Cruelty of Language — the NYT’s Leaked Gaza Memo

Ramzy Baroud responds to revelations about The New York Times “guidance” on language about the Israeli mass slaughter in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7.

The New York Times building. (Thomas Hawk, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

By Ramzy Baroud
Z Network

The New York Times coverage of the Israeli carnage in Gaza, like that of other mainstream U.S. media, is a disgrace to journalism. 

This assertion should not surprise anyone. U.S. media is driven neither by facts nor morality, but by agendas, calculating and power hunger. 

The humanity of 120 thousand dead and wounded Palestinians because of the Israeli genocide in Gaza is simply not part of that agenda. 

In a report – based on a leaked memo from The New York TimesThe Intercept found out that the so-called U.S. newspaper of record has been feeding its journalists with frequently updated “guidelines” on what words to use, or not use, when describing the horrific Israeli mass slaughter in the Gaza Strip, starting on Oct. 7. 

In fact, most of the words used in the paragraph above would not be fit to print in the NYT, according to its “guidelines.”  

Shockingly, internationally recognized terms and phrases such as “genocide,” “occupied territory,” “ethnic cleansing” and even “refugee camps” were on the newspaper’s rejection list. 

It gets even more cruel. “Words like ‘slaughter’, ‘massacre’ and ‘carnage’ often convey more emotion than information. Think hard before using them in our own voice,” according to the memo, leaked and verified by The Intercept and other independent media. 

Though such language control is, according to the NYT, aimed at fairness for “all sides,” their application was almost entirely one-sided. 

For example, a previous Intercept report showed that the American newspaper had, between Oct. 7 and Nov. 14, mentioned the word “massacre” 53 times when it referred to Israelis being killed by Palestinians and only once in reference to Palestinians being killed by Israel. 

By that date, thousands of Palestinians had perished, the vast majority of whom were women and children, and most of them were killed inside their own homes, in hospitals, schools or United Nations shelters. 

Death Toll Numbers Game 

Palestinians inspect the ruins of Aklouk Tower destroyed in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City on Oct. 8, 2023. (Palestinian News & Information Agency, or Wafa, for APAimages, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Though the Palestinian death toll was often questioned by U.S. government and media, it was later generally accepted as accurate, but with a caveat: attributing the source of the Palestinian number to the “Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza.” That phrasing is, of course, enough to undermine the accuracy of the statistics compiled by healthcare professionals, who had the misfortune of producing such tallies many times in the past. 

[See also: The Real Gaza Death Toll]

The Israeli numbers were rarely questioned, if ever, although Israel’s own media later revealed that many Israelis who were supposedly killed by Hamas died in “friendly fire,” as in at the hands of the Israeli army. 

And even though a large percentage of Israelis killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on Oct. 7 were active, off-duty or military reserve, terms such as “massacre” and “slaughter” were still used in abundance. Little mention was made of the fact that those “slaughtered” by Hamas were, in fact, directly involved in the Israeli siege and previous massacres in Gaza. 

Speaking of “slaughter,” the term, according to the Intercept, was used to describe those allegedly killed by Palestinian fighters vs those killed by Israel at a ratio of 22 to 1.

I write “allegedly,” as the Israeli military and government, unlike the Palestinian Ministry of Health, have yet to allow for independent verification of the numbers they produced, altered and reproduced, once again.

The Palestinian figures are now accepted even by the U.S. government. When asked, on Feb. 29, about how many women and children had been killed in Gaza, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said: “It’s over 25,000,” going even beyond the number provided by the Palestinian Health Ministry at the time. 

Austin with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Dec. 18, 2023. (DoD, Chad J. McNeeley)

However, even if the Israeli numbers are to be examined and fully substantiated by truly independent sources, the coverage of The New York Times of the Gaza war continues to point to the non-existing credibility of mainstream American media, regardless of its agendas and ideologies. This generalization can be justified on the basis that the NYT is, oddly enough, still relatively fairer than others. 

According to this double standard, occupied, oppressed and routinely slaughtered Palestinians are depicted with the language fit for Israel; while a racist, apartheid and murderous entity like Israel is treated as a victim and, despite the Gaza genocide, is, somehow, still in a state of “self-defense.”

