Exclusive: The U.S. news media regularly engages in selective outrage, piously denouncing some adversary for violating international law yet hypocritically silent when worse abuses are committed by the U.S. or allied governments, as the New York Times has shown again, writes Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
The New York Times has taken deep umbrage over an unseemly parade staged by ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine featuring captured Ukrainian soldiers. The Times noted that the Geneva Conventions prohibit humiliation of POWs, surely a valid point.
But the Times in its profoundly biased coverage of the Ukraine crisis apparently feels that other aspects of this nasty civil war are less newsworthy, such as the Kiev government’s bombardment of eastern Ukrainian cities sending the death toll into the thousands, including children and other non-combatants. Also downplayed has been Kiev’s dispatch of neo-Nazi storm troopers to spearhead the urban combat in ethnic Russian towns and cities in the east.
When the Times finally noticed this street-fighting role of neo-Nazi militias, that remarkable fact the first time armed Nazis were dispatched by any government to kill people in Europe since World War II was consigned to the last three paragraphs of a long article on a different topic, essentially a throwaway reference.
Similarly, the Kiev regime’s artillery fire on residential areas killing many civilians and, over the weekend, damaging a hospital has been treated by the Times as a minor afterthought. But Times’ readers are supposed to get worked up over the tasteless demonstration in Donetsk, all the better to justify more killing of ethnic Russians.
Though no one was killed or injured during Sunday’s anti-Ukrainian march and rebel troops protected the captured soldiers from angry citizens the Times led its Ukraine coverage on Monday with the humiliation of the POWs. The article by Andrew E. Kramer and Andrew Higgins made a point of contrasting the ugly scene in Donetsk with more orderly celebrations of Ukrainian independence elsewhere. The story began:
“On a day when Ukrainians celebrated their independence from the Soviet Union with parades and speeches, pro-Russia separatists in the eastern part of the country staged a grim counter-spectacle: a parade that mocked the national army and celebrated the deaths and imprisonment of its soldiers.
“Leading the procession was an attractive young blond woman carrying an assault rifle, followed by several dozen captured Ukrainian soldiers, filthy, bruised and unkempt, their heads shaved, wearing fetid camouflage uniforms and looking down at their feet.
“Onlookers shouted that the men should be shot, and pelted the prisoners with empty beer bottles, eggs and tomatoes as they stumbled down Artyomovsk Street, Donetsk’s main thoroughfare. … People in the crowd shouted ‘fascists!’ and ‘perverts!’ and separatist fighters held back a man who tried to punch a prisoner.”
The Times then noted: “The Geneva Conventions’ rules for treating prisoners of war prohibit parading them in public, but the treatment of the wounded, disheveled prisoners seemed to offend few of those watching, who in any case had turned out for the promise of seeing a ghoulish spectacle. ‘Shoot them!’ one woman yelled.”
While it’s certainly true that POWs shouldn’t be mistreated, it should be at least equally newsworthy when civilians, including children, are being killed by indiscriminate artillery fire directed into cities or when right-wing storm troopers under Nazi banners are attacking and occupying eastern Ukrainian cities and towns. But the Times’ bias in favor of the Kiev regime has been most obvious in the newspaper’s selective outrage.
At the start of the crisis last winter, the Times sided with the “pro-democracy” demonstrators in Kiev’s Maidan square as they sought to topple democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych, who had rebuffed an association agreement with the European Union that included harsh austerity measures prescribed by the International Monetary Fund. Yanukovych opted for a more generous offer from Russia of a $15 billion loan.
Along with the entire U.S. mainstream media, the Times cheered on the violent overthrow of Yanukovych on Feb. 22 and downplayed the crucial role of well-organized neo-Nazi militias that surged to the front of the Maidan protests in the final violent days. Then, with Yanukovych out and a new coup regime in, led by U.S. hand-picked Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the IMF austerity plan was promptly approved.
Since then, the Times has behaved as essentially a propaganda organ for the new regime in Kiev and for the State Department, pushing “themes” blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for the crisis. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Ukraine, Though the US ‘Looking Glass.’”]
