Saturday, December 31, 2005


The New York Observer: Why Times Ran Wiretap Story, Defying Bush

The New York Times came under considerable critical pressure for months before it issued the first of a series of mea culpas on May 26, 2004 for its coverage of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The paper caved only after the fall of Judith Miller's favorite source, Ahmad Chalabi.

An example of the many critical articles is Engineering consent: The New York Times' role in promoting war on Iraq by Antony Loewenstein in the March 23, 2004 Sydney Morning Herald. The Times was a willing mouthpiece for articles which could be traced back to information paid for and fed to the press by the Bush administration:
Is there not a responsibility to acknowledge that one of your senior reporters got so many of her Iraq stories wrong? Apparently newspapers hope their readers have very short memories.

In a further indication of the corruption of the reporting on Iraq’s WMD, US based news service Knight Ridder reported in March 2004:

“The former Iraqi exile group that gave the Bush administration exaggerated and fabricated intelligence on Iraq also fed much of the same information to newspapers, news agencies and magazines in the United States, Britain and Australia ...

How many of those 108 stories were republished in Australian newspapers, and how many of them contained misleading or outright untrue information? How many were corrected when the truthful information finally became available? And how did these false news stories contribute to the general public’s feelings about our involvement in the invasion?
The Times cooperation with the White House has apparently not ended. We learned of course that editors deliberately delayed publication of the wiretapping story for a year. Also troubling is a meeting between Bush and the editors of the Time and Washington Post--the latter with regard to its withholding the locations of the secret CIA prisons in Europe (Columbia Journalism Daily, Dec. 27, 2005 -- What We Don’t Know: The Times and the Post Go Silent On Us, by Gal Beckerman).

But this time, it appears that the Times only printed the wiretap story because it would have come out anyway in a forthcoming book, and it would not only have lost the "scoop" but become the target of media criticism once again. Well, the criticism is unavoidable, of course.

The New York Observer: Why Times Ran Wiretap Story, Defying Bush or from: Google search
According to multiple Times sources, the decision to move forward with the story was accelerated by the forthcoming publication of Mr. Risen’s book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.
It's important to take away from this not the hope that the Times will magically change its ways, but an understanding of what can be expected in the future based on its current performance, where the loyalties of its editors and publishers seem to lie, and how the times might view its responsibilities to its readers and the public.


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