• Covering New War, in Shadow of Old One

    La reconnaissance antérieure par le journal même du monumental fiasco professionnel et moral qu’à constitué sa couverture 2003 de l’#Irak n’y fait strictement rien : le #New_York_Times ne prend au sérieux que les #va-t-en-guerre, notamment #néocons, et a massivement recours aux sources anonymes pour promouvoir une attitude belliqueuse, aussi catastrophiques et mensongers qu’aient pu être leurs opinions et « tuyaux »,

    ... given The Times’s troubled history when it comes to this subject, readers have good reason to be wary about what appears in the paper about military intervention in Iraq. And based on what I am already hearing from them, they are.

    Many readers have complained to me that The Times is amplifying the voices of hawkish neoconservatives and serving as a megaphone for anonymously sourced administration leaks, while failing to give voice to those who oppose intervention.

    I went back with the help of my assistant, Jonah Bromwich, and reread the Iraq coverage and commentary from the past few weeks to see if these complaints were valid. The readers have a point worth considering. On the Op-Ed pages and in the news columns, there have been very few outside voices of those who opposed the war last time, or those who reject the use of force now.

    But the neoconservatives and interventionists are certainly being heard.

    A recent profile of the historian Robert Kagan, a leading proponent of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 who is once more in the news, was one focus of sharp reader criticism. And an Op-Ed article by Anne-Marie Slaughter, another proponent of the Iraq war who says Mr. Obama should use force in Syria, also dismayed some readers.

    Phyllis Bennis, who writes frequently on the Middle East, protested in an email to me: “The appearance is that The Times takes seriously only those who were responsible for the disaster that Iraq has become.” Where, she asked, is the equivalent treatment — “serious, comprehensive, virtually uncritical” — of those who opposed the war and warned of what is coming to pass now?

    And the documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald put it this way on Twitter: “Another day, another NYT article about a neocon and Iraq! Where are the articles about hundreds of thousands against escalation?”

    I also observed that much of the news reporting continues to reflect The Times’s extraordinary access to administration sources. That is both a competitive advantage and a potential hazard. A reader, Dave Metzger, pointed out one recent front-page article that relied heavily on such unnamed sources. His comment on Twitter dripped with sarcasm: “Iraq lessons learned.”