Some of the most egregious New York Times reporting has been its slanted and erroneous summations of the Ukraine narrative. For instance, immediately after the violent coup (from Feb. 20-22), it was reported that among the 80 people killed were more than a dozen police officers. But, as the Times’ pro-coup sympathies hardened, the storyline changed to: “More than 80 protesters were shot to death by the police as an uprising spiraled out of control in mid-February.” [NYT, March 5]
Both the dead police and the murky circumstances surrounding the sniper fire that inflicted many of the casualties simply disappeared from the Times’ narrative. It became flat fact: evil “pro-Yanukovych” police gunned down innocent “pro-democracy” demonstrators.
Whose Life Matters
Just as the deaths of those early demonstrators were played up by the Times and even spun to create a more black-and-white narrative the more recent deaths of thousands of ethnic Russians have been played down. And, the anger of eastern Ukrainians over the brutal assaults on their cities as displayed in Sunday’s Donetsk demonstration is then used by the Times to, in effect, justify Kiev’s continued “anti-terrorist” operation. In other words, it seems that the Times places a greater value on the lives of the Maidan demonstrators in Kiev than the ethnic Russians in the east.
The Times also displayed this bias after dozens of ethnic Russian protesters were killed by arson and other violence in Ukraine’s southern port city of Odessa on May 2. The victims had taken refuge in a trade union building after a clash with a pro-Kiev mob.
Even the neocon-dominated Washington Post led its editions with the story of “Dozens killed in Ukraine fighting” and described the fatal incident this way: “Friday evening, a pro-Ukrainian mob attacked a camp where the pro-Russian supporters had pitched tents, forcing them to flee to a nearby government building, a witness said. The mob then threw gasoline bombs into the building. Police said 31 people were killed when they choked on smoke or jumped out of windows. [The death toll later grew.]
“Asked who had thrown the Molotov cocktails, pro-Ukrainian activist Diana Berg said, ‘Our people but now they are helping them [the survivors] escape the building.’” [In actuality, some of the survivors who jumped from windows were beaten by the pro-Kiev mob.]
By contrast, here is how the New York Times reported the event as part of a story by C.J. Chivers and Noah Sneider which focused on the successes of the pro-coup armed forces in overrunning some eastern Ukrainian rebel positions.
“Violence also erupted Friday in the previously calmer port city of Odessa, on the Black Sea, where dozens of people died in a fire related to clashes that broke out between protesters holding a march for Ukrainian unity and pro-Russian activists. The fighting itself left four dead and 12 wounded, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said. Ukrainian and Russian news media showed images of buildings and debris burning, fire bombs being thrown and men armed with pistols.”
Note how the Times evades placing any responsibility on the pro-coup mob for trying to burn alive the “pro-Russian activists” who had sought refuge in the building. From reading the Times, you wouldn’t know who had died and who had set the fire.
In the Times’ haste to perform its propaganda function, there also have been some notable journalistic embarrassments such as the Times’ front-page story touting photographs that supposedly showed Russian special forces in Russia and then the same soldiers in eastern Ukraine, allegedly proving that the popular resistance to the coup regime was simply clumsily disguised Russian aggression.
Any serious journalist would have recognized the holes in the story since it wasn’t clear where the photos were taken or whether the blurry images were even the same people but that didn’t bother the Times, which led with the scoop. However, only two days later, the scoop blew up when it turned out that a key photo supposedly showing a group of soldiers in Russia who later appeared in eastern Ukraine was actually taken in Ukraine, destroying the premise of the entire story.
There’s also the issue of U.S. selectivity in defending the principle of not parading or otherwise humiliating POWs. That issue arose last decade during the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq when the U.S. news media showed little outrage over the treatment of “war on terror” captives who were displayed in humiliating postures at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or when Iraqi soldiers were paraded before U.S. cameras to demonstrate American military success in Iraq.
By contrast, there was a firestorm during the early days of the U.S. invasion of Iraq when five U.S. POWs were questioned by Iraqi television reporters in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriya.
