Saturday, February 18, 2006

And today's Hamas bulletin from the NY Times is...

...this article, entitled: "Hamas leader faults Israel sanction plan."

It's not that the Times has become a mouthpiece for Hamas propaganda. Not exactly. Not precisely.

But it certainly comes uncomfortably close. Here are the first three paragraphs of the article (the part most people are likely to read):

The man many expect to become the new Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniya of the militant Islamic group Hamas, on Friday criticized Israeli proposals to restrict the movement of money, people and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank under a Hamas-run Palestinian Authority.

"These Israeli decisions are part of the policy of repression, terrorism and collective punishment against our people," Mr. Haniya said after leaving Friday Prayer in Gaza City. "Hamas reflects the choice of our people, who will not be broken by a few measures taken by the Israeli occupiers."

A new, Hamas-dominated parliament will be sworn in on Saturday at simultaneous, videoconferenced sessions in Gaza and the West Bank, and afterward, Israeli officials say, relations with the Palestinians will change.


Here, the Times somehow manages to write three entire paragraphs without an iota of context, merely reporting what the "Hamas leader" says. It's an interesting moment for the Times to revert to "just the facts, ma'am, just the facts."

Later, at least, there's this (the only acknowledgement in the article of who and what Hamas is):

The [Israeli sanction] effort is intended to force Hamas to satisfy the three conditions imposed by Israel and other countries: to recognize Israel's permanent right to exist, to forswear violence and to accept the validity of previous Palestinian-Israeli agreements, which are based on the concept of a two-state solution as the foundation stone for a peace treaty.

But then it's followed by this:

Dov Weissglas, an adviser to the [Israeli] prime minister, was quoted by the Israeli news media as telling an official meeting: "It's like a meeting with a dietitian. We need to make the Palestinians lose weight, but not to starve to death." Mr. Weissglas was quoted in the past as saying that Israel would be ready to make peace with the Palestinians when they became as responsible as the citizens of Finland.

That last sentence, especially, is a remarkable one to place in this particular article. Bringing up this particular quote from the past seems to have the intent of making the Israelis sound as though they are asking for the moon from the Palestinians, rather than their rather reasonable request that Hamas quit talking about destroying Israel, and stop purposely blowing up their kids.

The fact that the Times gratuitously dragged it in, undated and unsourced (Weissglas "was quoted in the past"--could a blogger get away with that?), in an article that is minus a single Hamas quote about obliterating Israel or drinking the blood of the Israelis (oh, surely the Times wouldn't have had too much trouble finding a few representative ones if it cared to look; for example, this and this), can only be interpreted as bias on the part of the Times.

I'm getting rather tired of this myself. Tired of reading it, tired of fisking it. No doubt you are, too. So I'm not planning to turn this Times-bashing into a daily event. But sometimes it just cries out to be done.

16 Comments:

At 12:55 PM, February 18, 2006, Blogger David Thomson said...

The New York Times is still influential. We therefore cannot completely ignore this media behemoth. Nonetheless, its power is declining at a rapid rate. A few more years and it will no longer be a serious player.

Who actually reads the Times on a regular basis other than blue state crazies? Do normal people even bother? Why don’t we link more often to the editorial pages of the New York Post? After all, it’s a far better newspaper.

 
At 1:28 PM, February 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The quote from Dov Weisglass: is it really from the "past?" If ttwo weeks ago is the "past," OK, but that's not how the NYT or you are using it.
The quote appears, slightly different, in a Feb. 18 article in Mail&Guardianonline and was supposed to have been uttered at a meeting to discuss how to deal with the Hamas government.
Is that from "the past" or still "current events?"

 
At 2:06 PM, February 18, 2006, Blogger camojack said...

The "Old Gray Lady" is no lady at all.

 
At 2:32 PM, February 18, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

"These Israeli decisions are part of the policy of repression, terrorism and collective punishment against our people," Mr. Haniya said after leaving Friday Prayer in Gaza City. "Hamas reflects the choice of our people, who will not be broken by a few measures taken by the Israeli occupiers."

