Monday, October 31, 2005

Correct a Times Mistake: 'You Can't Possibly Be Serious'

A reader of the New York Times is continuing his fascinating correspondence with Times deputy foreign editor Ethan Bronner and Jerusalem bureau chief Steve Erlanger. Previous installments of his correspondence were posted here and here.

In today's adventures, we have Bronner's and Erlanger's responses concerning Erlanger's error-filled puff piece on the old lady who runs a Jerusalem correspondent hangout. (The errors having been pointed out originally by the always readable, mucho dependable IRIS blog.)

Our man began by pointing out that Erlanger, a fan of Yassir Arafat, had made a serious boo-boo about the West Bank security barrier. The article referred to " a large concrete wall through most of Jerusalem." Wrong. As the article linked above pointed out, the barrier goes around Jerusalem, not through it, and is mainly chain-link fence -- a serious error.

He also pointed out that the article was wrong in saying that Palestinians didn't get gas masks during the first Gulf War.

Bronner's response: "There is indeed a tall concrete wall through large parts of Jerusalem." Silence, you will note, on the gas-masks error.

Again. Wrong. Here's a map from the pro-Palestinian group B'tselem that proves it. Much as the Times may hate that barrier -- hey, much better to let in those suicide bombers-- it is factually incorrect to say that the barrier runs through Jerusalem. It doesn't.

It's a mistake. Requires a correction. Our reader tried to reason with Bronner:

"that's, of course, different from "through Jerusalem", and the differen e is probably correction worthy," he responded.

Bronner's response... you know, I think this one deserves to be quoted, headers and all:

From: Ethan Bronner (
Subject: Re: I Was Going to Leave You Alone
Date: Sun, 30 Oct 2005 14:12:21 -0500

you can't possibly be serious.
Our man, however, was not blown off easily. As you can guess, he is an attorney. I would have lost my temper by now. He remained calm and responded as follows:

"Well, first off, the language is unclear. Does the "concrete wall" refer to the entire barrier, or just the part going through Jerusalem. But that's a minor point.

"But it looks to me that the wall, concrete, wire fence, or what have you, largely tracks the Jerusalem municipal border (the Yellow line in the pdf I am attaching), which would make the wall not "through Jerusalem", am I wrong? Happy to be."

He then included a link to the map linked above.

Bronner shot back today with this delectable sophistry. Note that he now admits his mistake--but still obviously isn't going to fess up to it in print:

concrete barrier refers to the part through jerusalem. and while most of that wall does indeed follow the municipal boundary, some of it -- especially sections around shuafat and kafr aqab -- do not. from the point of view of palestinians living in those areas, the barrier feels very much like it is going through their city. we at the times are the ones who invented the term "barrier" for the mix of fence and wall and barbed wire and guard posts so we are very conscious of the need for precision in describing it.

Wow. Take a moment to absorb the above. Since the Palestinians "feel" that the barrier goes through Jerusalem, even though it doesn't the Times will inaccurately reflect those "feelings" in its articles! Wow. Wow.

Note the last few words too. Yeah, "precision." Precision at what? Getting things wrong?

Our man also got a response from the error-prone Arafat fan himself, asserting that "there are no factual errors in the story, thank you." You're welcome. But really, Stevie, isn't anything just the slightest bit wrong in your piece? The "Palestinians not getting gas masks" stuff. The "barrier running through Jerusalem" stuff. Your editor acknowledged it's a mistake. Oh my.

Stevie just can't get that right. Stevie said in another email that "for someone to say that the barrier through jerusalem is a 'chain link fence' has never been here, or is not paying attention."

Again, note the erroneous reference to "through Jerusalem," repudiated by Bronner. Somebody isn't "paying attention," that's for sure!

Erlanger ended his most recent email, today, with this kiss-off: "i'm a little busy just now, trying to write somehting else that will no doubt annoy someone else...."

At last, Erlanger tells the truth!

Well, at least Bronner, after first clinging to his man's lies, finally succumbed and very very reluctantly admitted that his guy goofed on a very sensitive issue. (Still silent on that other error, the gas-masks thing.) The Times needs to correct its errors. Will it? And as a correction, not as a "for the record" copout? Stay tuned.

I understand that Times uberbureaucrat William Borders is being contacted to correct these really egregious errors. Ditto for the Empty Suit, aka "public editor," Barney Calame.

I'm sure the latter is figuring out right now just the right way to fulfill his role as management shill and parody of a newspaper ombudsman. Will he simply ignore the issue entirely? Will he focus on "process"? Will he overlook the rigid adherence to error and find "there is no evidence of bias." We shall see.....

UPDATE: Note the map, derived from somewhere in Moonbatland, posted by the diligent folks at IRIS here. As you can see from the various sites posted on IRIS, basically what Erlanger was doing was parrotting anti-Israel swill, which contends that the "wall is snaking through Jerusalem" when it is really on the outskirts thereof.

This underlines two things:
1. Erlanger's and Bronner's ignorance. One guy is Jerusalem bureau chief, the other is deputy foreign editor, and neither is aware of something as simple as the boundaries of Jerusalem.
2. The ease with which these two hacks have been manipulated by anti-Israel propaganda.

Apparently others have contacted the Empty Suit. Too bad. I hear he got a nice heating pad to make the divan extra-comfy.

UPDATE #2: The Times's editorial fumbling is more than matched by its mismanagement as a business.

UPDATE #3: More on Erlanger's sloppy, biased reporting in Timeswatch.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Times Editor: No Space, No Fairness

Bronner: No Space to be Fair

A reader passes on to me the rude brush-off that he got from New York Times deputy foreign editor Ethan Bronner, when asked why the Times had deleted an observation that Mohammed Abbas had not denounced the Hadera bombings on moral grounds. Go away, said Bronner, who added as follows:

"We have severe space constraints in the printed version of the newspaper," said Bronner. "Sometimes things are removed that seem to you and others politically motivated. They are not."

Of course they aren't! I have to admit, it had never occurred to me that the Times skimps on stuff that is negative to the Palestinians not because of longstanding policy, but because of space constraints! Not enough room!

Seriously, though, folks, you have to admit that this guy Bronner is good. He is the living embodiment of that old Groucho Marx joke, "What are you going to believe, me or your own two eyes?" Remember: It's space. Space! Space! Not what you can see with your own two eyes.

That brings me to the subject of today's item -- stuff that is worth the Times's limited space. Little Stevie Erlanger, the Times hack who can't read, yesterday gave us a good example of the kind of stuff for which the Times does have space. Let's see if you can guess the subject of his lengthy feature:

1. Inside the Palestinian arms-smuggling apparatus.
2. Celebrations at the hometown of the Hadera bomber.
3. An old British lady who runs a hotel frequented by correspondents.

The answer, of course, is No. 3. An old British lady who runs the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem -- "A Grande Dame of a Bygone Jerusalem"-- describes the good old days, before the nasty Israelis "firmly" (as opposed to the relaxed, fair, lovely Jordanians) took control of the place. An advertorial for "Jerusalem's most beautiful hotel"! Hey, there's room for that in this puerile shadow of what used to be a great newspaper.

The old lady takes little Stevie by the hand, and wanders with him very selectively through history, ignoring stuff along the way that doesn't matter much to this old British lady (such as Jerusalem being divided between 1948 and 1967, Jews being expelled and excluded therefrom, desecration of Jewish holy places, destruction of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, etc. etc. etc.).

Yep, poor Stevie not only can't read (the Road Map, that is), but is so downright inept that he just let the old lady ramble, in what is basically an extended puff piece about the most popular hotel for foreign correspondents. It is famous as a gathering point for the hacks that have descended upon Jerusalem to cover the poor, poor Palestinians struggle against Israeli oppression. The American Colony is close to Palestinian offices and provides a kind of faux-Oriental ambiance that parachuted-in hacks just love. See this piece in Israel Insider from a few years ago, one of many on the subject.

Guess he didn't have enough space to get into any of that.

Also, as meticulously detailed today in IRIS, Stevie got a whole lot of facts wrong.

Poor Stevie. He just can't do anything right. Buck up, guy! I know a great hotel in Jerusalem where I am sure you'd be welcome with open arms. Order the fish -- they say it's "brain food."

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Yep, They Did It: Times Deletes Rare Abbas Criticism

The men with the blue pencils are hard at work at the New York Times, enforcing that newspaper's rigid adherence to a pro-Palestinian slant in its coverage.

Earlier today I linked to an article posted on the Times website that made the following pointed, rare observation about Palestinian boss Mohammed Abbas:

Mr. Abbas himself criticized the [Hadera] bombing on practical, not moral grounds, saying that it "harms the Palestinian interests and could widen the cycle of violence, chaos, extremism and bloodshed." He has said previously that all responses to Israeli violations of the cease-fire must be considered collectively by the Palestinians.

