An article by Peter Baker, the New York Times chief White House correspondent, (“Trump, Bullish on Middle East will need more confidence“) includes the following claim by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Mr. Abbas insisted that Palestinians were not preaching hatred. “I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace.”
Abbas is lying. For as long as there has been a Palestinian Authority, there has been clear evidence that a culture of hatred toward Israeli and glorification of terrorism has been actively encouraged by the Palestinian leadership. Abbas himself has incited violence and praised terrorists as “martyrs.” It is a documented fact that one of the largest items in the PA’s budget is payment to the families of terrorists. Schools, streets, and football leagues are named after terrorists.
None of this is hard to verify. It has been in the open for over a decade. Successive U.S. Presidents have brought up the subject.
For the Times to publish Abbas’ claim and only refer to it as “a contention Israeli officials would reject” is stunning. The paper is essentially giving Abbas a free pass. If the PA is doing the opposite of what their leader claims, readers of the Times should be made aware of it.
The lack of “fact-checking” is even stranger when compared to the treatment afforded President Trump. Baker does not let President Trump get away with statements lacking validity. Almost every day, one can find in the Times a through analysis of what the President said. Baker has caught Trump making so many false claims that he began a recent article with:
If nothing else, President Trump has already secured a place in history. It is his grasp of history that seems less secure.
It’s part of the job of a journalist, perhaps the most important part, to question leaders and examine the claims they make. Coverage of President Trump with his frequent off-the-cuff remarks and middle of the night tweets, demands constant fact checking from reporters covering the White House. Baker has an extremely important job fact-checking the President.
Which is why it is odd that an article with Baker’s by-line (“Trump, Bullish on Middle East will need more confidence“) lets Abbas get away telling the world that the PA is educating the Palestinian children for peace.
I wrote Baker to ask him why Abbas got a free pass on this statement.
His response was curious. He told me that covering President Trump was “more than a full time job” and that it “doesn’t leave a lot of time for stories on other people’s beats. Questions about what Middle East leaders say versus the reality on the ground are probably better examined by reporters in the Middle East who are better positioned to write knowledgeably.”
He was the only reporter listed on the by-line. Also, before covering the White House, he served briefly as the Jerusalem Bureau Chief for the Times. I find it hard to believe that he is not knowledgeable enough to know whether the Palestinians are “educating their children for peace.”
I have written back to Baker to ask who was responsible for that part of the article.
As a former Jerusalem Bureau Chief, Baker must know the compete lack of veracity behind Abbas’ claim. Yet he gives him a pass.
Even in the very same article which includes Abbas’ unfiltered claim, Baker takes Trump to task for multiple issues:
Never mind that he also thought repealing and replacing his predecessor’s health care program would be “so easy.” Or that he predicted he would have no trouble bending North Korea to his will, or forcing Mexico to pay for a border wall. Then there was Mr. Trump’s assertion as a candidate that he knew more about the Islamic State than the generals. And his insistence that he could “fairly quickly” pay off the entire $19 trillion national debt accumulated over the last 182 years.
The Times should provide the same critical coverage of all leaders. Otherwise it becomes an aid to propaganda. The newspaper owes its readers no less.