Our colleague Gilead Ini recently posted at CAMERA about a fascinating row that erupted on Twitter and “then spread to journalists and their followers, and eventually to the pages of The New York Times.”
Ini characterized it as “a series of misquotes, distortions, and out-of-context comments” that “contributed to the idea that Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the U.S….had advised Donald Trump to play up the Muslim background of the man who murdered 49 people at a Orlando nightclub”.
The claim, which began as one tweet by an Israeli journalist, Ini added, had no merit.
Here’s the original tweet.
Ini argued that “the context of Oren’s statement… made it abundantly clear that Oren wasn’t offering advice, but simply engaging in political analysis, as journalists, experts and pundits are routinely asked to do…”.
We know that Ini was correct in this account, because, during the row, Oren himself tweeted the following:
Then, there was the problem of the quote itself.
Though Tarnopolsky put quotation marks around the words attributed to Oren, it only represented her rough English characterization of what he had said in Hebrew. It was not a direct word for word translation. Here is an accurate translation of Oren’s words (while he was a guest on Israel’s Channel 10 News) in context.
OREN: Even the first Twin Tower bombing in ‘93 was perpetrated by American citizens. This isn’t exceptional.
But if I were Donald Trump now, I would have come out the moment the FBI started to leak this morning that is a man operating from Islamic motives with ties — first of all the name itself, Omar Siddiqui Mateen, a Muslim name, son of immigrants from Afghanistan, who apparently kept in touch in some way with radical Islamic organizations, it very much influences the race for the presidency.
INTERVIEWER: And you’re saying that in your careful assessment this can actually strengthen Trump —
OREN: Very much
INTERVIEWER: — at the cost of Hilary Clinton who at this time is leading in the polls?
OREN: Again, as [inaudible] already said, a person can be deranged, but at the end of the day, people won’t look at the details of his motivations. …
Ini contacted the New York Times and pointed out the misquote. To their credit, they corrected it, and noted the change below the original article. (CAMERA also prompted similar corrections to articles at the Daily Caller and Huffington Post.)
However, we also noticed that the Telegraph made a similar error in a June 13th article, using the inaccurate quote (based, again, on one tweet by a journalist) and falsely claiming that Oren was offering ‘advice’.
We contacted editors at the Telegraph, and cited the clarifying tweet by Oren and the New York Times correction. Editors responded to our complaint and promptly corrected the quote and replaced the word “advice” with the more accurate word “analysis”.
We commend editors for the prompt correction.