But in a speech to the Palestinian parliament on Wednesday, he refrained from condemning Islamic Jihad. Even when Islamic Jihad has taken credit for terrorist attacks, like the suicide bombings in Tel Aviv Feb. 25 and Netanya on July 12, Mr. Abbas has not criticized the group by name. A senior Israeli intelligence officer said that Mr. Abbas had been warned last week that Islamic Jihad was about to fire rockets toward Israel from Gaza "but did nothing about it."

The above, slightly condensed, is still in the online story linked above.

But in a revised online version which was posted at 10 p.m. and the print edition Oct. 28, everything I quoted above has been cut out. Here's how it reads now:

Mr. Abbas said the bombing "harms the Palestinian interests and could widen the cycle of violence, chaos, extremism and bloodshed." But in a speech to the
Palestinian parliament on Wednesday, he refrained from condemning Islamic Jihad.

It's happened before, and it has happened again. Even when Times correspondents try to insert stuff that's unflattering to the Palestinian leadership, Times editors -- guardians of the paper's longstanding anti-Israel bias -- cut it out.

North Korea Finds a Friend in the Media

A reader has passed on to me what I must say is a wonderful story about a delightful country way up north. People are happy there. They sure must be -- they march in lovely rows and have nothing bad to say about their leader. Why, this is North Korea, of course!

North Korea has creaked open its doors for Arirang, a festival that celebrates national pride and, this year, commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Stalinist state's ruling Workers' Party. Performers, who numbered almost as many as the spectators, won furious applause for their coordinated displays of rhythmic gymnastics, flying acrobatics, traditional dancing and military taekwondo routines -- all synchronized to a massive video and laser light show.

Isn't that marvelous? All those happy people. The story goes on and on in that vein. Now, I haven't posted a link yet. I'm coming to that. See if you can guess who ran this story:

1. The Daily Worker
2. Counterpunch
3. The Daily Kos
4. The Nation
5. The Washington Post

Give up? Yep, folks, the answer is No. 5. Seems that the world's most nutsy dictatorship has flown in Dan Rather and some other jackasses on junkets, and the Washington Post is right there, jotting it all down furiously.

Will This Dig at Abbas Survive?

One phenomenon I've noticed recently -- though I doubt it is anything new -- is that New York Times reports that appear online appear to be changed, not always for the better, by the time they hit the print edition the following day. For example, a rare reference to Palestinian obligations under the Road Map was deleted by editors.

So let's see what happens to the story that appeared online today by Steve Erlanger, who usually adheres closely to Times policy. Not this time.

Erlanger correctly points out something you rarely if ever have seen in the Times:

Mr. Abbas himself criticized the bombing on practical, not moral grounds, saying that it "harms the Palestinian interests and could widen the cycle of violence, chaos, extremism and bloodshed." He has said previously that all responses to Israeli violations of the cease-fire must be considered collectively by the Palestinians.

But in a speech to the Palestinian parliament on Wednesday, he refrained from condemning Islamic Jihad. Even when Islamic Jihad has taken credit for terrorist attacks, like the suicide bombings in Tel Aviv Feb. 25 and Netanya on July 12. . .

It's rare to read stuff like this in the Times, which usually plays up the myth of Palestinian moderation. Ordinarily, as it did in its story on the bombing today, the Times obediently prints Palestinian ritual condemnations of suicide bombings -- without pointing out what Erlanger just did, that they rarely condemn the morality of attacks on civilians.

Let's see if this survives the Times editorial process this afternoon......

UPDATE: It didn't.

Not Fit To Print (today's installment)

Here's today's installment of Not Fit to Print -- my continuing series on news unfavorable to Palestinians that the New York Times won't publish, in accordance with its longstanding policy of tilting its coverage of the Palestinian-Israel conflict.

Reacting to the bombing in Hadera, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said: "The Palestinian Authority needs to do more to prevent these attacks. They need to act against terrorism....They need also to dismantle those terrorist networks, which are responsible for these attacks....The Palestinian security forces...have capabilities and they do have assets, so let's not pretend that they don't."

Not a word on that in the Times, in accordance with its policy of turning a blind eye toward explicit criticism of Palestinians while overplaying much milder remarks concerning Israel.

We saw that the other day, in a story by Greg Myre that exaggerated, and spun as a major kick in Israel's rump, comments made by UN mediator James Wolfensohn.

Something else for the Empty Suit, the Times's public editor parody Barney Calame, to ignore while he follows his masters' wishes and piles on Judy Miller.

I see that Calame (pronounced Ca-LAME), promises in his web journal yet another letter column. Nice, Barney! Another week on the divan. Sleep tight.

UPDATE: Here's another example of something else that the Times feels is not fit to print. One of its correspondents let slip that Mohammed Abbas's condemnation of the Hadera bombing was strictly on practical and not moral grounds.

The remark made it into an early, online version of the story, but eagle-eyed Times editors snipped it from the print version. Mustn't offend the poor, poor Palestinians! (Say, they seem like upstanding fellows. Give them a state!)

UPDATE, Oct. 30: Times editor says, No Space For Fairness!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Sign of the Times

Piles on the Times

You know that a news organization is in trouble when that paragon of the trite, conventional-wisdom-purveyor Jon Friedman of MarketWatch, piles on. Well, pile on he did, in a column today.

I usually call Friedman the World's Worst Media Columnist, and it is rare that one of his columns run contrary to that title. However, today was one of those days.

. . . as the media vent, it becomes clear that the real story is the media mob's need to give the Times its comeuppance.
Many media representatives argue that the Times is arrogant because it continually declines to accept responsibility for its mistakes. They're right.

. . .The media have turned on the Times because the paper reeks of an institutional arrogance.

He goes on to comment on the Times's arrogant handling of the Geraldo Rivera "nudgegate" nonsense. True, he's late -- he is the Worst, after all -- but at least he is not just blathering platitudes as usual.

Friedman still sucks but hey, Jack Shafer is coming in a close second in the "worst media columnist" department. Who knows? If he tries hard, the title may be his.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Stuck in the Myre

One thing that you can always expect from the New York Times is that anything resembling castigation of Israel from an ostensibly neutral body, or a US official, is blown totally out of proportion. Good example if that today -- a story by Greg Myre with the headline: "Envoy in Mideast Peace Effort Says Israel Is Keeping Too Tight a Lid on Palestinians in Gaza." The envoy being UN special envoy James Wolfensohn.

Wolfensohn, he said, has "criticized Israel for failing to ease restrictions on Palestinian movement into and out of the Gaza Strip, where residents currently face greater difficulties in traveling than before Israel's withdrawal."

The story went on:

"The government of Israel, with its important security concerns, is loath to relinquish control, almost acting as though there has been no withdrawal," Mr. Wolfensohn wrote in a letter dated Oct. 17 and released to news organizations on Monday.

Only problem is that, whether or not this "acting as though there has been no withdrawal" stuff is correct, this is not exactly criticism of Israel. Particularly since that is all that Wolfensohn has to say on the subject! Not in the email and not in the text of his report, which is online here.

As for the email, here is its full text, as quoted in full by Israpundit:

"The Government of Israel, with its important security concerns, is loath to relinquish control, almost acting as though there has been no withdrawal, delaying making difficult decisions and preferring to take difficult matters back into slow-moving subcommittees."

"The Special Envoy was disappointed that none of the key movement issues has been resolved. Without a dramatic improvement in Palestinian movement and access, within appropriate security arrangements for Israel, the economic revival essential to a resolution of the conflict will not be possible."

"Despite an earlier commitment in June to introduce convoys, GOI has not been willing to enter bilateral or trilateral discussions on their implementation,"

"If all of us Palestinians, Israelis, our friends in Egypt and donors miss this opportunity for change, we will regret it for the next decade."

"We do not have the luxury of adopting such a leisurely approach and our Israeli colleagues have promised a greater sense of urgency" after the High Holidays.

"The Israelis have not agreed to accept the EU's generous offer to consider the role of 'a third party'"

"The Israelis cited the need for additional internal consultation,"

That's it for the email.

I'd say that what you have here is whatcha call spin, in accordance with the Sulzberger Indifference Template -- which obligates the Times to not report or underplay statements criticizing Palestinians and to exaggerate official pronouncements critical (or in this case, not critical) of Israel.

Here's more from the text of Wolfensohn's report. Although the Times quoted further from the report, none of the following was deemed fit to print:

1. "In the past several months, the number of checkpoints [on the West Bank] has declined significantly, in part because the separation barrier has rendered them obsolete." The Times couldn't report this for obvious reasons. I mean really, Wolfie, where is the criticism of Israel on the barrier? Get with the program, guy, if you want to get quoted in the Times.

2. Re barriers on the West Bank, Palestinian-Israeli "discussions need quickly to focus on concrete steps to reduce these barriers. Once again there is a need for a creative balance between security and development." Can't be spun as knocking Israel -- so not worth reporting.

