New York Times: Apologist for Power

Special Report: Over the past couple of decades, America’s preeminent newspaper, The New York Times, has lost its journalistic way, becoming a propaganda platform and an apologist for the powerful, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

In recent years, The New York Times has behaved as if whatever the Establishment claims is true must be true, failing to show thoughtful skepticism whether the findings are coming from a congressional report, an intelligence assessment, a criminal investigation or even an outfit as disreputable as the National Football League.

If some powerful institution asserts a conclusion, the Times falls in line and expects everyone else to do so as well. Yet, that is not journalism; it is mindless submission to authority; and it indirectly pushes many people into the swamps of conspiracy theories. After all, if professional journalists simply ratify whatever dubious claims are coming from powerful institutions, inquisitive citizens will try to fill in the blanks themselves and sometimes buy into outlandishly false speculations.

New York Times building in New York City. (Photo from Wikipedia)

New York Times building in New York City. (Photo from Wikipedia)

In my journalistic career, I have found both extremes troubling: the Times’ assumption that the authorities are almost always right and the conspiracy theorists who follow up some “what I can’t understand” comment with a patently absurd explanation and then get angry when rational people won’t go along.

Though both attitudes have become dangerous for a functioning democracy, the behavior of the Times deserves the bulk of the blame, since the “newspaper of record” carries far more weight in setting public policy and also is partly to blame for creating this blight of conspiracism.

Some of the Times’ failures are well known, such as its 2002 front-page acceptance of claims from officials and allies of George W. Bush’s administration that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program and had purchased some aluminum tubes to do so. The Times’ bogus story allowed Bush’s top aides to go on Sunday talk shows to warn that “we must not allow the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

But the “aluminum tube” story was only part of a long-developing pattern. As an investigative reporter in Washington since 1980, I had seen the Times engage in similar publications of false stories planted by powerful insiders.

For instance, based on self-serving information from Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department in the mid-1980s, the Times knocked down the original reporting that my Associated Press colleague Brian Barger and I did on Nicaraguan Contra rebels getting involved in cocaine smuggling.

And, once the Times got snookered by its official sources, it and other mainstream publications carried on vendettas against anyone who contradicted the accepted wisdom, unwilling to admit that they were wrong even at the expense of historical truth.

So, when San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb revived the Contra-cocaine story in 1996 — with evidence that some of that cocaine had fed into the “crack epidemic” — the Times (along with other major newspapers) savaged Webb’s articles and destroyed his career.

Finally, in 1998 when the CIA’s Inspector General Frederick Hitz confirmed that the Contras indeed had engaged in extensive cocaine trafficking, the Times only published a grudging and limited admission that maybe there was a bit more to the story than the vaunted Times had previously accepted. But Webb’s career and life remained in ruins. He eventually committed suicide in 2004 (and please, conspiracists, don’t go on about how he was “murdered” by the CIA).

[For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Sordid Contra-Cocaine Saga.”]

Hiding Gore’s Victory

By the time of Webb’s destruction, the Times was neck-deep in a troubling pattern of getting virtually every major story wrong or sitting on important information that some of its own journalists had dug up.

President George W. Bush and members of his national security team in Iraq in 2007

President George W. Bush and members of his national security team in Iraq in 2007

In 2000, after five partisan Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court shut down the vote count in Florida to ensure George W. Bush’s “election,” Times executives resisted calls from lower-level editors to join in a media counting of the discarded votes, only grumpily agreeing to take part.

However, when that vote count was completed in November 2001, the Times executives decided to misreport the findings, which revealed that if all legal votes in Florida had been counted Al Gore would have won (because the so-called “over-votes” – when a voter both marks and writes in the same name – broke heavily for Gore and are legal under Florida law which is based on the clear intent of the voter).

You might have thought that the obvious lede would be that the wrong guy was in the White House, but the 9/11 attacks had intervened between the start and the end of the media recount. So, the Times and other major news organizations buried their own findings so as not to undermine Bush’s authority amid a crisis. The big media focused on various hypotheticals of partial counts that still had Bush “winning.”

While one might sympathize with the Times’ reasons for misleading the public, what the Times did was not journalism, nor was it a case of treating the American citizens as the true sovereigns of the nation who have a right to know the truth. It was a case of protecting the legitimacy of the Establishment. Those of us who noted the actual vote tabulations were dismissed as “conspiracy theorists,” though we were not.

[For the details of how a full Florida recount would have given Gore the White House, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Gore’s Victory,” “So Bush Did Steal the White House,” and “Bush v. Gore’s Dark American Decade.”]

Rationalizing War

So, when we got to Bush’s plans for invading Iraq in 2002, the Times had already shown its commitment to play ball with whatever the government was saying, no matter how dubious the claims. And, even the humiliation of having been caught publishing a false story about aluminum tubes being evidence of Iraq reconstituting its nuclear weapons program didn’t get the Times to change course.

Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

Although one of the reporters on that story, Judy Miller, eventually did leave the newspaper (and landed on her feet at Fox News), the lead author, Michael Gordon, continued as the Times’ national security correspondent. Even more stunning, columnist Bill Keller, who wrote an influential article rallying “liberals” to the cause of invading Iraq, was elevated to the top job of executive editor after his Iraq gullibility had been exposed.

Even in the rare moments when the Times claimed it was standing up to the Bush administration, such as publishing James Risen’s article in December 2005 exposing the warrantless wiretapping of Americans, the reality was not exactly a new chapter in Profiles in Courage.

It turned out that the Times had been sitting on Risen’s story for more than a year – it could have been published before the 2004 election – but Bush demanded the story’s suppression. The information was finally shared with the public in late 2005 only because Risen’s book, State of War, was scheduled for publication in January 2006 and included the disclosure, a prospective embarrassment for the Times.

