Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Times Catches Up

Today the New York Times finally caught up with our Not Fit to Print item of yesterday. The Times story, by Greg Myre, is a really nauseating example of two distinct Times editorial policies--1) its policy of shilling for Palestinian leader Mohammed Abbas by finding excuses for his failures, and 2) its policy of pretending that the Road Map doesn't exit (that is, as far as the Palestinians are concerned; for the Israelis it is engraved in stone).

To recapitulate: On Monday, Abbas knuckled under to a mob in Gaza and released a Hamas killer, Jamal Aawad. Not a word in the Times. The Daily Telegraph reported the details on Tuesday, saying that Egyptian diplomats were forced to intervene, "spelling out to the Abbas administration the dire consequences of not releasing the gunman, Jamal Aawad. Within hours he was free."

The so-called Road Map for Peace requires the Palestinians to dismantle terrorist organizations, which presumably involves doing unpleasant stuff like arresting gunmen.

The Times today was in admirable form, functioning very much as you would expect from its role as de facto public relations consultants for the Palestinian Authority and its ineffective leader. The paper did a really great job of making the Gaza debacle into something other than what it was, which was a big, fat failure and yet another example of Abbas's inability or refusal to tackle terrorism.

The Times accomplished that objective by pairing the PA's cowardly capitulation on Monday with an entirely unrelated, minor incident in which the PA "razed three partly built homes that senior security force officers were constructing close to the Mediterranean beachfront near Gaza City on public land they had seized for their private use. "

What's that got to do with knuckling under to a mob? Absolutely nothing! But this way the Times could play the two events together, saying in the lead paragraph that Abbas "scored one small victory and suffered one awkward setback this week," and plaster on the phony-baloney headline, "Mixed Results for Abbas in the Struggle to Calm Gaza."

"Awkward"? Yes indeedy. It is "awkward," isn't it, to be forced by a mob to release a Hamas terrorist. It is "awkward" for Abbas to, yet again, disregard the Road Map--a phrase very consciously omitted by the Times.

The Times made no mention of the mobs demanding the terrorist's release or the intervention of the Egyptians--further slanting its account.

Myre, and/or Times editors, are fully aware that Abbas has made no effort to live up to its duties under the Road Map to fight terrorism, through this and other actions and non-actions, but doesn't say so in a conscious effort to slant its coverage.

There can be no other explanation. These aren't stupid people, after all.

Dig the headline. "Struggle"? What struggle? Abbas isn't doing a damn thing, and the Times knows it.

The story goes on in similar vein, stacking the deck in favor of Abbas by burying some mild criticism from Israel down at the bottom, and playing up a sycophantic quote from some guy Myre found to fit his biases: "[Abbas] 'is saying the right things and giving the orders,' said Sharhabeel al-Zaeem, a prominent lawyer who lives in Gaza City. 'But I don't think the orders are making it out of his office.'"

Oh yeah? Well how does al-Zaeem know this? Does this "prominent lawyer" have his desk in Abbas's office?

Myre and his editors know perfectly well that some "lawyer who lives in Gaza City" can't possibly provide insights into Abbas's actions or the failures of the Palestinian Authority. But they use such shoddy tricks because they are consciously, willfully biased, as well as being, very simply, lousy journalists.

Of course, Dan Okrent would excuse this incompetence and open bias by saying that Myre wasn't able to go back 5,000 years and explain the "history" of what happened. I think two days would have been fine in this instance.

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