By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A New York Times story about Hamas and sexual violence comes under scrutiny

Like many of you have no doubt been doing, I’ve been tracking a story about a possible massive failure on the part of The New York Times. It’s about a story the paper published in December headlined “‘Screams Without Words’: How Hamas Weaponized Sexual Violence on Oct. 7.” It is a harrowing and horrifying report on how Hamas terrorists sexually assaulted women in the most violent ways imaginable during their Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which claimed some 1,200 lives.

Parts of the story came under serious scrutiny on Feb. 28 in an investigative report published by The Intercept. It’s a complicated critique, because no one, including The Intercept, doubts that the terrorists engaged in sexual brutality. But the Times relied in part on a freelancer whose social media activity suggests that she is anti-Palestinian and who has little in the way of journalism experience. The Intercept has also called into question some key details in the Times story. The Times, it should be noted, stands behind its reporting.

The Intercept has also reported that the Times canceled an episode of “The Daily” concerning the sexual violence story after internal and external critics raised questions about its veracity. That, in turn, has led to an investigation inside the Times to determine who may have leaked that news. The NewsGuild of New York has accused the Times of targeting employees whose backgrounds are Middle Eastern or North African, which the Times denies.

This is a developing story. For now, I highly recommend this overview at Semafor by Ben Smith, which not only lays out the details but offers some valuable background and analysis.

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  1. NahantJim Walsh

    As always, many thanks, Dan, for this and other posts on the nature and practice of journalism.

    I find myself connecting this and other similar stories on Israel-West Bank-Gaza with a recent “Open Source” podcast on Franz Fanon. I read “Wretched of the Earth” in the last century but will now to go back and look at it again. The warning that Fanon raises is…”do not become that who you despise.”

  2. Thanks for covering this. This was another interesting story from The Intercept:

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