Nov 1 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: […]

Sep 1 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 […]

Jul 1 1990

The Year of Dangerous Reporting

Indonesia Bloodbath, New York Times Whitewash

One of the most horrifying stories of the Cold War received new attention last May, when Kathy Kadane of the Washington-based States News Service reported that U.S. government officials had abetted the massacre of thousands of Indonesians in 1965-66. In the massacre, directed by the Indonesian military in an effort to eliminate the Indonesian Communist Party and its perceived sympathizers among the ethnic Chinese minority, an estimated 250,000 to 1 million people died. In interviews with Kadane, U.S. officials admitted that the U.S. embassy in Jakarta had drawn up lists of some 5,000 suspected Communist leaders. These lists were turned […]