John W. — New York Times Minimizes Palestinian Deaths

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Compliments of Shobak:
New York Times Minimizes Palestinian Deaths
The Perversions of Daniel Okrent
A little over a week ago, some members of our organization, If Americans Knew, met with New York Times Public Editor Daniel Okrent to discuss the findings of a detailed study we had completed of two years worth of Times news stories on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Okrent was going to be writing a column discussing the paper‚s coverage of Israel/Palestine, and we felt our study would be an important resource.
Using a PowerPoint presentation, we explained our findings and gave him copies of the 23-page report, along with approximately 40 pages of supporting documentation.
In order to find as clear and objective a measure as possible, our studies examine how news organizations report deaths among both populations, Israelis and Palestinian. Basically, we simply count the deaths reported on both sides of the conflict, and then compare these to the actual number of deaths that had occurred. It is our view that all deaths are equally tragic regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity; we hoped that the Times shared that perspective.
Our statistical analysis of their coverage, however, showed that there was startling disparity in how deaths were reported, depending on the ethnicity of the victim.
For example, we found that in 2004, at a time when 8 Israeli children and 176 Palestinian children were killed ˆ a ratio of 1 to 22 ˆ Times headlines and lead paragraphs reported on Israeli children‚s deaths at a rate almost seven times greater than Palestinian children‚s deaths.
A one-month sub-study indicated that this disparity grew even larger when the entire article was analyzed, with Israeli children‚s deaths mentioned (through repetitions of deaths reported on previous days) at a rate ten times greater than Palestinian children‚s deaths.
Times coverage of deaths of all ages, while less dramatically skewed, showed similar distortion. In the first year of the current Palestinian uprising, which began in fall of 2000, we discovered that the Times reported prominently on 42 percent of Palestinian deaths, and on 119 percent of Israeli deaths (follow-up headline articles, we find, frequently push coverage of Israeli deaths over 100 percent). In other words, the Times reported Israeli deaths at a rate approximately three times greater than Palestinian deaths.
During this period over three times more Palestinians were being killed than Israelis.
Overall, we found that in every single category Times coverage reported Israeli deaths at rates three or more times greater than Palestinian deaths.
Such patterns of distortion gave readers the impression that equal numbers of people on both sides were being killed ˆ or that more Israelis were being killed ˆ when the reality is that Palestinians have always been killed in far greater numbers. In particular, we found that Times stories so often repeated reports of Israeli children‚s deaths that in some periods they were reporting on Israeli deaths at a rate of 400 percent.
In contrast, the majority of Palestinian deaths ˆ particularly children‚s deaths ˆ were never reported by the Times at all.
According to Israeli human rights groups and others who assiduously gather data on all children killed in the conflict, at least 82 Palestinian children were killed before any Israeli children were killed ˆ and the largest single cause of these Palestinian children‚s deaths was „gunfire to the head.‰ Yet, almost no one is aware of this, since Times coverage consistently omitted or minimized coverage of these Palestinian deaths.
In other words, we found that New York Times coverage of Israel-Palestine exhibited highly disturbing patterns of bias.
To make matters worse, since the Times is often considered „the newspaper of record,‰ with hundreds of newspapers subscribing to the New York Times News Service, the paper‚s distortions become replicated throughout the country.
Unintentionally, editors around the country are reporting this issue with a distortion based on ethnicity that most would oppose, if they were aware that they were doing it.
New York Times Reaction
We presented these findings, complete with charts, spread-sheets, clear sourcing, and extensive additional documentation, to Okrent and his assistant. We gave him the names and details of 32 Palestinian children who had been killed during the first month of the uprising ˆ none of whom had been the subject of Times‚ articles. (28 of these children, it was found, had been killed by gunfire to the head or chest.)
Okrent appeared to accept our findings readily ˆ even commenting at one of our findings that he „wasn‚t surprised.‰
His subsequent column, purporting to examine Times coverage of Israel-Palestine, given all of the above, is perplexing. There is no mention whatsoever of our report, no mention of our two-year study, no mention of the 40-some pages of supporting evidence, no mention, even, of our lengthy face-to-face meeting (despite the fact that it appears we were one of the few groups to present our information in person).
In his 1,762-word column, there are a total of three mentions of us.
