Always Remember, the NY Times Pushed, Hard, for War in Iraq
The New York Times is beloved by many liberals, but I despise them. Part of my reason is their role in making the Iraq war happen. I was following it in real time and I remember how they pushed administration lies; the headlines of their articles on Iraq were almost always alarmist and the lead paragraphs were as well. Often enough, the truth would be buried in the equivalent of paragraph twelve.
For those not in the business, here’s the rule: Most people only read the headlines and you lose half of those actually reading past the headline incrementally per paragraph. Maybe the Times numbers are slightly better than that (probably because their headlines are truly atrocious and uninformative), but the rule is broadly true and few people are able to write long-form without losing their readers.
The Times is essentially reactionary. A look at their columnists and who they have chosen to be new columnists makes the point: Ross Douthat, the reactionary Catholic? David Brooks, master of the inane right wing observation?
I was reminded of this in the last few days by two articles listed at the very top of their daily newsletters:
…Such rulings have prompted comparisons to the Islamic State, which regularly beheads its foes and also claims to apply Shariah law.
But Mr. Yehiya was saved because of checks in the Saudi system on the use of harsh punishments.
… Israeli analysts are now suggesting that Mr. Obama and his aides might be overplaying their hand, inviting a backlash of sympathy for Mr. Netanyahu, and that they may not have clearly defined what they expected to gain diplomatically by continuing to pressure the Israeli leader.
Certain countries are apologized for because they are US allies. Remember the orgy of praise for the “cautious reformer” King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia when he died?
Reading this sort of hagiography of evil men and nations is like taking a swig of sour milk: It induces a gag reflex.
A lot of people think the Times is in some way left wing because they have a lot of excellent long form arts and culture coverage, but they are also the newspaper which knew the US, under Bush II, was spying on its own citizens in a widespread way and buried the story because it might influence the election.
Journalists without any preference for right or left wing, might think that information about what the government is actually doing should influence the election. They might even think it was their job to reveal such information. Not the editors at the Times, however.
I suppose I’m slightly unfair to single out the Times; almost all American media is right wing and supine before power. But the NYT is the most important newspaper in the world–a newspaper with reach, power, and influence. A paper with clout enough to make other choices.
Instead it chooses to kneel before power, to be a courtier to power. In so doing, the Times implies to other journalists that their policies reflect actual journalism.
Enjoy the Times long form cultural pieces, by all means. But remember that they are past masters of propaganda, willing to spew out half-truths that conceal fundamental truths, such as the fact that ISIS is the spawn of Saudi Arabia and operates under a very similar a justice system. They’re also willing to spew outright lies like the idea that King Abdullah is some sort of reformer.
The Times makes the world a more dangerous place by lying. It’s just that simple. Every time journalists lie to millions about the actual state of the world, they degrade those people’s ability to make good decisions about the world, especially good political decisions about voting. Democracy, which puts power in ordinary people’s hands, requires an informed populace, which requires a media that does not knowingly distort facts or conceal unfortunate truths.
The American media, lead by the New York Times, has failed in that task, grossly, for decades. The blood of millions stains their hands and when the blame is apportioned for America’s decline, they shall have plenty for which to answer.
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