This weekend, The New York Times’s tech reporter, Nellie Bowles, referred to the Palestinian Authority’s $400 million payment to terrorists and their families as a “far-right conspiracy.” Several reporters, myself included, called Bowles out for this flagrant bit of fake news, and her newspaper eventually removed the statement and issued a necessary correction. Good for them. But Bowles herself has yet to apologize or acknowledge her egregious error in judgment, which means it’s time to look into her bizarre statement and its origins in greater depth.
Where did the idea of the Palestinian pay-for-slay program being fake news come from? As several journalists pointed out on social media this weekend, Bowles’s source was likely Glenn Kessler, who writes The Washington Post’s Fact Checker column. In a March column entitled “Does the Palestinian Authority pay $350 million a year to ‘terrorists and their families’?” Kessler answered the question by giving it two Pinocchios, indicating that it is largely false. Why? Because there was no way, Kessler wrote, to know which of the aid recipients were truly terrorists.
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