The pattern of the Times bowing down to the White House continued into the Obama administration. Whenever there has been a dubious claim that the U.S. government directs against some foreign “adversary,” the Times dutifully takes the side of Official Washington, rather than applying the objectivity and impartiality that are supposed to be at the heart of U.S. journalism.

For instance, on Aug. 21, 2013, when a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus, Syria, killed several hundred people, the Times simply fell in line behind the U.S.-driven rush to judgment blaming the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

There were immediate reasons to doubt that conclusion – Assad had just invited in United Nations inspectors to investigate cases of Syrian jihadists using chemical weapons – but the Times and other major Western outlets simply fingered the already demonized Assad.

Though we now know that U.S. intelligence analysts did not consider Assad’s guilt a “slam dunk” – and later key elements of the case against Assad collapsed, such as the Times’ miscalculation of the maximum range of the sarin-laden rocket – the Assad-did-it stampede almost led to a major U.S. military retaliation against what now appears to have been the wrong people.

Current evidence points to a likely provocation by radical jihadists trying to trick the West into entering the war in a big way on their side, but the Times has never fully retracted its false claim that the rocket was fired from a Syrian military base, which was four times outside the rocket’s range.

Indeed, to this day, Times’ columnists and other Western journalists routinely cite Assad’s guilt – and President Obama’s supposed failure to enforce his “red line” against chemical attacks – as flat fact.

The MH-17 Case

There has been a similar lack of skepticism toward the propaganda case that has been built around the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine killing 298 people. We saw another rush to judgment, this time blaming ethnic Russian rebels and Russian President Vladimir Putin, but there were problems with that claim from the start.

The Dutch Safety Board's reconstruction of where it believed the missile exploded near Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July 17, 2014.

The Dutch Safety Board’s reconstruction of where it believed the missile exploded near Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July 17, 2014.

I was told by a source briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts that their evidence pointed to a rogue element of the Ukrainian military under the direction of a hard-line, anti-Russian Ukrainian oligarch with the hoped-for goal of shooting down Putin’s plane returning from a state visit to South America. According to this account, MH-17 just became the substitute target.

But the international investigation was put under the effective control of Ukraine’s unsavory SBU intelligence service, although technically called “Dutch-led.” As the Joint Investigation Team’s own progress report noted this year, the inquiry relied both on the Ukrainian government’s hospitality and “evidence” supplied by the SBU, which has been implicated in concealing Ukrainian torture centers. Far from objective, the investigation became part of the West’s anti-Russian propaganda war.

So, when the JIT issued its initial findings in September 2016, skepticism should have been in order. Indeed, there wasn’t really a “report” as such, more a brief summary accompanied by several videos that used computer-generated graphics and cryptic telephone intercepts, provided by the SBU, to create the impression of Russian guilt.

A critical examination of the material revealed that the inquiry ignored evidence that went against the desired conclusion, including intercepts revealing that a Ukrainian convoy was pressing deep inside what was called “rebel-controlled” territory, an important point because it showed that a Ukrainian missile battery could have traveled eastward toward the alleged firing point since rebel forces were mostly massed to the north fighting a government offensive.

The alleged route of the supposed Russian Buk battery also made no sense because there was a much more direct and discreet route from the Russian border to the alleged firing location in the southeast than the circuitous wandering all the way west to Donetsk before backtracking to the east. But the SBU-dominated investigation needed to explain why all the “social media” photos showed a Buk battery traveling east toward Russia, not westward from Russia.

And, there was the JIT’s silence on a Dutch intelligence report from October 2015 saying that the only powerful anti-aircraft missiles in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, were under the control of the Ukrainian military. Plus, the supposed firing location for the alleged purpose of protecting rebel fighters operating far to the north made no sense from a tactical perspective either. Placing a Buk battery far to the southeast would not help shoot down Ukraine’s military planes firing missiles into the rebel lines.

Indeed, much of the evidence fit better with what I had been told, second-hand, from those U.S. intelligence analysts – because any scheme to shoot down Putin’s plane would need the deniability that would come from pushing the battery as far into “rebel-controlled” territory as possible so as to manage the political fallout by creating a cover story that Putin was killed by his own supporters. The same cover story also would work for killing the passengers on MH-17 and blaming it on Russia.

But whatever you might think about who was responsible for the MH-17 atrocity — and I agree that the mystery has not been solved — the job of a professional news organization is to examine skeptically the various accounts and the available pieces of evidence, not just embrace the “official” version. But that is what the Times has done regarding MH-17 and pretty much every other case.

Concealing History            

The Times’ journalistic negligence does not only affect current issues of war and peace, but how the American people understand their recent history. In effect, the false “group thinks” – accepted by the Times – have a long after-life of decay contaminating the public’s thinking whenever the Times recycles a bogus account as historical narrative.

President Lyndon Johnson accompanies President-elect Richard Nixon to his inauguration on Jan. 20, 1969.

President Lyndon Johnson accompanies President-elect Richard Nixon to his inauguration on Jan. 20, 1969.

For instance, in a recent summary of “October Surprise” cases, the Times misled its readers on two of the most important incidents, 1968 and 1980.

Regarding the election of 1968 between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey, the evidence is now overwhelming that Nixon’s operatives went behind President Lyndon Johnson’s back to sabotage the Paris peace talks that Johnson felt could end the Vietnam War, a development that also would likely have helped fellow Democrat Humphrey.

That evidence now includes declassified FBI wiretaps of Nixon’s conspirators and Johnson’s own taped phone conversations – as well as various admissions and other corroborations from participants – but the Times has always turned up its nose toward this important story. So, the history doesn’t exist in New York Times World.

