Bulletin N° 387



17 January 2009
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
According to the French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, the "Molar Forces" of Fascism-Paranoia together with the "Viral Attacks" of Anarchy-Schizophrenia have the combined effect of neutralizing, then crushing us --we, the citizens of the world. By replacing creativity and a sense of useful labor with a régime disciplinair, the managers and owners of capital influence the greater population by serializing them, putting their collective heads to the mill stone, and attempting to code onto their bodies a desire to legitimize their place within an illegitimate power hierarchy, which would eliminate many people as part of a "surplus population" and the would eventually destroy the environment as a "disposable commodity."

Meanwhile, Social Darwinism is alive and well, and Arbeit Macht Frei--as Fritz ter Meer (1884-1967), executive board member of IG Farben Corporation, wartime manager of the slave labor camp at Auschwitz (19401945), member of the Managing Board of Bayer AG, and in 1962, one of the architects of the "Codex Alimentarius Commission" was fond of advertising-- is with us still.


How does the world see a Jew? No better than an Arab.
How does the world see an Israeli? No better than a Palestinian.
How does the world see Hamas? No worse than Irgun.


In the 5 Items below we encounter the historic efforts at self-defense in a wider context of Imperialist manipulations. Rarely has the strategy of divide-and-govern been more successful and more destructive than with today's unconscious actors in the Middle East whose very sense of time and space has been severely truncated by their unseen masters abroad. What internal contradictions can end this collaboration with mass murder, and what will be left? The world is waiting to see . . . .

Item A. is a photo essay sent to us by Grenoble graduate student, Mélisa Kidari documenting "the Israeli Miracle" in Gaza, a successful fratricide of "enemy brothers," allowing themselves to be manipulated for the long-term advantage of whom --capital investors, of course!
Item B. is Part 1 of a historic two-part series on the mechanics of ideological collaboration written several years ago by Professor Edward S. Herman, analyzing the "molar" operations of the New York Times newspaper, its "structure and its background."
Item C. is the second part of this historic series by Professor Herman: on "mobilizing for the Cold War" at the NYT.
Item D. is an interview by George Kenney of Electric Politics with The Times (of London) reporter, Martin Walke, on GAZA and mass murders elsewhere in the world today.
Item E. is an interview with Israel specialist, Dr. Norman Finkelstein, on taking sides in the U.S.-Israeli war against Hezbollah.

And finally, we call to the attention of CEIMSA readers the American reaction to Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's infamous command to President Bush on Monday, 12 January after learning of that U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice had participated in writing the UN resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkdQbhB7Ckk&feature=related.

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3

from Mélisa Kidari :
Date: 15 January 2009
Subject: News from Gaza.

The massacre of Palestinians has continued for last since 60 years....

Plzzzzzz Keep forwarding this e-mail. Let people know what happens there.


Making sure they get to school.

Helping Ladies across the street..

Providing childcare.

Allowing them a place to rest (permanently)

Access to Healthcare.

Construction projects (demolition)

Respecting American and British pacifist resisters (such as American Rachel Corrie)

And if you are not satisfied, now, with the truth the following pictures are war crimes as defined by the UN, The Hague and the Geneva Convention.

Using images of your enemy dead or alive (violation)

Human shields (violation)

Live Burial Torture (violation)

And as a last resort, Execution (violation)

These IDF soldiers have faces... I can clearly see them...Cant you? Why are they not being prosecuted? Because it is systematic process that is driven by the government designed to force the people of Palestine into exile so Israel can claim all the land and resources.
This where my American tax dollars are going, do you know where your tax dollars are at? TAKE THE TIME TO FIND THE TRUTH. So many lives depend on it. I, like so many Americans, am Caucasian, non-Arab, and religious. I can no longer sit back with good conscience and do nothing while my government is supporting the types of terrorist actions that we have condemned Muslim Fundamentalist for. Call your Congressman and Senator, send an email to the White House and demand that our government negotiate FAIRLY with both sides and bring a fair and just solution to Palestine and Israel .





from Edward Herman :
Date: 15 January 2009
Subject: Structure and Background of the New York Times.

All The News Fit to Print (Part I)
Structure and Background of the New York Times

by Edward S. Herman

[This essay is part of the ZNet Classics series. Three times a week we will re-post an article that we think is of timeless importance. This one was first published April, 1998. Pt. 1 / Pt. 2 ]

The New York Times's masthead logo, "All The News That's Fit to Print," dates back to 1896, the first year of Ochs-Sulzberger family control of the paper, and both the family control and arrogant belief in the benevolence and superior judgment of the dominant owners persist to this day. The 1997 Proxy Statement of The New York Times Company explains the special voting rights that assure family control in terms of the desire for "an independent newspaper, entirely fearless, free of ulterior influence and unselfishly devoted to the public welfare."