Has HAMAS told us how they are keeping Israel from destroying them with nukes? I mean... come on, when are they going to stop hiding their secret weapons. Questions must be asked, and answers given here.

I'm getting rather tired of this myself. Tired of reading it, tired of fisking it. No doubt you are, too. So I'm not planning to turn this Times-bashing into a daily event. But sometimes it just cries out to be done.

You really need to divert doing what you do to the NYTimes and redirect it to commercials you see. You'll be a lot more happy, and your analytic skills won't rust either. Cause the same biases, methods, and persuasion techniques are in commercials as it is in the TImes, except the commercials are MUCH BETTER at it. More persuasive, more honest, more funny, more truthful, more interesting, and a lot more creative. There just comes a point when you have to start seeing more creative things than the splurge gunk that comes out of the NYT.

There comes a point, I suppose, when you have analyzed the enemy's tactics in full spectrum, and there is nothing left to gather. Except to initiate the final attack.

Here is the good news, and the result of successful attacks against the NYTimes. In a guerrila war, which is what the internet/bloggers vs MSM really is, victories are counted not in body bags, but in the minds of the political animal. Human beings.

Link

 
At 3:11 PM, February 18, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

gcotharn diagnosis:

I suspect (because I have had some of the same feelings myself) you are grieving the death of the NYT which once existed, or which you once believed existed, and which you loved. The world has changed, and your grieving is your way of relearning how to live and to thrive in the new world which now exists. Your grieving is a courageous thing. A positive thing. I commend you.

Heh. I've always wanted to diagnose(even if unasked, & even if incorrectly) a psychologist!

 
At 4:29 PM, February 18, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

This Document addressed by Austin Bay

shows a stunning look into Al-Qaeda's business relationship and employee benefits.

If the White House was smart, they would have "leaked" this, quote unquote, to a Fox News reporter, and that Fox News reporter would have advertised for 5 days about an "exclusive" from government sources.

It is not so much different from advertising and marketing. You need to generate a hype, you need to draw attention to yourselves, and then when you release the product, more people are going to buy it.

In the case of news, war intelligence, and WOT documents, this means that more people will gain access to information that might contradict the NYT.

…the Department of Defense’s Harmony Database, this report provides an analysis of al-Qa’ida’s organizational vulnerabilities. These documents, captured in the course of operations supporting the GWOT, have never before been made available to the academic and policy community.

Excuse me, but where's the freaking Fox News exlusive then if this hadn't been available before?

I stand, and watch, and am amazed at the incompetence of the Bush administration, given so much material and facts and resources, and yet can't even market it.

Same applies to Bush on economy btw.

The NYTimes may be stale, but at least they aren't delayed by moral concerns.

See, See, Bush doesn't want to "lie" to the American people and neither does our military. So if they just allow the "media" to lie to us, then that is all right it seems to them. But it ain't all right, at all.

The Bushies and the Army ain't keeping their hands clean of propaganda just cause they leave it to the NYTimes.

 
At 4:40 PM, February 18, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Oh ya, I have to say this again, btw, just to remake the point.

Thanks, President Bush, for going to the UN and giving Saddan more than six months to destroy crucial documentation that might have saved American lives and Iraqi lives as well. I'm sure that is definitely not a mistake you would admit in front of the cameras, however, cause for some reason, I don't think you realize it was a mistake.

Where Are the Pentagon Papers?
The administration refuses to defend itself.
by Stephen F. Hayes
11/21/2005, Volume 011, Issue 10

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It's not an easy job. Some of the documents are forged. Others are hard to read after being damaged by fire, or the water used to extinguish those fires, in the days and weeks after the U.S. invasion. Making the job even more difficult is the fact that many of these documents have come from larger sets of documents that never made it to Doha. We know that the Iraqi regime in the run-up to war systematically destroyed what it considered the most incriminating evidence of its misdeeds. So our analysts are essentially looking at isolated pieces of a much larger puzzle without knowing whether they will ever have the remaining pieces.