Thus, when the Times addressed this 1968 episode in a Nov. 1, 2016 review of past “October Surprise” cases – in the context of FBI Director James Comey telling Congress that the FBI had reopened its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails – the Times offered this summary:

“President Lyndon Baines Johnson announced a halt to bombing of North Vietnam, based on his claim that peace talks had ‘entered a new and a very much more hopeful phase,’ and he invited the government of South Vietnam and the Viet Cong to take part in negotiations. Raising hopes that the war might end soon, the announcement appeared to bolster the standing in the polls of Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, the Democratic presidential nominee, but Humphrey still fell short in the election against former Vice President Richard M. Nixon, the Republican.”

In other words, the Times treated Johnson’s bombing halt and claim of peace-talk progress as the “October Surprise” to try to influence the election in favor of Humphrey. But the evidence now is clear that a peace agreement was within reach and that the “October Surprise” was Nixon’s sabotage of the negotiations by persuading South Vietnamese President Nguyen van Thieu to boycott the Paris meeting.

The Times got the story upside-down and inside-out by failing to reexamine this case in light of convincing evidence now available in the declassified record. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “LBJ’s ‘X-File’ on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” and “The Heinous Crime Behind Watergate.”]

Reagan’s Victory

The Times botched the 1980 “October Surprise” case even worse. The currently available evidence supports the case that Ronald Reagan’s campaign – mostly through its director (and future CIA Director) William Casey and its vice presidential nominee (and former CIA Director) George H.W. Bush – went behind President Jimmy Carter’s back and undermined his negotiations to free 52 American hostages then held in Iran.

President Ronald Reagan, delivering his Inaugural Address on Jan. 20, 1981, as the 52 U.S. hostages in Iran are simultaneously released.

President Ronald Reagan, delivering his Inaugural Address on Jan. 20, 1981, as the 52 U.S. hostages in Iran are simultaneously released.

Carter’s failure became a central factor in his repudiation for reelection and a core reason for Reagan’s landslide victory – that also carried the Republicans to control of the U.S. Senate. But the later congressional investigation into the 1980 October Surprise case – a follow-on to the Iran-Contra scandal which exposed the Reagan-Bush secret dealings with Iran – was stymied in 1992.

Naively, the inquiry trusted President George H.W. Bush’s administration to collect the evidence and provide the witnesses for what would amount to Bush’s political suicide. Documents from Bush’s presidential library reveal that his White House quickly set out to “kill/spike this story” in order to protect his reelection chances.

For instance, a memo by one of Bush’s lawyers revealed that the White House had received confirmation of a key October Surprise allegation – a secret trip by Casey to Madrid – but then withheld that information from congressional investigators. Documents also show the White House frustrating attempts to interview a key witness.

After I discovered the Madrid confirmation several years ago – and sent the document to former Rep. Lee Hamilton, who had headed the House inquiry which concluded that there was no credible evidence supporting the allegations – he was stunned by the apparent betrayal of his trust.

“The [Bush-41] White House did not notify us that he [Casey] did make the trip” to Madrid, Hamilton told me in an interview. Asked if knowledge that Casey had traveled to Madrid might have changed the investigation’s dismissive October Surprise conclusion, Hamilton said yes, because the question of the Madrid trip was central to the inquiry.

So, a great deal is now known about the 1980 October Surprise case since the Times accepted the misguided conclusion of Hamilton’s inquiry. But none of that is reflected in how the Times recounted the history in its review of past October Surprise cases:

“The Republican nominee, Ronald Reagan, and his aides repeatedly warned that President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, would try an October surprise, probably in the form of winning the release of American hostages held for more than a year in Iran. The Reagan campaign’s frequent use of the term helped popularize it. Some people have since charged that Reagan aides actually tried to prevent a hostage release before the election, through back-channel communications with Iran, a claim that has been widely refuted. The hostages were freed in January 1981 — on the day Reagan was inaugurated.”

Yet, rather than being “widely refuted,” the most recent evidence tends to confirm the allegations that have been made by some two dozen witnesses including a detailed account of the Reagan campaign’s interference by then-Iranian President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr. But the Times seems more interested in reinforcing the false conventional wisdom than informing the American people.

[For details, see Robert Parry’s America’s Stolen Narrative or Trick or Treason: The 1980 October Surprise Mystery or Consortiumnews.com’s “Second Thoughts on October Surprise.”]

Crazy Deflategate

Even on more trivial matters, the Times simply can’t escape its pattern of accepting the word from the powerful, even when those powers-that-be are as disreputable as the executives of the National Football League.

New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady.

New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady.

When the NFL decided to accuse New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady of cheating in a bizarre scheme to slightly deflate footballs in the January 2015 AFC Championship game, the Times again showed no skepticism despite the flimsiness of the accusations as well as the absence of any direct evidence — and the official denials from Brady (under oath) and two equipment employees.

The so-called Deflategate case was also marred by the sloppiness of the halftime measurements of the footballs and the ignorance of many NFL executives about the laws of physics and how weather affects the internal air pressure of footballs, as determined by the Ideal Gas Law.

But the “scandal” took on a life of its own with the NFL leaking exaggerations about the discrepancies in the initial air-pressure measurements and false claims about the proper air pressure in the footballs of the other team, the Indianapolis Colts (the one accurate gauge, used by the NFL officials, showed that the Colts’ footballs were underinflated for both the first half and second half).

Eventually, even NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recognized many of the flaws in the case as he concluded that the only game where the footballs could have been deflated was the AFC Championship game when the Patriots’ ball boy carried the footballs to the field unattended (rather than the normal practice of being accompanied by an official) and stopped briefly in a bathroom.