The New York Times shamelessly and constantly blows its own horn as an oasis of credibility, balance, accuracy, objectivity and professionalism. Yet, for them, occupied Palestinians are still the villain: the party doing the vast majority of the slaughtering and the massacring.

The same slanted logic applies to the U.S. government, whose daily political discourse on democracy, human rights, fairness and peace continues to intersect with its brazen support of the murder of Palestinians, through dumb bombs, bunker busters and billions of dollars’ worth of other weapons and munitions.  

The Intercept reporting on this issue matters greatly. Aside from the leaked memos, the dishonesty of language used by The New York Times – compassionate towards Israel and indifferent to Palestinian suffering – leaves no doubts that the NYT, like other U.S. mainstream media, continues to stand firmly on Tel Aviv’s side.

As Gaza continues to resist the injustice of the Israeli military occupation and war, the rest of us, concerned about truth, accuracy in reporting and justice for all, should also challenge this model of poor, biased journalism. 

We do so when we create our own professional, alternative sources of information, where we use proper language, which expresses the painful reality in war-torn Gaza.  

Indeed, what is taking place in Gaza is genocide, a horrific slaughter and daily massacres against innocent peoples, whose only crime is that they are resisting a violent military occupation and a vile apartheid regime. 

And, if it happens that these indisputable facts generate an “emotional” response, then it is a good thing; maybe real action to end the Israeli carnage of Palestinians would follow. The question remains: why would The New York Times editors find this objectionable?  

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the editor of the Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books including: These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons (2019), My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (2010) and The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (2006). Dr. Baroud is a non-resident senior research fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). His website is

This article is from Z Network.

Views expressed in this article and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

20 comments for “Cruelty of Language — the NYT’s Leaked Gaza Memo

  1. LeoSun
    April 21, 2024 at 14:31

    “If you watch enough propaganda, contemporary or historical, you find that it does not matter even if the scripts and images betray the crudity and indignity of those producing the propaganda. The intent is solely to capture the thoughts and feelings of the unthinking majority however this needs to be done.” PATRICK LAWRENCE

    IMO, repeat the line: “The intent is solely to capture the thoughts and feelings of the unthinking majority however this needs to be done.”

    Nothing for nothin’; &, absolutely, no offense; but, IMO, The Intercept, The NYT, the MSMedia, got nothin’! NOTHIN’ on CN’s J.Lauria, C.Hedges, P.Lawrence, D. Johnstone, C.Johnstone, VIPS, et al., the list is a bit long; BUT, the fakery & the phuckery, executed by the Divided $tates of Corporate America’s Zionist Beast is beyond f/perverted & published on the pages of Consortium News dot com. CN is “Keeping the PRESS, FREE;” &, adamantly opposed to believing, “People will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.” Aldous Huxley.

    Just the other day, George Galloway warned, “It can happen in Germany. It can happen here.”

    Imo, the “Cruelty of Language,” via the NYT & MSMedia, is the USG’s standard operating procedure, disguised as “guidance.” The kindling used in chloroforming the Nation. Thereafter, the Beast, literally, arresting any & all resistance, executed by the people, for the people, of the people, who chant, march, are f/adamant about, “FREE, Gaza! Ceasefire, NOW!! NOT in Our Names!!!” The USG’s response is cops in riot gear, tracking, targeting, arresting, incarcerating, fining the RESISTANCE!!! NO Doubt, “the land of the free and the home of the brave is a f/war zone!”

    …….“ Never have so many been manipulated so much by so few,” i.e., 1) Over 1 Million(+), dead, per COVID, under Biden-Harris; hence, Biden-Harris cancelled the reporting of Dead per Covid. Followed by cancelling COVID; &, all those PPE factories, Biden-Harris were gonna “build back better.” An arsenal of PPE factories. Straight-up f/malarky!!! Biden’s-Harris’ Build Back Better evaporated into the ether. Fingers crossed, come November, 2024, so do Biden-Harris. “Let ‘em eat cake!” 2) “The U.S. Has No Evidence Israel Is Committing Genocide In Gaza.” Lloyd Austin. 3) Biden said that his uncle may have been eaten by cannibals in Papua New Guinea during WW2, “he got shot down in New Guinea. They never found the body because there used to be a lot of cannibals, for real, in that part of New Guinea.” IT GETS WORSE, 4) the U.S. vetoed full U.N. membership for Palestine as the Russian delegation walked out in protest before Israel’s speech.