U.S. officials immediately denounced the brief televised interviews with the prisoners as a violation of the Geneva Conventions, a charge that was repeated over and over by U.S. television networks. “It’s illegal to do things to POWs that are humiliating to those prisoners,” declared Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Yet, the mainstream U.S. media stayed silent about the obvious inconsistency between its outrage over the footage of the American soldiers and the U.S. media’s decision only a few days earlier to run repeated clips of Iraqis identified as prisoners of war.
In that case, Iraqi POWs were paraded before U.S. cameras as “proof” that Iraqi resistance was crumbling. Some of the scenes showed Iraqi POWs forced at gunpoint to kneel down with their hands behind their heads as they were patted down by U.S. soldiers. Yet neither U.S. officials nor U.S. reporters covering the war for the major news networks observed how those scenes might be a violation of international law.
Nor did the U.S. media see fit to remind viewers how President George W. Bush had stripped prisoners of war captured in Afghanistan of their rights under the Geneva Conventions. Bush ordered hundreds of captives from Afghanistan to be put in tiny outdoor cages at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay.
The prisoners were shaved bald and forced to kneel down with their eyes, ears and mouths covered to deprive them of their senses. The shackled prisoners were filmed being carried on stretchers to interrogation sessions. Their humiliation was broadcast for all the world to see but the treatment was accepted by the U.S. press as just fine. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “International Law a la Carte.”]
That selective outrage was on display again on Monday in the New York Times.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.
I wrote an appeal to the citizens of America, so many people think in Russian. I offer to you to bring this to more U.S. residents.
Hello, my friends!
know that your country is attacked nation, which has never lost a war and can
off the face of the earth for a few minutes? America
is proud of the democracy, so politicians of the USA express interests of Americans,
including on the international scene, and work on behalf of the American
people. All opened facts say that the armed revolution, and, the massacre of
civilians of Ukraine subsequent to it was organized by your country, so, you
who have chosen the governors took part in it. You throw phosphoric and
cassette bombs of the city, you purposefully put artillery volleys on hospitals
and schools, you shoot wounded, and you already killed more than 40 children.
We in Russia don’t divide
ourselves with citizens of Ukraine,
and the frontier between our countries is conditional line on cards therefore
killing Ukrainians, you kill us, our brothers, wives, children, mothers. All
religions and nature laws as a whole say that it is necessary to be responsible
for everything. We got used to difficulties and are always ready to die for the
people, and the earth, and you are ready to die for unreasonable ambitions and
aggression of the politicians ELECTED BY YOU?
all, world existence depends on our people on our planet, and in general world
existence therefore I offer cooperation, we won’t allow in the power of the
aggressive politicians ready rigidly to answer your aggression, and you will
get rid of the hawks in the power of type “McCain and Ko. ” Also you
will make impact on decrease in external aggression by the United States of America.
Distract for a while from not the most important issues, blockbusters and other
shows, while these blockbusters didn’t become surrounding reality. Let’s prove
in practice that our countries are democratic and peaceful. All of us bear
responsibility for the acts and PASSIVENESS. Open eyes and heart and act, time
Not too long ago people were making solemn declarations that we will never permit Fascism again. Now when Fascism is here … where are they?
Fogh-Rasmussenâ€™s term as NATO Secretary-General and the current conflict in Ukraine combined, raise principle questions:
Who benefits from almost pathologically obsessive, Rockefeller-money-supported policy-makers like Zbigniev Brzezinski. In his latest book â€œStrategic Visionâ€, the Obama administration adviser argues that the Russia of Putin must be contained and isolated, that Turkey shall play a crucial role for NATO in the Middle East. Psychologically trained observers would assure that Brzezinski is obsessed with dividing Russia into independent republics and then to tie Moscow to a continental Europe under US/UK hegemony.
Who benefits from throwing a spanner into Russian â€“ continental European relations and the provocation of a third, great European war over an subversively-created lack of convergence in EU â€“ Russian energy-security requirements?
Will a growing continental European consensus against bellicose policy, driven by Washington and London, reach sufficient momentum to prevent a worst case scenario? Fogh-Rasmussenâ€™s preamble to the NATO summit in Wales spells war rather than peace. It will be one of the most crucial summits the Alliance has held since it was established in 1949.