But this NFL conspiracy theory – that the ball boy used his bathroom break to slightly deflate footballs rather than urinating as he claimed – made no sense because the only reason the ball boy ended up unattended was because the preceding NFC Championship game had gone into overtime and the NFL decided to delay the start of the AFC game so the public could see both games.

The sudden-death ending of the NFC game caused confusion among the officials and the ball boy took it upon himself to take the balls to the field.

To suggest that Brady somehow anticipated that series of unlikely events so a tiny bit of air could be removed from the footballs, which would have no discernible effect except to make the balls travel slightly slower and thus easier to defend, is absurd on its face.

But the NFL would have lost face by admitting that it had acted so absurdly – and rival owners saw a chance to damage the Patriots’ ability to compete – so the Deflategate story moved on with Brady suspended for four games and the Patriots stripped of two valuable draft choices.

A Puff Piece

While you might say that this “scandal” surely didn’t deserve the attention that it got (and you’d be right), the Times, which treated the NFL claims as fact, didn’t let go even after Brady dropped his appeals and accepted his four-game suspension.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

The Times devoted 2½ pages on Sept. 25, 2016, to a puff piece by correspondent John Branch about the “Deflategate Scientists” from the corporate-friendly science firm, Exponent, which was hired by the NFL to produce the “science” to justify Brady’s punishment.

Though Exponent discovered that all or virtually all the air-pressure drop could be attributable to the cold, wet weather on the night of the game (and the imprecise process of the halftime measurements further muddled the picture), Exponent still composed some scientific-sounding jargon to give the NFL the cover that it needed to go after Brady.

The firm said, “we conclude that within the range of game characteristics most likely to have occurred on Game Day, we have identified no set of credible environmental or physical factors that completely accounts for the additional loss of air pressure exhibited by the Patriots game balls as compared to the loss in air pressure exhibited by the Colts game balls.”

But Exponent’s phrasing obscured the fact that an innocent explanation did exist on Exponent’s range of measurements though the firm ruled it out by applying “accepted error margins” and fudging the facts around the sequence of the football testing at halftime (a key point because in a warmer environment, the air pressure would rise naturally).

Armed with Exponent’s phrasing, NFL investigators then took some unrelated text messages from the two equipment employees describing how NFL officials had over-inflated footballs in a prior game to claim they had the “smoking gun” regarding a plot to under-inflate footballs.

However, rather than show any skepticism about this “evidence” and the larger absurdity of the Deflategate claims, the Times simply treated the NFL’s case as solid and fawned over Exponent as if it were a temple of noble scientists seeking nothing but the truth. The Times dismissed critics who cited the firm’s reputation as a hired-gun to give powerful industries useful conclusions, such as disparaging the danger from second-hand cigarette smoke.

Instead of any serious journalism examining Deflategate’s logical flaws and Exponent’s dubious role in the scandal-mongering, the Times presented Exponent as the real martyrs in the case, reporting “Exponent still receives emails from adamant critics, and its role in Deflategate has cost it several prospective clients, the company said.”

A Troubling Pattern

Granted, the Deflategate silliness is minor compared to other cases when the Times misrepresented key chapters of U.S. history, concealed government wrongdoing and generated propaganda used to justify wars. But all these examples point to a pattern of journalistic behavior that is not journalistic.

Today’s Times is not the brave newspaper that published the Pentagon Papers, the secret history of the Vietnam War. It is no longer the place where a Seymour Hersh could expose the CIA’s “crown jewels” of scandals or where a Raymond Bonner could reveal massacres of civilians by U.S.-backed militaries in Central America.

Not that those earlier days were by any means perfect – and not that there isn’t some quality journalism that still appears in the newspaper – but it is hard to imagine the Times today going against the grain in any significant or consistent way.

Instead, the Times has become an apologist for the powerful, conveying to its readers and to the world a dangerous and dubious insistence that the Establishment knows best.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com.

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35 comments for “New York Times: Apologist for Power

  1. chan
    November 7, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    And then local newspapers would echo whatever the NYT says, and congratulate themselves on agreeing w/ each other. It’s amazing how similar local newspapers’ editorials are to the editorial of the NYT, which usually appears a day or two earlier. “Great minds think alike” is something newspapers are proud of.

    • Bill Bodden
      November 7, 2016 at 6:26 pm

      In addition to being relay conduits for the major corporate media, the local newspapers are to their local establishments what the NYT is to the national establishment.

  2. Sally Snyder
    November 7, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Here is an article that looks at how much trust Americans put in mass media news:

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.ca/2016/10/how-much-do-americans-trust-mass-media.html

    The decline in trust can be connected to the rise of opinion journalism which really isn’t journalism at all.

    • evelync
      November 7, 2016 at 7:45 pm

      Thanks for this link, Sally Snyder. An interesting quote from the article:
      “In general, Republicans tend to have significantly less trust in America’s mass media than Democrats with differences peaking at 39 percentage points in 2005”
      Which is ironic since the Times has bolstered the fortunes of Republican administrations by repeating their War lies and helping them when win their flawed elections – as Robert Parry discussed above.
      Although, for some bizarre reason right wing politicians attack the Times as a bastion of “liberal” thinking.

      Tops turvy public narrative damages our body politic by creating mistrust.

      Hence Mr. Trump?

    • Cal
      November 8, 2016 at 10:00 am

      ” The decline in trust can be connected to the rise of opinion journalism which really isn’t journalism at all”

      Exactly

  3. Michelle Hansen
    November 7, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    In the mid to late 80s’, I was in college studying Iran and I noticed the New York Times always stated that Iran started the Iran-Iraq war. After Saddam invaded Kuwait the New York Times switched to Iraq starting the war. I haven’t believed a word they’ve written since.