The paper's independence, however, and the century-long accretion of influence and wealth by the owners, has been contingent on their defining public welfare in a manner acceptable to their elite audience and advertisers. In the 1993 debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), for example, the Times was aggressively supportive of the agreement, and solicited its advertisers to participate in advertorials with a letter touting the "central importance...of this important cause" and the need to educate the public on NAFTA's merits, which polls showed that most citizens failed to appreciate. As the paper regularly takes positions on domestic and foreign policy issues within parameters acceptable to business and political elites, it is evident that the owners have failed to escape class, if not selfish, interests in defining public welfare and what's fit to print.

In debates within the range of elite opinion, moreover, the Times has not been "fearless," even in the face of gross outrages against law, morality, and the general interest. During the McCarthy era, for example, the management buckled under to the Eastland Committee by firing former communist employees, who spoke freely to management but would not inform on others, and more generally it failed to oppose the witch hunt with vigor and on the basis of principle. An editorial of August 6, 1948, attacking the use of the Fifth Amendment before the House Committee on Unamerican Activities, was written by the publisher, Arthur Hays Sulzberger.

Among other cases, the paper did not oppose the Vietnam War till late in the game, and then on grounds of unwinnability and excessive cost to us; it failed to oppose the U.S. sponsorship of a system of National Security States in Latin America, or the Central America wars, and protected these murderous enterprises by eye aversion and biased reporting. Even Reagan's "supply side economics" was treated gently by the editors ("No one else has yet offered an option half so grand for dealing with stagflation," ed., March 17, 1981), and the paper's top reporter, James Reston, stated, falsely, that Reaganomics involved "a serious attempt...to spread the sacrifices equally among all segments of society" (February 22, 1981). The Times played a supportive propaganda role in the huge Carter-Reagan era military buildup to contest the inflated Soviet Threat; and its highly favorable review of The Bell Curve, and more recent extensive publicity given the Thernstroms, have been notable contributions to the ongoing assault on affirmative action.

Business Interests

The dominant owners of The New York Times Company­a holding company­control a large and complex business organization, which had 1997 revenues of $2.9 billion and earnings of $262 million. Among its 50 or more subsidiaries, the Times Company owns 21 newspapers in addition to the New York Times and Boston Globe, 8 TV and 2 radio stations, various electronic and other news and distribution services, a magazine group with a specialty in golf, forest products companies, and 50 percent ownership of the International Herald Tribune, with the Washington Post owning the balance.

The holding company's Class A stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and traded at about $65 per share in February 1998. The Sulzberger family owns 17.5 million shares of the 97.6 million Class A shares outstanding, or 18 percent; but it owns at least 87 percent of the 425,000 Class B shares, which are entitled to elect a majority (nine) of the 14 directors. The value of the Sulzberger family holdings in February 1998 amounted to $1.2 billion. In 1997, family members Arthur Ochs Sulzberger and Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. also drew compensation from the company in salaries, bonuses, and options, totaling $1.5 million and $1 million, respectively.

These owners regularly associate with other rich and powerful people, who are anxious to cultivate the acquaintance of those who control the country's most influential newspaper. Such contacts occur on the board of the holding company, which includes business leaders drawn from IBM, First Boston (a major investment bank), the Mercantile Bank of Kansas City, Bristol-Myers Squibb (drugs), Phelps Dodge (copper), Metropolitan Life, and other corporations. The company also has a $200 million line of credit with a group of commercial banks, and periodically uses investment banks to underwrite its bonds and notes and help it buy and sell properties. These financiers and business executives press for a focus on the bottom line, and they would not be pleased if the Times took positions hostile to the interests of the corporate community (which, contrary to right-wing mythology, the paper does not do).

