In two articles yesterday (1/5/12), the New York Times misled readers about the state of Iran’s nuclear program.
On the front page, the Times‘ Steven Erlanger reported this:
There is no such International Atomic Energy Agency assessment. The IAEA report the Times is mischaracterizing raised questions about the state of the Iranian program, and presented the evidence, mostly years old, that Iran’s critics say points towards a weapons program. (This evidence has been challenged by outside analysts–see FAIR Media Advisory, 11/16/11.) But the IAEA report made no firm conclusion that Iran had a nuclear weapons program, and noted that its inspections of Iran’s facilities continue to show no diversion of uranium for military purposes.
Elsewhere in the Times, readers saw this in a piece by Clifford Krauss about a potential conflict over the Strait of Hormuz:
Again, Iran has said repeatedly and emphatically that they are doing no such thing.
Interestingly, the Times has changed the Web version of the Erlanger article, removing the relevant paragraph–but without noting the error.
Overstating the case on Iran isn’t a new problem at the Times. One story last month (12/8/11) referred matter-of-factly to the “recent public debate in Israel about whether time is running out for a military strike to slow Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon.”
With tensions between Iran and the United States rising, and Republican presidential candidates agitating for a more confrontational stance, it is imperative that outlets like the New York Times get the story right. If the Times wishes to do better than it did during the run-up to the Iraq War, it should be more careful.
Contact the New York Times and ask it to investigate and explain the editing of the January 5 front-page article, and to correct both misleading assertions about Iran and nuclear weapons.
New York Times
Public Editor Arthur Brisbane