    IMO, Lawrence, Hedges, Lauria, the Johnstone’s, VIPS’, Consortium News, to name a few, run intellectual rings around The Intercept, the NYT, MSMedia, i.e., Exhibit A-Z: Consortium News dot com, NOVEMBER 14, 2023, “The Banality of Propaganda,”…… “Is there a way to build beyond our debased circumstances? Or are we to wander indefinitely in a state of negativity, of not believing, of alienation from our own polities?”

    My answer is yes to the first question, no to the second: There is always a way to build a different future — this as a matter of general principle. In this case the project must begin with the reclamation of language. Rejecting the official language of those in power, as so many people now do, is a start. We must then learn again to speak the language that is not spoken, the language wherein truth resides.

    ‘Repeat the line,’ “[REJECTING] the official language of those in power, as so many people now do, is a start. We must then [LEARN AGAIN the LANGUAGE] that is not spoken, the language wherein truth resides.” HEAR! HEAR!!

    “In large part because of how I have spent my professional years, I am especially sensitive to the power of language as it is used in the cause either of clarity and understanding or of obfuscation and ignorance.” PATRICK LAWRENCE @ hxxps://

    Imo, “Cruelty of Language — the NYT’s Leaked Gaza Memo,” is the Beast’s way of “KEEPING America DUMB!”

    ……. “There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it.” Aldous Huxley

    Concluding, “Capitalismo es el Viruz.”

    “More than any other countries, the U.S. and U.K. have wrecked the Middle East through their non-stop meddling and imperial arrogance. This week they had the chance to” be brillant; AND, they blew it!!! Hence FJB!

    “Keep It Lit!” RESIST the deception, destruction, death executed by the powers that be, The Beast aka Biden’s-Harris’ Handler. Ciao

  2. Richard Simpson
    April 21, 2024 at 10:29

    All words must be certified as being kosher by the Learned Elders of Zion at the New York Times. Any words critical of Israel are an affront to God and forbidden by, well, God’s self-chosen ones.

  3. robert e williamson jr
    April 20, 2024 at 21:20

    The only thing any of us need to know about these people is they buy influence with other by being their mouth piece. Influencers are shown money and they will say whatever is necessary.

    In my opinion “anon” has it very much right and not much wrong. April 20 @ 14:43. Further more this “influencing” impacts more that just the MSM.

    I have news for far too many Americans, if you don’t speak your mind these other “infuencers” will, just as they have been doing for years.

    Eliminating free speech by using guidelines to pigeonhole prohibited topics and language. When the window dressing is removed this is what one gets. The only people they fear offending are those telling them what to say.

  4. Bobby Wisco
    April 20, 2024 at 18:18

    On the anniversary of Genocide Adolf’s birthday, the US Congress approves $60 Billion, that’s $60,000.000.000, to Ukraine to fund the war to Make Europe Safe for Swastikas Again. The American Congress certainly has April 20th circled on its calendars.

    You can’t make this $#!^ up.

    Meanwhile in other news, reports show that 25% of the people whom the American Corporate-Government Combo dumped from Medicaid recently, now have zero health insurance. There are no $60 billion relief plans anywhere in sight.

  5. Susan Siens
    April 20, 2024 at 15:56

    People of the class of the NYT’s hierarchy don’t like anyone to get emotional; in other words, they don’t like anyone to care about anything except what they value: money and position. One could see with Pelosi and her demand that the FBI investigate anti-genocide protesters that she simply cannot comprehend that anyone would protest because they CARE. All these people understand is money and power, and that clearly defines them as sociopathic.

    • Renate
      April 20, 2024 at 17:52

      I couldn’t agree more.