Increasing Hegemony of Advertisers

Back in the 1970s, the Times was stumbling economically, profits virtually disappeared, and its stock price fell from $53 in 1968 to $15 in 1976. In an article "Behind The Profit Squeeze At The New York Times" (August 30, 1976), Business Week assailed the management for lethargy, and because it "has also slid precipitously to the left and has become stridently anti-business in tone, ignoring the fact that the Times itself is a business­and one with very serious problems." When this article appeared, measures had already been taken to rectify the paper's business shortcomings and its supposedly "left" tendency as well. A. M. Rosenthal, a close friend of William Buckley, Jr. (who referred to Rosenthal as "a terrific anticommunist"), and a self-described "bleeding-heart conservative" (the search for that heart remains a challenge to independent investigators after 25 years), was installed as executive editor. Editor John Oakes was ousted, the editorial board was restructured, with the more conservative Roger Starr and Walter Goodman replacing Herbert Mitgang and Fred Hechinger, and control over all aspects of the paper was more centralized. Times policy shifted to the right, the paper was reoriented toward softer and more advertiser friendly news, and the common "policy" root of news, editorials, and book reviews became more conspicuous.  Rosenthal established a Product Committee, and openly emulated Clay Felker's New York magazine's pioneering of a news product featuring gossip on the shows, restaurants, discos, attire, décor, and other cultural habits of the upwardly mobile, attractive to fashion trade and other advertisers. More and more articles were on the Beautiful People living well (e.g., "Living Well Is Still The Best Revenge," celebrating the de La Rentas, December 21, 1980), and fashion designers (e.g., "The Business of Being Ralph Lauren," NYT Magazine, September 18, 1983), and entire sections of the paper were allocated to Men's (or Women's) Clothing, House & Home, Food and Dining, and Style. On February 26, 1998, the Times introduced a new section entitled "Circuits," which will cover "the personal side of digital technology," and hopefully will attract some of the ad dollars going to Wired and Electronic Media.

With the advertising recession of 1991, the pace of integration of advertising and editorial was stepped up, with regular supplements to the magazine on "Fashions of the Times," and with fashion news such as the shortening of women's skirts beginning to make the front page. On March 23, 1993, the Sunday Magazine featured the big names of fashion­Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, et al­with their photos and sample product lines, in a purported news article. Later in 1993, an entire issue of the magazine was devoted to fashion, and in the paper's own Fall 1993 advertising supplement, an A&S department store ad had printed on it "All the fashion news that's fit to print," with the A&S logo printed right below this. That is, the Times had loaned its own advertising logo, supposedly signifying journalistic integrity, to an ad purchaser.

Such attention to advertisers was paralleled by a shift of news interest to the suburbs and other locales in the New York area with affluent householders, and away from the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. It also meant lightening up on investigative reporting that would threaten local real estate and developer interests, although this was not new. Robert Caro, in his The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Downfall of New York (1974), assailed the Times for its uncritical support of this political czar, whose ruthless infrastructure development "very nearly destroyed New York's physical fiber" (John Hess). Caro says that the Times "fell down on its knees before him, and stayed there year after year." Writing in 1985, Hess says that "Moses is long gone...yet the Times enthusiastically supports billion-dollar projects that will strangle its own neighborhood." The firing of Sidney Schanberg from his metropolitan column beat in 1986 was another clear signal that harsh criticism of local real estate developers and associated political interests was no longer acceptable to the paper.

For advertisers, serious consumer reporting is "anti-business," and it went into decline in the 1970s and after. Ralph Nader asserted in 1993 that Rosenthal "did more to damage consumer causes than any other person in the United States," as the Times's lead in downgrading consumer issues was followed by the Washington Post and then by the rest of the press. Nader says that more than a dozen Times reporters complained to him that they were pushed away from "hot-potato areas into soft consumer advice or other non-consumer assignments." The Times was late on many key business stories, like the S&L scandals, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International case, the mid-1980s phony liability crisis contrived by the insurance industry, the misrepresentations of the Bush Task Force on Regulatory Relief, and others. Reporters told Nader that "New York doesn't like these stories," or that they must get company responses to charges against them­and as Nader notes, the companies learned "simply not to return calls, knowing that that tactic would block the story deadline. These companies know about Rosenthal too."

Other Elite Connections

  officials and reporters have other (non-business) ties to the elite that make a class and establishment bias inevitable and natural. In his gentle history of the Times, Without Fear or Favor, veteran Times reporter Harrison Salisbury points out that the paper was dominated in the post World War II era by men "of the same social and geographic circle,..[who] had gone, by and large, to the same schools, Groton, again and again, Groton; they had married into each others families; they were Yale and Harvard and Princeton," etc. They were lawyers, bankers, businesspeople and journalists; and many were notables in the CIA and other parts of the government. These friends had "a common view of the world, the role of the United States, the nature of the communist peril."


