Apr 20 2000

New York Times Op-Ed Page Shuts Out IMF/World Bank Critics

The recent protests against IMF and World Bank policies provoked a deepening and widening of debate on globalization in much of the media, yet the New York Times‘ op-ed page has taken a remarkably one-sided approach to the issue.

The Times has run five op-eds critical of the Mobilization for Global Justice, and none that supported it, or even treated its concerns respectfully (“Saving the Lost World,” by Thomas L. Friedman, 3/31/00; “Parsing the Protests,” by Thomas L. Friedman, 4/14 /00; “Learning to Love the I.M.F.,” by E. M. Brown, 4/18/00; “A Real Nut Case,” by Paul Krugman, 4/19/00; and “Protesting, but Why?,” by David Frum, 4/19/00).

On April 19, David Frum unleashed an unsubstantiated diatribe against the activists who gathered in Washington, D.C., describing them as incoherent, intellectually gutless people who “hate dams and airports and economists.” On the same day, Paul Krugman caricatured the recommendations of World Bank critics, dismissing them as the “rarely fact-checked” notions of “a small, relatively privileged minority” that would harm the poor. E. M. Brown portrayed the activists as idealistic but misinformed. Thomas L. Friedman, after misrepresenting the analyses of many IMF/World Bank critics, angrily concluded that they are “contemptible,” a group of “economic quacks” who deserved to be labeled “The Coalition to Keep the World’s Poor People Poor” and given “the back of your hand.”

When will critics of the World Bank and IMF get to speak for themselves on the Times op-ed page? Walden Bello, Njoki Njoroge Njeheu, Mark Weisbrot, Juliette Beck, Cheryl Payer and Ralph Nader all come to mind as experts qualified to represent the many perspectives on hand in D.C. Instead, the Times has chosen to feature writers that denigrate and insult their concerns, goals and considerable expertise. A debate this one-sided does a great disservice to readers of the paper.

ACTION: If you are concerned that the Times‘ op-ed page has so far addressed the complex issues raised by the protesters in D.C. only by featuring vitriolic–and, in many cases, substantially inaccurate–attacks on them, contact the paper directly.

New York Times

Katherine J. Roberts, Op-Ed Page Editor


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