NYT Skews Coverage of Toulouse Terrorism

The New York Times is supposed to be the paper of record. Implicitly, it holds itself to a high standard of journalism. Its reporting on the massacre of Jews at a school in Toulouse, however, illustrates how the paper’s ideological bent, particularly its advocacy for the Palestinians, subtly interferes with its coverage of events that just tangentially touch upon the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In its first report of the killings on March 20, The Times recalls the recent history of anti-Semitic massacres in France. It establishes

The shooting on Monday was the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in France since 1982, when the Chez Jo Goldenberg restaurant in Paris was bombed at lunchtime, killing 6 people and wounding 22. In 1980, a terrorist group attacked a Jewish synagogue on the Rue Copernic in Paris, killing 4 people and wounding about 40.

The Times doesn’t say who committed these attacks except to identify the earlier attack as the work of a terrorist group. Both, in fact, were carried out on behalf of Palestinian terrorist groups. Their motives, it turns out, were similar to the one proclaimed by the current murderer.

 

In fact, in recent years the perpetrators of highly publicized murders of Jews have been criminals and jihadists from the French Muslim community. Along with the terrorist acts mentioned above committed by Palestinian terrorists and their associates, there were the more recent tortures and killings of French Jews, Ilan Halimi and Sebastian Sellam. Based on recent history, speculation should have fallen at least as heavily on a Muslim extremist as it did on a nativist racist. But if the identities and proclaimed motives of other recent anti-Semitic murderers are concealed from readers, then naturally, suspicion will fall elsewhere. As it turned out the perpetrator was a jihadist fanatic.

 

The Times’ focuses instead on the scenario of an indigenous racist. Such speculation is not unwarranted, since that is what French officials suggested and the recent shooting of three Arab and one black soldier lent credence to that speculation. However, by omitting information about recent murders of Jews by Arab terrorists and focusing almost exclusively on racist motives, the Times coverage inevitably diverts to the topic of racial tension in French politics between French nativist sentiment and Muslims.

On March 21, the coverage focused further on the suspected rightwing racist angle. The Times wrote, “But the political debate around the shootings, and whether the deaths of an instructor and three young children were somehow inspired by anti-immigrant political talk, is likely to continue — both as a weapon in the presidential campaign and as a more general soul-searching about the nature of France.”

It turns out the rightwing racist angle and the tensions between nativists and the Muslim community were irrelevant to these murders and only muddied our understanding of what happened.

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