3. A UN Agency "is also prepared to manage the removal of any unusable material from the Gaza Strip [demolished settlements]. However, despite original assurances given to the United States by the Government of Egypt that the unusable material could be buried in the Sinai via the private sector, those assurances do not now seem secure in view of further information and further consideration by the Egyptians. The United States Government will work with the Government of Egypt to determine a way forward." Egypt, in other words, reneged -- not worth mentioning.

4. "Several of the issues mentioned above—movement across borders, internal movement in the West Bank, fiscal stabilization, rapid injections of money into the economy—are critical to Palestinian economic health. Currently, the combination of violence, closure and weak internal governance is undermining the chances for any substantive economic recovery. The onus for reversing this situation falls squarely on the two parties; absent serious change in bilateral relations and the ambient policy environment, no amount of donor money will bring about economic recovery." Again, can't be spun to knock Israel. Not worth reporting.

It goes on and on like that. Wolfensohn, apparently, is trying his best to be even-handed--despite -- as UN media trainer Ian Williams has pointed out -- the burden of being a Jew. However, the Times is not satisfied with that. They want him to dump on Israel, and if he won't do the dumping -- why, they'll do it for him!

Just yesterday I reported that the Times's deputy foreign editor has pledged, in an email to a reader, to avoid "simplistic phrasing" in its pieces on the Middle East. Seems that assurance was just a lot of hot air, as I suspected, and that "inaccurate phrasing" and "spin" are OK as well.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Judy Rips Into the Empty Suit

A Hole in the Trousers

Judith Miller has ripped the Empty Suit another you-kn0w-what. In an fierce email to New York Times spokesman (a/k/a "public editor") Barney Calame, Miller attacks this management shill for his unprincipled attack on her in his Sunday column.

Say, what does she expect? The problem, as I have said more than once, is not Miller's reporting, it is her politics. And when it comes to carrying water for the Times, Calame is unsurpassed.

Too bad. Barney was just settling down into the divan for a nice snooze, and now he'll be needing two bedpans! Oh my.

News From the REAL Times Scandal

Bronner: Decries 'Simplistic Phrasing'
We'll See.....

The scandal to which I refer is, of course, not the protracted, back-stabbing, politically motivated effort of the New York Times management, led by Times editor Bill Keller and the Empty Suit Barney Calame, to back away from Judith Miller.

Plenty of agonizing over that in the media for the past few days--though why, I don't know. Seems simple to me: Miller was simply too politically incorrect for the Times, and now she is being fed to the wolves.

No, the real scandal is the Times's rigid pursuit of ideological purity -- particularly its down-the-line backing of the Palestinians against Israel. And in that there have been some signs of movement:

1. The Times today published an unsigned article that actually mentioned Palestinian obligations under the Road Map for Peace, and

2. The Times's deputy foreign editor, Ethan Bronner, told a reader that the Times will avoid what he described as "simplistic" (translation: inaccurate) descriptions of Palestinian "president" Mohammed Abbas.

This is good news. A crack in the granite wall of arrogance surrounding the Times, but let's not hold our breath about the wall coming down.

The article in question ran online yesterday, and then this slightly rewritten version today. (For some reason, both versions carry the byline of Steve Erlanger, but no such byline appears in the print edition.) Anyway, as you may recall, Erlanger has stubbornly avoided referring to Palestinian obligations to dismantle terrorist groups under the Road Map for Peace. Erlanger, and his boss Ethan Bronner, went on to engage in a revealing email exchange with a reader.

Well, apparently Erlanger has learned to read! His story is actually..... amazingly.... accurate! It says as follows:
Under the peace plan, Mr. Abbas and the Palestinians are committed to disbanding
ll armed groups that carry out terrorism against Israel and seizing their
weapons. Mr. Abbas and his aides say that he will not try to take the weapons
away from Hamas, Islamic Jihad or other groups, but instead insist that they
keep them out of sight - a position Israel rejects as a violation of the peace

See, Stevie? That wasn't so hard, was it. True, the online version yesterday began the paragraph by saying "under the road map"--I guess the phrase sticks in Erlanger's throat -- but still, it is awfully nice for the Times to recognize reality, contrary to its longstanding policy of downplaying Palestinian obligations under the Road Map and pooh-poohing Palestinian violations of every agreement they have signed. As I indicated in a recent post, the Times actually deleted a reference to the Road Map from a story by Greg Myre last week.

As I said in a post on Friday, this got the dander up of a reader of this blog (and no, folks, the reader was not yours truly.....). That led to an exchange of emails in which Bronner promised to do better next time.

Well, Bronner went further in yet another email to the reader on Sunday.

Our man said:
" I think when an article is discussing the Israeli/Palestinian dispute of the day and is talking about the road map, the article should point out whose position is consistent with the road map and whose is not.

"A phrase such as 'as is called for in the road map' would work. Also, I noticed in a Greg Myre piece that such a phrase was excised in the print edition of the Times. Can you explain why that happened and whether it was justified?

"[In early correspondence] I noted that saying that Abbas 'opposes violence' was overly simplistic. Mr. Abbas, for whatever reason, has not cracked down on anti-Israeli violence. He has also failed to rein in the teaching of irredentism at Palestinian schools and his record regarding the stopping of vehement hate speech on PA media is decidedly mixed. . . .Your reporting elevates Abbas' words over his inactions. Do you agree with me? Or do you think I am mistaken?"

Bronner responded:

we will certainly make every effort to be careful. regarding abbas, there is no simple answer. everything we know about him tells us he opposes violence today. the fact that he is seeking to change hamas rather than crack down on it may or may not tell us something about the sincerity of his beliefs. we will try to avoid simplistic phrasing.
Let's see if Bronner is sincere. I tend to doubt it. But somehow I have a funny feeling that maybe this guy's pressure is the reason you saw the Times actually mention the road map today. Who knows?

If there is any further improvement of its handling of Middle Eastern stories-- and other areas in which it has fallen short--by the Times, it will not be because of any sudden attack of conscience. It will be the result of pressure by people like the guy who sent those emails.

It's comforting to know that there are people out there who are willing to do the kind of jawboning that a competent public editor would do--if the Times had one, and not the management shill named Barney Calame it has propped up behind a desk. People like this guy -- a person with no journalistic background, I might add -- do it because they savor the truth. In that regard, they have absolutely nothing in common with the current management of that once-great newspaper.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Empty Suit Serves His Masters

Calame: Piles on Miller

The Empty Suit, New York Times spokesman (a/k/a "public editor") Barney Calame, turned out in full Times-flack regalia in his column today, as he belatedly weighs in -- as usual, at the tail end of the furor -- on the Judith Miller disaster. Now that Miller has been thoroughly discredited, he naturally enough joins hands with far-left yapper Maureen Dowd, whose Saturday column called on Miller to take a hike.

This parody of a newspaper ombudsman says that the Times' story last Sunday "answered most of my fundamental questions." Well, of course they did, because his "fundamental question" did not include the one that would have most discomfitted the Times management he loyally serves: Why did Times executive editor Bill Keller yank Miller off her beat in 2003? Was she making up stuff, or was the Times caving in to pressure from the loony left?

Also, more to the point in all the furor over Miller, why isn't the Times and its parody of public editor all whipped up into a fury over the newspaper's numerous failings in covering other stories -- such as, to site one obvious example, the Middle East? As indicated in this recent item, Times editors are openly biased in their coverage of the Israel-Palestinian crisis.

The reason, of course, is that the Times has long been uncomfortable about protecting Miller, not because her journalism is suspect but because her politics are suspect -- and now it has cut her loose.

Unlike most reporters at the newspaper, her stories -- such as, most recently, her pieces on the UN Oil for Food Scandal -- have gained her the confidence of conservatives. Yet when she got caught up in this Valerie Plame mess, the paper had an institutional interest to protect her. Complicating matters was that she had considerable tenure, and unusual freedom, within the Times.

So there has always been a tension at the Times between its hatred of the Bush administration and its position in support of a reporter who was hated by the left as being too favorable to the Bushies.

Now that Miller is out of prison, the Times has begun to back off -- you can see that in Keller's statements in recent days. The Suit has now loyally served his masters by piling on.

No question, Miller screwed the pooch in her Iraq coverage. But the Times screws the pooch every day in just about every major story that it covers. Miller, with the Suit's enthusistic help, is fast on her way to becoming a scapegoat for a newspaper whose credibility has been on the wane for years.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Inside the Times Road Map Phobia

Bronner: We'll Do Better Next Time

Several times over the past few months, most recently here and here, I've noted the New York Times's refusal to mention Palestinian obligations under the Road Map to dismantle terror organizations -- even to the point of deleting a reference to the Road Map from a correspondent's story. Any outside observer can point to the pattern of bias at work here, but one party has not been heard from: the Times itself.