The document collection effort in Iraq was haphazard, to say the least. No comprehensive guidance was ever provided to soldiers and intelligence officials on what exactly they should collect. This lack of direction meant that in many cases unit commanders made decisions about what to gather and what to discard. When David Kay ran the Iraq Survey Group searching for weapons of mass destruction, he instructed his team to ignore anything not directly related to the regime's WMD efforts. As a consequence, documents describing the regime's training and financing of terrorists were labeled "No Intelligence Value" and often discarded, according to two sources.


Good job with the WMDs Mr. President, I'm sure that's not a mistake either.

Erasmus talks about the culture of fear on the right, but it really is a culture of frustration. A lot of people are unhappy with Bush, but we all know, unlike Erasmus, that complaining about things gone past don't really do anything.

For one thing, Bush ain't gonna admit it because Bush doesn't think like us in some respects. For another thing, saving America requires current solutions, not stupid complaints about the management.

Doesn't mean people don't mutter about the Bush administration when they see what they might have gotten, but the Right is pragmatic, they will take what they can get.

Maybe you have to become kind of spoiled, to believe that everything you are told you would get, you would actually get in this world.

The Pentagon harmony papers

Bush isn't as bad as the alternatives of course, but sometimes even the pragmatic choices Americans are forced to choose, can make us go bonkers over time.

 
At 7:45 PM, February 18, 2006, Anonymous bob said...

The New York Times, again. Boooiinnnggg.

 
At 8:46 AM, February 19, 2006, Blogger Joseph Marshall said...

Well, gee. You don't like reporting what happened and what was said and you would like the Times to editorialize on the evilness of Hamas.

Okay. I presume they have enough newshole to do it. It would unequivocally demonstrate that, at least for one story, the Times was not manifesting its "liberal bias".

But it would not display "objective journalism" in any way, shape, or form.

The fact that they do not display this and they still would not display this with "context" you demand, does not bother me in the least. I learned long ago that "objective journalism" is a concept as empty of content that relates to the real world as "the present King of France".

And I have read newspapers, both from my lifetime and from before I was born, long enough to know that the notion of "objective journalism" has always been empty of real world content.

Nor would what you suggest constitute "reporting the news". And that does bother me.

The news is what the Israelis are doing about the election of Hamas and what they have been saying that they wish to do about it. The news is also what Hamas is saying about what the Israelis are doing and saying.

You might fault the fact that the New York Times reports this in the reverse order to the paragraph above, and giving Hamas the headline, which is why I stated it above in the order that I did.

But I don't think even this is that sound a criticism, given the nature of news.

The Palestinian response has clearly occurred after the Israeli actions and words, they are in response to the Israeli actions and words, therefore, it is the stuff we don't already know. It is the real "news" which the Times has not reported previously.

I think it perfectly clear that any newspaper has no ethical obligation to do more than recap what it has already covered, and not to quote something Hamas leaders said in a videotape made in 2004, which is one of the things you are asking it to do.

By that standard the Times would have to contextualize everything at least all the way back to the Balfour Decision, and perhaps even back to the Roman destruction of the Temple.

The Times can legitimately assume we know already that Hamas is a terrorist organization that has done bloodcurdling things and that it is implacably hostile to Israel, just as it can assume we know that when Hamas won the election that Europe, America, and Israel were stunned and dismayed by that fact.

I was stunned and dismayed, too, and for very good reasons. But I see no reason why a newspaper should constantly continue to report on that fact, no matter what else has happened since.

 
At 9:47 AM, February 19, 2006, Blogger Bezuhov said...

Pure objectivity is of course impossible, but the effort toward producing an objective account can still be worthwhile and not coincidentally, valuable. Indeed, it was that value upon which the Times built its reputation and not coincidentally, its fortune, a fortune being rapidly exhausted by the current Sulzburger along with the reputation.

