ disinformation campaign drawn by New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg was that “It Is Impossible to Know What to Believe in This Hideous War.”

Former Times reporter Alison Leigh Cowan accused her ex-employer of committing “modern-day blood libel” with its erroneous reporting. The Free Press editor Bari Weiss, a former Times opinion page editor, raked the paper over the coals for “publishing Hamas PR” and its subsequent “soft non-apology.”


NYT homepage

Even after that unflattering episode, the coverage of the war from the “Paper of Record” has continued raising eyebrows. While reporting on the Hamas sympathizers who have ripped posters of Israeli hostages in cities and college campuses across the country, The Times described the anti-Israel vandalism as “its own form of protest- a release valve and also a provocation by those anguished by what they say was the Israeli government’s mistreatment of Palestinians in the years before Oct. 7 and since the bombing of Gaza began.”

“The battle has inflamed already tense emotions. And it captures one of the most fervently debated questions of the war: Whose suffering should command public attention and sympathy?” The Times asked.


In another report, The Times suggested Iran was at a crossroads, running the headline, “After Years of Vowing to Destroy Israel, Iran Faces a Dilemma.”

“With Israel bent on crushing Iran’s ally Hamas, Tehran must decide whether it and the proxy militias it arms and trains will live up to its fiery rhetoric,” The Times wrote. 

The report noted that despite “more than four decades” of deadly threats from Iranian rulers towards the Jewish State, “Iranian officials are publicly signaling they do not want a full-scale war” as Israel implements its response to the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks in Gaza. 

“The military capabilities of its allies could be significantly diminished by a protracted battle with Israel, and even more so if the U.S. military enters the fray,” the article said. “The Islamic Republic views the militias as its extended arms of influence, able to strike while affording Tehran a measure of deniability. They give Iran leverage in international negotiations and a means of tilting the balance of power in the Middle East away from archenemies like Israel and the United States, and rivals like Saudi Arabia.”

NYT Iran headline

The report continued, “But if Iran does nothing, its fiery leaders risk losing credibility among constituents and allies. Some Iranian hard-line conservatives have questioned why Iran’s actions are not matching its rhetoric to ‘free Al Quds,’ or Jerusalem, from Israel’s rule. Many supporters of Iran’s government have even symbolically signed up as volunteers to be deployed to Gaza and fight Israel. Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthi militia in Yemen have launched recent attacks on Israel, but they have been limited in scope. The goal, for now, is not all-out war but to keep Israel’s military under pressure, possibly limiting its ability to wage war against Hamas, the people familiar with Iran’s strategy said.”

Despite being accused by critics of “daring” Iran to annihilate Israel, a spokesperson for The Times told Fox News Digital, “This deeply-reported news item examines decades of stated Iranian foreign policy as it meets a flashpoint within a regional conflict that has global implications. The careful, responsible reporting is topped with an editor’s headline and sub-headline that similarly summarizes avowed positions from the Iranian government. The Times stands behind this piece as well as the vast depth of reporting we have done on the Israel-Hamas war and its regional implications.”


“The New York Times plays a key role in setting the news agenda for the nation and likes to be in that leadership role. But with that position comes high expectations from the news consuming public and the criticism now coming from various quarters is justified and important to note,” DePauw University professor and media critic Jeffrey McCall told Fox News Digital. 

In December, The Times took heat for its coverage of the explosive congressional hearing of Ivy League university presidents who shocked the nation by failing to say that calls for genocide against Jews violate their codes of conduct, using the “GOP seizes” trope with the headline “As Fury Erupts Over Campus Antisemitism, Conservatives Seize the Moment.”

Critics also railed against the paper for referring to the IDF as “Israeli occupation forces” in its live blog, which was later changed to “Israeli forces” after the excerpt went viral. And on Christmas Eve, the Times published a guest essay penned by Yahya Sarraj, the Hamas-appointed mayor of Gaza City, unleashing another round of condemnation. 

Gay Magill Kornbluth

Also fueling backlash against The Times are those on its payroll. The paper rehired freelance Palestinian videographer Soliman Hijjy to contribute to its coverage of the current war but was exposed last year for repeatedly praising Hitler on social media. 

At the time, a spokesperson for The Times said it was looking into Hiijy’s social media posts. But now the paper is defending its rehiring of Hijjy, telling Fox News Digital, “We reviewed problematic social media posts by Mr. Hijjy when they first came to light in 2022 and took a variety of actions to ensure he understood our concerns and could adhere to our standards if he wished to do freelance work for us in the future. Mr. Hijjy followed those steps and has maintained high journalistic standards. He has delivered important and impartial work at great personal risk in Gaza during this conflict.”


New York Times Magazine writers Jazmine Hughes and Jamie Lauren Keiles signed an open letter declaring Israel was guilty of “apartheid and genocide.” Hughes resigned after she was reportedly reprimanded for violating the paper’s public protest policies. Keiles also exited the paper.   

Additionally, the magazine’s poetry editor Anne Boyer resigned in protest of what she calls Israel’s “U.S-backed war against the people of Gaza.”

“Because our status quo is self-expression, sometimes the most effective mode of protest for artists is to refuse,” Boyer told readers. “I can’t write about poetry amidst the ‘reasonable’ tones of those who aim to acclimatize us to this unreasonable suffering. No more ghoulish euphemisms. No more verbally sanitized hellscapes. No more warmongering lies.”

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