Well, a reader has passed on to me a revealing series of emails from Times correspondents and editors. So now we know the reason: The Times has deliberatedly omitted references to Palestinian obligations under the Road Map, as a way of punishing Israel.

Yep, the Times takes the position that Israel's behavior is so horrible, that it has been so unfair to the poor, poor Palestinians, that it is basically OK for the Palestinians to keep the terrorist organizations alive -- in direct contravention of their obligations of the Road Map. Oh, and when the Times's position is logically pointed out, the Times's deputy foreign editor admits he's wrong. And gosh, he's going to do a better job next time!

Really. Here are some excerpts from the exchange of emails, which was prompted by Steve Erlanger's recent pro-Palestinian news analysis, which I fisked here.

Erlanger, I should point out, is amply qualified to cover the Middle East -- as epit0mized by his famous reference some months ago to Yasir Arafat's "heroic history" -- which, as you can imagine, warmed the hearts of the passengers of the Achille Lauro and other victims of Black September. But I disgress. Anyway, the exchange:

Our reader first wrote Erlanger to question Erlanger's use of the phrase "committed to non-violence," in referring to Mohammed Abbas. Said the reader: "Has he, for example, ordered Palestinian state media to cease all anti-Jewish diatriabes--which are by their nature, violent? Has he ordered Palestinian schools to cease teaching Palestinian children irredentist dreams...? Don't readers deserve the whole story here?"

He continued:

"Second, you characterize the roadmap as a 'rough outline'. While that may or may not be the case, certainly, with respect to violence against Israelis, the roadmap is crystal clear. The Palestinians are REQUIRED to undertake visible, sustained actions to arrest, disrupt and restrain individuals engaging in violence against the Israelis." He went on to point out that Israelis have "the legal right to stick to their guns. And, by the way, since they have pulled out of Gaza, they also have an unquestionable legal right to conduct reprisals against terrorists. (A sovereign state does not have to tolerate cross-border incursions. That is a fixture of international law, the real kind, not the made-up nonsense that various organizations like to spout. Perhaps, just once, the NY Times should note that when Israel attacks terrorists.)"

Here's Erlanger's response:

From: Steven Erlanger (
Subject: Re: "Committed to Non-Violence"
Date: Fri, 14 Oct 2005 17:58:38 +0200

we don't disagree here on very much. but he [presumably Abbas] has ordered the palestinian media to do that - with some success, not perfect success by any means. schools, i think no progress... not that i know. and i dont disagree with you on the road map -- as you describe it, as opposed to the way mr. sharon usually does. begin to dismantle is the language for the first stage... and yes, they are committed to it, and it's not just some israeli demand. i do try to keep all this straight, but i can't write footnotes to every article.

allbest, steven erlanger"

Aw, gee. Poor guy. Tries to get it all straight. Tough job. Anyway, Palestinian obligations aren't very important. Just stuff you'd put in a "footnote."

It gets better.

Our reader wrote back:

"I certainly understand the limitations of space, but I really think that the Abbas 'committed to non-violence' thing is a bit of a whitewash--given his obvious softness with respect to terror attacks against Israel--he whines every time the Israelis attack terrorists, something which they have EVERY RIGHT, as a sovereign state to do. And I think that asides like, 'as the roadmap makes clear' would go a long long way. It also wouldn't hurt to actually quote the roadmap.

The articles, I notice, read a bit like 'those meanie Israelis are being intransigent'. Let's not forget that this country captured these lands in a war it did not start (remember, the Egyptians, by instituting a blockade, created the casus belli, and blockades are an act of war)."

The reader, having heard nothing for a couple of days, wrote again to point out that "I am not sure of the accuracy of your article."

He quoted from the article and then observed,

"Isn't the Palestinian position, i.e., parallel negotiations on a final peace settlement in direct conflict with the road map?. . . I don't know the Times' corrections policy, but this seems to warrant, at the very least, a clarification. You have characterized the dispute as one about how to implement the roadmap, when actually there seems to be an attempt by the Palestinians (whether they are justified or not) to change the roadmap. And if the Israelis' position (whether justified or not) is that of the roadmap, why isn't that simply stated?"

Erlanger responded:

"very quickly, because of time: both sides hate the road map as written. sharon has numerous amendments to it. abbas hates the option of the pal state in prov. borders. sharon keeps saying israel wont even enter the road map until abbas dismantles terrorism. but you can read the thing for yrself: the first stage is simultaneous obligations, and calls for abbas to begin to dismantle.... while israel is supposed to stop all new settlement activity, which sharon
absolutely refuses to do."

As you can see, Erlanger has dropped the humble pie act and we see here the Erlanger of his articles -- arrogant and clueless. Essentially he is saying that the Times has no obligation to point out Palestinian violations of the Road Map, even when relevant to the article. Why, because Israel is in the wrong!

Our reader responded:

"Just seems to me that the reporting looks a little crabbed. The violence issue is a substantial irritant and it's a retrade for the Palestinians to ask the Israelis to tolerate it while negotiating towards final status. If Sharon is retrading as well, then that should come out in the reporting too. But I think that your article is technically inaccurate as written, in that the dispute about the roadmap vis a vis the violence is not about two different paths, but about whether the parties will change the roadmap." He also noted that "re: settlements, it's my understanding that settlement activity has lessened considerably."

Erlanger's response tried to change the subject, noting that "the real drama as you know is between the green line and the separation barrier." But our reader wouldn't bite. "the more I think about it, the more I think you should clarify your characterization of the disagreement over the implementation of the roadmap," he wrote back.

By now, Erlanger's patience was at an end: "well, you're wrong," was the totality of his next response, and then "i'm sorry. i dont have time to have a pen pal. there is absolutely nothing wrong with what i've written. if you have a problem, take it up with the foreign desk or the ombudsman."

Which makes sense. After all, Erlanger isn't some lone wolf. His writings are very much a Times corporate product, and Times bias is very much a corporate institutional thing.

So our reader wrote the deputy foreign editor, Ethan Bronner, saying, among other things, that Erlanger's article omits an essential "fact, namely, that the Israeli position with respect to the violence is already enshrined in the 'road map.'"

Bronner wrote back:

"Thanks for writing. But you do miss an important point. According to the road map, Israel is supposed to dismantle illegal settlement outposts and freeze all existing settlement growth at the same time that the Palestinians are supposed to dismantle terror groups. Both sides say the other should go first. Neither has acted on its clearly stated commitment. Mr. Sharon has explicitly stated that freezing settlements is something he will not do no matter what it says in the road map. When you say to him (as I did last month), but you are committed to the road map, he says, yes I am committed to the road map. He makes no attempt to square the circle. Therefore it is quite right to say that while both sides say they are committed to the road map, they don't agree on the path."

Our reader, who apparently has the patience of a saint, calmly wrote back to this moron as follows:

"I think that you missed my point, and I think that you are substituting evenhandedness for accuracy and you take the path statement way out of context (since it is embedded in a discussion of the violence issue and nothing more). With respect to the violence issue (which is what the quoted language was talking about), the road map IS clear. The Palestinians have obligations on that front (to say nothing of their obligations under Oslo) under the road map itself, and the Israelis can point to the road map and say, 'that's the path set forth in the road map"--first violence is addressed and then we'll deal with final peace resolution.

"Now of course, the Palestinians have a rejoinder on the settlement issue. But it is not correct to portray this dispute as one where both sides are fighting over the path. The road map is clear (which belies the "rough outline" characterization) on the violence point. They are fighting to change a path that is already there, not create a new one, and there is no way that an intelligent reader with no a priori knowledge would have any idea of this reality based on the article.

"Which gets me to my point: The article should have noted that the Israeli position vis a vis violence is the "road map" and that the Palestinians are trying to change it on that point--that is a fact, and one which is not in the reporting. And the article is affirmatively misleading--both the Palestinian position and the Israeli position are treated equally vis a vis the road map, and that is simply false. On this issue, the Israelis can point to the road map and the Palestinians can't, and the reporting does not address that salient fact (surely, you're not arguing that readers shouldn't be informed of whose position is consistent with the road map and whose position is not, are you). And if the justification for 'while both sides say they are committed to the road map, they don't agree on the path.' is that settlement issue (not even mentioned in the article) roughly balances the respective deviations of the two sides from the road map, what should have been written is something like this:

"'Although both sides say they are committed to the road map, both sides have taken positions that deviate from the terms of the road map. Israel, consistent with the road map, has insisted on the dismantling of terrorist groups like Hamas, which remain an armed challenge to Palestinian governance and Israel's existence as a precondition to negotiations on a final peace. The Palestinians want immediate parallel negotiations on a final peace and say that the Israelis have not adhered to all the terms of the road map, particularly with respect to settlements.'

"That accurately characterizes the situation. It also does not imply, as does the quoted language, that the road map is somehow silent on the point of whether the violence needs to be addressed before a final peace."