If I wish to travel west, I'd do well to head toward the setting sun; I of course never expect to reach the sun, but it can still act as a useful guide. Certainly one can make distinctions among accounts as to which are more objective or less even if the ideal is unreachable, and for a paper that purports to be the one of record, the former should be the goal, or else a new paper of record found.

 
At 10:34 AM, February 19, 2006, Blogger Joseph Marshall said...

The motto of the Times is All The News That's Fit To Print. We may take that with a large grain of salt now, but we should have taken it with a grain of salt all along. Particularly those of us who didn't live in New York.

The real alternative to the Times was, not, say, the Chicago Tribune. It was the New York Daily News. What the motto really meant was None Of The News That Was Not Fit To Print. You found that in the Daily News.

The Times was the paper of record in the same sense that CBS News [pre-Dan Rather] was the preeminent news network.

CBS had the biggest investment in correspondents abroad and the greatest range of correspondents at home. The Times had the greatest range of its own special coverage beyond the wires.

But it was not the paper of record in any other way. I have spent considerable time among the microfilms of its fellow papers, as well as newsmagazines, and the Times was neither more objective nor, except for its wider resources, more thorough at covering events at home or abroad.

Indeed, anyone who wants real historical detail, particularly about New York, but sometimes even abroad, would be far better served to make the Times the last microfilm reels you look at.

If you go back and read about the Battle of Britain in a now long forgotten New York tabloid called PM Daily, it is unbelievably compelling and detailed compared to the Times' pedestrian coverage.

PM Daily, by the way, was by far the most overtly Liberal paper in the New York City in its day. Anyone who wants to know what "liberal bias" really looks like should take a little time in the NY Public Library and read its microfilms from the forties.

The only advantage to the Times "for the record" is its tradition of comprehensive and widely available indexing. You go to the indexes and, occasionally, to the issues themselves to find out what happened that you don't already know about, but if you want to find out how and why it happened you go to the other papers.

The Times has generally acted on the premise that most of the how and why things happened was not "fit to print". And it is only the self-important tone which it has always assumed, along with its indexing, that has sustained the illusion that it ever was an objective "paper of record".

 
At 12:46 PM, February 19, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

To Joseph Marshall:

I am well aware that true objectivity is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. But the Times doesn't even come close, while simultaneously and sanctimoniously holding itself out as being objective. In this, it's no different from many other newspapers, but it remains an especially influential one (although less and less so as time goes on).

The Times seems recently to be assiduously avoiding characterizing Hamas as a terrorist organization in its articles. "Terrorist" isn't such a long and involved word, and wouldn't take up a whole lot of space, nor does it need in-depth explanations when used this way. And no, it cannot be assumed that everyone knows that Hamas is dedicated to terrorism, not in the context of these articles. The omission of the word is stunning, and quite consistent.

The present article, and the one I cited here and which appeared in the Times the previous day, are cases in point. Clarity and a semblance of objectivity certainly would not require going back to the Balfour declaration and filling the reader in on everything that has happened since; the simple word "terrorist" would do, and perhaps even a sentence mentioning Hamas's intent towards Israel, as stated in its own charter. Why? Because Hamas's positions are the reasons for Israel's reaction--for the sanctions, and for nearly everything else Israel is planning in reaction, which is the subject matter of the article. Without this particular context, the actions of Israel can seem merely unmotivated meanness and cruelty.

In this article, the Times also managed to go back and quote an Israeli official in some detail, without sourcing it with any context, in a way that reflected negatively on the Israelis. It did not do so for Hamas, and this is a consistent pattern.

Let me make it perfectly clear: this would not require, as you say, "editorializing" on the "evilness" of Hamas. It would simply be "reporting what happened and what was said" in equal measure.

To write two articles, back to back--one featuring a "pragmatic" Hamas leader without explaining what is so pragmatic about him and without explaining explicitly what he advocates about Israel's existence and terrorist attacks, and the other featuring that wonderfully "pragmatic" leader saying that Israel commits terrorism against Palestinians without a single acknowledgement in the article that Hamas is a terrorist organization to the core--to think that this is simple "reporting" is absurd, I'm afraid.

