Thursday, April 16, 2009

NYT's propaganda push

In this morning's Daily Coverup (aka New York Times), Alissa J. Rubin joins with Rod Nordland for more please-love-us-and-don't-kick-us-out-of-the-country efforts. Today's propaganda is entitled "U.S. Military Expresses Concern About Perception of an Iraqi Crackdown on Sunnis" which goes a long way towards explaining how yesterday's garbage (Rubin's "Iraq Tries to Prove Autonomy, and Makes Inroads") made it into print for anyone who didn't grasp what was what yesterday.

Today's article never goes deeper than the headline. It's not an article, it's a damn press release and your first clue is the fact that the headline expresses a point of view which Rubin and Nordland carry through in their article.

Reporters do not do that. If one person has a point of view and they present that point of view in their article, they also present other points of view. So X is saying there is no problem. A reporter then goes to Z, goes to Y, etc. to find out whether or not the claim is true. Various points of view are presented -- especially when a claim cannot be independently verified.

Rubin and Nordland don't do that. They're not interested in evaluating the claim, they're only interested in making sure they were good little stenographers who dotted every "i" and crossed every "t" in what the US military told them to write down.

It's shameful and it's embarrassing.

The New York Times is never supposed to be part of the US military's counter-insurgency operations but that's what they do this morning and it's shameful and it needs to be called out. There is no excuse for it at all.

For the record, the press didn't create the tensions between Sahwa and Nouri. Those tensions were always present and you can go back to 2007 reports and find that. In terms of the Baghdad armed conflict which took place last month, BBC and Reuters were the only ones filing early reports (when the conflict had just started) and those were innocuous reports nothing like what would come out by the end of the day about US forces joining with Iraqi forces to battle Sahwa in the Fadhil section of Baghdad. The press didn't create that armed struggle, didn't encourage it and, honestly, was caught by surprise when those tensions flared up so dramatically.

Yesterday Rubin served up propaganda that rivaled the garbage Eason Jordan attoned for in a Times' column (he admitted CNN regularly covered up stories of abuse in Iraq to curry favor with Saddam Hussein). Today, Rubin and Nordland enlist in the US military in order to pull a fast one on the public in the US and in Iraq. Today they set journalism aside because they've been told they need to serve a 'higher purpose.' Any journalist who has so little pride in their field that they'd do this sort of stenography needs to take a good hard look at themselves and whether they belong in journalism.

What Rubin and Nordland have written is an embarrassment and it's an embarrassment for their paper which indicates just how awful their article is. Check "Rudith Miller" for how the paper works. It always cowtows to what the US government wants. But even Judith, even Judith Miller, knew you just bury the contrary opinions when presenting government assertions as fact. Rubin and Nordland present US government assertions as fact but they're worse than Judith Miller. Take a moment to grasp that. While Miller would wait until paragraph 13 to briefly note a voice that called into question a government claim, Rubin and Nordland just eliminate those voices, they refuse to cover them, they refuse to include them.

The US military is doing cartwheels this morning because they dictated an article to the Times and the Times ran it without any efforts to verify it and without any efforts to include any other opinions. This is propaganda pure and simple and, no, that is not how an allegedly free press works.

And for those who wish to play as dumb as Rubin and Nordland, among the people real reporters could have interviewed to round out and evaluate a claim were: Iraqi police officers, Sahwa, academics who follow the situation (especially academics in Baghdad and Dubai) and NGOs. By refusing to do so, by printing 18 paragraphs that's nothing but an attempt at perception management on the part of the US military, the reporters disgrace themselves and their profession.

This can't be called out enough, this is shameful and it's disgusting. It's the sort of crap Dexy Filkins got away with it (but that prize will be taken back, you can't let the military vet your copy and win a prize and have it stand the test of time). There's a reporter Dexy hates, LOATHES and the reason is because that reporter (a male, not the female who first outed him as the US military's go-to-boy) refused to play the game of propaganda. That reporter was very clear to Dexy that it wasn't his job or Dexy's to ensure success or failure of US aims in Iraq, his job was to report the truth as best as he could determine it. Dexy, drunk as per usual in the Green Zone, mouthed a few weak ass remarks. Reality is that man has a career and Dexy's praying like hell he can turn Afghanistan into a legacy. He can't. He's a trash reporter who begs for scraps and does whatever the US military wants him to. (Insert joke about toss a Hersey candy bar into his tent and he drops to all fours.) Rubin and Nordland better grasp real quick that the Dexy road is not a noble one, is not a journalistic one and is one that will always haunt.

And we should note one of the most laughable US military assertions that made it into print this morning, that Sahwa's not being paid due to money shortages. Nouri's got money problems because of falling oil prices, the US military insists and Rubin and Nordland spit back at American readers without question. From yesterday's snapshot, "AFP reports reality, 'Iraq has signed a contract with British engineering and construction company Foster Wheeler to build the country's largest-ever oil refinery, an Iraqi official said on Wednesday'." The cost of the plant? $128,000,000. That deal was announced yesterday. And Rubin and Nordland want to repeat (without question) US military tales of Nouri having to count and watch his pennies.

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