  4. Bart in Virginia
    November 7, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    Today, Oleg Kashin, one of the NYT house gang of ten Russian bashers*, implies that Russian citizens were grateful for WWII having enabled them to fight and die (some 27 million) as a relief from lives of drudgery.

    * Ever growing list of names upon request

  5. Bill Bodden
    November 7, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    But it isn’t only the New York Times, there are also the people who created the lies for the Times to relay to the public. Most of them remain in positions of influence without having been able to comprehend how devastating wars can be for millions of people as they continue to promote more wars and regime changes.

    To paraphrase Scotland’s poet: If only there were some power that would convene a Nuremberg-type trial to hold the warmongers accountable.

  6. Taras77
    November 7, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    Thanks again, Mr Parry-you are one of the few journalists out there. You stand tall amongst a mob of midgets.

    Here is a link which reinforces your thesis:

    http://observer.com/2016/11/this-election-has-disgraced-the-entire-profession-of-journalism/

  7. Zachary Smith
    November 7, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    Even on more trivial matters, the Times simply can’t escape its pattern of accepting the word from the powerful, even when those powers-that-be are as disreputable as the executives of National Football League.

    I cranked this essay into my word processor and found that “deflategate” occupied 23% of it. That brought to mind an old book I once read titled “Up the Organization..” which had this chapter-ending gem:

    “I don’t know what you call it, but we Polacks call that ‘pissing in the soup'”

    But except for the needless watering down, this was a fantastic presentation all tied up with a nice bow.

  8. Realist
    November 7, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    Everybody always used to ask, “how could the good Germans allow Hitler and the Nazis to take over their country?” Or, “how could the Russian people allow the rise of a tyrant like Stalin?” Or Mao in China, or any number of cruel dictators coming to absolute power. Now we know. They all needed their enablers, their own historical equivalents of the NYT, WaPo, the mainstream media, and a host of other useful tools who fall in line because it is expedient, it makes them insiders and it gives them privilege. It’s a natural human tendency to fall in line and enjoy privilege rather than sticking out and taking grief for your opposition to tyranny. As I just said to a friend in an email: “when the world ends in the near future, don’t blame me. Though, if I may, I’d like to offer the space aliens who may examine the ruins of human civilisation many years from now the reason why it all came to such a precipitous end: hubris, greed and cowardice. The American people have seemed incapable of choosing a leader for rather many election cycles now who has not been infused with or served all three attributes to pathogenic levels.” The subject of your piece, the NYT, certainly stands out for the degree of hubris, greed and cowardice it displays and/or supports in the actions of the American government.

    • Sam
      November 7, 2016 at 8:33 pm

      Agreed, but I’ll note that the Nazis were elected by plurality, something like 30+ percent, while the largest party the Social Democrats usually had 40 percent. The severity of depression-era issues in Germany had led to extreme fragmentation of political parties, something like two dozen parties, and the desperation for solutions led to rallying of some behind the strongest-looking demagogic nationalist. Hitler never had a majority, excluding votes after the totalitarians took over and forced consensus.

  9. evelync
    November 7, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    Thanks for this excellent article, Mr Parry.
    I trust reliable credible whistle blowers far more than the MSM press.
    Deep down, I think the powers that be at the Times know they are just shills for the power structure. Maybe they understand that they are betraying their obligations as the part of the fourth estate. Who knows.
    I guess they just don’t care. They think they can get away with it, if the smoke is thick enough.
    Maybe they’re just afraid of the powerful military industrial complex/corporate powerhouses.
    Or they cling to it to prove they’re relevant. To get invited to the right parties.
    I think that average people know, or eventually know, when smoke is blown at us and we’re grateful to the whistle blowers who help fill in the gaps with carefully proven facts to give us a narrative from which to make sense of what’s really going on.
    Great comprehensive historical analysis of how the Times helped drive us down the horrific path we’ve been on.
    I haven’t been able to read it since they helped BushCheneyRumsfeld/Rice drive us to wage their war on Iraq based on lies.

  10. Ol' Hippy
    November 7, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    Is independent media the only place to get real important actual news? I get the ‘Washington Post, once a fine paper now it’s more like a Clinton fan club rag. Thanks Robert for some real reporting. This election is the most depressing, ever, even when The’Nam was a huge concern for me. Is there any hope for the USA? I wonder, really, in a depressed funk.

    • Bill Bodden
      November 7, 2016 at 11:23 pm

      Independent media written by Thomas Paine and others of his ilk were a key part of the American Revolution. Perhaps, Consortium News and other independent websites of similar quality can help form a very badly-needed American Revolution 2.0

      • Cal
        November 8, 2016 at 2:05 pm

        I second that.