NATOâ€™s Summit in Wales: Why Anders Fogh-Rasmussen?
By Christof Lehmann
NATOâ€™s upcoming Wales Summit on 4-5 September 2014 http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/news_112073.htm will focus on the situation in Ukraine, relations with Russia, and NATO’s eastward expansion. The apparent aim of the Summit is to build a political consensus for war directed against the Russian Federation.
On the first day of the Summit, the NATO-Ukraine Commission will meet with President Petro Poroshenko. In April, NATO Foreign Ministers decided to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between NATO and Russia.
The Ukraine Hypocrisy Is Nuclear:
“Nuclear war is suicide for humans, but our leaders still have their fingers on the nuclear triggers. There seems to be absolutely no awareness, either in our Federal government or in the American public, of the existential danger posed by nuclear war. Such ignorance is embodied by The Russian Aggression Prevention Act, which if enacted will put us on a direct course for nuclear war with Russia.”
– Steven Starr, Senior Scientist, Physicians for Social Responsibility
… The Russian Aggression Prevention Act …
That doesn’t bother me much, for it’s just some posturing by a Collegium of Flatus-Inflated Dimwits. No, here’s the part which will cause the trouble:
“Washington is establishing ABM missile bases on Russiaâ€™s borders.”
It’s my opinion the Russians won’t allow this to proceed to a point where the ABM bases are a threat to their strategic forces. There is no need to use nukes – consider the BrahMos missile. Imagine a string of these coming in just above the tops of the trees – and moving faster than rifle bullets. Extremely accurate, too.
Germany is getting nervous. I’d not be surprised if that nation doesn’t start gradually easing out of NATO.
â€œThat propaganda is good which leads to success, and that is bad which fails to achieve the desired result. It is not propagandaâ€™s task to be intelligent, its task is to lead to success.â€
– Paul Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany
I’ve got a quiz for readers. Just this week one well known person has said the following:
“Weâ€™re not going to be restricted by borders.â€
Who said that? Qassim Suleimani? Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi? Putin?
I didn’t check the link, but I’m pretty sure his brother is the president of NBC News. That should give Americans pause for concern – it proves that we don’t really know who’e in charge.
F.G. I think you meant CBS.
“With an irresponsible pen more committed to reiterating the Obama Administrationâ€™s public relations campaign than journalism, the New York Times again failed in its role as guardian of the truth allowing inaccurate exaggerations and entirely false anecdotes to masquerade as news.”
NATO â€“ New York Times Convoy Fabrications
By Renee Parsons
Well said, and good comments.
The US rightwing pseudo-patriots also have no objection to killing millions on the other side of the planet over hypothetical security risks (Cambodia, Vietnam. Laos), while killing hundreds in Ukraine to create security risks on the border of non-enemy Russia. They are certainly not patriots of the US.
The problem is not so much gross hypocrisy, at which they are professionals, as simply the primitive desire to aggrandize themselves by killing. The right wing have been the greatest problem of civilization since long before Aristotle lamented the tyrant. Jefferson was right: we should eliminate the military altogether until we are at real risk within the time frame of re-militarization. They are far worse than useless except in defense, and invariably are the means of right wing abuses. That is why the Constitution does not empower the federal government to conduct foreign wars.
John, I agree with everything you just said. Does it not amaze you though, how all the right wingers believe that they are following the Constitution? At least all the right wingers in my circle of friends believe this. It’s so bad with them I get tired trying to set them straight. I also am often the only one in the crowd who even served in our military, but that doesn’t matter to them. No, they (the righties) are the true and only Americans. Enjoyed your post.
New York Times is not just biased. They are making it up wholesale and stupidly. About the POWs being paraded, they wrote
“by several dozen captured Ukrainian soldiers, filthy, bruised and unkempt, their heads shaved, wearing fetid camouflage uniforms and looking down at their feet.”
Right above a PHOTO showing them clean, upright, and NO SHAVEN HEADS.
Another article by the same Andrew E. Kramer claimed THREE car smashes on the same corner by drunken separatists in civvies… so they’re in civies how does he know they’re separatists? for good measure he has one of them get out and kick someone he just ran over.