Salisbury devotes many pages to the CIA-Times connection, questioning but not disproving the claim by Carl Bernstein in Rolling Stone in 1977 that Cyrus Sulzberger, the Times's long-time chief European correspondent, was a knowing CIA "asset," and that the paper gave cover to some ten CIA agents from 1950-1966. Salisbury supplies an impressive list of CIA people­Allen Dulles, James Angleton, Frank Wisner, Kim Roosevelt, Richard Helms, and others, who were good friends of, and wined, dined, and vacationed with, a large array of Times officials and reporters. He acknowledges that in the early years there had been a "relationship of cooperation between The Times and the Agency, a relationship of trust betwen the CIA and Times correspondents,.." (quoting CIA official Cord Meyer) and that friendly connections persisted thereafter. When the Times published a series on the CIA in 1966, it gave a draft to former CIA chief John McCone for prior review, an action that Salisbury felt entirely without significance, as McCone's reactions could be accepted or ignored by the paper. But Salisbury misses the possibility that the willingness to bring McCone into the editorial process might reflect the limited framework and non-threatening character of the Times's effort.

The Times-CIA relationship, and its complexity, was displayed in 1954, when CIA head Allen Dulles persuaded Arthur Hays Sulzberger to keep reporter Sidney Gruson out of Guatemala, as the U.S. was organizing the overthrow of the Arbenz government. Gruson, although a Cold Warrior and strongly supportive of U.S. policy, was not a straight propagandist, so Dulles claimed to possess derogatory information on him, and he was kept away. But Sulzberger kept pressing Dulles for evidence supporting his charges against Gruson, and was extremely annoyed when it was never provided, and he realized he had been used by the CIA to fine-tune a propaganda effort. (The Times was outrageously biased in its coverage of Guatemala in 1953-1954­and later­but not quite enough to suit the CIA.)

The Times today remains protective of the CIA, but this is almost surely a result of its broader support of U.S. foreign policy rather than any specific links to the CIA, which it will, on occasion, slap on the wrist for demonstrated misbehavior (e.g., ed., "The CIA's Men in Iraq," May 13, 1997).

Inside Information, Revolving Doors, and Cooptation

Whatever the precise nature of the Times link with the CIA and other government agencies, the friendships and common understandings among these Cold Warriors and members of an economic, social, and political elite have made for a built-in lack of scepticism and critical and investigative zeal on the part of the editors and leading reporters. These press recipients of sometimes privileged information from friends have not been inclined to treat the suppliers without favor. Max Frankel, longtime editor and executive editor after Rosenthal, became extraordinarily close to Henry Kissinger in the Nixon years, and Robert Anson notes that Kissinger "put that intimacy to good use, employing Frankel's trust to delay stories...; boost his boss...; and, on more than a few occasions­the Administration's supposed unconcern about Marxist Salvadore Allende being a prime example­spread flatout falsehoods."

James Reston, the Times's most famous reporter, was on close terms with a string of presidents and secretaries of state, but in the strange mores of U.S. journalism, the resultant compromised character of his reporting did not diminish his professional standing. Bruce Cumings, writing about Secretary of State Dean Acheson in 1950, states that "Acheson vented his ideas through our newspaper of record, James Reston's lips moving but Dean Acheson speaking." And Reston spoke of his reliance on the "compulsory plagiarism" of "well-informed officials," and he even once titled one of his articles "By Henry Kissinger With James Reston."

As the Reston story suggests, the most common pattern of serving the political establishment is not by directly telling lies, but rather by omission, and by letting officials tell lies that remain uncorrected. Salisbury describes the internal debate over how far the paper should go in accommodating propaganda, the upshot of which was that the Times would "leave things out of the paper," or would publish statements known to be false if U.S. officials "were willing to take responsibility for their statements." What the Times would not do is publish unattributed lies. This is the high principle underlying news fit to print.

The Times's close relationship with business and government has also been reflected in a revolving door of personnel. Most notable were Leslie Gelb's moves, from director of policy planning at the Pentagon (1965-68) to the Times, then to policy planning at the U.S. State Department (1977-79), and then back to the Times as diplomatic correspondent, Op Ed column editor, and foreign affairs correspondent (1981-93), and then on to head the Council on Foreign Relations, the most important U.S. private organization of foreign policy elites, with ties to both business and the CIA and State Department. Another notable trip was of Richard Burt, the Times's Pentagon correspondent during key Cold War years (1974-83), who moved into the Reagan State Department in 1983, where he quickly displayed openly the ultra-Cold War bias that was ill-concealed in his work as a Times reporter. Roger Starr's move from the construction business to New York City Housing Commissioner to the editorial board was an important reflection of the Times's new look in the 1970s.