One is an off-hand sentence claiming that we „say‰ that the Times „ignores‰ the deaths of Palestinian children, whom, we „say‰ are often shot in the head or chest by Israeli soldiers. Instead of this loose, somewhat flawed paraphrase, Okrent could simply have quoted our report directly, perhaps even mentioning our substantial evidence. One wonders why he didn‚t.
A second reference, potentially damaging, significantly misrepresents what we said. (We have phoned the Times asking for a correction and space for rebuttal to Okrent‚s allegations.)
In his column, Okrent writes: „During my research, representatives of If Americans Knew expressed the belief that unless the paper assigned equal numbers of Muslim and Jewish reporters to cover the conflict, Jewish reporters should be kept off the beat. I find this profoundly offensive.‰
Actually, Okrent is referring to his own words at the meeting, not ours. Let us tell you the complete version. It is quite illuminating.
Even before we had finished presenting our findings, Okrent interrupted to ask us why there was such distortion in Times coverage, what was causing the bias. He asked what we would suggest doing about it.
I replied that I wondered if there was a lack of diversity in the reporters and editors working on the issue. I pointed out that since this was a conflict between a state whose identity and purpose of existence was to be a Jewish state, it seemed to me that the number of Jewish-American reporters covering it should be balanced by approximately an equal number of Arab/Muslim-American reporters, or that there be reporters and editors working on it ˆ for example, Asian-American or African-American journalists ˆ without predisposition to partisanship toward either side.
Okrent said that it was impossible to find equal numbers of Arab/Muslim journalists of sufficiently high quality to balance out the number of Jewish reporters available to cover it, and ignored the suggestion that other groups be included in the reportorial/editorial pool. He said that there shouldn‚t be an „ethnic litmus test‰ and that Jewish reporters shouldn‚t be excluded just because there weren‚t enough Muslims for the Times to employ. I agreed with him that there should not be a litmus test, and then asked him if he thought only Jewish reporters could cover it.
No, he said, the problem, he felt, was that Times reporters only lived in Israel and didn‚t live in the Palestinian territories. He then said that when he had suggested to reporters that they also live in the West Bank or Gaza, a person he „trusted‰ told him that this was too dangerous; they would be kidnapped. I then said that he needed to reconsider the reliability of this anonymous person, since I myself had traveled throughout Gaza and the West Bank as a freelance reporter without any danger from the Palestinian population.
Finally, I said that fundamentally it was up to the Times to figure out how to improve their system of reporting ˆ that I only saw the results. I said that we had provided free outside consultation, had found patterns I was sure they would find as disturbing as we did, and that it was now up to the Times to determine and remedy the cause.
Overall, I found this exchange bizarre. We had expected some questions about our study, its methodology, what additional patterns we had noticed, etc. Almost none of this took place. On the other hand, we came away with the very strong impression that Okrent, who is himself Jewish, felt basically that only Jewish reporters could cover this issue and that, while their reporting would be more accurate if some of them lived in the West Bank or Gaza, they probably wouldn‚t do this because it would be too dangerous for them (despite the fact that such Jewish Israeli journalists as Amira Haas have lived there for years).
The fact that it could be both possible and valuable to have additional ethnic groups involved in covering this issue, including some without ethnic connection to this ethnic dispute, seemed incomprehensible to him. Finally, we were astounded at his assumption that it would be impossible for the Times to find sufficient numbers of high quality journalists of Muslim or Arab heritage to work on this issue.
Still disturbed at the oddness of this meeting, afterwards I sent a follow-up email again explaining my view. I will print it below:
Email to Dan Okrent
Dear Dan,
Thank you for meeting with us, and for your willingness to take on what is certainly one of the most volatile issues in the news today — and one of the most urgent. I hope our study will help alert the New York Times to patterns of omission that I’m sure you find as disturbing as we do.
Regarding your important question about what changes I would suggest: Truthfully, it is difficult for me to offer solutions, since I only see the results, and have no idea what the internal dynamics are of the Times’ reporting and editing that have created these patterns. It seems to me that news organizations themselves, once alerted to flaws in their coverage, are in the best position to undertake thorough analyses of the causation, and then to implement whatever changes are required.
I suspect that your idea that coverage would improve greatly if reporters lived in the West Bank and Gaza as well as Israel is quite correct.
