NYT ‘Sensitive’ to Paris Massacre (Israel Another Story)
NYT ‘Sensitive’ to Paris Massacre (Israel Another Story)

As of this writing everything is still in limbo. French police are still combing Paris and the countryside for the Islamic gunmen who executed 12 journalists who turned out the satiric weekly Charlie Hebdo -- and paid the ungodly price for lampooning Muhammad.

The weekly journal also poked fun at Jewish and Christian prophets and religious leaders. No harm done. But for sensitive Muslims it was different.

Throughout Europe, probably because it hits so close to home, the media are defiantly reprinting the very cartoons that caused the problem in the first place. Thousands have taken to the streets, namely in Paris, to mourn the departed and to express solidarity with journalism in general and freedom of expression in particular.

In America, the leading newspapers and TV networks are reticent. Most choose not to take any chances. So here, generally, the cartoons are not being shown.

From one newsroom to the next, editors must decide what actions to take. Until we sit in that chair, it is not for us to declare their choices as cowardly or wise. I suggest that we defer judgment. Let each person in every newsroom choose what is the safest bet, in a world so terribly unsafe.

In my own years as editor I faced these quandaries and covered them here in the newsroom novel The Bathsheba Deadline.

So I have been there and done that, yes, and I do know what it is like when journalism gets uncomfortable during a clash of civilizations.

The New York Times, still the dominant broadsheet despite a declining readership and a depleting newsroom, likewise feels the discomfort. The paper, to date, will not show the cartoons. Here too, I suspend judgment. There is much to weigh in order to make the right call.

Apparently, it fell on the Times executive editor Dean Baquet to decide which way to go. Since he ruled against publishing the cartoons, he was approached by his paper’s Public Editor Margaret Sullivan to find out what went into his decision – and for this reader, it was a startling revelation.

Baquet, we learn, was against it “because he had to consider foremost the sensibilities of Times readers, especially its Muslim readers. To many of them, depictions of the prophet Muhammad are sacrilegious; those that are meant to mock even more so.”

Here is more from Baquet: “We have a standard that is long held and that serves us well; that there is a line between gratuitous insult and satire.”

So The New York Times chooses sensitivity against “gratuitous insult.” Remember those words.

Remember those words when once again The New York Times curses Israel both on its front pages in its opinion pages.

Apparently such sensitivities do not extend to the Jewish State or to the paper’s Jewish readers who support the Jewish State.

Remember those words the next time notorious blasphemers like Tom Friedman and Nicholas Kristof and Roger Cohen and Max Blumenthal smear Israel up and down without regard for “gratuitous insult.” Besides those four, from one columnist to the next, week after week, Israel is gratuitously insulted and never given the benefit of the doubt.

Remember those words when you consider the Times’ choice to represent all child deaths in war for 2014. The paper did not choose the reckless tribal killings of thousands in Iraq and Syria, nor did it choose the thousands enslaved and murdered by Boko Haram in Nigeria, nor did it choose the 132 schoolchildren murdered by Islamists in a single day in Pakistan.

Instead, the Times chose a Gaza child to illustrate universal suffering when in fact it was Israel that was suffering from ceaseless Hamas bombardments. Israel wished no harm on anyone, child or adult. Israel was defending itself, but in its obsessive/compulsive derangement against the Jewish State, for the Times Israel is always to be blamed.

Remember now, which group of people gets “sensibilities” from The New York Times, and which group gets scorn.

Jack Engelhard writes a regular column for Arutz Sheva. New from the novelist, the inside-the-newsroom tell-all thriller, The Bathsheba Deadline. Engelhard wrote the int’l bestseller Indecent Proposal that was translated into more than 22 languages and turned into a Paramount motion picture starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. Website: www.jackengelhard.com