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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I never know what's real anymore.....

I no longer know whether to take the NYTimes as literal. I mean, there have always been doubts and skepticism, but after watching so closely for so many years, I've come to the conclusion that I no longer know they're level of complicity in a "the government says" article.

Are they genuinely reporting? Is the story of their genesis or did they get a coordinated "leak" giving an entire unchallenged narrative? Who gave them the story and what was their motivation? Do they see their role as simply printing what "senior officials" say, and is that news or simply propaganda? They no longer supply adequate context for the "leak," and they seem happy to supply their front page for this dubious "news."

Today's convoluted example,
The Obama administration is turning up the pressure on Pakistan to fight the Taliban inside its borders, warning that if it does not act more aggressively the United States will use considerably more force on the Pakistani side of the border to shut down Taliban attacks on American forces in Afghanistan, American and Pakistani officials said.

On this one, I could see a case that the Pakistani's were talking to the NYTimes to spin their own people or pressure the Obama folks domestically over "escalation." I could see the Obama folks pointing out this "story" to the NYTimes to give the US public a sense that they're going hard or to publicly pressure or offer cover to the Pakistanis.

The bottom line is that the origin of this story invariably has a motive, and printing it free of that source's motive is pretty genuinely dishonest. In effect, they're repeatedly turning part of their front page over for someone else's propaganda without providing the context of who or what they're motive seems to be.

I'm sorry. I don't know why this got to me this morning on this story (which is far from the most egregious example.) This has become common NYTimes practice over the years. It happened during the Bush administration, most famously on aluminum tubes and Iran propaganda, but it's continued on into the Obama administration.

It just feels wrong for the NYTimes to grant their front page and prime organization "news" credibility to something so transparently purposeful without providing the context.

(As a counter "reporting example," here is the front page of the WaPo. Baghdad bombing (just facts,) Sec Def Gates says "We're in to win this thing" (fully sourced, context explained,) and some great in the field reporting from Afghanistan about how some locals and local officials prefer the Taleban.)


  • That WAPO article gets to the heart of the matter. Many Afghans prefer the Taliban way of doing things. Of course we are told that they have no choice.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:05 PM  

  • I'm not sure they prefer the Taleban methods so much as trust them. The rules are clear and enforced. The top figures aren't stealing from the people.

    It's kinda like when the Iraqis polled that they preferred living under Saddam. It's not that Saddam was great, just that the circumstances were consistent.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 8:08 PM  

  • I think it's a mindset. The Taliban are Afghans. The US is seen as a Christian invader. It takes generations to change something like that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:28 AM  

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