The New York Times and Wall Street Journal did credible jobs reporting on the ostracism of Qatar by fellow Arab nations Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates.
But they lacked in-depth analysis of how the Islamic Sunni-Shiite conflict influenced the diplomatic crisis. Slate's excellent foreign affairs columnist Fred Kaplan provided the essential background that the country's two major national newspapers lacked.
Kaplan details why Sunni-ruled Qatar has been isolated by the other Sunni countries, untangling the complex Qatar decision to back Shiite Iran and its Mideast allies.
The main catalyst for the five Arab nations' move to cut ties to Qatar was President Trump's recent speech in support of Saudi Arabia and the U.S. arms deal with the repressive Arab oil power, an act whose dangerous ramifications Kaplan dissects.
Kaplan's in-depth Slate columns point to a weakness of the Times and WSJ. While the Times' Thomas Friedman knows the Mideast situation, he resorts to formulistic bromides rather than basing his analysis on in-depth reporting. Roger Cohen is sporadic, and concentrates on Europe. The Wall Street Journal's columnists veer more toward right-wing propaganda than serious analysis.