Tuesday :: Jun 14, 2005

All The News That's Fit for Pricks

by larre

AfterDowningStreet.org has a superb article titled The Sad and Continuing Saga of the Downing Street Memo's 'Coverage' in the New York Times by David Michael Green. Read it. Weep with me. Sign the petition. Write the Times editors.

I've been one who assumed the Times simply got beat to the Downing Street Memo story and out of sheer embarrassment, or perhaps obstinacy, excuses itself from playing 'catch up' by claiming it's a non-story. No longer. Between Green and Josh Marshall and last Monday's astonishingly fabulist piece by David Sanger, I'm now convinced there's something deeply wrong inside the New York Times.

The "sad" part Green refers to is that the Times, in an earlier era a courageous paragon of the press, inexplicably continues to duck and weave around the Downing Street Memo, as if sucking up to the pricks that run this country. The Downing Street Memo is not 'real news', the newspaper argues. Not news? This from a newspaper that has devoted more words to Michael Jackson's daytime sleepwear than to official documents from our closest ally revealing its contemporaneous understanding of the Bush administration's criminal disregard for international law?

Green thinks that in virtually ignoring the Downing Street Memo the Times is

"either lying about why they didn’t run with the DSM as a huge bombshell of domestic politics in the US, or – if you believe [retired public editor Daniel] Okrent’s alibi – they were breathtakingly incompetent.
In either case, he asks --
"What can we say about the state of American democracy when the country’s newspaper of record is in the hands of buffoons so inept that the foreign editor couldn’t find the phone number of the Washington editor to let him know of a story which goes to the heart of the single most important policy issue of our time, a story which could easily lead to the impeachment and removal of a president?
Equally inexplicable was David Sanger's entirely capricious June 13 re-interpretation of the Downing Street Memo, titled Prewar British Memo Says War Decision Wasn't Made. It would be difficult to find a more surreal piece of non-reporting outside the astrology pages of your local newspaper.

Now, as Josh Marshall notes, we're being treated to the wilfully gullible Judith Miller, of all people, assigned to cover the U.N. oil-for-food allegations. Judith Miller! It wouldn't be all that wrong to call her the Jayson Blair of international news reporting, except at least Blair had imagination enough to dream things up. Judith Miller's limited imagination leads her to report the lies of others as if they were the truth. And nearly 2,000 American soldiers have died, thanks in part to that.

Miller should have been fired, for god's sake, not given a new assignment! As long as the editors continue to tolerate her presence on staff, international reporting by the New York Times is going to be regarded as untrustworthy. As Josh Marshall puts it, much more nicely:

[I]f you know any of the history of the last five years it's simply impossible to read Miller's articles on this subject and have any confidence that what you're reading is anything that, by any measure, can be considered the straight story.

When it comes to the Times, Green is absolutely right to ask "WHAT IS WITH THESE GUYS??" Do as he suggests: write the Times editors and tell 'em how you feel as you watch what was once America's premier daily newspaper fall dead-off the cliff of respectable journalism into the media trash heap.

Executive Editor Bill Keller at executive-editor@nytimes.com
Managing Editor Jill Abrahson at managing-editor@nytimes.com
Public Editor Bryron Calame at public@nytimes.com


Think Progress calmly and decisively deconstructs David Sanger's Monday fantasy and in a separate article provides links to six British cabinet-level papers that tell the tale the New York Times won't speak of.

larre :: 12:20 PM :: Comments (14) :: TrackBack (1) :: Digg It!