  11. Jean Ranc
    November 7, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    Re. the 1968 “Oct. Surprise” by Parry: “the election between Richard Nixon & Hubert Humphrey, the evidence is overwhelming that Nixon operatives went behind President Lyndon Johnson’s back to sabotage the Paris peace talks that Johnson felt would end the Vietnam War, a development that also would likely have helped fellow Democrat Humphrey.” Indeed! but to get to the really dirty details, one must read “Kissinger’s Shadow: the Long Reach of America’s Most controversial Statesman” (2015) by Greg Grandin, NYU Professor of History, in which he documents how Henry Kissinger, as a secret source inside the Paris negotiations…sought to ingratiate himself with the Nixon campaign by revealing what was going on: that Johnson was suspending the bombing & the North Vietnamese had agreed to participate in official peace talks…but “the South Vietnamese scuttled the settlement, after hearing from Nixon’s campaign that they could get a better terms from a Republican administration: ‘Saigon Cannot Join Paris Talks under Present Plan,’ ran the above-the-fold November 2 healine of the New York Times.” p. 43 “The fact that Kissinger participated in an intrigue that extended the war for five pointless years—seven if you count the fighting between the 1973 Paris Peace Accords and the 1975 fall of Saigon—is undeniable.” p.44 But this is only the beginning of “Kissinger’s Shadow”, which extended while he served as Nixon’s head of the National Security Council…to his instigation of the secret bombing of the 2 neutral countries of Laos & Cambodia and after Nixon’s forced resignation…his direction of coups & wars in southern Africa & Latin America…and now right up to the eve of this 2016 Presidential election what with Hillary being one of Kissinger’s great admirers…which certainly influenced how she served as Secretary of State together with her promotion of “regime change” from Iraq, Libya, Ukraine and Syria to apparently Putin now being on her hit list. However, what with his book published in 2015, Grandin couldn’t quite bring us up to date re. “Kissinger’s Shadow”. We’ll leave it to the extraordinary founder & editor, Robert Parry &: his team to bring us the succeeding chapters.

  12. F. G. Sanford
    November 7, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    [This story is absolutely true, but the names have been changed to protect the “innocent”.] Years after graduating from Backwater Falls High School, I returned home to visit old friends. The town was still run by the same local political machine characterized by nepotism, corruption, graft and bribery. The kingpin had a large family and lots of friends who all got jobs on the local police force, or worked for the city, or got political appointments, or worked for local contractors subsidized by the county. Backwater Falls High had four programs: Academic, General, Distributive Education and Special Education. Mayzie Miller was my classmate, and she was the mayor’s niece. Mayzie was in the “Distributive Education” program. Nice girl, don’t get me wrong – but Mayzie was a moron. She was in the “Distributive Education” program because Mayor Miller couldn’t possibly have a niece in “Special Ed”.

    To cut to the chase, an old friend handed me a copy of the local paper, “The Backwater Beacon”, and suggested I check out the “editorial page”. There, emblazoned at the head of the page, was a scholarly article under the byline, “Mayzie Miller”. Yep, it was purported to be written by our very own academically challenged Mayzie. Somehow, after leaving high school, she had developed a capacity to read, write and communicate effectively. And, she had developed an impressive vocabulary. As I recall, the article was about Lech Walesa, Ronald Reagan and Pope John-Paul. “Mayzie” discussed the complex political strategies and diplomatic efforts these three world leaders had brought to bear in the struggle against communism. (The Millers were Republicans, and I guess it was an election year.) Curious as to Mayzie’s impressive mastery of geopolitical analysis, I asked my friend, “Who really wrote this?” He admitted that nobody knew, but those articles had been appearing weekly for years. They were all favorable to the local Republican machine.

    I have to laugh when people say that “local politics” is the answer to curing our political ills, or that communities have a better chance of making bottom-up changes. Outfits like the New York Times may epitomize the model of journalistic corruption, but it is an endemic disease. Some readers will no doubt recognize the source of “Dispatch #1035-960” which I believe was dated 1967. The document contains the admonition, “Destroy when no longer needed”. So, it’s a longstanding and insidious problem. I don’t have any answers. Intelligent discussion of the issues is likely to result in the hurling about of “conspiracy theory” accusations, even when, as Mr. Parry points out, the “true story” is well and thoroughly documented. The fear of being labeled a lunatic, especially in this era of mass surveillance, is a powerful inducement to conformity. I note that the entire mainstream media is frequently on the “same page”. “Mayzie” really gets around. Pretty impressive for a small town girl with a degree in “Distributive Education”…

    • Bill Bodden
      November 7, 2016 at 11:34 pm

      I have to laugh when people say that “local politics” is the answer to curing our political ills, or that communities have a better chance of making bottom-up changes. Outfits like the New York Times may epitomize the model of journalistic corruption, but it is an endemic disease.

      Walter Karp – http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Walter_Karp/Walter_Karp_page.html – wrote extensively about similar situations from the national oligarchs down to the state and city machines and bosses. A similar autocratic posture prevailed in our local party branch that meant my membership was of a very short duration.

    • evelync
      November 8, 2016 at 9:47 am

      Thanks for the reference to the “dispatch 1035-960” – hah
      googling it led to also finding its antidote? :
      https://projectunspeakable.com/about-2/about-project/

      i think/hope there will always be people who won’t accept the lies.

    • Herman
      November 8, 2016 at 11:58 am

      The 1968 and 1980 cases cited by the author are interesting in that in both cases the parties were seeking political advantage. Who you choose to demonize depends on your views of the two participants. I see an attempt by the Democrats to seek a political advantage just before the election no less reprehensible than those of the Republicans. In fact I would tend to argue that trying to time actions to fit election cycles by the party in power is more reprehensible and suggests deliberate delay and unnecessary death and suffering.

      As to conspiracy theories, they are generally over the top generalizations reaching simple conclusions regarding complicated situations and conditions. But I have also noted that labeling peoples actions as conspiratorial is a way of dismissing views which the critics deem inconvenient and even threatening. No one wants to be labeled a racist or a conspiracy theorists.

      • Herman
        November 8, 2016 at 2:46 pm

        I just wanted to add that my comments in no way support the foreign policy of Nixon regarding Vietnam. His decision not to seek peace right after the election was a blunder everyone paid for, “us” and “them”. Nixon was pursuing the course that was the American way, pound the enemy until they capitulate. It is the same policy we are pursuing today. Aside from a few adventures like Panama and Granada, it’s been a loser since World War II.