One possibility, of course, is that the Times could hire some of the excellent Palestinian journalists living in these areas. When I visited Birzeit University a few months ago, I met a professor and a number of students in the journalism department that I found quite impressive. I haven’t visited any journalism departments in Gaza, but I did visit some classes in American literature at Islamic University in Gaza City in 2001, and found a level of teaching equivalent to the finest in US universities.
At the same time, of course, it is important that those editing these reports be as unpartisan as possible — which, I suspect, requires that those in this position have diverse backgrounds. While I’m not Jewish, I can imagine similar situations in which I might believe that I had arrived at a neutral position, not realizing that I was still influenced by what my mother had believed, or what my aunt would say, or the narrative I had absorbed as a child — in other words, I might write and edit within parameters that would interfere with the accuracy of my work.
Finally, below is some more recent information about the disturbing — and unreported, in the Times — pattern of Israeli forces shooting and abusing children and other civilians.
1. Here is the link to the Remember These Children information: http://www.rememberthesechildren.org/remember2000.html. Again, please note the high number of young people shot in the head, neck, and chest in 2004 and 2005. Please ask Mr. Erlanger why Times’ readers have not learned of these patterns. At least 29 Palestinian children have already been killed through March of this year, and one Israeli child. As you know, several more Palestinian young people have been killed this month.
2. The fact that Israeli forces have been targeting children and civilians has been noted in diverse reports. For example, Physicians for Human Rights reported: “Physicians for Human Rights analysis of fatal gunshot wounds in Gaza reveals that approximately 50% were to the head. This high proportion of fatal head wounds suggests that given broad rules of engagement, soldiers are specifically aiming at peoples’ heads.” Following are a few of the excellent and thorough articles on this topic that have appeared in the Israeli press, and some of the human rights reports on this topic.
Gideon Levy article from Ha‚aretz, “Suffer the Little Children”: http://www.dcipal.org/english/
Another Gideon Levy article (I highly recommend his column ‘twilight zone’): http://www.jerusalemites.org/
Defence for Children International report: “Status of Palestinian Children’s Rights” ? http://www.dcipal.org/english/
Report on child prisoners: http://www.dcipal.org/
3. I understand that Times reporters are reluctant to spend much time in the West Bank and Gaza. Nevertheless, I would like to offer to personally take Times reporters to visit Palestinian hospitals to verify the high number of young people being shot by Israeli forces. In return, it would be excellent if Times’ reporters would then take me to visit Israeli prisons, so that we might investigate the conditions in which Palestinian prisoners — particularly children — are being kept.
Again, thanks for your time. It was nice seeing you again — it has certainly resurrected many memories of Ann Arbor and The Michigan Daily.
Best Wishes,
Okrent’s Admission
(As the last sentence of this email indicates, Dan Okrent and I were friends and fellow student journalists many years ago.)
In his column, Okrent makes one other statement purportedly about us, but that actually seems to be a veiled confession: „I don’t think any of us can be objective about our own claimed objectivity.‰ Given that admission, it seems that it would have been appropriate for Okrent to at least note the existence of our statistical study, so that his readers could examine our findings for themselves.
Truthfully, however, it is not rare for newspapers to cover up negative information about their organization, and for their ombudsmen to participate in the attempt to suppress such information.
Fortunately, however, the internet provides an increasingly effective counter to such media censorship; this study, and others, are all available for viewing and downloading from our website: http://www.ifamericansknew.org/ We hope that anyone who feels Americans should be accurately informed on all topics ˆ including Israel-Palestine ˆ will tell others about these studies.
Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew. Some of her most recent work can be found in Censored 2005: The Top 25 Censored Stories (Seven Stories Press). Copies of Off the Charts: New York Times Coverage of Israeli and Palestinian Deaths can be ordered from contact@ifamericansknew.org .
EDITORIAL DESK | April 10, 2005, Sunday
Everything About It!
