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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

With Guns Blazing, We Shoot At The Shadow

The Anchoress is in a rare state today. She seems to be pushed to the wall by the continuous stream of outright lies in the press. She links to a White House release debunking a NY Times editorial, observing that the corrections are good, but the government shouldn't have to fact-check a major paper this way.

How major is the NY Times? I think it is on a greased slide to richly-deserved oblivion. The paper simply does not blush when caught printing egregious distortions, twisting, censoring, or simply inventing an individual's words, and outright lies. Who can trust it? There are good reporters at the NY Times, but who has time to figure out which ones are making it up and which ones are genuine journalists?

Nat Hentoff, (btw, part of TheFire.Org's board), has harshly and justly rebuked the NY Times and particularly its editorial writers:
Editorials in The New York Times are the plenary voice of that newspaper. Accordingly, editorial writers should be as accountable as the Times' reporters—when the editorial sages ignore the facts in a story and deeply sully someone's reputation.
Hentoff went on to expose distortions written in editorials about two particular federal nominees (Pickering and Brown), and closed with this question:
Several times, I left detailed messages for Gail Collins at the Times, giving her the true facts of Pickering's record—as Times reporters had found—but I never received an answer. Dan Okrent, the Times' ombudsman, told me he would write about this journalistic malfeasance, but he hasn't.

Will Dan Okrent's successor, Barney Calame, formerly of The Wall Street Journal, dare to call to account the writer of the April 28 editorial scandalizing Janice Rogers Brown—and will he ask Gail Collins if she deigns to have a fact checker looking at the editorials she sends out as the voice of the Times?
Well, we now know that nothing has changed, Nat.

Donald Luskin has done a good job of documenting Krugman's extraordinary compilation of untruths, although a bad job of extracting public corrections for them. But what can you do if the editorial staff of a paper is so devoid of a commitment to truth that it feels no shame about being caught in the worst sort of journalistic malfeasance? They wouldn't recognize a journalistic principle if it were caught gnawing on their legs - in fact, they'd have to resort to someone like Nat Hentoff to identify the critter - (more fact checking, btw, than they do on individuals about whom they write and who have authored articles the Gray Lady has published).

Mudville Gazette has an excellent compilation of the NY Times' compulsive need to make American servicemen and women say what the editors think they should say rather than what they do say:
...I've seen numerous examples of such behavior on the part of the New York Times over the past several months. All involve selective quoting, misquoting, or simply claiming a GI said something without actually quoting them at all. Most range in repugnance from mildly annoying to grossly reprehensible - but in what I believe is the worst case they appear to attempt to frame a soldier for murder.

Let's look back on a few examples of New York Times attacks on American GIs, shall we?
I heartily recommend it. An editor inserting words into Captain Phil Carter's piece was one of the more egregious cases. It doesn't get much worse than that.

Now, perhaps that will cast some light upon Gail Collin's claim that they just don't get many pro-Bush letters to the editor:
"The terrible fact is," she said, "we don't get many pro-Bush letters to the editor. When we do, we try to publish them."

Acknowledging the obvious -- Times letter-writers "are not a perfect cross-section of the American public" -- she urged her mostly female, mostly senior, mostly Republican audience to help her out next time President Bush gives a State of the Union speech.

"As soon as it's over, go to your e-mail and send us a two-paragraph, pithy letter, saying what a great speech that was. And your chances of being published will be really, really, really good. Our letters editor really looks for those kinds of letters and he doesn't get nearly enough of them."
I doubt that they will publish them unedited. The NY Times, as Hentoff wrote with such indignation, appears now to write articles based on political handouts. Radio Equalizer has the report on this weekend's Air America fiasco. See also TimesWatch.

I look at the NY Times as if it were an aging relative with dementia. There's nothing to be done with this paper but shuffle it quietly aside into a long term care facility. No one can trust what it is written in its pages. All the Gray Lady has to look forward to is a complimentary elegy at her funeral which tactfully ignores the misdeeds of her declining years.


Comments:
Nice post! I keep thinking that the NY Times (among other papers) has become exactly what they've accused blogs of being while at the same time the blogosphere has evolved (and continues to - in aggregate anyway) to provide what the newspapers used to: fact-checking, trustworthiness, responsiveness, etc. Ironic, isn't it?
 
Could it be that when the NYT is called into question over some of these things that they take it as a sign of success? One of those bizarre kind of we must be doing something right because we are annoying the right people kind of thoughts.

