The New York Times announced Monday on its website that it won a George Polk Award for its “news report” about Hasidic Yeshivas, which was exposed through an investigation published by Breitbart to have been part of a political operation targeting the religious group.
The Times bragged how its report that “exposed how private schools in New York’s Hasidic Jewish community were failing to provide students with an adequate education, despite receiving more than a quarter of a billion dollars in public funds annually,” was given the once-prestigious award.
However, the Times story — alleging Hasidic students “[know] nothing” and grow up “barely [able] to support their own families” — was revealed to have been carefully curated by omitting relevant information, shunning sources directly involved with the schools, and declining to publish pertinent on-the-record statements, producing a weapon used by secular political interest groups to attack the pious community’s most sacred institutions.
The Times apparently timed its story to coincide with a Board of Regents vote to regulate the religious schools, and amid the public pressure, the board unanimously decided to impose state edicts on the schools to control curricula.
But Breitbart learned the Times did not establish communication relevant to reporting with at least two schools the story is based on — titled, “In Hasidic Enclaves, Failing Private Schools Flush With Public Money” — until days before publication, with request for comment on the final product over a year in the making. Breitbart identified two instances of relevant sources to the story speaking to the Times and having their statements disregarded. Breitbart also learned of one instance where the Times accused two schools of the same claim of corporal punishment, and two instances where request for comment was responded to but never published.
Breitbart reviewed correspondence between the Times and teachers and administrators from various Hasidic Yeshivas from different sects, reviewed class work from a Hasidic Yeshiva, a breakdown of public funding for a Hasidic Yeshiva, and public data, showing the Times obfuscated information to produce a broad story with little bearing on the complex facts of what it was talking about.
In correspondence reviewed by Breitbart between one of the Times authors on the Yeshivas story, Eliza Shapiro, and a teacher in a Yeshiva, Shapiro refers to herself as “the most experienced education reporter in New York City,” and “a serious reporter who doesn’t pull punches,” before ultimately dismissing the teacher, apparently because he would not provide testimony that fit with her preferred narrative.