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The New York Times responds to AG Bird’s accusation that the paper helps terrorism

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Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird attends the Attorney General Alliance annual assembly in Rancho Palos Verdes, California in June 2023. — picture by way of @IowaAG on Twitter

The New York Times has responded to Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird’s Dec. 4 letter to Times Publisher A.G. Sulzberger and the highest executives on the Associated Press, CNN and Reuters, accusing the information shops of probably violating federal and state legislation and offering “material support to terrorists.”

In her letter, which was signed by 13 different Republican state attorneys basic, Bird recycled conspiracy theories and misinformation which were circulating for weeks in right-wing political and social media circles to allege the information firms are supporting terrorism by using freelancers who’re primarily brokers of Hamas as a part of their groups overlaying the Israel-Hamas War.

“In your work, as in ours, facts matter,” Charlie Stadtlander, director of communications for the New York Times, wrote in a letter posted on-line on Wednesday. “So it was particularly disappointing to see the most senior legal officials in fourteen states write a letter making inflammatory allegations based on false assumptions and debunked social media posts.”

Stadtlander stated he “want[s] to assume that your letter was written in good faith to address an issue of real concern to you and your counterparts in other states,” earlier than immediately addressing a number of of the false accusations Bird leveled on the Times, after which transferring on to a extra basic conclusion.

“There is much more in your letter that is flatly wrong — there is no ‘long record of paying terrorists,’ there are no ‘transactions with terrorists’ — but rather than engage further in a battle of letters, we simply ask that, especially in these divisive times, you and other high-ranking public servants refrain from trafficking in disinformation and insinuation,” Stadtlander stated.

Stadtlander is maybe unaware that Bird started her political profession working for an Iowa politician well-known for trafficking in disinformation and insinuation — Steve King. Bird spent seven years in King’s congressional workplace, turning into his chief of workers. In her official bio on the Iowa Attorney General’s web site, Bird mentions in passing that she labored in “the U.S. House of Representatives,” however by no means mentions King.

Since turning into legal professional basic in January, Bird has routinely joined with different Republican attorneys basic to ship threatening letters to quite a lot of firms, none of them headquartered in Iowa, pressuring them to undertake insurance policies favored by conservative Republicans or face the potential of Iowa prosecuting them or supporting others taking authorized motion. None of the threats seem to have a sound authorized foundation, and Bird has by no means taken any subsequent motion to make the threats a actuality.

Even if the letters aren’t spectacular as authorized paperwork despatched by Iowa’s prime legislation enforcement official as a part of her official duties, they do give Bird an opportunity for self-promotion at a nationwide degree.But the letters Bird despatched on Dec. 4 have the potential to do greater than get the AGs some publicity at Fox News and related shops, as Stadtlander identified.

“Such baseless allegations have real consequences. They endanger the lives of our journalists and the safety of American news organizations,” Stadtlander stated. “They dishonor the heroic work that journalists in Gaza and elsewhere are doing against terrible odds to report what is happening on the ground. And they feed the false narratives that authoritarian regimes weaponize to demonize the press and justify laws that suppress press freedom.”

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 63 journalists and media employees have been killed for the reason that Israel-Hamas War started on Oct. 7. Another 11 have been injured, three have been reported lacking, 19 have been arrested and there have been a number of “assaults, threats, cyberattacks, censorship, and killings of family members.”

Because of the battle, November was “the deadliest month for journalists” for the reason that committee started gathering information in 1992.

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