Whew! What could Bronner say in the face of such logic? Here is Bronner's response, in full:

"From: Ethan Bronner (">
Subject: Re: Further to My Previous Email
Date: Thu, 20 Oct 2005 18:13:19 -0400

Well I must agree that your rewrite is better. I guess all I would say is that we often find that the problem with a daily news report is that it could have been better -- but the deadline arrived and the presses had to roll. We do try to make it as clear and accurate as possible but, alas, we do fail.
best regards, ethan bronner"

What could Bronner say? The Times's refusal to mention Palestinian obligations under the Road Map is patently indefensible. And the Times doesn't really have much to say in defense of itself except, in essence, "Sure we're wrong. And what are you going to do about it?"

This reader has brought this whole thing to the Empty Suit. Don't hold your breath. What we see here is a longstanding policy of the New York Times, first enshrined by the current publisher's grandfather. It ain't changing.

Oh, and one parting note--this reader has had quite a bit of correspondence with Times editors over the years. Far too much for one item. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

That "Imminent" Bugaboo Rears Its Head

Note this gratuitous slap at the Veep, from a Washington Post story yesterday:

[Vice president] Cheney, a longtime proponent of toppling Saddam Hussein, led the White House effort to build the case that Iraq was an imminent threat because it possessed a dangerous arsenal of weapons.

Uh, excuse me, but Cheney never used the word "imminent threat." Mind you, he was never a member of the Saddam Hussein fan club or anything like that, but he never said Iraq was ready to send its troops marching through Georgia.

Even the Iraq-lovers in the "progressive" movement couldn't come up with him saying that-- see here, for example. Though they looked and looked and looked and looked.

Naughty! I'd say a correction is due, no?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Times Deletes 'Road Map' Reference

In an item yesterday, I described how the New York Times -- in a seeming reversal of its longstanding policy -- had cited dismantling terrorist groups as a Palestinian obligation under the Road Map for Peace. The Times usually dismisses this crucial responsibility, which the Pals haven't even attempted to carry out, as an Israeli or American "demand."

Well, guess what? The Times deleted from the print edition the reference to the Road Map that had appeared in an early version of the story, by Times reporter Greg Myres, that it posted on the web at about 2 p.m., Eastern time, yesterday.

Here's what ran on the web yesterday. See for yourself -- at this writing it is still on the web at this link:

Mr. Abbas is trying to build support for a resumption of full-scale negotiations based on the Middle East peace plan, known as the road map.
But Israel has demanded that Mr. Abbas break up the armed Palestinian factions, as called for in the road map.
But if you go to the print edition of the Times this morning, available at this link, you can see that the words "as called for in the road map" are excised. (Apparently the Times forgot to cover its tracks by deleting the earlier version of the story.)

Isn't this amazing? The Times feels so strongly about omitting Palestinian references to the Road Map that when a correspondent does so, an editor in New York cuts it out!

By so doing, the faceless Times minion kept untarnished the Times's unbroken, consistent policy of refusing to make any reference, in its news pages and editorials, to the Palestinians' clear obligations to fight terrorism. It is a policy that is strictly enforced, as you can see.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Stop the Presses! Times Acknowledges Road Map!

Someone pinch me. Am I dreaming, or did I actually read the following in a story by Greg Myre posted this afternoon on the New York Times website:

Mr. Abbas is trying to build support for a resumption of full-scale negotiations based on the Middle East peace plan, known as the road map.
But Israel has demanded that Mr. Abbas break up the armed Palestinian factions, as called for in the road map.
This is the first time in recent memory in which the Times has actually reported that any Middle Eastern country other than Israel has any obligations under the Road Map for Peace. Usually, in the Times and the rest of the media, Palestinian obligations to dismantle terrorist groups are reported as "Israeli demands" or "US demands." It is a phenomenon I have discussed many times, most recently here and here.

So who knows? Maybe the Times is finally learning to read. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Oops! The reference to the Road Map was a boo-boo, and was pulled by sharp-eyed Times editors in New York. Hey, they don't call them "trained observers" for nothing! Gotta protect that Template!

Newsweek's UN Propagandist-'Correspondent'

Newsweek's Extra-Special Correspondent!

The folks at Newsweek apparently felt they has to do something to one-up TIME in the bad taste department. TIME published a sanitized Q&A with Louis Farrakhan that allowed the disgusting old bigot to lie about his record -- so the ever-ambitious Newsweek has sunk even lower. Nope, you can't get any lower than the UN's Propaganda Minister, Shashi Tharoor.

Newsweek International has hired the man in charge of making excuses for Kofi Annan -- the UN minion in charge of its bloated Department of Public Information -- as a "Special Correspondent." What this means is that Tharoor, when not putting on Israel-bashing seminars featuring anti-Semites, or telling us how squeaky-clean Kofi is, is working for a major US media outlet.

How "special" is our intrepid propagandist-correspondent? Well, Newsweek doesn't even bother to disclose, in either its press releases or Tharoor's articles, distributed by, that Tharoor is a UN Undersecretary.

Gosh, how nice for Newsweek, wouldn't you say? No wonder this advertising-starved, also-ran publication hasn't run a single major article critical of the UN as far back as anyone can remember.

Imagine the outcry if Newsweek or TIME had hired a Defense Department undersecretary as a "special correspondent." It's hard to think of a better example of the incestuous, cozy relationship between the UN, its minions and the mainstream media.

Well, there actually may be a better example. As I noted in a recent item, CNBC International regularly broadcasts a UN-produced fake-news interview show, hosted by UN correspondent assn. honcho Tony Jenkins.

This is yet another example of a subject that isn't going to be touched by the Columbia Journalism Review, whose chairman, Victor Navasky, publishes the fanatically pro-UN, left-wing rag The Nation.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Judy, Judy, Judy.....

Reading the lengthy, poorly written New York Times article on the Judith Miller mess today, and the accompanying lengthy and poorly written article by Miller herself, I experienced what can only be described as a "Cary Grant moment." I kept repeating to myself that movie line he never said: "Judy, Judy, Judy."

So many words, so little honesty, so much obfuscation. Judy, Judy, Judy...

Where does one begin? Well, let's start with the gaping "plot holes," such as to shame a B-movie director from the 1940s:

1. First and foremost, did Scooter Libby's lawyer do something really naughty? According to Miller, "this was what [her lawyer Floyd] Abrams told her about his conversation with [Libby's lawyer] Mr. Tate: "He was pressing about what you would say. When I wouldn't give him an assurance that you would exonerate Libby, if you were to cooperate, he then immediately gave me this, 'Don't go there, or, we don't want you there.' "

This is serious stuff. Sounds like.... what do the lawyers call it, "obstruction of justice"? Tate denies it. Abrams..... hey, he was the supposed conduit. Whose side is he on, Miller's or Tate's? The Times story doesn't say, one way or the other.

That's the biggie, the real elephant in the room. A couple of others:

2. The seven-day gap. After getting a letter from Libby telling her to testify, Miller "told her lawyers that she still needed to hear from Mr. Libby in person." She then had a "10-minute jailhouse conference call on Sept. 19 with Mr. Libby" that satisfied her. Oooookay. What happened next? "At 1 p.m. on Sept. 26, Ms. Miller convened her lawyers in the jailhouse law library. All the lawyers agreed that Mr. Libby had released Ms. Miller from the pledge of confidentiality."

Whoa! Whoa! By my mathematics, 26-19=7. Seven days! Why the delay? If she was suddenly "convinced," why did she take seven days to "convene her lawyers"? She was sitting in jail, for Pete's sake. Again: The Times story doesn't say, one way or the other.

3. Why was Miller taken off the Iraq story? After Bill Keller became executive editor, "Within a few weeks, in one of his first personnel moves, Mr. Keller told Ms. Miller that she could no longer cover Iraq and weapons issues." Why? Surely the Times wouldn't do that just because a reporter's sources were mistaken (as they sure as hell were on WMDs, not just in what they told Miller, but what they told the rest of the world). Did the Times feel that she was fabricating stuff? Or was the paper caving in to its critics on the Left, who have long despised her stories? Again, The Times story doesn't say, one way or the other.

Those are only the first three that stand out -- there are plenty of others. But you know what? I am not sure I care.

The only thing that is at stake, after all, is the credibility and prestige of the New York Times. I might have cared back when the Times was a great newspaper. But nowadays, with its systematic bias and rigidly ideological editorial page and parody of a public editor, nonpartisan media critics agree that it has fallen off its pedestal.

I guess all you can really say is this: "Another credibility crisis at the New York Times. So what else is new?"

Friday, October 14, 2005

TIME Sanitizes Farrakhan

Just when you thought that this old, wretched bigot had slithered away for good, the noxious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan is back, courtesy of TIME Online, in an item posted tonight.

