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The fake news that’s fit to print

April 24, 2018

9:21 PM

24 April 2018

9:21 PM

A doozy of a correction from the New York Times. On Sunday the Gray Lady published a profile of Campbell Brown, the CNN anchor turned head of news partnerships at Facebook, by Times tech reporter Nellie Bowles. All was going well until Bowles got onto the social media site’s new video series platform:

‘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.’

Wait, what? It’s a pretty well-documented fact that the Palestinian Authority awards stipends to the relatives of those who commit terror attacks in Israel and Judea and Samaria. The PA doesn’t hide this; it’s an annual feature of its budget. To be fair, the $400 million in the headline cited by Bowles is a mistake. It’s actually $403 million. Just last month, President Trump signed the Taylor Force Act — named after a 21-year-old US Army vet killed in a 2016 attack in Jaffa — which cuts funding to Ramallah specifically because of its terrorist pensions policy.

After various journalists and politicians pointed out the embarrassing gaffe, the Times was forced to admit its error. In a correction carried today, the ‘Newspaper of Record’ concedes:

‘An article on Sunday about Campbell Brown’s role as Facebook’s head of news partnerships erroneously included a reference to Palestinian actions as an example of the sort of far-right conspiracy stories that have plagued Facebook. In fact, Palestinian officials have acknowledged providing payments to the families of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis or convicted of terrorist acts and imprisoned in Israel; that is not a conspiracy theory.’

Over the years, the Times’s coverage of the Middle East conflict has become progressively more hostile to Israel and sympathetic to the Palestinians. Still, it’s remarkable that no one in the editorial process caught such an obvious boo-boo.

Only the New York Times could perorate on the evils of fake news while spreading some of its own.


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