The infographic accompanying yesterday’s New York Times article on the U.S.’s attempt to head off a Middle Eastern nuclear arms race is — as one might have expected — missing a little bit of ink. Guess where?
Let’s take a look:
Iran and Syria are both dark and foreboding — blackened out entirely — for having "construction begun" on their nuclear programs. But the only country in the region that has, indeed, begun construction and brought that construction to full fruition (40 years ago!) as a nuclear weapons arsenal (guess who) is colored in the oh-so-less-threatening darker gray. Israel is merely the shade of the vast majority of its neighbors — signifying "plans developed" for a nuclear program. Yes, just one of the guys, contrasted — literally — against Iran and Syria.
Most offensively, this is a blatant error of fact. It’s such a glaring one — "construction"? hell yes! of even a bomb! — that you have to wonder if it was on purpose.
My sometimes conspiratorial mind — hey, my country was actually overthrown by the C.I.A. — gets all excited about these things and imagines a kid on the infographics desk, barely 26, with a graduate degree in journalism from NYU. He gets the assignment and, perhaps a careful reader of his own paper, immediately thinks about how to draw Israel.
Our young star, with his rapidly rising career — paychecks and health coverage and all — makes the first draft with Israel the same fully blackened shade of Iran and Syria. Then he questions it, turns to a more senior colleague (probably 32, still paying off his own student debt), and asks. But once that question arises, how does it not go all the way up the editorial chain of command?
It’s even more troubling to think that the question was never asked — denoting, perhaps, gross incompetence or, worse yet, a culture of fear on the issue at the Times. Let’s hope the that the Times, at the very least, has the courage to issue a correction.