The Times Splits a Hair

We usually pounce on the New York Times’ corrections when they reveal bias or incompetence–both frequent occurrences. But one of today’s corrections seems weirdly insubstantial:
“An article on Nov. 18 about French government efforts to combat an increase in anti-Semitism misstated the result of a recent European Union poll about threats to world peace. (The error also appeared in a correction published on Nov. 19 about both that article and an article on Nov. 16, and in an Op-Ed column on Nov. 13.) The poll showed that 59 percent of respondents regarded Israel as a threat to world peace, a greater percentage than cited any other country. (Other countries mentioned were Iran, North Korea and the United States, each 53 percent; Iraq, 52 percent; Afghanistan, 50 percent; and Pakistan, 48 percent. ) The poll did not find that respondents consider Israel ‘the greatest’ threat.”
I have to wonder who insisted on this correction. If the largest percentage of Europeans consider Israel a threat to world peace, isn’t it a fair paraphrase to say that Europeans collectively think Israel is the “greatest threat” to world peace? Is there something about the “corrected” poll results that is supposed to make us feel better about European anti-Semitism? It is clear that a very large number of Europeans consider the U.S. and Israel to constitute an axis of evil; I don’t see any way to spin those data that makes them any more palatable.


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