It’s been documented that the Palestinian Authority, rather than fighting terror, actively encourages it.

This isn’t just done by lionizing terrorists who have killed Jewish men, women, and children, but also by paying a healthy stipend to murderers who are in jail, or to their families if they were killed.

But to The New York Times, this news constitutes “far-right conspiracy programming.”

In an article about how Facebook has brought Campbell Brown aboard to fight fake news, Times reporter Nellie Bowles wrote:

Once those shows get started, Ms. Brown wants to use Facebook’s existing Watch product — a service introduced in 2017 as a premium product with more curation that has nonetheless been flooded with far-right conspiracy programming like “Palestinians Pay $400 million Pensions For Terrorist Families” — to be a breaking news destination. The result would be something akin to an online competitor to cable news.

It’s been more than a day since John Podhoretz and others have pointed out that this propaganda of any sort, but real news.

The disgraceful characterization remains in the article despite the many critics, so this isn’t on just one rogue reporter but on the paper as a whole.

Liel Leibovitz wrote in Tablet:

As those of us who are in the reality based community know, the Palestinian Authority’s financial support of terrorists and their families is very, very far from a conspiracy, far-right or otherwise. Reading Bowles’s report, for example, Lahav Harkov, the Knesset reporter for The Jerusalem Post, took to Twitter to share some of her meticulous reporting on the Palestinian pay-for-slay program with Bowles: Read the real news, and you’ll learn that, in 2017, the PA doled out more than $347 million to families of terrorists who had murdered Jews, increasing the amount to $403 million this year. Between 2013 and 2017, the PA spent $1.12 billion on supporting terrorists and their families, as Yosef Kuperwasser, the former head of the IDF intelligence’s research branch, reported in Tablet last May.

This information, of course, was available to Bowles and to anyone else with Internet access, and only she and her editors may know whether it was malice or sheer incompetence that stopped her from looking up a simple fact before presenting it as an ideologically tainted conspiracy theory. But here’s what we do know: This is how the pernicious notion of fake news takes hold.

Or as David Bernstein summed up the Leibovitz article at Instapundit: NEW YORK TIMES CALLS THE TRUTH “FAR-RIGHT CONSPIRACY PROGRAMMING.”

I’d like to get back to Leibovitz’s observation about “This is how the pernicious notion of fake news takes hold.”

I believe the source for Bowles’ false assertion is The Washington Post’s “fact-checker” Glenn Kessler who, last month, awarded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Two Pinocchios for asserting that the Palestinian Authority paid terrorists $350 million a year.

There was enough wrong with Kessler’s “fact-check,” but he also played word games by seeming to justify Palestinian terror using the cliche, “one man’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.” He also quoted NGOs Hamoked and Addameer, both of which should be highly suspect, unless one believes that any organization that exists to criticize Israel should automatically be trusted. (Kessler subjects neither to any scrutiny suggesting that he subscribes to this belief.)

Sean Durms of CAMERA rebutted Kessler’s “fact-check” in the Washington Examiner.

What this shows is that the mainstream media, especially regarding Israel, but regarding anything it considers “right-wing” or “conservative,” has retreated into a cocoon in which narrative trumps truth.

The story of pay-to-slay is a real news story and no amount of fact-checking can explain that away. Yet it would appear that despite the reporting, Bowles took Kessler’s hit job to heart and used it as an example of fake news.

The mindset was made clear in a thoroughly dishonest defense of The New York Times’ coverage of Israel by a former Times reporter Neil Lewis.

But those groups, with their gentle chiding, became eclipsed by Camera which is regarded by many Times editors as harsh, angry, and usually unreasoning. Camera is run from a nondescript office building overlooking the Massachusetts Turnpike in the Allston section of Boston. Its current director, Andrea Levin, oversees a staff of about 35, 20 of whom work in the Allston office, the rest around the nation and overseas, in Israel and other places. The group has an annual budget of $3.5 million, she said, though it does not disclose the specifics of its donors. At The Times, a mention of Camera frequently induces eye-rolling or shrugs. Editors
have clearly lost patience with the group. Lelyveld said he started out trying to be cooperative, “but it’s just hard to continue to deal with someone who is always saying: ‘you’re a liar’.’’ There are counterparts on the left, media critics of The Times who generally complain the paper is too favorable or even in thrall to Israel. But there is nothing equivalent in size or funding to Camera.

The difference between CAMERA and its “counterparts on the left,” is that CAMERA cites facts and figures. I would also argue that on the editorial and op-ed pages, left-wing critics of Israel get a disproportionate platform, meaning that Lewis’ distinction is meaningless. The Times gives many more left-wing critics of a voice on their own pages. For Lewis to argue that left-wing counterparts to CAMERA are not as organized or big, is meaningless when they are given a disproportionate voice by the paper.

(Side note: The Lewis article prompted a great column from the late Barry Rubin debunking the current understanding of Nakba.)

In any case, a throwaway line in a technology story shows the deep corruption plaguing America’s major newspapers when it comes to reporting on the Middle East.

UPDATE: Three days later The New York Times finally issued a correction.