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The PJ Tatler

by
Belladonna Rogers

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October 13, 2011 - 9:11 am

Just when you think The New York Times can’t possibly inject more political slant into its news columns, the quondam “newspaper of record”  makes a hire for its Iranian coverage that makes journalistic history, and not in a  good way.  According to illustrious Iranian expert and Farsi-speaking scholar Dr. Michael Rubin, writing in today’s Contentions:

Well, here’s a doozy: Several years ago, Artin Afkhami, while working at the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a group which lobbies against sanctions on the Islamic Republic, wrote a piece in which he falsely summarized an event and even fabricated a quote, which he attributed to me in order to suggest I took a position that I had never advocated. The event had been videotaped, and I challenged Afkhami to source his quote or retract it, but he did not. Nor could Afkhami source the quote to any previous writing, because I had never advocated pre-emptive war against Iran, as he claimed.

I noted subsequently that the New York Times had hired Afkhami from NIAC even though the paper itself labeled NIAC an advocacy organization.

It only gets worse:

Diane McNulty, executive director, for community affairs and media relations a the New York Timesresponded, “Artin Afkhami has worked for The Times part time, on a freelance basis, providing translations of articles and speeches and monitoring news reports from Iran. He does not write for The Times. We are reviewing his other affiliations to determine whether any of them pose the possibility or the appearance of a conflict.” Alas, it seems that he now does write for the New York Times, about the country for whom he once lobbied. Artin Afkhami may have matured from his days at NIAC, but he certainly hasn’t retracted and corrected the quote he never was able to support.

Dr. Rubin’s sensible conclusion?

It seems that after almost a decade, the Grey Lady has learned neither the lessons of Jayson Blair, nor understood why an increasingly broad array of policymakers questions their agenda even on hard, international news.

Belladonna Rogers is a close observer of international and domestic affairs.
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