New York Times mocked for echoing Iranian talking point: ‘Carrying water for Iran’

One critic asked, ‘Did the Ayatollah write this tweet?’

The New York Times was accused of “carrying water for Iran” over the weekend for echoing the nation’s talking point that its “nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes” after the leader of Tehran’s military nuclear program was killed in a shooting.

State TV on Friday cited sources confirming the death of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was dubbed the leader of Tehran’s military nuclear program until it was ended in the early 2000s.

“Iranian officials, who have always maintained that their nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes, not weapons, expressed fury and vowed revenge over the assassination, calling it an act of terrorism and warmongering,” the New York Times World tweeted from its verified account to accompany an article headlined “Gunmen Assassinate Iran’s Top Nuclear Scientist in Ambush, Provoking New Crisis.”

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The tweet was quickly ridiculed, and human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky responded, “NY Times, ‘Paper of Record’ for ... the #Iran regime.”

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. -- who caused chaos inside the paper earlier this year when he penned an op-ed that offended liberals -- slammed the Times as propaganda.

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“What was once the self-styled newspaper of record is now just a well-funded left-wing blog, relentlessly hostile to America and Israel, and always ready to propagandize for their enemies,” Cotton wrote.

Journalist Shiri Moshe added, “Iranian officials also maintain that their regime doesn't subjugate women or massacre political dissidents — is the NYT going to prominently and uncritically feature those lies in their coverage as well?”

Many others condemned the Times for the tweet:

Fakhrizadeh led Iran’s so-called “Amad,” or “Hope,” program, which Israel and the West described as a military operation to build a nuke. The U.N. atomic agency said the program ended in the early 2000s.

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Fakhrizadeh’s death will be another major blow to the Tehran regime, which has struggled amid “maximum pressure” from the Trump administration and saw the U.S. leave the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and impose waves of sanctions on the Islamic dictatorship.

In January, the U.S. took out Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a strike in what the Trump administration described as an act of self-defense against an “imminent” attack.

The Associated Press and Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report