Saturday, February 23, 2008



The New York Times is in many ways a very odd publication. Anyone picking up a copy for the first time is bound to be impressed by its size, seeming comprehensiveness, and serious tone.

But if you read it for a while, and if you go back a while into its history, its impressiveness fades, badly.

Like so many things American, there's a lot of surface gloss and much less content of genuine depth.

The Times always defends the establishment. It becomes positively hot and bothered about supporting often-abusive institutions like the FBI over the rights of individuals, as in its hideous, long-term attack on Wen Ho Lee.

Where's the liberal (and I mean 'liberal' in the broadest sense) bias? In pompous editorials read like press releases for the American Imperium?

In a slick magazine whose mostly-vapid stories float in a thick ooze of advertising for expensive clothes, perfumes, and furniture?

In a letters column whose writers often use two lines to give their titles?

Try finding a tough op-ed piece in the New York Times. They're as common as farts in a church service.

By the way, the Letters Editors edit all submissions heavily, to the point sometimes of distorting a writer's point.

It frequently says truly dumb things. During the 'Diana troubles' in Britain, it editorially called the Royal Family, a dysfunctional bunch that couldn’t carry on, apparently forgetting how President Kennedy used to have prostitutes over at the White House swimming pool when Jackie was away or how President Johnson used to bark orders and conduct discussions while relieving himself.

Did The Times ever reveal to the American people what a manipulative monster J. Edgar Hoover was? As when his FBI tried to drive Martin Luther King to suicide? Oh, yes, long afterward.

Did it tell people, while he was destroying people's lives, that Joe McCarthy was a desperate drunk trying to revive a failing political career? Such questions are endless, and the answer to virtually all of them is "no."

A favorite technique of The Times keeps itself wrapped in the notion of the American paper of record. The Times often reports the wrong or incomplete facts on a controversial matter - there are hundreds of instances - and then later goes back, after the controversy has passed, and the need for timely information, and prints something closer to the truth.

The last, most egregious example was its effort to beat the drum for war in Iraq. It accepted most of the government rubbish at the time, although its reporters and editors must have known better.

The Times vendetta against Dr Wen Ho Lee remains a disgrace. A man never proven to have done anything was hounded by pages of accusations at The Times.

These accusations almost certainly came from tips from the FBI, a police force notorious for errors and underhanded techniques, again as Times editors surely know. They helped destroy the man's career.

Other glowing work by The Times includes revealing the identity and publishing the picture of a woman who claimed she was raped by a Kennedy cousin. Joining in the disgusting attacks on security guard, Richard Jewell, at the Atlanta Olympics as the man who may have planted a bomb when in fact he was proved innocent and something of a hero.

The Times has been heavily involved in the past with the ugly business of confusing intelligence agents as journalists. This practice is what has endangered so many journalists over recent decades abroad.

The Times is the home of the Thomas Friedman, who essentially works as an oleaginous aluminum-siding salesman for the Pentagon. He has written columns about world affairs of which a naive amateur should be ashamed.

His resemblance to portraits of Stalin, right down to the mustache, is likely no coincidence.