“All the Consent That’s Fit to Manufacture”

New York War Crimes

New York War Crimes

Palestine Coverage

How to Make a Genocide Disappear

The Times’ coverage of Israel’s most recent war on Gaza may be its darkest hour. Here, we break it down in detail.
March 14, 2024

Since October 7th, Israel has waged an indiscriminate war against the people of Gaza, murdering nearly 30,000 children and adults and destroying hospitals, schools, mosques, factories, and homes. This most recent assault on Gaza, which Israel had already been holding under siege for nearly two decades, has forced most of its surviving population to flee south to the city of Rafah, where they face mass starvation, the rapid spread of disease and a looming invasion. Israel's military and political leaders have openly and repeatedly declared that genocidal intent is driving the war.

If you’ve been reading The New York Times, you’ve heard a different story. According to this story, Israel has responded to an unexplainable attack by Hamas, a shadowy Islamist terror group, with proportional force. A story in which attacks on hospitals and schools are regrettable but necessary evils. In The Times’ surrealist account, the Israeli military stands on the front lines of feminism, queer rights and democracy. Hamas is to blame for the deaths of 30,000 Palestinians. The United States is a reproachful ally, not a calculating and enabling accomplice. A handful of Israeli hostages are worthy of dozens of tearful stories and op-eds, while thousands of Palestinians are kidnapped and tortured without fanfare. Even Israel’s widespread, targeted murder of at least 125 journalists — a horror that the newspaper, with its much-touted reverence for journalism, might be expected to take particular heed of — is rendered invisible.

Every choice The Times makes has serious consequences. What language does the paper use, and how does its language change when referring to different groups? What stories does it focus on, and what stories does it marginalize? How does it frame conflicts? What context does it provide — and what context does it obscure?

This section offers some answers to these questions through detailed analyses of The Times’ coverage of Israel’s most recent assault on Gaza. The close reading, data-driven investigation, and style guide in this section provide a line-by-line look at the way the Times has attempted to make a genocide palatable to the public.