It's been widely reported that on May 25, pro-Syrian forces massacred 108 civilians in the Syrian village of Houla, including 34 women and 49 children, many of whose throats were cut. The reported atrocity has sparked the latest round of appeals for intervention in the conflict in Syria. Syrian diplomats have been expelled from several countries over the massacre, including by U.S., Britain, France, Australia and Canada; "Syrian Diplomats Expelled Across World as Outrage Over Houla Massacre Grows," the British Guardian (5/29/12) declared. "Who Will Stop the Massacres?" asked the headline on a May 29 Washington Post editorial. As the editors [...]
The New York Times has a long piece (8/12/11) looking at the question of how many civilians in Pakistan are killed by CIA drones. The agency doesn't even speak about the program on the record, except to make the far-fetched claim that no civilians have died in the past year or so. The article, written by Scott Shane, includes some useful criticism of the CIA, and it's hard not to conclude that the agency's claims are not very credible. But the real problem with the piece is that it gives much weight to the CIA's defense at all, using their [...]
The New York Times and London Guardian both published stories yesterday (4/25/11) examining the WikiLeaks documents about the Guantanamo prison. While obviously just a snapshot, it is interesting to see how the papers have headlined their findings. The Guardian: The New York Times: And today the Times stresses the potential danger allegedly posed by those imprisoned there: This is not to suggest that the Times' pieces are particularly bad. But the difference in emphasis is striking–and reminiscent of how differently the papers treated previous WikiLeaks disclosures.
The Guardian published a piece yesterday (2/15/11) based on an interview with "Curveball," the Iraqi exile whose fraudulent claims about Iraq's WMDs helped the Bush administration sell the Iraq War. "I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime," he explained. The piece is pretty revealing–as Curveball watched Colin Powell's UN address in February 2003,theGuardian reports that "he had not met a U.S. official, let alone been interviewed by one." One "flight of fantasy" Curveball deliveredwas the claim that Iraq was manufacturing mobile bio-weapons labs. These did not exist. But if you were watching U.S. television news during [...]
The New York Times: Cables Show Delicate U.S. Dealings With Egypt's Leaders The Guardian: WikiLeaks Cables Show Close U.S. Relationship With Egyptian President That reminds me of something Times executive editor wrote in a forthcoming piece on WikiLeaks, where he explains the difference between The Newspaper of Record and the Guardian in handling theAfghanistan documents: If anyone doubted that the three publications operated independently, the articles we posted that day made it clear that we followed our separate muses. The Guardian, which is an openly left-leaning newspaper, used the first War Logs to emphasize civilian casualties in Afghanistan, claiming the [...]
Former special ops squad leader/current think tank fellow Andrew Exum noisily yawns at the WikiLeaks Afghan document release on the New York Times op-ed page today (7/27/10): The news media have done a good job of showing the public that the Afghan war is a highly complex environment stretching beyond the borders of the fractured country. Often what appears to be a two-way conflict between the government and an insurgency is better described as intertribal rivalry. And often that intertribal rivalry is worsened or overshadowed by the violent trade in drugs. As it happens, Extra! (12/09) devoted an entire article [...]
The Associated Press' Shawn Pogatchnik (5/12/09) has the incredible and deeply alarming story of Dublin sociology student Shane Fitzgerald having "posted a poetic but phony quote on Wikipedia" just as the world's reporters were writing up the March 18 death of composer Maurice Jarre. Intended for "testing how our globalized, increasingly Internet-dependent media was upholding accuracy and accountability in an age of instant news," Fitzgerald's fib "flew straight on to dozens of U.S. blogs and newspaper websites in Britain, Australia and India"–in short, "Wikipedia passed. Journalism flunked." "They used the fabricated material, Fitzgerald said, even though administrators at the free [...]