By DAN OKRENT (NYT) Op-Ed 1482 words
Late Edition – Final , Section 4 , Page 12 , Column 1
DISPLAYING FIRST 50 OF 1482 WORDS – Last Wednesday, a
lengthy Editors’ Note on Page A2 scooped a scoop I had
planned on the toxicity of scoops. The note addressed
irregularities in a March 31 front-page article by
Karen W. Arenson, ”Columbia Panel Clears Professors
of Anti-Semitism.” The Times, the note explained, had
been given a one-day…
The New York Times
April 24, 2005
The Hottest Button: How The Times Covers Israel and
Let me offer two statements about this paper’s
coverage of the conflict in the Middle East. First: I
find the correspondents at The Times to be honest and
committed journalists. Second: The Times today is the
gold standard as far as setting out in precise
language the perspectives of the parties, the contents
of resolutions, the terms of international
Neither of these comments is my own. The first is a
direct quotation from Michael F. Brown, executive
director of Partners for Peace, an organization that
seeks, it says, “to end the occupation of the
Palestinian territories.” The second comes from Andrea
Levin, president and executive director of the
Committee for Accurate Middle East Reporting in
America, the muscular pro-Zionist media monitor. With
partisans on each side offering respectful appraisal
in place of vituperation and threat, you would think
that we had reached a milestone moment in The Times’s
coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
You would be wrong. Less temperate groups on each side
find The Times guilty of felonies ranging from
outright dishonesty to complicity in the deaths of
civilians. A group called the Orthodox Caucus has led
boycotts of The Times for “simply not telling the
truth.” I have met with representatives of If
Americans Knew, an organization that says The Times
conscientiously reports on the deaths of Israeli
children but ignores the deaths of Palestinian
children – children, they say, usually “shot in the
head or chest” by the Israeli soldiers.
On the edges, rage and accusation prevail; nearer the
middle, more reasoned critics still find much to
criticize. Michael Brown and Andrea Levin can cite
chapter, verse, sentence and punctuation mark. They
watch this paper with a truly awesome vigilance.
It’s this simple: An article about the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot appear in The
Times without eliciting instant and intense response.
A photograph of a grieving mother is considered a
provocation, an interview with a radical on either
side is deemed willful propaganda. Detailed studies of
column inches devoted to one or another subject arrive
weekly. One reader, Leo Rennert of Bethesda, Md., has
written to me 164 times (as of Friday) over the past
17 months to comment on the Middle East coverage. His
messages are seldom love letters.
On this issue, love letters are as common as
compromise, and The Times’s exoneration from charges
of bias is as likely as an imminent peace.
After reading thousands of criticisms (as well as
insults, accusations and threats) of The Times’s
Middle East coverage, I’m still waiting for one reader
to say the paper has ever been unfair in a way that
was damaging to both sides. Given the frequency of
articles on the subject, it would be hard to imagine
that such a piece has not been published. In fact,
I’ve seen a few myself. But to see them, I have had to
suppress my own feelings about what is happening in
Israel and Palestine.
I can’t say I’m very good at it. How could I be – how
could anyone be – when considering a conflict so deep,
so unabating, so riddled with pain? Who can be
dispassionate about an endless tragedy?
This doesn’t exonerate The Times, nor does the fact
that criticism comes from each side suggest that the
paper’s doing something right. But no one who tries to
walk down the middle of a road during a firefight
could possibly emerge unscathed.
Critics will say The Times attempts nothing of the
sort, that it has thrown in its lot with one side in
the conflict. But let’s keep motive out of this
discussion. Neither you nor I know what the motives of
the editors might be. Nor should their motives even
matter. We can judge them only on what they do.
Some things The Times does and does not do (apart from
having extremely opinionated opinion pages, which
color the way the rest of the paper is read but are
not the issue under discussion today):
It does not provide history lessons. A report on an
assassination attempt on a Hamas leader in Gaza that
kills nearby innocents will most likely mention the
immediate provocation – perhaps a Palestinian attack
on an Israeli settlement. But, says the angered
reader, what about the murderous assault that provoked
the settlement attack? And, says his aggrieved
counterpart on the other side, what about the ambush
that preceded the assault? And so on back to the first
intifada, and then to 1973 and 1967 and 1956 and 1948
– an endless chain of regression and recrimination and
pain that cannot be represented in a year, much less
in a single dispatch in a single day.
It eschews passion. If your cause needs good publicity
– as both the Palestinians and the Israelis definitely
do – conventional news story tropes can only be
infuriating: bland recitations of presumed facts
followed by challenges to those facts, assertions by
spokesmen instantly countered by opposing spokesmen.
