Generally speaking, The New York Times has been immune from the fact checkers. Somehow they are willing to overlook the misinformation and ‘leaked from anonymous sources’ misinformation that The New York Times routinely prints. The latest example of this is a claim by the times that “there had been a “longstanding American policy treating the settlements as illegal” prior to Secretary of State Pompeo’s 2019 reversal of that purported policy. (“Mixed Signals on Israeli Annexation Reflect Split Among Officials,” June 22, 2020, David Halbfinger and Michael Crowley.) That is simply not true.
CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis) notes the following:
• Note that although President Carter took the position that settlements are illegal, this was quickly reversed by the Reagan administration, which held that settlements are “not illegal.” Subsequent administrations either reiterated Reagan’s view or refrained from taking a position on legality.
• Note that the New York Times itself repeatedly reported on Reagan’s view that settlements aren’t illegal, and in the past several years has twice published corrections after wrongly suggesting the U.S. had consistently viewed settlements as illegal.
• Just as those corrections were appropriate, so too is it necessary to correct last week’s piece by Halbfinger and Crowley.
• Note that memos by past legal advisors in the State Department archive are advisory, and do not set policy or bind subsequent U.S. presidents. While Carter administration legal advisor Herbert Hansell believed settlements were illegal, the Reagan administration rejected that view.
CAMERA further notes:
To be fair, the Times isn’t the first to make this mistake. In October 2016, the Washington Post corrected its claim that the U.S. regarded settlements as illegal. A month later, the Associated Press corrected the same claim. The following month, The Times (UK) corrected, as did ABC News and the Times of Israel. In 2018, the Times of Israel corrected again. The Financial Times corrected this same error in November 2019. And two days later the Economist ran a correction of its own.
Even the New York Times itself has, in the past, corrected this false claim. After a March 2017 editorial asserted that the U.S. “has consistently held that settlement building in the occupied territories is illegal,” a correction clarified, “An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly stated the United States’ position on settlement building in the occupied territories. It has been highly critical of the activity, but has not consistent [sic] held it to be illegal.”
From the news side, an August 8, 2013 correction in the NY Times likewise acknowledged that “the United States has taken no formal position in the last several years on whether [settlements] are legal or illegal.”
Unless those corrections were themselves in error, last week’s claim about a “longstanding” policy that settlements are illegal (and a similar claim last November by the same reporter, David Halbfinger) can’t be true.
This sort of reporting by The New York Times might help explain why much of the Jewish vote (generally readers of The New York Times) is misinformed on America’s policy toward Israel and the value of Israel in the world community.