As befits the end of the baseball season, it seems to be softball time at TIME, with the magazine's brain-dead editors lobbing softball after softball at the double-talking Farrakhan, with the latter eagerly portraying himself as misunderstood and as meek as a lamb.

One "highlight" of the TIME-Farrakhan puke-fest was the following spin on Farrakhan's storied Jew-baiting:

TIME: You've made statements regarding Judaism that many found polarizing. What are your thoughts on that now?

Farrakhan: No matter what I have said to refute that, I have never been allowed the privilege to allow my reputation to recover. Even when I've explained what I said and what I meant. I'm not afraid to stand up to what I say. And I know what I said and I did not say what they accuse me of saying.

And that's that. No follow-up from TIME's "journalists."

Just to be sure we're all on the same planet as this gently-handled hate-spewer and his friends at TIME, let's refresh our memory by glancing back some of Farrakhan's most recent ravings, courtesy of the ADL:

“I heard from a very reliable source that under that [New Orleans] levee there was a 25 foot hole, which suggested that it may have been blown up, so that the water would destroy the black part of town, and where the whites lived, it would be dry.”

“Listen, Jewish people don’t have no hands that are free of the blood of us. They owned slave ships, they bought and sold us. They raped and robbed us. If you can’t face that, why you gonna condemn me for showing you your past, how then can you atone and repent if somebody don’t open the book with courage, you don’t have that, but I’ll be damned, I got it.”

Mind you, this is from just his last few month's blatherings, and this guy has been spewing hate for decades.

If TIME were even the slightest bit responsible, it wouldn't go anywhere near this lunatic. Instead it gave one of the nation's leading bigots a podium, and an unchallenged opportunity to lie about his views and his record. This has to count as one of the must disgusting travesties of journalism I've seen in a long time. And I've seen plenty, believe me.

Another Wasted Column Promised!

The Empty Suit, New York Times spokesman (a/k/a "public editor") Barney Calame, who wasted his last column with a self-serving discussion of "Times staff attitudes toward readers", promises more of the same this Sunday. So says his web journal.

Discussing the Judith Miller disaster, which Calame has conspicuously failed to touch, the Empty Suit says he can't do anything this week because "the space Sunday will be devoted to reader letters about my two previous columns, as regularly scheduled."

That is to say, "scheduled" by the Suit, who prefers publishing reader columns to actually doing his job.

This is now the fourth time that this parody of a public editor will have shirked his responsibilities by wasting a column. As I pointed out some months ago, Calame first resorted to a letters column after appearing in print a grand total of three times.

The Times' Road Map.... Illiteracy?

Poor Stevie Erlanger Can't Read

In the past, I've said that the New York Times and other media outlets (Reuters, for example) display "amnesia" by continuing to "forget" Palestinian obligations to which both parties have agreed under the Road Map for Peace. After reading a news analysis today by Steven Erlanger, I think what we have here is not amnesia, but illiteracy.

The title of the story was promising enough -- "Mideast Knot: One Map, Many Paths." Aha! The Times would finally recognize Palestinian obligations under the Road Map. Not. Instead we get the usual Times pro-Palestinian spin that confronting Hamas is an Israeli and American "demand" and not something to which the Palestinians have agreed as part of the first phase of the Road Map.

Despite the headline, the Road Map itself is mentioned only toward the end:

Washington, with larger problems in the Arab world, wants to use Gaza to bring both parties back to the "road map," a rough outline for progress toward peace. The Israelis and Palestinians say they are committed to the map, but disagree on the path. Israel first wants terrorist groups dismantled; the Palestinians want parallel negotiations on a final peace, which Israel rejects while groups like Hamas remain an armed challenge to Palestinian governance and Israel's existence.
Note the use of the weasel words "rough outline," which Erlanger uses to excuse Palestinian refusal to implement the Road Map. Here is the Palestinian oblgation in the first phase of the road map, long before final status negotiations:

"Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere."

What's so "rough" about that? The Road Map is very explicit as to what is required of the parties, and when. Final status negotiations only take place after the terrorist groups are history -- that is why this is called a "peformance-based" road map.

Accurately quoting the Road Map, however, would be contrary to the Times' longstanding policy, in its news and editorial pages, of minimizing Palestinian requirements and promoting the myth of Palestinian "moderation." That includes turning a blind eye to Palestinian flouting of its obligations under every single agreement, from the Oslo accords to the Road Map.

Mind you, Erlanger is one of the "trained observers" that the Times has told us it deploys around the world to impart the truth to its lowly readers.

I like that "training" idea, however. Times hacks definitely need training in remedial reading.

UPDATE: Required reading for poor little Stevie Erlanger, after he has learned the ABCs, is a definitive essay on the evolution of the road map in Transatlantic Intelligencer. But learn to read first, Stevie bubby!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Empty Suit Does it Again

A few weeks ago, the Empty Suit, New York Times spokesman (a/k/a "public editor") Barney Calame put on an extra-convincing show of mimmicking a real newspaper ombudsman. He posted on his Web Journal a letter asking why the Times wasn't covering an issue of importance:

a Democratic senator from NEW YORK has had two top aides accused of illegally tracing credit information from a potential Republican senatorial candidate. The aides have resigned and there is a FEDERAL investigation into the matter. And The New York Times has not printed ONE word about it.

The New York senator referenced in the letter was Chuck Schumer. Here's Michelle Malkin's piece on the thing. Barney's response, way back on Sept. 30:

I’ve been asking editors since Monday about the situation involving the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and confidential credit records of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a Republican. The Times now has reporters looking into it.

Well, that was that. Not one word since then. So a curious reader followed up, and received the following response:

Dear XXX: The editors said the story fell between the cracks, with one part of the paper assuming another part of the paper was checking on the situation. The Times is a big place and that can happen.

It is a subject that I am watching over the longer term. I feel there also may have been a reluctance to spend time on a story that had been broken by another publication. If this unconfirmed hunch is correct, that is not an appropriate response.

I didn't find any evidence of political bias. I don't have any special problem with the level of detail in story The Times ran.

Byron Calame
Public Editor
The New York Times

"Fell through the cracks"? And since when has the appearance of a story in another publication kept the Times from jumping on a Republican?

Re the "one part of the paper assuming another part of the paper was checking" excuse--wow. Is he for real? Calame has parrotted that exact line of bureaucratic doubletalk before. See this item in the American Thinker from some weeks ago. Barney has got to come up with some new lines, if he is going to put on a convincing "ombudsman" act.

As for political bias -- what does Barney expect, a Democratic National Committee banner hanging from the newsroom?

There is a word for what I've described. It was Michelle Malkin's verdict on Calame some weeks ago, and I'm taking the liberty of repeating it today: Useless.

UPDATE: Calame may have been shamed into writing something about the Judith Miller disaster. Naah. Give it a few more months, Barney. Take it easy. They'll still pay you, right?

Payola Pundit: UN Too Soft on Israel

Excoriates the Jew-Loving UN

The Payola Pundit, UN media trainer Ian Williams, takes a break from his usual occupation -- shilling for Kofi Annan -- to tackle the UN's Israel problem. You know, the one that everyone is complaining about: The UN is too soft on Israel!

Yes, friends. Those damn Jews -- aided by their friend, the evil John Bolton -- have turned the UN into a veritable synagogue. Read all about here. Did you know that those horrible Israelis have actually claimed one of the General Assembly's 21 vice-presidencies? And that Israel has become vice chairman of the UN's Disarmament Commission? What is this world coming to?

Williams' anti-Semitic blatherings in the Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs, where this cloud-cuckoo-land rant appeared, are nothing new. A few months ago he assured his readers that James Wolfensohn was able to do a competent job despite the handicap of "Jewish origins."

Mind you, Williams is not just one of your typical, mud-wallowing jackasses but one who dwells in the upper reaches of social strata. Thanks no doubt to his years of shilling for the UN and its management through thick and thin -- when he isn't on the payroll outright -- the Payola Pundit remains a powerful force in the UN Correspondents Assn., and is head of its awards committee.

Just the kind of guy to judge journalistic excellence, wouldn't you say? Or at least you would, if you are in an organization as totally free of ethics, and as cozy with the people it is covering, as is the UN correspondent group.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The 'Trained Observers' Missed This One

Stephen Spruiell's splendid media blog in the National Review Online, following up on the Empty Suit's recent non-column, quotes the top editor of the New York Times, Bill Keller, on how the Times really feels about its readers: patronizing contempt.

The Times sets the agenda for the lowly, ignorant masses, in contrast to the unskilled, unethical and pesky bloggers, because its people are smarter, trained, skilled:

Keller pointed out that it cost the Times around $1.5 million to maintain a Baghdad bureau in 2004. (It cost one Times freelancer much more last month: He was murdered.) "This kind of civic labor can't be replaced by bloggers." The Times' assets: "A worldwide network of trained, skilled [observers] to witness events" and write about them, and "a rigorous set of standards. A journalism of verification," rather than of "assertion"...