He is a disgrace to journalism. Isn’t this the same New York Times who employed Jayson Blair, who invented huge breaking story exclusives in 2002 and 2003 — until it was discovered he’d made them all up? Yep, same old NY Times.
Kanton, there you go pointing out the details. You no doubt pay attention to the yellow lines on the highway, don’t you? I’ll even bet the NYTimes editors don’t want people like you reading their propaganda rag….you know I am just kidding, right?
I appreciate you describing your take on how stupid the NYTimes is when it comes to their reporting. It only goes to show us how dumb they think we all are. Having someone such as yourself around to lift the curtain is a real help to all of us. Keep posting!
Please also note the lack not only of outrage but any actual coverage in our media of the Maidan protesters capturing and beating pro-Russian protesters just after the coup. Captives were forced to crawl on their knees while singing the Ukrainian anthem while Maidan protesters threatened to beat them and taunted them. Maybe it was “ok” to do this back then since war were not yet declared and the “Geneva Conventions” didn’t apply?
Anonymous, no that isn’t okay. I didn’t take the time to research what laws may apply, but I am sure the Maidan people broke some laws by humiliating and torturing those people. If you have any news articles please submit links, I would like to read what us going on in Ukraine.
While the U.S. is taunting Syria claiming we are not restricted by borders, we the U.S. are warning Putin not to provide humanitarian aid to the pro-Russian Ukrainians. That in my opinion is just flat out wrong.
I realize that us Americans look pretty helpless when it comes to reining in our government. We all come off as though we are just talkers, but there maybe hope…read this;
@ Joe T. – Joe, please see my comment under August, 2014 article, “Will Israel’s War Crimes go unpunished?” I said,
“The American Servicemembers Protection Act of 2002, dubbed the â€œHague invasion clause,â€ which is intended to intimidate countries that ratify the treaty for the International Criminal Court, authorizes the use of military force to liberate any American or citizen of a U.S. allied country being held by the court. But, The U.S. Constitution mandates that treaties ratified by the United States become â€œLaw of the Landâ€. The ASPA of 2002 violates the spirit of the U.N. Charter regardless of whether or not the U.S. has ratified the Rome Statute. It is essentially a legislative ruling in contravention of an existing law which enjoys preceding Constitutional authority. As such, it is an ex post facto law and violates The Constitution. Implementation of the act by force would constitute aggressive war. So, the act violates The U.S. Constitution on three counts. That will also be conveniently ignored. The U.S. Constitution is no longer the â€œcontrolling legal authorityâ€ in the United States. It was abolished when the Nazi juridical scholar Carl Schmittâ€™s â€œState of Exceptionâ€ reasoning was used to subordinate legal to political authority. This grants the Executive branch authority to suspend Constitutional protections under NDAA and The Patriot Act. (Yes, I know â€“ owing to the complete lack of an informed citizenry, someone will accuse me of â€œsatireâ€. Trust me, Iâ€™m not smart enough to make this up.)”
F.G. I went back and read what you wrote. The reason I bring it up today is due to a guest article which was posted on Paul Craig Roberts site. The article was written by a German Roman Baudzus, and he talks about how the U.S. frightens the European people. His perspective is written from how a growing number of Germans and Europeans are becoming aware of what is really going on behind the curtain.
You may have a better idea of how many acts, and or laws have come into being in recent times, of how much our law makers have destroyed our Constitutional rights. I know the Patriot Act is one, but how much more has been done in the name of justice that takes away our freedoms.
F.G. I had to go over your post here a couple more times, and I am positively dizzy. At one point I was making bar diagrams to follow all that. Which law would circumvent the other…wow! So, this is what smart people do. No wonder we can’t get a break.
Read this; Letâ€™s Give Up on the Constitution
By LOUIS MICHAEL SEIDMAN
Published: NYT December 30, 2012
According to Mr Seidman our U.S. Constitution is obsolete. You will read in his opt-ed how George Washington was the first to step on our beloved constitution.
