Skip to comments.Gray Lady gets more egg on her face: 'Newspaper of record' bias machine working overtime
Posted on 11/21/2003 6:00:21 AM PST by JohnHuang2
Gray Lady gets egg on her face
Posted: November 21, 2003
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2003 WorldNetDaily.com
As Ronald Reagan would say, "There you go again."
Last week, the New York Times downplayed a remarkable story, first broken by radio talk-show host Sean Hannity, about a memo revealing a Democrat Party plot to use the Senate Intelligence Committee as a tool for political gain. When the Times finally got around to reporting the story 48 hours after it broke the paper not only buried the story on page 12, it repositioned it from a blatant "scandal" to a mere political "feud" between the parties, and omitted any reference to the widely-reported charge by Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga., that the memo was the "first cousin of treason."
This week, the Weekly Standard magazine broke a story about another memo involving the Senate Intelligence Committee a classified Defense Department memo that provided detailed evidence of long-standing connections between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. "Case Closed" declared the Weekly Standard. If the facts set forth in the memo are true, the war in Iraq could easily be justified by even the Times' own standards. The story's newsworthiness was obvious ... or was it?
As I write this, over 72 hours have passed since the Weekly Standard broke the story, yet the only reference of the classified memo in the New York Times was the following mention by Times op-ed columnist William Safire (Nov. 19, 2003):
The secret memo detailing 50 instances [of decade-long links between Saddam's Iraqi regime and Osama bin Laden's terror network] has gone relatively uncovered by major media because it surfaced in the current Weekly Standard.
Was Safire right? Has the Times been ignoring the story because it surfaced in the Weekly Standard? I don't think so. It's not about sources (after all, the Times recently hired former Weekly Standard writer David Brooks to write a twice-weekly op-ed column). No, it's about substance: (1) downplaying stories that might impair the Democrat Party's ability to win the next presidential election and (2) repositioning stories that run counter to the perceptions the Times has been working to weave into the public mind.
Take, for example, the myth perpetuated by the mainstream media that the United States was "going it alone" in Iraq. Suddenly, a major story broke which directly challenged the myth: The leaders of eight European countries published an open letter supporting President Bush's strategy to disarm Saddam Hussein. This remarkable rebuke of France and Germany was published as an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal and in the leading newspaper in each signatory's country.
It didn't matter that the Wall Street Journal broke the story. It was big news, a simple story that demanded a simple headline something like, "Eight European Nations Declare Strong Support for Bush on Iraq." But for the Times to have placed such a headline on its front page would have belied the perception it helped create that we were "going it alone." In an apparent attempt to protect the "going-it-alone" myth, the paper buried the story on page 10 and crafted a headline and lead sentence from which one could hardly recognize the import of the story (Jan. 30, 2003):
EUROPEAN NATIONS DIVIDE BETWEEN HAWKS AND DOVES
LONDON, Jan. 30 Assuming a somewhat frayed mantle as global diplomat, Prime Minister Tony Blair flew to the United States tonight to meet President Bush, bearing an unusual pledge of support from nine European leaders but leaving a continent ever more divided over the need for war against Iraq.
Did the Times twist the news because it was first reported in a rival newspaper ... or because the truth was just too favorable to President Bush? More likely, if the perception that we were "going it alone" were not maintained, the Times editorial writers would have much egg to wipe off their faces. The truth that France and Germany were becoming increasingly isolated in their opposition to Bush had to be obscured.
Likewise, the myth that a non-partisan Senate committee was earnestly seeking to investigate the effectiveness of our intelligence agencies had to be protected (along with the Times' criticism of the Bush administration's intelligence gathering). The truth that Senate Democrats were using the Senate Intelligence Committee as a political tool (and the Times as its publicity agent) had to be obscured. Finally, this week, the myth that the Iraq war was unjustified because there was no link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida, as the Times has repeatedly editorialized, had to be protected. The truth that Saddam Hussein's regime posed a direct threat to American security had to be obscured.
Whether the reason for obscuring the truth is rooted in its political opposition to President Bush or an arrogant reluctance to admit its errors, the result is the same: the abandonment of a century-old mission of reporting the news "impartially, without fear or favor." They did it last year. They did it again last week. They did it again this week.
With thanks to Ronald Reagan for showing us how these people behave: There they go, again.
They are not. They are honestly pursuing their agenda.