The New York Times severed its relationship this week with CartoonArts International after the paper published an anti-Semitic cartoon in last Thursday’s international print edition.
But Andrea Levin, executive director of the media watchdog organization CAMERA, said she fears the paper may be jettisoning CartoonArts to distract attention from the Times’s “well documented pattern of bias” against Jews and Israel.
“The onus is really on The New York Times to do something about the institutional culture that made it possible to publish rank anti-Semitism,” Levin said.
The webpage for CartoonArts International was removed from the New York Times Licensing company’s website sometime over the last month. But a cached version of the page could still be seen on Monday in which the Times touted CartoonArts’s “witty takes” and “clever perspectives.”
CartoonArts’s media kit repeatedly bears the Times logo, contact emails, and cites the New York Times Licensing Group’s website as its own website.
“The exact relationship between the New York Times and CartoonArts isn’t entirely clear, but it appears to have been close,” said Levin. “What is clear is that the New York Times’s problematic coverage of Israel and Jews goes deeper than its connection to CartoonArts or to the European cartoonist who drew the vile image.”
She said the cartoon was not the only time the Times has been accused of promoting anti-Semitism. As recently as last December, a flattering article about novelist and anti-Israel activist Alice Walker promoted the work of the “flagrant anti-Jewish racist David Icke,” according to CAMERA.
CAMERA analyst Gilead Ini tweeted, “It’s not an especially large leap from directing readers to David Icke’s virulently anti-Semitic book … to publishing an anti-Semitic cartoon.”
Times columnist Bret Stephens also issued a strong criticism of his own paper’s bias on Sunday. “How have even the most blatant expressions of anti-Semitism become almost undetectable to editors who think it’s part of their job to stand up to bigotry?” Stephens wrote. “The reason is the almost torrential criticism of Israel and the mainstreaming of anti-Zionism, including by this paper [the Times], which has become so common that people have been desensitized to its inherent bigotry.”
The Times’ editorial board seemed to agree, writing on Tuesday that “the appearance of such an obviously bigoted cartoon in a mainstream publication is evidence of a profound danger—not only of anti-Semitism but of numbness to its creep, to the insidious way this ancient, enduring prejudice is once again working itself into public view and common conversation.”
For evidence of the Times’s bias against Israel, Levin pointed to the “New York Times Line” on CAMERA’s website, which is a timeline that keeps track of the newspaper’s “stumbles in its coverage.”
“We’ve kept a running tally of the Times’s factually false reporting and overall bias against the Jewish state,” Levin said. “Readers who want substantive, evidence-based critiques of the Times should look at our articles on this timeline.”
She also pointed to the “detailed analysis” of the Times in CAMERA’s 2011 monograph, titled: “Indicting Israel: New York Times Coverage of the Palestinian-Israel Conflict.”
The report found that the Jewish state was criticized more than twice as often as the Palestinians.
“Of 275 passages in the news pages classified as criticism according to the study’s stringent criteria, 187 were critical of Israel; fewer than half as many—88—were critical of the Palestinians,” the report says.
The study also found that some of these criticisms were “expressed in the voices of the journalists themselves, often in violation of professional norms against editorializing in news reporting.”
“Blame for the offensive cartoon can’t simply be shifted to CartoonArts,” Levin said. “The Times has a longstanding problem that requires genuine self-reflection from its senior staff.”
“The New York Times must face its institutional bias if they want to regain trust,” Levin said.