On Saturday, the New York Times published an article on deceased Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh who was assassinated by Israeli operatives in November 2020. Although Fakhrizadeh was allegedly connected with constructing covert nuclear weapons for Iran, the article along with the NYT Twitter account highlighted the scientist’s "domestic pleasures."
"Despite his prominent position, Iran's top nuclear scientist wanted to live a normal life. He loved reading poetry, taking his family to the seashore and driving his own car instead of having bodyguards drive him in an armored vehicle," the tweet read.
The article titled "The Scientist and the A.I.-Assisted, Remote-Control Killing Machine" mostly focused on the circumstances surrounding Fakhrizadeh’s death, but the piece instead gained infamy for the tweet’s sympathetic description of a "murderous regime" mastermind.
National Review editor Rich Lowry called out the tweet, specifically saying, "This is a tweet that gives the wrong idea about an incredibly compelling, detailed story about how the Israelis assassinated Iran’s top nuclear scientist with a remote-controlled robot machine gun."
Washington Free Beacon writer Adam Kredo tweeted, "He was also a Jew hater, helped his government murder people, and wanted to give genocidal maniacs a nuclear weapon."
Some users compared the description to The Washington Post’s previous piece describing an ISIS leader as an "austere religious scholar." In October 2019, the headline read "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48." The headline at the time also faced backlash from Twitter users.
The New York Times has yet to change the tweet.