I am not a constitution law scholar, but I never liked what guys such as John Yoo were doing, when it came to their interruption of our country’s law. People like Mr Yoo are way to clever for simple guys like myself.
Here is the link to Seidman’s opt-ed;
Dumbie me….change interruption to read ‘interpretation’.
F.G., thank you for highlighting the core of American exceptionalism, Schmitt’s totalitarian credo: Der FÃ¼hrer schÃ¼tzt das Recht. As evidenced by the voluminous Patriot Act, the U.S. government’s declaration of permanent Ausnahmezustand was prepared well in advance of 9/11.
If you want to know how far the United States will go to protect our ‘beloved’ war criminals then google this; The Hague Invasion Act (this is its nickname)
Seriously, read all about this act that was passed in 2002. If you are like me, this will blow your mind. Although, it really doesn’t blow my mind since I am becoming use to this sort of thing. Our awful leaders never let us down, these days.
Typical American “patriots”. They take umbrage at mistreatment of neo-Nazis sent to commit atrocities against civilian populations, but at the same time, they’re outraged that one of our own, Bowe Bergdahl, was freed from enemy captivity. Using recent American reasoning, those prisoners could certainly be classified as “unlawful combatants”, the term invented by the Bush/Cheney administration to circumvent the customary rules of battlefield conduct. As such, our leadership should have to confront its own hypocrisy and concede that they merit no Geneva Conventions protections. Sending them to terrorize civilian populations is a bona fide war crime. Let’s hope those responsible for issuing the orders are brought to justice. In the meantime, I would hope that American military leadership takes note, and considers that sooner or later, what goes around comes around. The United States has essentially urinated on the Geneva Conventions, which became “Law of the Land” under The Constitution upon ratification. Every U.S. Military Officer who participated in those violations disgraced (YES, I SAID DISGRACED) himself by betraying his oath to The Constitution. And, I would suspect that dedicated legal scholars would have no trouble constructing articles of impeachment on those grounds. Victor’s justice may someday bring that realization home to those American “patriots” who lately strain at a gnat but happily swallow a camel.
If somebody interested : Twitter: GrahamWPhillips â€“ UK journalist who takes photos and interviews from Luhansk (Donbas). Interviews in Russian, but he duplicates captures under the pictures are in English.
Thanks Robert! Let us all never forget that NSDAP (Nazi Party) started out of very, very small group, with influential person with membership N6 Adolf Hitler (read his book â€œMine Kampfâ€). Whatâ€™s going on in Ukraine is far passed that stage! The whole thing in Odessa was staged up! There was small pro Kiev mobs paid for this (by neo fascist Parubiy, according to Russian media), dressed up as pro Russian activists with â€œcoloradoâ€ ribbons on their cloth who provoked whole massacre! They were shooting at their own pro Kiev crowd so that they could be photographed and video taped just for the media â€œlook, what the â€œcoloradoâ€ doingâ€¦ Soon after bloggers were able to find those faces and put names on them, – they were pro Kiev activists! One of the police officer that was in the middle of this mob group had later admitted who those people were!
Interesting fact, that someone had brought this large group of pro Kiev young people to Odessa for football (soccer for USA) game, bought them tickets and after the game diverted them toward pro Russian activists. Molotov cocktails were already there waiting to be distributed, etc. I think you can find it all on YouTube in English, but I did not look.
Peace to all!
It is clear that the Times is no longer an independent and balanced journal that follows any semblance of the profession’s code of ethics. It is a propagandist and advocate.
There is nothing wrong with pointing out violations of international law, relatively minor as they may be- in fact that should be done- but when the Times intentionally ignores, or misreports, or deep sixes the big ones, the life affirming ones- or in the case of Kiev, the life destroying ones, that are, moreover, at the level of genocide and ethnic cleansing- and when it fails to report context- then something is terribly wrong, if not criminal in their self constructed Twilight Zone.
The same goes for their reporting of Israel’s wanton destruction of the Palestinians and the Gaza.
Good observation on the parallel between the NYT’s distorted coverage of the conflicts in Ukraine and Israel. This fits Robert Parry’s analysis that the Ukraine flare-up is a part of Israel’s war manipulations.