Shortly after a rocket hit a hospital in Gaza and killed thousands, the New York Times plastered a headline on its website that it was caused by an Israeli airstrike, without stating the claims were unconfirmed.
The headline read: “Israeli Strike Kills Hundreds in Hospital, Palestinians Say.”
I suppose the New York Times felt justified in publishing the headline without confirmation because the Palestinians have a long history of honesty and objectivity, right?
Israel quickly denied the claim, stating the hospital was hit by a misguided rocket fired from…you guessed it, a Palestinian terror group called Islamic Jihad.
Independent intelligence from the United States and France confirms the notion that an arrant Palestinian rocket hit the hospital, not an Israeli airstrike.
Admitting their mistake, the New York Times said it relied too heavily on claims by Hamas (again, due to their distinguished history of honesty and objectivity).
“The Times’s initial accounts attributed the claim of Israeli responsibility to Palestinian officials, and noted that the Israeli military said it was investigating the blast. However, the early versions of the coverage — and the prominence it received in a headline, news alert and social media channels — relied too heavily on claims by Hamas, and did not make clear that those claims could not immediately be verified,” the Times wrote.
“Given the sensitive nature of the news during a widening conflict, and the prominent promotion it received, Times editors should have taken more care with the initial presentation, and been more explicit about what information could be verified.”