Neil MacFarquhar, Still Taking Sides in the Middle East

Reporter Neil MacFarquhar sneaks in his trademark Palestinian advocacy in a story about Susan Rice's Senate confirmation hearings.

On Friday, Neil MacFarquhar reported from Senate confirmation hearings for Susan Rice, Obama's choice to be American ambassador to the United Nations.

MacFarquhar's reporting often offers a knee-jerk defense of Muslims, whether he's covering Israel's fight against Hezbollah or the Council on American-Islamic Relations fight with its American critics. He snuck in a taste of that advocacy in his Friday story on Rice's testimony, claiming the entire Middle East was "in flames" over Israel's incursion into Gaza to root out Hamas and wondering why no one brought up the plight of Palestinian civilians.

Given the fact that the Middle East is again in flames, it was striking that no senators raised the question of the fighting in Gaza until some two hours into the nearly three-hour hearing. When two finally did, it was in the context of what to do to stop Hamas firing rockets into Israel; neither mentioned the heavy civilian toll among the Palestinians.

Note that the online versions of MacFarquhar's piece appear to have been toned down from the strident copy that appeared in the New York Late Edition of the paper Times Watch is quoting.

MacFarquhar made a little controversy on the July 31, 2006 edition of Charlie Rose , at the height of Israel's war with the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah, when he lamented Bush "rushing bombs" to Israel to drop on Hezbollah.

I'm in my mid-40s and who grew up in poor countries like Morocco, you know, they will tell you that when they went to school in the mornings, they used to get milk, and they called it Kennedy milk because it was the Americans that sent them milk. And in 40 years, we have gone from Kennedy milk to the Bush administration rushing bombs to this part of the world. And it just erodes and erodes and erodes America's reputation.