The paper’s seeming reluctance, for instance, to
report evidence of incitement to racial or religious
hatred derives in part, I believe, from a subconscious
effort to stick to the noninflammatory middle and to
keep things civil, even when civility leaked out of
the conflict long ago.
But partisans desire heat. Detachment itself becomes
suspect. If you are not with us, you are therefore
against us.
It makes selections. For people on either side who see
the conflict as a life-and-death issue – as it
certainly is – the Middle East is the only story that
matters. Each day’s reports in The Times are tiny
fragments of a tragic epic. Yes, there were
demonstrations against settler relocation this
morning, but how can you ignore the afternoon’s
additional construction on the West Bank barrier? Or,
I know you gave my version of events yesterday, but
why are you presenting only the other side’s version
This dilemma is aggravated by the way certain events
force themselves into the newspaper. Violence trumps
virtually everything else. If you are covering a
debate and a terror bomb detonates two blocks away,
you race to the bombing site. Terrorists have a
horrifying way of influencing news coverage, but it
It does not cede definitive authority to other
organizations and sources. Last Tuesday, “Israel, on
Its Own, Is Shaping the Borders of the West Bank,” by
Steven Erlanger, angered Michael Brown for its
unelaborated statement that Palestinians “argue that
all Israeli settlements beyond the green line are
illegal.” The Times, Brown believes, is obligated to
note that “it’s not just the Palestinians who say it’s
illegal, but U.N. Security Council resolutions.”
Ethan Bronner, the paper’s deputy foreign editor,
counters:”We view ourselves as neutral and unbound by
such judgments. We cite them, but we do not live by
them.” He adds, “In 1975, when the U.N. General
Assembly labeled Zionism as racism, would it have been
logical for The Times to repeat that description as
fact from then on? Obviously not. We take note of
official views, but we don’t adopt them as our own.”
Nor does the paper accept as authoritative the
reporting of others. A common criticism I receive is
built around “proof” of something The Times has not
itself reported. Frequently such evidence is drawn
from openly partisan sources, and when I cite to
critics contrary evidence provided by Times reporters,
that evidence is in turn dismissed as partisan. The
representatives of If Americans Knew earnestly believe
that the information they presented to me about the
killing of Palestinian children to be “simple
objective criteria.” But I don’t think any of us can
be objective about our own claimed objectivity.
It is limited by geography. The Times, like virtually
every American news organization, maintains its bureau
in West Jerusalem. Its reporters and their families
shop in the same markets, walk the same streets and
sit in the same cafes that have long been at risk of
terrorist attack. Some advocates of the Palestinian
cause call this “structural geographic bias.”
If the reporters lived in Gaza or Ramallah, this
argument goes, they would feel exposed to the daily
struggles and dangers of life behind Palestinian lines
and would presumably become more empathetic toward the
I don’t know about empathy, but I do know that the
angle of vision determines what you see. A reporter
based in secular, Europeanized Tel Aviv would
experience an Israel vastly different from one living
in Jerusalem; a reporter with a home in Ramallah would
most likely find an entirely different world. The
Times ought to give it a try.
It’s only a newspaper. It eventually comes to this:
Journalism itself is inadequate to tell this story.
Like recorded music, which is only a facsimile of
music, journalism is a substitute, a stand-in. It’s
what we call on when we can’t know something
firsthand. It’s not reality, but a version of reality,
and both daily deadlines and limited space make even
the best journalism a reductionist version of reality.
In preparing to write this article, my conversations
with Michael Brown and Andrea Levin, with various
other parties of interest and with The Times’s editors
consumed hours. My e-mail encounters with readers have
consumed months. To all who would assert that
squeezing what I’ve drawn from this research into
these few paragraphs has stripped the many arguments
of their nuance or robbed them of their power, I have
no rebuttal. The more important and complicated an
issue, or the closer it is to the edge of life and
death and the future of nations, the less likely its
essences can be distilled by that wholly inadequate
but absolutely necessary servant, daily journalism.
A postscript:
During my research, representatives of If Americans
Knew expressed the belief that unless the paper
assigned equal numbers of Muslim and Jewish reporters
to cover the conflict, Jewish reporters should be kept
off the beat.