  13. Zachary Smith
    November 7, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    At the Emptywheel site is this headline:

    NYT Ombud Calls for More Unproven Fearmongering

    On down in the text is this remark by author Marcy Wheeler:

    On a day when results from North Carolina strongly suggest that efforts to suppress the African American vote have thus far worked, the NYT frames a story by arguing that cyber — not racism and voter suppression — accounts for “most of the biggest stories of the election cycle” (the story goes on to include Hillary’s email investigation in with the Russian hacks dealt with in the story).

    She left out the existence of the Diebold-type no-verification voting machines. No mention of the now-legal ability of the billionaires to dump money on elections.

    The New York Times is working very hard to make itself irrelevant to everyone with a 3-digit IQ..

  14. Abe
    November 8, 2016 at 12:06 am

    The New York Times is a primary player in the Propaganda 3.0 campaign that undergirds Washington and NATO’s “hybrid war” against Russia, Syria and Iran.

    Joining fake “citizen investigative journalist” Eliot Higgins and notorious neocon “regime change” think tanks like the Atlantic Council, Andrew E. Kramer and Michael R. Gordon of the Times are tugging away furiously in one great propaganda circle jerk.

    Higgins was co-author of Atlantic Council “reports” on Ukraine (May 2015) and Syria (April 2016), both predominantly based on Higgins’ repeatedly debunked Bellingcat “investigations”.

    Footnotes in the Atlantic Council reports cite NYT articles by Gordon and Kramer that ostensibly “confirm” the factually flaccid “findings” of Higgins.

    Returning the “favor”, Gordon, Kramer, and other “reporters” at the Times write articles to promote the “independent” Higgins and Bellingcat.

    Like some maniacal mantra, Higgins and Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council, and the Times constantly repeat the word “confirm”.

    Gordon and Kramer give the Bellingcat and Atlantic Council authors a generous reach around, enabling the chronically infirm Higgins to keep it up.

    Today, fake news reports are published in increasingly convincing and sophisticated ways by fake “independent citizen journalists” like Bellingcat.

    And thanks to Google, Propaganda 3.0 has metastasized.

    Google, an enthusiastic supporter of Higgins despite his track record of baseless claims about Syria and Russia, helped form the First Draft Coalition in June 2015 with Bellingcat as a founding member.

    In addition to the fake “independent investigators” at Bellingcat, the First Draft “partner network” includes the New York Times and Washington Post, the two principal media organs for “regime change” propaganda.

    In a triumph of Orwellian Newspeak, this Propaganda 3.0 coalition declares that member organizations will “work together to tackle common issues, including ways to streamline the verification process”.

    Google’s new Minitrue (a self-appointed Ministry of Truth) is spewing forth a swarm of social media “journalists” ready to say 2 + 2 = 5 when the situation warrants.

  15. backwardsevolution
    November 8, 2016 at 12:16 am

    By Stephen Lendman:

    “The Times shamelessly serves as Hillary’s press agent, masquerading as a legitimate source of news and information.

    On November 5, its editors hyped a nonexistent “catastrophe that looms if we wake up Wednesday morning to President-elect Trump…Averting the worst starts with electing Hillary Clinton,” they blustered.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/06/opinion/sunday/imagining-america-on-nov-9.html?_r=1

    Appealing to voters unwilling or dubious about supporting her, they ignored her high crimes and unfitness for any public office, calling Trump “an ignorant and reckless tyrant,” then asking: “(W)hat did you do to stop him” if he emerges triumphant?

    Claiming “Republican efforts to jam the electoral machinery through lies, legal obstructions and the threat of violence,” they ignored DNC rigged primaries for Hillary, urging voters to “hold out, however intimidating the process and long the lines.”

    The Times never served its readers responsibly, an exclusive voice for wealth, power and privilege. Its press agent journalism for Hillary turned itself into a laughing stock – disgracefully supporting a war criminal/racketeer/perjurer, the most recklessly dangerous presidential aspirant in US history, her elevation to the nation’s highest office risking nuclear war. […]

    “If Mr. Trump is rejected on Tuesday, the nation will have a momentary breather,” Times editors blustered, adding “(a)nd some good news to build on…(a)nd the electorate will have demonstrated its decency.”

    It’s hard imagining anyone swallowing this rubbish. Whoever emerges triumphant on November 8, ordinary people lose – with an important difference between Trump and Hillary.

    Her empowerment as commander-in-chief of America’s military risks unthinkable nuclear war. At least with Trump, we’re likely to avoid a potential catastrophe able to end life on earth – what Times editors won’t ever explain, shamelessly supporting a war goddess lunatic endangering everyone.”

    http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2016/11/07/stephen-lendman-sums-up-the-nyt/

  16. backwardsevolution
    November 8, 2016 at 12:36 am

    After Comey choked again and did the predictable:

    “Unapologetic Hillary press agent NYT was jubilant, saying “Mr. Comey’s letter swept away her largest and most immediate problem” – earlier saying she has a 93% chance of becoming America’s 45th president, on the eve of Tuesday’s election, claiming a more conservative, still overwhelming, 84% chance to defeat Trump.

    Washington Post editors stuck to their advocacy throughout the campaign, saying Hillary “is amply qualified to be president” – ignoring her deplorable public criminal record.

    Wall Street Journal editors got it right, saying “Comey’s review of (650,000) newly discovered Hillary Clinton-related emails was never going to change his legal judgment because the FBI and Justice Department handling of the case was never serious in the first place.”

    On election eve, US voters get to choose between a woman belonging in prison because of multiple high crimes too serious to ignore and a billionaire saying he wants to “drain the (Washington) swamp.”

    http://sjlendman.blogspot.ca/2016/11/comey-whitewashes-hillary-criminality.html

    At least the Wall Street Journal is telling the truth.

