The NYT now predicts the news on the front page?

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

I prefer it when the Times simply reports the news on A1, and leaves the prognostications to the opinion pages.

But today the Times can't help itself. Wildly impressed that the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement in opposition to the Islamic center and mosque planned for the Ground Zero neighborhood, the Times hypes the move on A1, above the fold, and treats the press release as a game changer [emphasis added]:

[T]he unexpected move by the ADL, a mainstream group that has denounced what it saw as bigoted attacks on plans for the Muslim center, could well be a turning point in the battle over the project.

Even though the ADL statement has been widely, widely condemned as illogical and ill-advised, the Times adopts the stop-the-mosque viewpoint and announces the ADL's move "could" change the whole debate over the proposed community center. (Then again, it "could" not.)

But the Times provides no supporting evidence. Is Mayor Bloomberg, a fierce supporter of the Islamic center, suddenly going to abandon the project because of the ADL press release? Is the local NYC community board, which has "has given overwhelming backing to the project," suddenly going to reverse course because of the press release?

There's no indication that will happen. But the Times still predicts the press release "could be a turning point." Why, because mosque opponents say so?

Note this passage as well:

The issue was wrenching for the Anti-Defamation League, which in the past has spoken out against anti-Islamic sentiment. But its national director, Abraham H. Foxman, said in an interview on Friday that the organization came to the conclusion that the location was offensive to families of victims of Sept. 11, and he suggested that the center's backers should look for a site "a mile away."

How does the Times know for a fact that the decision was "wrenching"? And what evidence is given by Foxman to support that sympathetic characterization.

And lastly, the Times notes that the Islamic center debate has been embraced by Republicans nationwide who are driving the opposition and that the GOP is using the issue to try to help election candidates. i.e. It's become a partisan issue.

So how many Republicans are mentioned in the story? Six. How many Democrats are mentioned in the story? One.

UPDATED: The Times should fix the article by making this wording change:

Mosque opponents hope the unexpected move by the ADL, a mainstream group that has denounced what it saw as bigoted attacks on plans for the Muslim center, could well be a turning point in the battle over the project.


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