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Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Don Feder Unleashes Yet Another Uninformed Anti-NYT Rant
Topic: Accuracy in Media

As we've detailed, Accuracy in Media's founding of a website to promote a New York Times boycott appears to have been motivated by little more than a desire to serve as an arm of John McCain's presidential campaign than of any desire to seriously address questions of media bias. With the election over, Boycott NYT is looking more and more like a joke.

In a Dec. 1 article, Don Feder writes: "In a series of six alleged 'news' stories on the Mumbai massacre, from November 27 to December 1, The New York Times (America’s newspaper which sounds like a broken record) refused to call the terrorists Muslims or Islamic extremists." But Feder is cherry-picking; according to the Times' archive on the subject, The Times published 25 articles related to the attacks between Nov. 27 and Dec. 1. Further, Feder does not state which six articles he plucked out as a purportedly representative sample of the Times' coverage.

Feder then asserted that "The Times adamantly refuses to recognize a connection between Islam and worldwide terrorism, even though most terrorist acts are committed by Muslims, terrorist groups have names like jihad-this and Islamic-that, and terrorists regularly quote the Koran’s kill-the-infidels verses." Using technical terms like "jihad-this and Islamic-that" is apparently what passes for research as far as Feder is concerned.

By cherry-picking those six stories -- which he does not identify -- Feder carefully avoids Times articles that did, in fact, mention Islamic links to the incident:

  • A Nov. 28 article noted that an Indian official "suggested the foot-soldiers in the attack might have emerged from an outlawed militant group of Islamic students, while also quoting RAND Corporation analyst Christine Fair as saying, "There are a lot of very, very angry Muslims in India. ... "The economic disparities are startling and India has been very slow to publicly embrace its rising Muslim problem."
  • A Nov. 28 article stated, "The Hindustan Times, an influential Indian newspaper, reported Thursday that India’s security agencies believed that the multiple attacks in Mumbai were by an Islamic militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, operating out of Pakistan."
  • A Dec. 1 editorial noted that perpetrators of the violence appear to be linked to "Islamist group from the disputed region of Kashmir that is increasingly collaborating with the Taliban and Al Qaeda."

Feder goes on to write:

That aside, The Times frequently got the facts wrong or omitted important details. In a November 30 story, the paper described the murders as “indiscriminate.”

Hardly. When a Turkish couple told their captors they were Muslims, they were immediately released. The terrorists targeted Mumbai’s Chabad House (a center of Jewish activity in the city) for one reason and one reason only - they wanted to kill Jews.

The only terrorist captured by Indian commandos said he and his comrades were told to target foreigners (particularly Americans and Brits) and Jews. Indiscriminate, did you say?

Feder apparently never bothered to read the rest of the article to which he linked:

Contrary to earlier reports, it appeared that Westerners were not the gunmen’s main targets: they killed whomever they could. By Saturday evening, 18 of the dead were confirmed as foreigners; an additional 22 foreigners were wounded, said Vilasrao Deshmukh, the chief minister of Maharashtra State, where Mumbai is located.

Rattan Keswani, the president of Trident Hotels, said he had found no basis for reports that gunmen had rounded up holders of American and British passports at the Oberoi and herded them upstairs. “Nothing seems to suggest that,” he said, noting that a range of nationalities was represented among the 22 hotel guests who died, in addition to the 10 staff members, all Indian.

If the terrorists were "told to target foreigners" and Jews, why were so many Indians killed? Feder doesn't answer that question.

Feder also writes: "In thousands of words of coverage, The New York Times never mentioned that victims’ bodies frequently bore the marks of torture. One of the doctors who performed post-mortems was quoted on the Indian news website Rediff.com as saying 'of all the bodies, the Israeli victims bore the maximum torture marks.'" But the Rediff article to which Feder is referring contains only one named source; the rest, including the doctors purportedly being quoted, are anonymous. That's not to say it isn't true; it's just unverified with no reason given to protect the identities of those being quoted. 

It's telling that Feder would blindly take the word of anonymous sources at a website he knows nothing about and the veracity of which he has presumably not investigated. It's also telling that AIM has given Feder his own website to peddle such easily disproven lies and distortions.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:14 PM EST

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