  17. PitchingDoc
    November 8, 2016 at 1:35 am

    Is there ANY paper you do trust, Mr Parry? San Jose Mercury News?

  18. Cal
    November 8, 2016 at 10:34 am

    After hanging out at some so called progressive and liberal sites I have discovered the ‘Alt Left’–and it is ugly, uglier than Trump.

    I have never—and neither has anyone else I think— seen anything like the filth, slime, the McCarthy like character assassination, fear mongering and wild lies by the Hillary establishment in this election. Trump is a buffoon in many ways but the Alt Left is truly evil. I think they fit into the ‘banality of evil’ Hannah Arendt described, in that it is the ‘ ‘failure to think’—-in this case about the ‘long term’ future of the country.

    I was going to write in a name today, not liking the choices we are given. But have decided to vote for Trump simply because this election needs to be very, very close so that the DIVIDE Hillary , more so than Trump imo, created remains strong enough to fight the ‘establishment’ and the financial and neo shadow government that Hillary represents.

    • Bill Bodden
      November 8, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      Hillary is nowhere near the left of the political spectrum. Regardless of the election results, if she wins, even if just by a majority of one, she will consider it a mandate to carry out the real plans she has that in most cases will have nothing to do with the promises she made in the past few months. Lotsaluck America.

  19. jimbo
    November 8, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    As a conspiracy-minded media consumer I want to thank Mr. Parry for explaining how in the absence of rigorous skeptical reporting people will seek alternative theories, conspiracy theories, if you like. I resent, however, Mr. Parry referring to much of what good researchers have found as “outlandishly false speculations.” As he does so well with the mainstream media if he’d like to take on and try debunk some of the better research that is out here I’d be less resentful.

  20. elmerfudzie
    November 8, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    Mr Parry’s mention of the MH-17 and the “rogue element” sparked a “disturbance in the force” within me. A sub-conscience return to the Ronald Reagan years, resurfaced. The author’s brief historical overview and summary of Nixon’s attempts to thwart decision-making processes of elected government officialdom (LBJ) i.e.,the Paris Peace Talks, combined in a haunting way for me. They brought an issue forward that, bears repeating… When the attempt to assassinate Reagan failed, the coded card used to access control over the nuclear football went missing. Question, what knowledge, if any, was obtained by “rogue element” forces within the then rising, Neo-Con circle? During the Ford Presidency, the Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz ET AL cabal resurfaced. CONSORTIUMNEWS readers should be asking themselves, were any new schemes hatched during some dark, SCIF or skiff room meet by these men? For example; musings like, we’ve gained important technology to circumvent Presidential Orders and can now issue a nuclear missile launch…whenever we deem it necessary. I’m presenting this scenario here because all the necessary ingredients have come together, that is to say, internal rebellion to authority, technological prowess in the wrong hands, ditto for above top secret information in private hands (RAND, Halliburton Corp et cetera), active service Pentagon generals who belong in the old JCS group of Gen. Lyman Lemnitzer, a dependence on private corporate communication systems for military Command & Control or WWMCCS, and public remarks by Pentagon Officials bordering on the insubordinate. Readers may wish to visit; http://www.samadamsaward.ch, where an open letter by VIPS addressed to Obama, faintly suggests that the haughtiness of these Neo-Cons might be due to a card or two in their hands that spell disaster for humanity-the Death Tarot Cards (nuclear codes?). I apologize for all the acronyms folks, readers can blame our new ministry of truth situated away from the only single reinforced exterior of the pentagon. This group works hard to foster a denigration of language itself, a process dedicated to concealment and confusion, and it began long before 1984!

  21. November 8, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    True grit: Tom Brady has redeemed, is redeeming, and will continue to redeem himself; would that the others mentioned in this article, who still have the chance, could do the same. Thank you, Mr. Brady.

  22. Michael K Rohde
    November 8, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    I noticed Friedman going corporate because I read him most religiously, MO Dowd too. She’s my favorite in that regime. I started paying closer attention to the rest of the paper and then Iraq II hit the fan and that was that. I simply don’t trust it anymore and rarely read it. I try to find Dowd every now and then because I enjoy her immensely. She is not my political guru, as it were, I just like her writing. The times has good writers and that used to be my metric but not any longer. The times changed gears and didn’t tell anybody, I’m still not sure but I suspect they had financial problems like every other paper and compromises were made. I don’t know what else to attribute it to. In any case it is no longer the initial source for me and if I happen to read it it is with a jaundiced eye. It’s hard to read and enjoy something you don’t trust to be true. Unless it’s good fiction. That’s what the times has become on major issues, Venezuela was the worst offense in my limited knowledge and that was the proverbial straw. The times deliberately misled its’ readers on the stories and photos of the demonstrations for and against the president Chavez. The times was acting more like the CIA than a responsible member of the 4th estate. Whom the gods would destroy, first make them the best? What a fall, from first to what I’m not sure. They still have good writers. They get edited or have an agenda, I’m not sure which. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

  23. kenneth David McClintic
    November 9, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    A very well written and astute analysis of the state of the New York Times and an indictment of the corporate controlled media in general. Kudos to Robert Perry! This article motivated me to email the New York Times to let them know I will not longer be reading their paper.

  24. Rob89
    November 11, 2016 at 12:01 am

    The MSM, controlled by the Zionist elites aka the Oligarch, has lost all credibility for orchestrating a vicious and biased campaign against Trump. The New York Times should now be called the New York Slimes and CNN is now the Cartoon News Network.

    Because of a working-class uprising throughout America, Trump won and Hillary lost but the Oligarch is still strong and is a real threat to the Trump administration.

    http://www.unz.com/proberts/the-working-class-won-the-election/

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