Saturday, February 10, 2007

The New Pravda... again.

Billmon (may he RIP) used to refer to the NYTimes as "The New Pravda" when it still employed war cheer-leading Judith Miller. His complaint was that it just parroted and amplified BushCo's talking points. He was that old-fashioned sort who thought that newspapers should be more than stenographers; that they should actually do some research and analysis and inform their readers rather than snow them. Few people and institutions are all bad and any as big as the NYTimes will tend to have examples from across the spectrum, however, it's our job to point out when they screw up and quote them when they do their jobs well.

Glenn Greenwald hammers The New Pravda today for having gone back to its old Judith Miller era ways.
But today, The New York Times does precisely the opposite -- it has published a lengthy, prominent front-page article by Michael Gordon that does nothing, literally, but mindlessly recite administration claims about Iran's weapons-supplying activities without the slightest questioning, investigation, or presentation of ample counter-evidence. The entire article is nothing more than one accusatory claim about Iran after the next, all emanating from the mouths of anonymous military and "intelligence officials" without the slightest verified evidence, and Gordon just mindlessly repeats what he has been told in one provocative paragraph after the next.

[...]

Every one of Gordon's sources are officials in the Bush administration, and all of them are completely anonymous, so one has no way to assess their interest, perspective, bias, or independence. And Gordon himself does not offer the slightest information to enable the reader to make such determinations, and he himself appears blissfully uninterested in any of that.

This is completely irresponsible journalism. The latest indications, including new revelations over the last few days, lend strong support to the suspicion that the Bush administration is intensifying its preparations for a military confrontation with Iran.

[...]

But why are these sources granted anonymity? All they are doing is passing along the standard, official line of the Bush administration, supposedly revealing the most inflammatory conclusions that the administration will "unveil" in just a few days. What possible purpose is served by shrouding these sources in anonymity in order to enable them to pass along these controversial claims with the appearance that Gordon has scored some sort of "scoop" by provoking candid "officials" to speak off the record? This is just Bush administration propaganda dressed up as a "leak" to induce Gordon and the NYT to excitedly publish this on their front page. Judy Miller anyone?

[...]

In fact, with the exception of one cursory note buried in the middle that the Iranian Government denies supplying Shiite militias with weapons, every paragraph in the article -- every one -- simply echoes accusations by military and other Bush officials that Iran is behind the attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq. If the White House were to prepare one of its famous Position Papers setting forth its case against Iran, it would look exactly like the article Gordon and the NYT just published on behalf of the administration. What is the point of this sort of article? Why would the New York Times just offer itself up again as a mindless vessel for what are clearly war-seeking accusations by the administration? Have they learned nothing?

And all of this is particularly inexcusable in light of the ample analysis and evidence -- already published by the LA Times and Washington Post, among others -- which raise serious questions about the reliability of the administration's accusations against Iran. There is no excuse whatsoever for writing a long, prominent article summarizing the administration's claims without even alluding to that evidence, let alone failing to conduct any investigation to determine the accuracy of the government's statements.

[...]

UPDATE II: As Greg Mitchell recalls in an article in Editor & Publisher, it was Michael Gordon "who, on his own, or with Judith Miller, wrote some of the key, and badly misleading or downright inaccurate, articles about Iraqi WMDs in the run-up to the 2003 invasion," and Gordon himself "wrote with Miller the paper's most widely criticized -- even by the Times itself -- WMD story of all, the Sept. 8, 2002, 'aluminum tubes' story that proved so influential, especially since the administration trumpeted it on TV talk shows" (h/t Zack).

The fundamental flaws in this article are as glaring as they are grotesque. Given the very ignominious history of Gordon and the NYT concerning the administration's war-seeking claims, how can this article possibly have been published?

3 Comments:

Blogger liberal journal man said...

I have heard Michael Gordon on television. He is a shill for the neocons, no different than Bill Kristol.

8:17 PM  
Blogger liberal journal man said...

Gordon is actually a voice activated tape recorder:
http://www.tinyrevolution.com/mt/archives/001315.html

8:56 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

That's a hoot! I just read about it at Digby's.

Sometimes you might just as well laugh...

10:16 PM  

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