The New York Times was forced to backtrack Sunday, after it published an article which implied that Jewish Congressmen’s opposition to the Iran deal is directly proportionate to the Jewish voting population in their respective districts.
One table published in the article listed, in separate columns, the names of Democrats; whether they opposed or supported the deal; whether they were Jewish or not; and statistics on the estimated number of Jews in their district.
The table immediately caused an uproar over the anti-Semitic implications of such a chart. While the Times did not deign to release an apology, it did revise the article and release a disclaimer:
A chart published on Thursday about Democrats in Congress who opposed the nuclear agreement with Iran oversimplified a complex aspect of the debate — the views of Jewish members of Congress and the divisions among American Jews over the deal.
In one version, which ran in print and for part of the day online, a separate column in the chart noted which congressional Democrats who opposed the deal were Jewish and which were not.
Under Times standards, the religion or ethnicity of someone in the news can be noted if that fact is relevant and the relevance is clear to readers. The positions of Jewish members of Congress, and efforts to influence them one way or another, were a legitimate subject for reporting, since many Jewish Americans on both sides of the debate were particularly concerned about the deal’s impact on Israel’s security. Some members of Congress alluded to their perspective as Jews when they announced their positions on the deal.
But the chart did not include this context, or make clear that Jewish voters and lawmakers, like other Americans, were sharply divided on the issue. Its emphasis may have left the impression that their Jewish identity was a decisive factor for Democrats who opposed the deal, an assumption that was not supported by reporting.
Many readers and commenters on social media found that aspect of the chart insensitive. Times editors agreed and decided to revise it to remove the column specifying which opponents were Jewish.
The Times has developed a reputation for bias regarding Israel issues, including highly slanted reporting following the car terror attacks in Jerusalem in 2014 and during the Gaza war.