... yadda yadda. The message is that the Times, like your mother or your doctor, knows better than the unskilled, the untrained, the amateurs. You wouldn't go to a barber to cut out your appendix, and you have to rely on the Times's brave, skilled, trained observers to let you know what is going on in the world.

Well now. Apparently there is an entire terror campaign that the trained observers of the New York Times (and most of the western media for that matter) systematically ignore. The victims are Hindu residents of Kashmir. For example, here is an atrocity that happened on Monday, well before the Times deadline, which the Times' trained, skilled reporters and editors didn't think worth mentioning.

According to an Indian newspaper, the Express:

In gruesome pre-dawn strikes, militants allegedly belonging to pro-Pak Hizbul Mujahideen outfit, killed ten members of two Hindu families by slitting their throats in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir today, police sources said here.

The Times's dedicated, skilled, trained cadre of reporters and editors missed, have missed, and will continue to miss, the terror war being committed by Islamic extremists against Hindus in Kashmir -- just as they miss any story that fails to fit into this once-great newspaper's Upper West Side worldview.

So please, Keller, spare us the platitudes.

Tierney Misses An Opportunity

John Tierney's column today (available here via Times Select), explores a recent study showing that Democrats far outnumber Republicans on the faculty of journalism schools. (The study was by David Horowitz, the conservative who is president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture.)

A good piece. Unfortunately, Tierney missed a golden opportunity to write about a subject that the Times has completely ignored -- the appointment of The Nation publisher Victor Navasky as chairman of the Columbia Journalism Review. CJR is published by the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, where the faculty is 15 to 1 Democrat.

With few exceptions, Navasky's move to CJR -- which was hidden for many months until uncovered by the David M Blog -- has received virtually no coverage.

This is, unfortunately, typical of Tierney, who replaced the estimable William Safire as the Times house conservative some months ago. Unlike the feisty Safire, who was a useful counterweight to the monotonously hard-left editorial page -- particularly to offset its Israel-bashing-- Tierney has tended to pull his punches. Today's column is a good example of that.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Empty Suit Solves a Problem!

The Empty Suit, New York Times spokesman (a/k/a "public editor") Barney Calame, faced a serious dilemma as he rose from his divan to write his biweekly column today. His employer, which he loyally serves as a management shill, is facing an unparalleled credibility crisis. The Judith Miller imbroglio has blown up in its face. How was he going to ignore all those problems?

He couldn't very well do another "reader letters" column, which is Barney's preferred method when he wants to duck hard issues. So this week he devoted an entire column to you. Yes, you my friends, the reader.

"If you are reading these words, it means you are one of the millions of readers of The New York Times," Barney began. Damn! That man is smart. How did he figure that out? Barney goes on to say that your "desires and dislikes are never far from the minds of the paper's editors and reporters." So "I asked about 50 news staffers, ranging from the executive editor to reporters, to describe the audience for whom they are editing and writing."

You have to admit--Barney is consistent. Barney warned us before he began his job that he was going to focus on stuff nobody cares about. He said that he was interested in "process" and would "explain how decisions are made" -- a subject of complete indifference to readers. People care about the Times being inaccurate and biased on its news pages and inaccurate and ideologically rigid on its editorial page, not how Correspondent X and Editor Y do their job.

Likewise, Times readers could care less what Times hacks really "think about them," much less the self-serving swill that they fed Barney for public consumption.

What makes his condescending, smarmy column all the more execrable, all the more a reflection of the paper's storied arrogance, is a gaping omission. Barney, in this column, talks about the characteristics of the Times's readers, but he ignores the only one that matters -- New Yorkers read the paper because they have no other choice when it comes to a daily paper.

Oh, anyone primarily interested in New York-area news could stick with the tabloids, which beat the pants off the Times every day. The new New York Sun has good columns and stories. But only the Times covers national and international news in any detail.

One day, perhaps, another Herald Tribune will pop on the horizon, to give readers an alternative to this biased, once-great newspaper. Maybe the Sun will sprout wings. I hope so. But meanwhile, people in the New York area are stuck with a "hometown" newspaper of increasingly questionable credibility -- a paper that regularly insults the intelligence of its readers with bilge like the Empty Suit's column today.

UPDATE: Be sure to read Tom Lifson's excellent analysis. An excerpt:
Today’s column by Barney Calame (pronounced "Kuh-lame"), ombudsman (“public editor”) for the Times, certainly reads like a parody, an embarrasing wet-kiss to readers and editors. Or maybe it is a cry for help, such as might be made by a hostage with a gun to her head, unable to say directly that she is in trouble, but signaling distress by answering a knock at the door with an implausible statement.
Good point. Calame is clearly in over his head. Maybe he should do everybody, including his beleaguered employers, a favor and quit? As I've said before, he is such a disaster that he is actually doing the Times more harm than good.

UPDATE No. 2: The Empty Suit expands on his goofy column in his cobweb-covered "web journal," in which he includes a link to readership stats from the Times advertising department. That's the stuff the Times gives out to advertisers.

Well, what do you expect? They don't call Barney a "Times flack and parody of a newspaper ombudsman" for nothing.

Back to the divan, Barney! You've worked hard today. Sleep tight.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Vanity Fair Draws the Battle Lines

Reading Vanity Fair is always an adventure in monotony. Every issue is the same: Movie star on the cover, self-indulgent columns by burned-out phonies like Dominick Dunne, overlong features on stale subjects, and at least two or three attacks on the Bush administration. The November issue features a particularly noxious example of the latter -- written by a ditz named Evgenia Peretz and entitled "High Noon in Crawford." (Not online.)

Peretz draws the battle lines right up front -- the good people, principally the Gold Star Moron Cindy Sheehan, vs. the evil, out-of-touch, jackass president. The former is treated as saintly, courageous. "It has been left to Cindy Sheehan to expose the hollowness of Bush's cowboy populism," is one typical line from the piece.

The article is maintly devoted to pap like that, sugaring over Sheehan's extremist rants and endorsements by the likes of David Duke and Nazis. "Far from the treasonous left-wing crackpot she has been painted to be by many of the right-wing pundits, Sheehan was a Catholic youth minister." OK. Good point. Let's be accurate: she's a treasonous left-wing crackpot former Catholic youth minister.

When Peretz is not boosting (belatedly and lamely, this being Vanity Fair) the jughead Sheehan, she is seeking out the people in Crawford who don't much care for Bush, and taking the usual potshots at Bush you've read a thousand times.

Overall, this is very much what you would get in Counterpunch, except that the ads feature semi-nude models pushing Prada and Smirnoff instead of books with titles like "The Case Against Israel."

I guess that's the choice nowadays in Moonbatland. You can take your anti-Bush polemics with soft-core porn or hard-core Jew-baiting.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

It's Official -- The Times is Off the Pedestal

Journalism prof and blogger Jay Rosen's widely followed Pressthink column expresses what has been general knowledge for a long time -- that the New York Times is no longer the nation's leading newspaper.

He pegs a lot -- too much, I think -- on the Judith Miller imbroglio, as well as her previous reporting on WMDs. He is correct, however, in noting that the Paul Krugman correction mess is also a factor.

The problem is that Rosen's analysis is incomplete. The Krugman Affair is just the tip of the iceburg. What has hurt the paper's credibility is more than just its arrogant refusal to correct errors and its mishandling of the Miller affair. The major reason is its open ideological bias. Or as Dan Okrent famously put it: "Is the Times a liberal newspaper? Of course it is." His use of "liberal," however, is a too-mild reference to the Times's hard-left agenda, particularly on the editorial page.

Ironically, though Miller's WMD reporting proved wrong, the fact that she pursued that story and oil-for-food actually was positive, in that it countered the paper's otherwise leftward tilt. But by failing to come up with the goods on WMDs, and grandstanding her way into jail, Miller just made the Times a whipping boy for the left at the same time that it tilts its coverage in that direction.

There's a word for that. It's called "dumb." As I have indicated in the past, the Times is all too often stupid in its handling of controversies, and at the same time -- as the recent Gail Collins letter to readers indicates--presumes that its readers are morons.

Rosen's analaysis is also flawed in that he rank-orders newspapers, now putting the Washington Post on the top. Personally I would put the Wall Street Journal at the top of the heap. But the point is not who's first, but that the Times just ain't there -- and that it used to be.

The 'Faux News' Double Standard

The headline in a New York Times editorial yesterday is right on the mark: "Faux News Is Bad News." Said the Times: "Federal auditors have blistered the Bush administration for secretly concocting favorable news reports about itself by hiring actors to pose as journalists and slipping $240,000 in taxpayer funds to a sell-out conservative polemicist" (that is, Armstrong Williams).

Hey, I'm with them on that. But where is the Times's outrage when it comes to taxpayer-funded faux news broadcast by the United Nations? After all, this country forks over almost half of the budget of the East River Debating and Terrorist Cheerleading Society.

