Nov
01
1999

Was East Timor Really 'Out of Control'?

Media downplayed evidence of planned atrocities

A front-page New York Times arti­cle (9/12/99) about the precari­ous situation in East Timor in September began by reporting that Gen. Wiranto, Indonesia's top mil­itary commander, "conceded Saturday that he had lost control of elements of his military" that were operating on the island. The article's headline, "Jakarta Concedes a Loss of Control," echoed this view. The assertion that Wiranto was unable to control the violence in East Timor went unquestioned in the first two-thirds of the article. Then, in the article's 29th paragraph, an unnamed official travelling with the visiting U.N. delegation in East Timor flatly contest­ed this idea: […]

May
01
1999

East Timor on the Wires

AP, Reuters transmit Indonesia's official version

When the Indonesian government announced in January that it would consider cutting East Timor loose if people there refused its autonomy proposal, reports started surfacing that tensions between pro-Indonesia and pro-independence East Timorese had reached a critical point. Reuters wrote (3/10/99): "President B.J. Habibie...startled the world by suggesting independence as a 'second option' if autonomy were rejected, touching off fighting between pro- and anti-independence Timorese factions." The Associated Press reported soon after Habibie's announcement (2/16/99) that "pro-Indonesian activists have warned of the possibility of civil war among rival East Timorese factions if Indonesia withdraws troops from the territory." The wire […]

Sep
01
1998

Good and Bad Genocide

Double standards in coverage of Suharto and Pol Pot

Coverage of the fall of Suharto reveals with startling clarity the ideological biases and propaganda role of the mainstream media. Suharto was a ruthless dictator, a grand larcenist and a mass killer with as many victims as Cambodia's Pol Pot. But he served U.S. economic and geopolitical interests, was helped into power by Washington, and his dictatorial rule was warmly supported for 32 years by the U.S. economic and political establishment. The U.S. was still training the most repressive elements of Indonesia's security forces as Suharto's rule was collapsing in 1998, and the Clinton administration had established especially close relations […]