    • Bobby Wisco
      April 20, 2024 at 18:27

      Emotion means feeling for other human beings. That is strictly Verbotten, under the New Rules Based Order. The only thing that matters is profits and losses. No cure must cost more than the disease. Every person has $$ stamped on their back listing their value. And the first question we ask comes from TV’s Succession … Are there any Real People Involved?

      These are the people who will send out the Fleet when some billionaires are lost on Bad Bathyscape and a 3 Hour Tour to the Titanic. But, when Americans are dying in fires or flood or blizzards, they don’t do a thing except stagger between cocktails to a microphone and say how their hearts are with us, whoever we are, if they can remember our name, but whoever we are, they are with us and feel our pain. But, the cure can’t cost more than the disease, and we have budgets and we just can’t afford search and rescue anymore, at least not when there are No Real People Involved.

      Dr. King told us that we urgently needed to shift from a Thing-Oriented Society to a People-Oriented Society. That today we stay completely unemotional about real human beings tells you that the New York Times and its campaign to stay a strictly Think Oriented Society has won the day.

      A society that puts profit over people will kill you. It is the inevitable logic of a Thing-Oriented Society.

  6. anon
    April 20, 2024 at 14:43

    The whole US media is owned and run by 6 Zionist billionaires.
    What do you expect??????

    • TDillon
      April 20, 2024 at 18:48

      So is most of Congress. Like Israel, the Ukraine conflict is a Neocon (i.e. Zionist) project. Congress just voted 60+ billion for Ukraine, despite that war already being decisively lost. So that 60+ billion is pure moneylaundered graft. Not to mention the “traditional” billions for Israel.

      Some relevant background is at
      “War Profiteer Story”

    • Bobby Wisco
      April 20, 2024 at 18:52

      If you drop the word “Zionist” it is still true. And still a very bad thing.

      In America, this was a bi-partisan effort, from Reagan to Clinton. America used to have pro-democracy limits on media ownership. It was considered anti-democracy to have one person or corporation control more than a handful of newspapers, radio stations, or tv stations. The stations that operated also had to follow rules like “The Fairness Doctrine” and concepts like “Equal Time”. It was a bipartisan effort, over the time from Reagan to Clinton, that obliterated this old pro-democracy media structure in America.

      Except, is the number still “6”? I don’t recall any major buyouts to reduce it, and some new players like Jeff Bezos and Tim Cook began to get into the game alongside Rupert Murdoch’s foreign interference operation and Mickey Mouse. Comcast bought GE’s media wing, but that didn’t really change the number. But, all-in-all, I’m not sure that the number is still exactly 6? But I’d still guess that an average American wouldn’t have to take off their socks to count to the current number.

      America is not what democracy looks like.

  7. John Z
    April 20, 2024 at 13:28

    White imperialism at work–stealing from, murdering, and subjugating the peoples of other nations and ethnicities because they are deemed to be racially inferior. There is no level to which such regimes will not stoop to deprive others of their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    • Fritz
      April 20, 2024 at 19:43

      “…to deprive others of their right to…”

      “Rights aren’t rights if someone can take them away. They’re privileges.
      People are dreaming if they think they have rights. They’ve never had rights. There’s no such thing.” — George Carlin

  8. CaseyG
    April 20, 2024 at 12:03

    Oh NEW YORK TIMES——-You have made a terrible and inhumane mistake. The Palestinians are actually real people…for some reason Israel has made people think that there are no real people in Palestine—and that Israel
    somehow makes people think that there is no lack of humanity, but an actual problem with “rats.”

    Due to your insensitivity, New York Times—I regret to inform you that your pretend act of truthiness, is truly a lie.

    Due to the TRUTH of the massacre of so many Palestinians —it is now time to reveal the horrors in your
    reporting that deny reality.

    I therefore christen you with the name, a name you deserve due to your lack of TRUTHINESS for the
    You will now be known as “The New York CRIMES. : (

  9. April 20, 2024 at 11:58

    Max Blumenthal and Aaron Mate at the Grayzone have debunked NY Times propaganda reporting on systemic rape, beheadings, babies, et al. as well as drilled down on the actual deaths on October 7.

    The NYT reporting on Ukraine has been just as bad or perhaps worse.

    And all this is after the Iraq WMD Judith Miller scandal, which they apparently have learned nothing from.