As I noted in a recent item, CNBC World broadcasts a fake-news show called UN World Chronicle, produced by the UN propaganda apparatus and hosted by a left-wing polemicist and UN correspondent assn. honcho named Tony Jenkins. To make things worse, CNBC fails to disclose in its listings and website that this show is fake news.

Where is the outrage over that? Apparently the Times and the rest of the mainstream media -- which has ignored the UN's fake news apparatus -- only care about such things when they are perpetrated by the Bush Administration.

What makes this hypocrisy even more egregious is that the Bush Administration has repudiated fake news, but the UN is continuing to push its phony-interview show and has not repudiated hiring UN correspondents as consultants and shills. The UN brazenly continues to waste taxpayer money in this manner, with the connivance of the docile UN press corps and the silent consent of the MSM.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Stop the Presses! Miller Not a Hero!

The Very Worst

The World's Worst Media Columnist, Jon Friedman of MarketWatch, comes toddling along today with this earth-shattering conclusion: "I have to stop short when it comes to calling [Judith Miller] a martyr or, for that matter, any sort of journalistic hero."

Wow! What a courageous conclusion, or so Friedman fantasizes: "I may be regarded now as some sort of a Quisling by any journalists who contend that Miller represents the best of our blessed profession. So be it."

Talk about an idiotic straw man. Can anyone out there cite for me one single, solitary example of a journalist who still "contends that Miller represents the best of our profession"?

Still, let's thank Jon here for pointing the way. Too bad he's pointing the way about five days after pretty much everyone else, including ex-Miller supporters such as myself, came to the same conclusion.

They don't call him "the world's worst media columnist" for nothing. Go back to writing puff pieces, Jon.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Let the Squirming Begin

It's always fun to see a New York Times hack squirm. Today the squirmer was editorial page editor Gail Collins, and the squirming involved the failure to correct the numerous errors committed by Times editorial writers and columnists.

Gail, bless her heart, used to be a breezy and very funny Daily News columnist before she turned bureaucrat and hard-left polemicist, and she uses humor skillfully to blow smoke over her page's arrogance, refusal to correct blatant factual errors and general credibility failings.

So let's start with the good stuff-- the really funny stuff. The Times editorial page has inaugurated a corrections column. Not.

Apparently a column entitled "corrections" is out of the question, so she is going to shove serious errors under the title "For the Record," which is supposed to be used for minor stuff, like getting an address wrong or omitting a middle name. Sure enough, we get a "For the Record" column today correcting the very serious error made by Times columnists saying that Michael Brown, the former FEMA director, was a college friend or college roommate of Joe Allbaugh.

As I pointed out in an item way back in April (the Empty Suit "public editor" Barney Calame poached this item last week), the Times has a longstanding policy of shoving serious errors into the "for the record" column. Seems that same policy is now coming to the editorial page.

Gail is at her funniest as she tries to sugarcoat Paul Krugman's titanic battle to keep from correcting his erroneous descriptions of the 2000 presidential recount, and her own failure to enforce Times policy requiring a correction:

Paul appended another correction to the Web version of his column, but asked if he could refrain from revisiting the subject yet again in print.

I agreed, feeling we had reached the point of cruelty to readers. But I was wrong. The correction should have run in the same newspaper where the original error and all its little offspring had appeared.

Wasn't that nice of them? In other words, you were wrong if you thought they didn't want to correct in print Krugman's boner because they were arrogant and unwilling to admit error. No, they felt that readers would be subjected to serious, willful physical or mental harm (that is the legal definition of cruelty) if they saw the Times admit a mistake!

I am now rethinking yet again my assumptions about the Times and now its editorial page.

In a previous item I noted that the Times was overcome by stupidity by failing to correct blatant errors. These range from minor goofs to misquoting the Middle East "road map" -- which the Times has yet to correct.

Having read Gail's column, I now see that I was wrong. It's not so much that Times editors are stupid, but that they sincerely believe that Times readers are morons.

UPDATE: A reader points to yet another Krugman boner (see this item in Powerline) that requires correcting. Let's see if this massive goof is corrected by the accuracy-anorexic columnist, or instead winds up shoveled into a "for the record" non-correction.

* * *

Be sure to check out this recent post: CNBC broadcasts UN-produced fake-news show.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

CNBC Promotes UN-Sponsored Fake News

UN fake news, hosted by correspondent assn. honcho

Today the press is all agog with the GAO finding it was illegal for the Bush Administration to pay commentators like Armstrong Williams to push its education policies. The New York Times thought this was so earth-shattering that it put its story on page one. I'd feel a lot more hot and bothered by this controversy if it wasn't for this: the media turns a blind eye toward identical practices by the United Nations.

Indeed, a UN-produced fake-news shows called UN World Chronicle, produced by the UN Department of Public Information, is regularly broadcast on CNBC World without disclosure by CNBC, on its website or in cable TV listings, that it is fake news.

The program is usually hosted by the UN's fave former UN Correspondent Assn. president, a shrill left-wing hack named Tony Jenkins, though sometimes UN Minister of Propaganda Shashi Tharoor hosts the "news" show.

Here's how CNBC World misleadingly describes the UN World Chronicle on its website:

WORLD CHRONICLE is an interview programme on global issues featuring experts and international personalities. This is a talk show where guests share their views on key issues facing the world and the UN.

Thirty-nine programmes are produced each year with 13 suggested 'best of the season' re-runs for a total of 52 programmes annually. Programmes are 28 minutes in length and are only available in English.

Recorded at UN Headquarters in New York, WORLD CHRONICLE has featured hundreds of prestigious guests during its 22-year history including. . . . [list of UN honchos follows]

Guests are interviewed by a panel of journalists from international news organisations accredited to the United Nations.
That's it. Not one word indicating that this show is produced by bureaucrats at the UN's bloated propaganda ministry, when it is not setting up anti-Israel scream-fests featuring anti-Semites and professional Israel-bashers.

The charade continues in misleading cable and satellite TV program listings. For example, take a look at this DirecTV satellite television guide, which shows the UN World Chronicle at 10 a.m. today on CNBC World (CNBW), Channel 357, at the same time that CNBC, Channel 355, is listing "paid programming." In fact, the UN World Chronicle is paid programming too because it is bought and paid for by the UN.

Why isn't the mainstream media up in arms about CNBC letting itself be a conduit for fake UN news? Why do mainstream-media journalists appear on this fake-news show, and sometimes get bucks for doing so? Why the double standard?

It's not just the "World Chronicle." The UN has made a practice of hiring UN correspondents as consultants, and the UN Correspondents Association is rife with all kinds of sleaziness -- ranging from junkets to violating immigration laws to bullying of dissident reporters. The transgressors include The Nation's UN consultant-correspondent, the fifth-rate hack Ian Williams, and former UNCA president and UN Chronicle host Jenkins.

Jenkins -- the UN propaganda bureaucracy's favorite journo, judging from his regular UN Chronicle hosting gig -- has been accused of threatening dissidents with revocation of their credentials, according to FrontPage Magazine. The publication reported that

several UNCA members reported that former president Tony Jenkins threatened many members with revocation of their credentials if they questioned the leadership's ethics or leaked information to outsiders. He knows officials at the U.N., he reportedly told at least four individuals, who would yank their credentials. Jenkins denies making such threats.

Jenkins also slimed his way into the headlines by blasting media coverage of the Middle East and publicly urging action against Israel, saying in a speech that "It's as if all of American Jewry, in its multifaceted glory, had been hijacked by the Likud."

Accuracy in Media reported that Jenkins went on to urge U.N. action against Israel, saying, "Why are so few in the American media explaining that this policy of unilaterally annexing parts of the occupied territories won't work? That we don't live by 19th century rules anymore. That you can't go marching into someone else's land, wipe out all the Indians, build a wall around it and say 'this is mine,' with impunity. That, it was precisely to stop such actions that the United Nations was founded…"

Sounds like a perfect choice to host a UN fake news show, wouldn't you say?

Apart from Fox News, only FrontPage and Accuracy in Media (and various blogs, of course) have reported on this sliminess.

UPDATE: A reader tells me that the fifth-rate hack Ian Williams, who still boasts on his website about all the great media-training work he has done for UN officials, is still pushing his weight around at UNCA despite the controversy and scandal that has swirled around him. As indicated by the UNCA website, this ethics-deprived quasi-journo is head of UNCA's "awards committee."

Says the UNCA website: "Secretary-General Kofi Annan will present the prizes at the UNCA Awards Dinner at UN Headquarters in New York, 2 December 2005." Think about it: The award winners are picked by the consultant-correspondent, and the awards are handed out by the much-flayed head of the UN, Williams' sometime employer and subject of many puff pieces. Cozy!

UPDATE: Great piece in Accuracy in Media, which expanding considerably on the topic.