I find this profoundly offensive, but not nearly as
repellent as a calumny that has popped up in my e-mail
with lamentable frequency – the charge that The Times
is anti-Semitic. Even if you stipulate that The
Times’s reporters and editors favor the Palestinian
cause (something I am not remotely prepared to do),
this is an astonishing debasement. If reporting that
is sympathetic to Palestinians, or antipathetic to
Israelis, is anti-Semitism, what is real
anti-Semitism? What word do you have left for
conscious discrimination, or open hatred, or acts of
intentional, ethnically motivated violence?
The Times may be – is – imperfect. It is not
anti-Semitic. Calling it that defames the accuser far
more than it does the accused.
The public editor serves as the readers’
representative. His opinions and conclusions are his
own. His column appears at least twice monthly in this
New York Times … On the Wrong Side of History
By Abid Ullah Jan
Al-Jazeerah, April 13, 2005
The beauty of the New York Times and most of its
fellow corporate „mainstream‰ newspapers is that they
do the right assessment only to reach the wrong
Nicholas D. Kristof article, „A Slap in the Face,‰[1]
in the New York Times (April 12, 2005) is the latest
and most appropriate example of this trend.
Very few critics of the so-considered mainstream media
would as accurately describe the vanishing public
trust in its reporting and analysis as is described by
Kristof. However, he closes the argument with a grave
misconception and an utterly wrong conclusion.
He sums up his whining over public’s lack of interest
in the four months house arrest of NBC Journalist, Jim
Taricani, in these words: „If one word can capture the
public attitude toward American journalists, I’m
afraid it’s Œarrogant.‚”
He goes on to conclude: „Unless we can recover the
public trust? we’ll wake up one day to find ourselves
on the wrong side of history.‰
If Kristof and his fellow corporate mainstreamers are
not yet awake, it does not mean that they are not on
the wrong side of history.
It doesn‚t mean that the public shun them just because
they are ‘arrogant.’ The public has shunned them
because they present lies of their the US
administration as facts and facts on the ground as
Public can deal with arrogance but not lies and
outright deception. Kristof‚s fellow journalists, who
are facing government‚s wrath in the form of up to 18
months for protecting their sources, are actually
facing the same monstrous system and an invisible
tyranny which they have been propping and supporting
all along. Best of luck to them now.
The public knows well that the so-called „mainstream‰
media does not belong to them, nor does it represents
This media is actually serving the cause of the
totalitarians who are out there to kill hundreds and
thousands of people, occupy other countries, establish
concentration camps abroad and pass draconian
legislations at home only for protecting their
personal interests and promoting their religious
The public knows how the New York Times, for example,
behaved in the run up to the Iraq war and how its
hallow apologies for supporting administration’s lies
didn‚t prove it innocent at all before the public.
The „mainstream” media is itself responsible for the
worsened climate for freedom of the press because the
tyrants they served for so long now want the same kind
of subservient attitude and submissive media to
continue toeing their line.
Seeking the passage of a federal shield law for
journalists is now too little and too late a measure
to undo what the journalists in the multi-million
dollars media business have already done to
themselves. Kristof’s right analysis and wrong
conclusions further confirm that when you lie for so
long, you start believing in your lies.
The journalists and analysts associated with the
„mainstream” media ˜ the mainstreamers ˜ have gone
sick to the extent that they are hardly able to
reflect on why all this is happening now.
They can see and they admit it. According to Kristof’s
admission: „I think, is that we in the news media are
widely perceived as arrogant, out of touch and
untrustworthy.‰ However, it once more shows the
missing why aspect it the discussion.
They still believe, they are on the right side of
history for promoting the truth and justice. They
still look with contempt at the alternative sources of
news and analysis to which the general public is
flocking for information and understanding.
To the mainstreamers, most of the truth diggers are
either Muslim “radicals,” or mere „conspiracy
theorists.‰ Despite failing to answer a single
question out of the hundreds posed by the
so-considered conspiracy theorists, the mainstreamers
blindly and dutifully regurgitate the official line.
Journalists from the mainstream media still make a
mockery of the accurate analysis on many web logs and
independent web sites. Even giving a reference to the
work of the organizations and web sites which are
monitoring the inaccuracies of the „mainstream‰ media
is embarrassing for the stars of the „mainstream‰
This is how the mainstreamers decided to serve the
interest of the corporate and totalitarian world
behind them. They turned their back on accuracy,
impartiality and truth. In turn the public turned its
back on them. Now Mr. Kristof realizes that in his
„society, public support for the news media has all
but evaporated.‰
This is too sad and too late a realization. However,
it is meaningless because of the lack of determination
to break out of the chains of self-imposed censorship
on the truth. Still there is no intention to wake up
because they still cherish the hope that things will
improve and they would have something for face saving.