It's frustrating because throughout much of the world the NYT is seen as the pro US voice. The next sources are the USA Today and CNN. And they wonder why we aren't liked (that's actually not true in my experience, the anti American sentiment I run across is less now than it has been over most of the last 15 years or so).
 
EUrota has a post

http://eurota.blogspot.com/2005/11/msm-paper-trails.html

which devastates the NYTIMES editorial board:

EUrota: The lead editorial in today's NYT is of interest. The editorial recounts, as truthful, the big lie of the Left, "Bush Lied, People Died".

This of course refers to the sorry claim of manipulated intelligence used in the run-up to the war in Iraq. From the [NYTIMES] editorial:

"The administration had little company in saying that Iraq was actively trying to build a nuclear weapon. The evidence for this claim was a dubious report about an attempt in 1999 to buy uranium from Niger, later shown to be false, and the infamous aluminum tubes story. That was dismissed at the time by analysts with real expertise."

ME: EUrota then lists ONE DOZEN (12) stories FROM THE NYTIMES ITSELF - ALL WRITTEN DURING THE CLINTON ERA - which directly refute their own editorial! Use the link; RTWT!

ALSO: I want to point out that the NYTIMES editorial argues that the BUSH SOTU CLAIM was based on the forged documents - WHICH IS A BLATANT LIE. The famous 16 words were based on British intel, which was reinvestigated by the Lord Butler Commission, and which was determined to be totally accurate.

MY POINT: the NYTIMES editorial board is not made up of illiterate, tin-foil hatted morons who don't read their own paper, or who never heard of the Lord Butler Report. They KNOW the truth and therefore, when they critricize Bush on this front, THEY ARE WILLFULLY LYING. It is the most shameless bit of lying since their USSR reporter - Duranty - DELIBERATELY LIED ABOUT STALIN.

The WHITE HOUSE weighs in, proving the NYTIMES IS WRONG, by finding links to A DOZEN AND A HALF (18) stories which show that every other foreign government and most of the Democrat leadership agreed with the Bush Administration's analysis of the Iraq WMD intel. And of course: the NYTIMES editorial board is smart enough to know all this, too.

Why does the NYTIMES do this? What does this prove?

The NYTIMES: LYING, LEFTIST SCUM. THEY LIED TO PROTECT STALIN; THEY LIE NOW TO HELP SADDAM AND ZARQAWI.

[ADDENDUM: the sad thing is, MANY people ONLY read the NYTIMES, or use MSM media whose agenda is set by the NYTIMES. These people all hate Bush. NO WONDER: all they read are anti-Bush LIES!]
 
This is really thorough- well done.

It is the relentless pattern of deceit that is most disturbing. There is less and less of an attempt to even hide the bias.

As Reliapundit points out, the NYT can disregard itself- make the past disappear, if you will, when it so chooses, without even an attempt at reconcilliation.

Like politicians, the MSM can flip flop at will- truth be damned.
 
The memory hole?

Yes. Reliapundit, I looked at your link and that is quite depressing. But what can we expect from this crew.

I have other examples. We all do.

The difference now is that individuals are talking about the inaccuracies they notice. It adds up to one awful picture. Kobayashi is right - people do care. We don't read the news to waste time. We don't expect perfection, but we do expect the assertions printed as true to be factual.
 
I hate to say this, but with Bush's approval rating in the tank, don't you see that these biased news sources are still influencing great numbers of the public? I know that everyone thinks blogs are correcting this bias, but millions of people NEVER SEE A SINGLE CORRECTION! Why don't Americans approve of the Iraq war? Well, because MSM has done a great job of filling them full of depressing stories, many of which contain lies. And almost never running a postiive story about it or our soldiers. What can we do about that? I honestly don't know - I argue with a left-wing liberal here in my office and he uses Jimmy Carter's speech and NYT and moveon.org to argue back. He thinks all of US are liars (well, he doesn't think I am - he thinks I'm deceived). I wish I could believe that we're making headway here, but right now I do not.
 
I agree.

It's not just political, though. This sort of misreporting has confused most of the US when it comes to our budget options, etc.

It's highly disturbing that we don't know the fiscal basics of our economy, and the NY Times has been a big part of that confusion.
 
Tommy, I've been thinking about it, and I just can't see how anyone could believe that being caught making things up and misquoting people could be seen as a "sign of success".
 
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