 
At 1:06 PM, February 19, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

The news is in fact anything that is fit to print. That seems, rather, patently obvious. As was already pointed out.

Most Americans don't like other people deciding for them, what they need to know or don't need to know. Some might tolerate it for national security reasons, but not for a bunch of specious reporters.

The role of the paper of record in deciding what people should read and what people should not read, is pretty victorian. In the sense of the intellectual mores, if not the social mores. It decides what is fit and what is not fit, it decides what is socially responsible and not. For most Americans, they don't like their elected representatives nosing in their lives and they especially don't like the elected representatives of "other people" doing the same. Yet, the American people have been forced to tolerate this kind of scrutiny and reporting without representation for decades. Without the ability to fire the editors and the reporters in question.

In the end, the US military is far more accountable than almost any news agency, either in independent scrutiny or total algamation.

"Let me make it perfectly clear: this would not require, as you say, "editorializing" on the "evilness" of Hamas. It would simply be "reporting what happened and what was said" in equal measure."

Many humans are born in villages that are extremely parochial. They do not encounter new races, new cultures, or even new ideas that often. Therefore they are much less accepting of anything new fangled.

The reason why they are parochial and not cosmopolitan, is because they get only one side of the story. Whether that is from rumors, their family, or what papers they can read. One sided sources produce lack of genetic diversity, and that produces stagnancy and inaccurate formation of thought.

Logic can go a long ways to purifying the lack of balance, grace, and truth in the information available, but even logic cannot create and validate axioms from which the facts are not available for the constitution.

Many Americans understand in their heart the philosophy of the First Ammendment, and the basic underpinings of representative democracy.

And that basic tenet is that too much information is better than too little information. Expect people to behave as you would like for them to behave in an ideal world, if you dumb things down because of your low expectations, then people will act as you treat them. A basic human tendency in our natures.

The additional precepts to the basic tenet, is that bad arguments should be countered with good arguments, and all things being equal the good arguments win out in the end always.

Reporting all the news that is fit to print is not "all things being equal". It is all things as decided by people in power.

The word context does not describe the full philosophy of the 1st Ammendment in any detail. Simply because in the vernacular, many people have not connected the idea of the Truth, with the language of context, to the Bill of Rights.

WIth more information available, the harder it is for a lie to travel and con men and women. Google knows this very well, which is why they decided to enter the Chinese market after 2000. More information, even if there are some restrictions, is better than no information with no restrictions. The Chinese have been persecuting freedom of speech for a long time now, introducing new tools and empowering the persecuted provides new playing field. Hopefully more leveled and equal.

People who say they are afraid that more information isn't reporting the news, really mean that it isn't the news that they would prefer to be reported.

Unfortunately, that is not consistent with the freedom of speech nor the philosophical tenets most Americans agree with.

Americans are voracious readers, the time of illteracy is over. There is not only a huge market out there, but a huge craving for new ideas, new thoughts, new vistas, and yes, new information.

The NYTimes will eventually fade away, but in the meantime those interested in true freedom of speech and not just propaganda, will have to contain and guarantine the damage that the NYTimes and her sisters will do until they die.

 
At 10:16 AM, February 20, 2006, Blogger Tom Grey said...

please keep fisking NYT frequently (I'd suggest a 1 per week target -- but whenever it's particularly aggravating or important.)

So I don't have to read them and don't feel I'm missing much.

 
At 9:31 PM, February 20, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

I like neo-neocon’s not all that frequent NYT exposes. Sure, it’s old hat to some but always interesting to see the bias sliced & diced. The blog gets a lot of traffic & there are probably a significant number of those who read these deconstructions that have never seen the veil removed. Once they are illuminated they will from that time on be reading the NYT a little differently than before.

 
At 10:25 AM, February 22, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I feel sorry for anyone reading the New York Times, especially george H bush. They are so wasting time better spent on other things.

That's like reading Daily Kos to catch up on the enemy's talking points. If that is your job, sure go ahead win one for the gipper, but if it isn't...

 

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