The leading mainstreamers are quick to give reference
the recent studies, such as the one by the Pew
Research Center, “Trends 2005,” which says that 45
percent of Americans believe little or nothing in
their daily newspapers, up from 16 percent two decades
ago. However, the mainstreamers can hardly question
how this unbelieving public voted for a lying
Despite an overwhelming evidence and heavy criticism
and complaints to the contrary, to the mainstreamers
the 2004 elections were still the most free, fair and
democratic elections of the US history.
It must not be surprising to find the tyrants and the
tyranny the mainstreamers have been supporting all
along, turn around and start jailing the
mainstreamers. In the environment, which the product
of their own hands, the mainstreamers must not be
surprised at the creation of their own hands. The
journalists heading for jails is not even the actual
Many would feel relieved to read Mr. Kristof whining
in the New York Times today because it will give them
some confidence that turning their back on the
„mainstream‰ media is, after all, being felt by the
mainstreamers: the accomplices of the totalitarians
who starved 1.8 million innocents to death through
genocidal sanctions and waged wars on the basis of
lies upon lies.
Interestingly, Kristof is the one who is
single-handedly waging a crusade for bringing justice
to the victims of oppression in Sudan. He never stops
using the word „genocide‰ for the situation in Sudan.
However, he has hardly uttered this word a single time
to describe the death of 1.8 million Iraqis who
perished due to the genocidal UN sanctions on Iraq.
Now he says: „Public approval is our life-support
system, and it is now at risk.‰ It is not just at
risk. It is now gone. “Mainstream” is history as far
as its usefulness is concerned. Hope this shows Mr.
Kristof and his fellow mainstreamers how biased they
have been in their reporting and analysis.
According to the National Opinion Research Center
analysis public confidence in the press has fallen
sharply since 1990. Is it not the time when the
neocons and other totalitarians in the US
administration, media, academia and other fronts have
decided to go out all gun blazing and talking to the
world from both sides of their mouth? And, have not
the mainstreamers been their main accomplice to the
genocides and wars since 1990?
Public distrust in the corporate mainstream media is
not unfair at all. Even the PEW study that is cited by
Kristof in defense of his whining is insufficient.
The study says only 14 percent of Republicans believe
all or most of what they read in the New York Times,
whereas among Democrats the figure is only 31 percent.
The Fox News Channel is considered credible by fewer
than one-third of the Republicans – and an even
smaller number of Democrats.
It is ironic that this study does not give statistics
of those Americans who do not trust either of these
parties and hence don‚t believe in anything that is
reported in support of the official stories.
Reconnection to the public is not easy. It is just
face saving to suggest that there should be more
willingness to run corrections, more ombudsmen, and
more acknowledgement of our failings, because studies
have suggested that the media has been running
corrections as a routine matter but the image that
their initial wrong story leaves is incorrigible. So
this process of wrong reporting, correction and
belated apology is just the „mainstream‰ media‚s modus
operandi. That is how it serves its hidden objectives
and leaves something for face saving. But, it will not
be so any more.
Similarly, establishing diverse newsrooms at home is
no alternative to total silence over the ban on
Al-Jazeera TV and other news outlets abroad. Diverse
newsrooms can never cover for volunteering to be
embedded journalists in service of the naked
aggression and cover up of the war crimes.
If two words can capture the public attitude toward
the so-called mainstream media, I’m sure it’s “liar,
deceptive.” Not surprisingly, this charge is
absolutely fair. It’s imperative for the public and
sources of alternative news and views to take heart
from the whining in the New York Times op-ed pages
today and continue to show them their real face.
The „mainstream: media has already proved itself to be
on the wrong side of history. We must reassure
ourselves that in the face of the deep personal
interests of its bosses, there is no hope that the
“mainstream” media or mainstreamers will correct their
ways of reporting and analysis in the near future.
The alternative sources of news and views should
redouble their efforts and remain committed to telling
as it is. This whining is the first admission of