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NYT’s Skewed Coverage of Obama’s U.N. Speech



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Helene Cooper, the New York Times’s U.N. reporter, does not seem to have liked the startlingly pro-Israel speech President Obama delivered at the U.N. today. How else to explain that a veteran reporter — in her lede no less — jettisoned the first rule of reporting (to attempt neutrality) and segued straight into opinion.

President Obama declared his opposition to the Palestinian Authority’s bid for statehood through the Security Council on Wednesday, throwing the weight of the United States directly in the path of the Arab democracy movement even as he hailed what he called the democratic aspirations that have taken hold throughout the Middle East and North Africa. (My italics.)

The idea that “opposing the Palestinian Authority’s bid for statehood” is, ipso facto,  a way of obstructing “the path of the Arab democracy movement” is Cooper’s projection, her analysis — delivered in what is supposed to be news article, without the cover of those little “Analysis” banners the Times occasionally sticks on things.

And it’s not even a very sensible opinion. Is Cooper aware that Mahmoud Abbas is currently not an elected leader of the Palestinian Authority? That’s right, he continues to serve as president even though his term expired long ago. He keeps promising that he’ll hold elections and then he “postpones” them.

So maybe Cooper has it exactly backward. Maybe Obama’s objection to the imposition of yet another dictator-led state in the Middle East is exactly in keeping with the spirit of the Arab democracy movement.

— Stephanie Gutmann is author of The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians and the Battle for Media Supremacy, Encounter 2005.



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