Saturday, June 7
All the News That's Fudged to Print
If You Think Jayson Blair was Loose with the Facts, Look at How the Times Covered Iraq
John MacArthur, Globe & Mail, June 6, 2003
Yesterday's forced resignation of New York Times executive editor Howell Raines might lead a casual observer to conclude that the wayward reporter Jayson Blair (under Mr. Raines's lax supervision) had committed serial rape on the Gray Lady of West 43rd Street, rather than serial acts of journalistic fraud. In reality, this metaphoric beheading by the company's board of directors furthers a preposterous image of victimization that covers up far more serious transgressions by the "paper of record."
Notwithstanding Mr. Blair's "crime," such a histrionic mea culpa recalls the criminal who pleads to a lesser offence in order to escape prosecution for a more serious one. Whatever's driving the paper's nervous breakdown, I'm sure of this: The Times has lately been a perpetrator of fraud more than its victim.
Take the case of staff reporter Judith Miller, who covers the atomic bomb/chemical-weapons-fear beat, and hasn't heard a scare story about Iraq that she didn't believe, especially if leaked by her White House friends. On Sept. 8, 2002, Ms. Miller and her colleague Michael Gordon helped co-launch the Bush II sales campaign for Saddam-change with a front page story about unsuccessful Iraqi efforts to purchase 81-mm aluminum tubes, allegedly destined for a revived nuclear weapons program.
Pitched to a 9/11-spooked public and a gullible, cowardly U.S. congress, the aluminum tubes plant was a big component of the "weapons of mass destruction" canard, which resulted in hasty House and Senate war authorization on Oct. 11. [...more]