The Times has attracted many quality reporters over the years. But power at the paper still flows down from the top, affecting hiring, firing, promotion, assignments, and what reporters can do on particular assignments. As noted regarding consumer reporting, if "New York" (the editors, reflecting Times policy) doesn't like tough stories, reporters will learn to avoid them, or leave the paper, and many good and principled ones have left. If writers are too hard hitting in criticizing theatrical fiascos that represent heavy investments, as Richard Eder was in the 1980s, or on local developer abuses, as Schanberg was, they are eased out. In writing on topics on which the Times has an ideological position and "policy," like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or Russia and its "reform" process, or health care reform and the Social Security "crisis," the reporters all toe a party line, which either comes naturally to them or to which they adapt. Just as Richard Burt was hired in the 1970s to provide the proper accelerated Cold War thrust in Pentagon reporting, so during the Central American wars of the 1980s, the Times deliberately hired and fired to achieve a policy line that accommodated the Reagan-Bush support of contra terrorism and the violent regimes of El Salvador and Guatemala. The firing of Raymond Bonner and installation of Shirley Christian, James LeMoyne, Mark Uhlig, Bernard Trainor, Lydia Chavez, and Warren Hoge assured this apologetic service.  

In short, reporters are underlings, and in an establishment paper like the Times they will report within an establishment framework or leave. The Times is without question an establishment newspaper; as Salisbury says of Max Frankel, "The last thing that would have entered his mind would be to hassle the American Establishment of which he was so proud to be a part." What this means, however, is that the paper is not "without fear or favor"­rather, it favors the establishment, and fears those who threaten it. 


from Edward Herman :
Date: 15 January 2009
Subject: Covering the Cold War at the NYT.

All The New Fit to Print, Part II
Covering the Cold War

by Edward S. Herman

[This essay is part of the ZNet Classics series. Three times a week we will re-post an article that we think is of timeless importance. This one was first published April, 1998. Pt. 1 / Pt. 2 ] 

The New York Times is a strongly ideological paper, whose biases and frequent propaganda service give its logo phrase "all the news that's fit to print" an ironical twist. James Reston acknowledged that "we left [out] a great deal of what we knew about U.S. intervention in Guatemala and in a variety of other cases" at government request or for political reasons satisfactory to the editors. The government lied, but the Times published their claims even though the "Times knew the statements were not true" (Salisbury). Strategic silences, the transmitting of false or misleading information, the failure to provide relevant context, the acceptance and dissemination of myths, the application of double standards as virtual standard operating procedure, and participation in ideological bandwagons and campaigns, have been extremely important in Times coverage of foreign affairs.

Obviously the Times is not merely a biased instrument of propaganda. It does many things well and its reporters often produce high quality journalism. This is especially true where the paper's editorial slant on issues ("policy") and ideological biases are not at stake and where major advertisers are not threatened. In those sensitive areas (some described below), critical and probing articles are hardly more common than dogs walking on their hind legs. Furthermore, the paper's reporters are frequently "generalists" moving from field to field, country to country, who must make up for being out of their depth by glibness, a reliance on familiar (and English-speaking) sources, and an ideological conformity that will meet "New York" standards.

This helps explain James LeMoyne's reporting on Central America in the 1980s, and Roger Cohen's on France, Serge Schmemann's on Israel, and David Sanger's on Asia today.

In his Without Fear Or Favor, Harrison Salisbury refers to the pride of Times editors in the 1960s at the paper's tradition of the "total separation of news and editorial functions," which he implied was still operative in 1980. There is no doubt an organizational separation between these departments, even with the greater centralization of the Rosenthal era and after, and undoubtedly neither department gives instructions to the other. But there is a line of authority from the top affecting the hiring, firing, and advance of personnel, and the evidence is overwhelming that on issue after issue a common policy affects editorials, news, and book reviews as well. Alan Wolfe's recent One Nation, After All, fitting well the ideological stance of Times leaders, is reviewed favorably in both the daily paper and Sunday Book Review, and Wolfe immediately gets Op Ed column space to expound his congenial message.

Anticommunism and the Cold War

The Times's commitment to anticommunist ideology, and its acceptance of the Cold War as a death struggle between the forces of good and evil, ran deep and severely limited its objectivity as a source of information. Rosenthal, as noted in Part I, evoked the admiration of William Buckley for his anticommunist fervor. Publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger was equally passionate, regularly admonishing his editors to focus on the Soviets as "colonialists," to use the phrase "iron curtain," and generally exhibiting the Manichean world view of anticommunist ideologues.

This corrupting influence dates back at least to the Russian Revolution. In a famous, and devastating, critique of Times reporting on the revolution, entitled "A Test of the News," published in the New Republic on August 4, 1920, Walter Lippman and Charles Merz found that the paper had reported the imminent or actual fall of the revolutionary government 91 times, and had Lenin and Trotsky in flight, imprisoned, or killed on numerous occasions. Times news about Russia was "a case of seeing, not what was there, but what men wanted to see."

