Times executive editor, Howell Raines, sensing spreading concern among the many pro-Israeli lobby groups which monitor the newspapers’ coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and related Middle East stories that standards might finally be applied, assured worried Zionists that the Times’ coverage of the region would continue to fall into the realm of creative writing.“Blair has gone but the fictions will continue,” Raines assured a crowded office during a meeting with advertisers, “Gaza will continue to be described as part of Israel, the killings of Hamas militants in besieged Palestinian cities with combat helicopters will continue to be passed off as retaliation beating back terrorists only a few hundred yards away from the Israeli Knesset, and any sentences that describe settlements will result in Narnia-esque geographical descriptions of Israeli neighbourhoods inside Jewish enclaves hemmed in by a sea of breeding Palestinians.”
Raines added: “We will be similarly vague about statistics. James Bennet will continue to randomise the size of the Palestinian population of Gaza from anywhere between 700,000 to 1.2 million people.”
“Similarly,” continued Raines, “We will be sure to suppress stories of the US government spying on allies and United Nations officials as we did before the war in Iraq. And when 100,000 Americans turn out in Washington DC to protest the next war, we’ll be sure to describe them as ‘thousands of protesters’, you can count on that.”
When challenged about how Jayson Blair managed to con The New York Times for four straight years without the newspaper finding out, Raines stressed that the Times had been conning the American public for 150 years and would continue to meet expectations when reporting on the Middle East.