Mar
21
2013

How to Read Stories About Israel in the NY Times (Hint: Very Carefully)

FireShot Screen Capture #401 - 'Israel’s Iron Dome System Is at Center of Debate - NYTimes_com' - www_nytimes_com_2013_03_21_world_middleeast_israels-iron-dome-system-is-at-center-of-debate_h

Some days the Newspaper of Record says a lot–not always in ways you might expect. Today (3/21/13) a story by Mark Landler and Rick Gladstone about allegations of chemical weapons in Syria includes something you see often–anonymous government sources. That can often be a bad thing; but today it's pretty useful: Two senior Israeli officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak, said that Israel was sure that chemicals were used, but did not have details about what type of weapons were used, where they came from, when they were deployed, or by whom. […]

Mar
13
2013

Armistice's Day Is Done–Contrary to NYT

North Korean soldiers looking across the DMZ (U.S. Army photo by Edward N. Johnson)

Citing anonymous officials, the New York Times reported that "no party [to an] armistice can unilaterally terminate or alter its terms." International law expert Francis Boyle says that's nonsense.

Mar
12
2013

Killing a Citizen: NYT, Awlaki and 'Muddying the Moral Clarity'

Anwar Al-Awlaki (Al-Malahem Media/screenshot: Magharebia)

The Obama administration has not wanted to explain in any great detail how it justified killing an American citizen in Yemen. But there were apparently plenty of current and former officials willing to explain their case to the New York Times.

Jan
29
2013

Iranian Meddling in Yemen, Says Unnamed Official From Meddling Country

Sanaa, Yemen (photo: Ammar Abd Rabbo)

The country that has invaded and occupied two countries in the region, and is currently waging a drone war in Yemen–not to mention the occasional cluster bomb attack–is granted anonymity to call out another country's alleged "meddling" there.

Jan
25
2013

FAIR TV: Obama's Liberal Inaugural?, Anonymous Iran Truth-Telling, PBS Drone Conflict

In the latest edition of FAIR TV: Did Barack Obama's inaugural address really signify a shift to the left? Plus the Washington Post gives the government a chance to make anonymous claims about how much Iranians are suffering due to their sanctions policy. And PBS takes a look at drones,with special funding from… drone manufacturer Lockheed Martin? Take a look:

Jan
22
2013

Sanctions Not Really Hurting Ordinary Iranians, Says Anonymous U.S. Official

Pharmacy in Iran

It's hard to be surprised by the practice of granting anonymity to U.S. officials. But it was surprising to be reassured in the Washington Post that the U.S.-led sanctions on Iran aren't really harming ordinary Iranians–based on the word of an anonymous U.S. official.

Dec
20
2012

Syria's Mobile Weapons Labs: Where Have We Heard This Before?

iraq-030205-powell-un-17300pf-21

If you were concerned that the Syria WMD stories didn't already feel enough like the Iraq WMD reports, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius had one just for you. It's not that Ignatius doesn't know that this story sounds, well, familiar–but it's important to recall more of the journalism from the Iraq invasion era.

Sep
13
2012

The Case of the Disappearing NYT Piece

Mitt Romney

At Huffington Post (9/13/12), Ryan Grim and Michael Calderone are raising questions about the somewhat mysterious disappearance of a New York Times news article: On Wednesday, the New York Times published a provocative story bylined by David E. Sanger and Ashley Parker, leading with the news that Mitt Romney had personally approved the blistering Tuesday night statement on the attacks in Libya and Egypt that landed his campaign in trouble. But hours later, the newspaper wiped the story out and replaced it with a significantly rewritten piece bylined by Peter Baker and Ashley Parker…. The later version, which appeared on […]

Aug
20
2012

Another Brave, Anonymous Campaign Whistleblower

The Washington Post has done it again. Reporter Felicia Sonmez (8/17/12) somehow got a  Republican campaign adviser to spill the beans on the Ryan/Romney relationship : A senior Republican adviser close to the campaign who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Ryan views Romney's career as "a case study of some of the ideas that he has been immersed in and debating about for years." "By his intellect and political upbringing, he is a natural champion for the success of the free-market system," the adviser said of Ryan. "He's a true believer in the free-market system. And so he […]

Aug
14
2012

Romney Whistleblower Comes Forward (Not Really)

Washington Post columnist Dan Balz has a big scoop from an anonymous source in today's paper (8/14/12): The choice, like most vice presidential selections, also was a way for Romney to say something bigger about the kind of campaign he hopes to run. In that sense, advisers say, Ryan was "Mitt's pick, completely." "Stories talk about it being a bold choice," said one senior Romney adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk about the decision. "To me, it was a confident choice. He was very confident in himself, in Paul Ryan, in the campaign and in the […]

May
21
2012

NYT and Honduras Killings, Take Two

On Friday (5/18/12) we noted that the New York Times and Washington Post had long pieces about a drug war shooting in Honduras that reportedly killed four innocent bystanders, including two pregnant women. The story got increased attention here in the U.S. because of the apparent involvement of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Honduran officials and sources claimed the dead were civilians. The Times and Post, though, granted anonymity to U.S. officials to claim that the dead were maybe not civilians at all; in fact, according to some of these unnamed officials, the whole town where the shooting occurred was involved […]

May
18
2012

NYT, WaPo Let Unnamed U.S. Officials Spin Honduras Killings

The details are somewhat murky, but we know the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is heavily involved in counternarcotics in Honduras. A shooting incident last Friday reportedly left four innocent people dead–including two pregnant women. Questions are being raised about whether they were shot by DEA agents who were apparently going after a boat carrying drug smugglers. The story has become a scandal in Honduras, as the New York Times reports today (5/18/12) Residents of the isolated Mosquito Coast of Honduras have burned down government buildings and are demanding that American drug agents leave the area immediately With a story like […]

Apr
20
2012

NYT Finds Fox News Whistleblower!

Brian Stelter reports in the New York Times that Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity are renewing their contracts…meaning that we'll be enjoying–and paying for–their talents through the 2016 election season. Not many people around Fox wanted to speak on the record about the new deals, but Stelter granted anonymity to one Fox insider who was more than willing to spill the beans: A colleague of Mr. O'Reilly's, speaking on the condition of anonymity because Fox had not given permission to speak on the record, said he seemed as engaged as ever, despite having had the job for 16 years. "He […]