When the Cold War began in earnest in 1947, the Truman administration found it difficult to get congressional and public support for massive aid to a far-right collaborationist government that the British had installed in Greece. Truman and Secretary of State Dean Acheson therefore resorted to scare tactics, claiming that this was a case of Soviet expansionism and that we were in a death struggle with the forces of evil. This was disinformation, as Stalin honored the postwar settlement with the West, leaving it free to dominate Greece, and he sought to restrain the Greek guerillas. But the lie was taken up by the media with enthusiasm, and on February 28 and March 1, 1947, James Reston had front-page articles in the Times that echoed State Department press releases, asserting that the "issues" were containment of an expanding Soviet Union and our willingness to aid a government "violently opposed by the Soviet Union" (a lie). Acheson's formulations­Soviet aggression, and "our safety and world peace" at stake in Greece [eds., March 3, 11, 12]­along with a virtual suppression of the facts on Greece and the quality of our Greek client­became standard Times fare in news and editorials.

An important episode in the history of media coverage of the U.S. effort to "save" Greece by imposing a minority government of the Right was the murder of CBS correspondent George Polk in May 1948. Polk had been a harsh critic of the Greek government, and his murder by the right wing was "understandable," but presented a PR problem. The Greek government, with complete cooperation from the U.S. government and mainstream U.S. media, pinned the killing on Communists, and got several to "confess"­after weeks of incarceration­that it had been done to "discredit" the Greek government. Although the case was extremely implausible, and the use of torture to extract suitable confessions was obvious at the time (and conclusively proved in later years), the U.S. media accepted as legitimate a staged trial that was a Western equivalent of the Moscow trials of the 1930s. Walter Lippman even organized a "monitoring" group, which included James Reston, that put its seal of approval on this show trial.

The Times reporter in Greece at that time, A. C. Sedgwick, was married into the Greek royal family, and had been accurately described by George Polk as a pawn of the Right. Even within the Times there had been a steady stream of criticism of Sedgwick as biased and incompetent. But Cyrus and Arthur Sulzberger supported him­Cyrus had married Sedgwick's niece and was therefore linked to the royal family­and Sedgwick served as a Times reporter for 33 years. His coverage of the Polk trial, discussed in detail in Vlanton and Mettger's Who Killed George Polk?, was continuously biased, incompetent, and unreliable on the facts. But his line was compatible with the Times support of the Cold War and uncritical acceptance of the party line on the Polk trial, which the editors found to be "honestly and fairly conducted" (April 22, 1949).

Interestingly, the Times and its reporter James LeMoyne displayed a very similar patriotic gullibility in treating the murder of Herbert Anaya in El Salvador in 1984. Here also a U.S.-supported right-wing government killed one of its enemies, but produced a tortured student who confessed to having killed Anaya in order to "make the government look bad." LeMoyne and the Times took this confession and explanation seriously once again, failed to look at analogous cases of Salvadoran torture (or the Polk case), and failed to follow the case up after the tortured student later recanted.

The Soviet Threat and the Arms Race

The Times accepted the official view of the Soviet Threat throughout the Cold War. A huge news, as well as editorial, bias flowed from this, serving well the propaganda ends of the state. This was notable in 1975-1986, when U.S. "peddlers of crisis" re-escalated the Cold War and military outlays that greatly helped corporate capital.

Significant events in this escalation process were the CIA's claims in 1975-1976 that the Soviet Union had doubled its rate of military spending, supposedly to 4-5 percent a year, and the CIA's "Team B" report of December 1976, which claimed that the Soviets were achieving military superiority and getting ready to fight a nuclear war. There had been a Team A report by CIA professionals, which found the Soviets aiming only toward nuclear parity, but CIA boss George Bush found this unsatisfactory, appointed a group of ten noted hardliners (including Richard Pipes and Paul Nitze), who came up with the desired frightening conclusions. This highly politicized report displaced that of Team A, and became official doctrine.

A front-page article in the Times of December 26, 1976, by David Binder, took the Team B report at face value, failed to analyze its political bias and purpose, and made no attempt by independent investigation or by tapping experts with different views to get at the truth. With Richard Burt and Drew Middleton as their regular correspondents on military affairs in this period, Times news and commentary steadily featured the Soviets as on the rise and the U.S. in military decline. There was no investigative effort to check out the CIA's estimates, which the CIA admitted in 1983 to have been fabrications. Times editorials complemented this know-nothing reporting, supporting "prudent" defense expansion, which involved the funding of the Trident submarine, Cruise Missile, and MX mobile land missile, and the creation of a rapid deployment force as an "investment in diplomacy" (February 24, 1978; February 1, 1980). During the Reagan years, the Times supported the enormous increase in the military budget, first, by refusing to investigate outlandish claims by the administration. Tom Gervasi, exploding many of these lies in his Myth of Soviet Military Supremacy (1986), noted that in one important case where there was a conflict between the claims of Reagan officials and available Pentagon data, the Times stated that precise figures were "difficult to pin down," but its reporters made no effort to pin them down even though billions of dollars of excess military spending were at stake. They could have interviewed those giving the figures, "But the Times did not do this. It dismissed the issue in six column inches and did not bring it up again." Gervasi put up a four-page compilation of Times estimates of U.S. and Soviet warheads, 1979-82, compared them with Pentagon data, and showed that the Times's figures were inconsistent, distorted, incompetently assembled, and persistently biased toward overstating Soviet capabilities.