    • Piotr Berman
      April 22, 2024 at 15:13

      Strangely enough, the story of decapitated babies was recalled by the White House. Were I a journalist who may ask questions, I would ask how the President could be convinced that “this is the time when we can see photos of decapitated babies”? Simply “febrile imagination” or someone inform him, like Trump about ducks poisoned by Novichock, a NYT story BTW, and if the latter, who?

  10. Susan Leslie
    April 20, 2024 at 09:59

    The New York Times is blatant propaganda TRASH!

  11. Em
    April 20, 2024 at 09:39

    Revelatory synopsis of language:
    Currently, as in the processes and practices of international law, so too in the practices and processes journalism.
    Most of what is regarded as ‘the law’ is, in practice, the meteing-out of injustice, personified according to individuals’ or body’s thereof biased interpretations of rhapsodic, rhetorical language, while clandestinely collaborating, discordantly with real progressive, evolutionary human enlightenment.

  12. April 20, 2024 at 07:23

    The NYT , like the US government, is behind the Israeli agenda, which is to depopulate Palestine and steal the land. This has always been the agenda, and the recent vote at the UN with the US being the only vote against the peace resolution says it all.

  13. Graeme
    April 20, 2024 at 03:18

    Noam Chomsky, tongue firmly in cheek, habitually mocks the NYT’s self-description the NYT as the paper of record.
    In 2015, he stated that the NYT is pure propaganda.

    Chris Hedges, April 12, 2024, published ‘Requiem for The New York Times.’

    And here Ramzy Baroud describes the NYT and its fellow MSM propagandists as a “disgrace to journalism.”

    The highly selective and intentionally exclusive M.O. of corporate press means that other worthy stories, including other regions where zealous governments led by zealots are also committing human rights abuses that have dire parallels to what’s being inflicted on Gazans.

    Martin Winiecki, Feb 15, 2024, wrote this early in his article:
    “Since October 2023, the Turkish military has bombed Rojava’s villages, cities and civil infrastructure on a daily basis — supported by arms supplies from the United States and other Western countries.
    Around 80 percent of electricity and water stations have been destroyed, leaving millions of people without heating, energy and sufficient water supplies.
    And while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an condemns the Israeli genocide against Palestinians, he’s hypocritically taking advantage of the world’s attention on Gaza to hide his own.

    The reason for the relentless airstrikes since October 2023 isn’t “terrorism,” as Erdo?an repeatedly claims.
    Rojava poses a core threat to any existing government, especially those with imperialist ambitions, by showing the world a viable model of peaceful multiethnic coexistence, grounded in lived political, cultural and ecological autonomy.

    The war on Rojava relies on a near-total media blackout, the (at least tacit) support of NATO, Russia and Iran, and weapons deliveries by the U.S., Germany, U.K., Spain, and other countries.
    The U.S. in particular plays a Machiavellian double game: On one hand, it protects Rojava through its military presence; on the other hand, it uses its military cooperation with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up of self-organized self-defense units (the female YPJ and male YPG), to weaken the democratic grassroots structures while simultaneously providing Turkey with the very weapons to crack down on Rojava.
    On January 26, the Biden administration approved its latest sale of F-16 fighter jets worth $23 billion to Turkey.”
    [‘Unremitting Turkish Attacks Leave Rojava in Peril — and in Need of Solidarity’ https*://].

    No mention of this other onslaught that is ongoing in the Middle East in any of the major global propaganda outlets posing as newspapers.

    • Rafael
      April 22, 2024 at 13:50

      I don’t know enough about “Rojava” to have a firm opinion on the matter, but I have serious doubts about what many authors write on the subject. For example I seem to remember (and please correct me if necessary) that Chomsky called for US military intervention to “protect Rojava”. If this is true, it calls into question anything else he writes on the subject. You also mention Martin Winiecki, whom I dutifully looked up. If you want a broader sample of his views, take a look at his words on Ukraine: “The current assault on Ukraine is part of a historical pattern of Russian imperialist oppression…We must stand unequivocally with the Ukrainian people against this hostile imposition.” Nothing there to discomfit the NYT editors.

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