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Quick Note to Readers: On the NYT Mess
A brief clarification
After the just-published New York Times story, several commenters have pointed out that despite subsequent reports to the contrary, it’s not known absolutely for certain what happened at the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City. There are still claims out there that it was indeed an Israeli attack, or could have been. This is why you’re seeing officials like Ilhan Omar call for a “fully independent investigation” into what happened.
Ultimately, that’s irrelevant. If the Times wasn’t planning on sticking by its sources, its only option was to print a blame-neutral headline. They didn’t, and now they’re in worst-case scenario land, issuing a high profile OOPS in a maelstrom of criticism. Whether they got it wrong the first time or succumbed to pressure later, they made a mess that could have been avoided by playing it safe.
Newspapers in recent years have moved away from the “He said, she said” rhetorical method critics now tell them is out of date in the moral clarity era. In situations where you really aren’t sure of facts, however, it’s the only way to go, and outlets are paying the price for moving away from the format.