Gervasi was given Op Ed space in the Times in December 1981, after which he was closed out. His book was never reviewed in the paper, although of high quality and on a subject to which the Times devoted much space for official claims. By contrast, passionate supporters of the Reagan military buildup, Edward Luttwak and Richard Perle, had nine and six Op Eds, respectively, during the Reagan years.

Reagan Era Propaganda Campaigns

Extremely important in maintaining the vision of an acute Soviet Threat and need for a huge arms buildup were the various propaganda campaigns of the 1980s, used to demonstrate that the Soviet Union was an "evil empire." The Times participated in each of these campaigns with a high degree of gullibility.

International terrorism

The Times reviewed Sterling's book favorably (compliments of Daniel Schorr), but more importantly, gave her magazine space to expound her views ("Terrorism: Tracing the International Network," May 1, 1981). Previously, and just before the 1980 election, the paper also gave space to Robert Moss, peddling the same line ("Terrorism: A Soviet Export," November 2, 1980). These highly misleading flights of propaganda served well the plans of the Reagan administration, featuring the Soviet connection and entirely ignoring the terrorism of "constructively engaged" states like South Africa and Argentina. Times "news" performed the same service, continuously identifying "terrorism" with retail and left-wing violence, and that of states declared outlaws by the State Department. Little attention was given to the U.S.-sponsored retail terrorists of the Cuban refugee network or the wholesale terrorists of Argentina and Guatemala. For example, of 22 victims of state terror given intense coverage in the Times between 1976 and 1981, 21 lived in the Soviet Union, although these were years of extraordinary violence in Latin America.

The plot to murder the Pope.

From beginning to end, the Times never departed from the Sterling-Henze line. This was not altered by the loss of the case in Rome in 1986. When CIA officer Melvin Goodman testified during the Gates confirmation hearing in 1990 that the CIA professionals knew the Bulgarian Connection was a fraud because they had penetrated the Bulgarian secret services, the Times failed to reprint this part of Goodman's testimony. When Allen Weinstein was given permission to examine Bulgarian files on the case in 1991, the Times repeatedly found this newsworthy, but when he returned, apparently without "success," the Times failed to seek him out and report his results. Following Claire Sterling's death, the obituary notice by Eric Pace (June 18, 1995) stated that while her theory of a Bulgarian Connection was "disputed," in 1988 she asserted that Italian courts had "expressed their moral certainty that Bulgaria's secret service was behind the papal shooting." Sterling's unverified hearsay was given the last word. In sum, having participated in a fraudulent propaganda campaign, the Times not only has never cleared matters up for its readers, it continues to supply disinformation and refuses to publish facts that would correct the record.

Shooting Down 007

Subsequently, when David Carlson, commander of a nearby ship, wrote in the September 1989 issue of the U.S. Naval Institute's Proceedings that the actions of the commander of the Vincennes had been consistently aggressive, and that Iranian behavior had been entirely proper and unthreatening, the Times failed to report this information, which contradicted its editorial position. The Times also failed to report that in 1990 President Bush had awarded the commander of the Vincennes a Legion of Merit award for "exceptionally meritorious conduct" for his deadly efforts. On the other hand, the Times did find newsworthy an interview in 1996 with the Soviet pilot who shot down KAL 007, showing his picture on the front page, with a brief lead entitled "Pilot Describes Downing of KAL 007," the text including the statement that "he recognized [007] as a civilian plane" (December 9, 1996). But the fuller text on page 12 quotes him saying "It is easy to turn a civilian plane into one for military use." The Times distorted his message on page 1, in an almost reflexive effort to portray the Soviet Union as barbaric, while continuing to suppress evidence putting the shooting down of the Iranian airliner in a bad light.

