The New York Times sent a scathing rebuke in response to a letter from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) demanding more information from the outlet on its news-gathering process as it covers the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.
In a letter to Times leadership dated Thursday, Cotton cited “reports” that suggested journalists working on its behalf were embedded with Hamas around the time of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel and “knew about the attack.”
“If your employees, as part of their work, participated in terrorist activities or if your organization or employees provided material support (including any funding) to Hamas, the leadership of your organization may also face criminal penalties under federal law,” he said.
Cotton’s letter follows a report from the pro-Israel media watchdog HonestReporting that asked if freelancers working for the Times, CNN and other leading news organizations had advanced knowledge of the attack or were complicit in it.
The group’s leader on Thursday said it was simply “asking questions” after a stream of denials and condemnations from the Times, CNN, Reuters and other outlets followed.
In its response to Cotton, the Times wrote that his letter “exacerbates” the “spread of disinformation and incendiary rhetoric” around journalists covering the war.
“You are merely parroting disinformation harvested form the internet based on a website that has conceded it had no evidence for its claims,” the Times said.
Cotton separately wrote a letter to the Department of Justice on Thursday asking it to probe whether or journalists working for the international news outlets “committed federal crimes by supporting Hamas terrorists.”
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