Sep
11
2007

Whose Human Rights Matter?

NYT on Hezbollah and Israeli attacks on civilians

When Human Rights Watch recently released two investigations of the 2006 Israel/Lebanon war, the New York Times found the group's documentation of unlawful attacks against Israel to be far more newsworthy than unlawful attacks committed by Israel. It's rare that a media outlet's news standards can be tested so directly. The human rights group released separate reports on violations by both Hezbollah and Israel, charging each side with indiscriminate attacks on civilians. When the first report was released, the Times placed an 800-word story (8/31/07) under the headline "Rights Group Accuses Hezbollah of Indiscriminate Attacks on Civilians in Israel War," […]

Apr
01
2007

Hyping the Venezuela Threat

To NYT, ‘arms spending’ doesn't mean spending on arms

A report in the New York Times on Venezuela’s international arms purchases (“Venezuela Spending on Arms Soars to World’s Top Ranks,” 2/25/07) used selective information and an alarmist tone to suggest that Venezuela’s military spending was a potential threat to regional stability. Reporter Simon Romero’s story began: Venezuela’s arms spending has climbed to more than $4 billion in the past two years, transforming the nation into Latin America’s largest weapons buyer and placing it ahead of other major purchasers in international arms markets like Pakistan and Iran. By putting Venezuela in the company of Pakistan and Iran—whose military programs have […]

Mar
01
2007

Here We Go Again

NYT's Gordon still peddling dubious claims by unnamed sources

In the wake of its disastrous pre-war reporting on Iraq, the New York Times announced new rules governing its use of unnamed sources. Its lead story on February 10, promoting Bush administration charges against Iran, violated those rules. In the report, “Deadliest Bomb in Iraq Is Made by Iran, U.S. Says,” Times reporter Michael R. Gordon cited a one-sided array of anonymous sources charging the Iranian government with providing a particularly deadly variety of roadside bomb to Shia militias in Iraq: “The most lethal weapon directed against American troops in Iraq is an explosive-packed cylinder that United States intelligence asserts […]

Jul
01
2006

Tom Friedman's Flexible Deadlines

The long six months in Iraq

New York Times foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman is considered by many of his media colleagues to be one of the wisest observers of international affairs. “You have a global brain, my friend,” MSNBC host Chris Matthews once told Friedman (4/21/05). “You’re amazing. You amaze me every time you write a book.” Such praise is not uncommon. Friedman’s appeal seems to rest on his ability to discuss complex issues in the simplest possible terms. On a recent episode of MSNBC’s Hardball (5/11/06), for example, Friedman boiled down the intricacies of the Iraq situation into a make-or-break deadline: “Well, I think […]

May
01
2006

Globalization vs. Growth

NYT op-ed omits stats that debunk pro-corporate claims

New York Times chart

The April 10 New York Times devoted half its op-ed space to an elaborate attempt to demonstrate the benefits of globalization, with charts showing that “more globalized” nations do better than “less globalized” on measures ranging from average inflation to the rule of law. But one obvious measure of economic health, the economic growth rate, was conspicuously absent—perhaps because those statistics would have directly contradicted the op-ed’s point. “Globalizing Good Government,” written by Richard W. Fisher and W. Michael Cox of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, chided opponents of a (subsequently scuttled) French law making it easier to fire […]

Oct
19
2005

SPJ Undercuts First Amendment With Miller Award

The Society of Professional Journalists’ decision to give its prestigious "First Amendment Award" to embattled New York Times reporter Judith Miller is a blow to freedom of expression. By rewarding a reporter who was apparently collaborating with and protecting a powerful official in an effort to punish the free speech of a government critic, the SPJ is undermining, not advancing, the principles of the First Amendment. The award, coming two days after details of Miller’s involvement in the CIA leak story and her grand jury testimony were revealed by the New York Times (10/16/05), was defended by SPJ board member […]

Apr
01
2005

Blunting Bolton's Problems

The day after George W. Bush nominated John Bolton as the new American envoy to the United Nations, the headline in the New York Times (3/8/05) was “Bush Nominates Weapons Expert as Envoy to U.N.” But calling him an “expert” might need a little explanation--and the Times should know this as well as anyone. In September 2003, Bolton was set to testify before Congress about various weapons threats around the world. The Times' Judith Miller wrote a story in advance (9/16/03), noting that Bolton was worried about Syria's chemical weapons systems, and claiming that Bolton's take was backed up by […]

Mar
01
2005

John Hess, 1917-2005

Editor's Note

John Hess

This issue's cover story concerns the late journalist Gary Webb, but another reporter's recent death was just as great a loss. John Hess, a great reporter and a great friend of FAIR, died on January 21 at the age of 87. John used to say that the term "investigative reporter" was redundant, because all reporters are supposed to be investigators, rather than simply parroting what people in power were saying. On one issue he was nearly alone in showing skepticism: As far back as the 1980s, John was debunking claims of a "crisis" in Social Security, pointing out how such […]