Fresh and Stale History

The Times regularly selects and ignores history in order to make its favored political points. Soviet forces killed perhaps 10,000 Polish police and military personnel in the Katyn Forest in 1940. In the period between January 1, 1988 and June 1, 1990, the Times had 20 news stories and 2 editorial page entries on this massacre, including 5 front-page feature articles. Many of these articles were repetitive and referred to disclosures that were anticipated but had not yet occurred. This was an old story, but not stale because political points could be scored.

On the other hand, the Times treated differently the story that broke in Italy in 1990 about Operation Gladio, the code name for a secret army in Europe sponsored by the CIA immediately after World War II, closely tied to the far right, which was using weapons secreted under this program for terrorist activities in the 1980s. In this case, the three backpage Times articles all featured the story's old age, although the use of Gladio-related weapons in terrorist activities of the 1980s gave it a currency absent in the Katyn Forest massacre story. But its political implications made the Gladio story stale.

. The Times also got on the propaganda bandwagon when the Soviets shot down Korean Airliner 007 on September 1, 1983. The paper had 147 articles on the shootdown in September alone, and for 10 days it had a special section of the paper on the case. As usual, the paper took at face value administration claims, in this case that the Soviets knew they were shooting down a civilian plane. (Five years later the editors acknowledged this to have been "The Lie That Wasn't Shot Down," ed, January 18, 1988). The columnists and editors were frenzied with indignation, using words like "savage," "brutal," and "uncivilized, and the editors stated that "There is no conceivable excuse for any nation shooting down a harmless airliner" (September 2, 1983). But when the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian airliner in 1988 killing 290, no invidious language was employed, and the editors found that there was a good excuse for the act­a "tragic error" and irresponsible behavior by the victims (August 4, 1988). A second propaganda salvo followed the assassination attempt against the Pope in May 1981. As the criminal had stayed in Bulgaria for a period, the western propaganda machine, with Claire Sterling in the lead, soon pinned this shooting on the Bulgarians and KGB, and a case was brought in Italy against several Bulgarians (which was eventually lost). This case rested on what was almost surely an induced and/or coerced confession, and as in the trial for the murder of George Polk in Greece, the Times (and most of the mainstream media) handled it with shameful gullibility. The will to believe overpowered any critical sense, and investigative responsibility was suspended; official handouts and the speculation of ideologues like former CIA propaganda specialist Paul Henze and Sterling dominated the coverage. The Times actually used Sterling as a news reporter in 1984 and 1985, with a front-page article on June 10, 1984 ("Bulgarians Hired Agca To Kill Pope"), that was not only biased but suppressed critically important information.. One campaign was the attempt to portray the Soviets as the sponsor of "international terrorism." A landmark was the publication of Claire Sterling's The Terror Network in 1980. This right-wing fairy tale relied heavily on disinformation sources such as the intelligence agencies of Argentina, Chile, and South Africa, and Soviet bloc defectors such as Jan Sejna, which she took at face value. Sterling also got much of her data from Robert Moss, co-author with Arnaud de Borchgrave of the Soviet-subversion-of-the-West novel The Spike, and of a warm apologia for Pinochet, 10,000 copies of which were purchased by the Pinochet government. Sterling's fanaticism can be inferred from her statement (in Human Events, April 21, 1984), at the height of the Reagan era anti-Soviet frenzy, that the Reagan administration was "covering up" Soviet guilt in the assassination attempt against the Pope in 1981 because of the Reaganite devotion to détente.

from George Kenney :
Date: 16 January 2009
Subject: Podcast interview re Gaza w/ Martin Fletcher of the Times of London.

Dear Francis,
It's appalling to be aware of what's happening in Gaza, yet -- if one lives in the U.S. -- doubly appalling to then see but minimal, one-sided coverage in the news. As an alternative, to hear from a seasoned reporter who's on the scene I turned to Martin Fletcher of The Times of London, who talks to me from Jerusalem. Martin has been a Times foreign correspondent, their man in Northern Ireland, the Times Washington Bureau Chief, and foreign editor. He's now a senior roving reporter without portfolio, surely one of the most interesting jobs in journalism. And he brings his experience to bear on Gaza.

When someone of Martin's standing considers seriously the talk of war crimes prosecutions of Israeli officials it seems to me that something fundamental may have changed. Or perhaps the wish is father to the thought...

We also talk about Zimbabwe, where Martin has spent much of the past year, and Somalia.

As always, if you think the show worthwhile please feel free to forward the link.


from Information Clearing House :
Date: 16 January 2009
Subject: Taking sides.

Norman Finkelstein talks about the Lebanese militia Hezbollah and openly supports and praises their resistance: "They (Hezbollah) show courage, they show discipline, I respect that" Continue

"There Will Be Another War"

Norman Finkelstein - Hezbollah, the Honour of Lebanon: