As part of the inaugural issue of the Trans-Int Quarterly, we have been proud to bring you Matthias Küntzel’s meticulously researched history of the "Road Map" peace plan for the Middle East. The Mediacrity blog today provides a brazen example of how neglect of the provisions of the "Road Map" in the pages of the NYTimes – and notably of the obligations under which it places the Palestinian side to "dismantle terrorist infrastructure and capabilities" – is not simply a matter of ignorance (we now have proof that there is at least one NYTimes reporter who knows them), but also a matter of editorial policy. The moral of the story – should anyone still require this lesson – is that the NYTimes cannot be taken seriously as a source of international news. (Note that I do not say "can no longer". Anyone who followed closely the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s will long since have come to this conclusion, and someday those who are justifiably disgusted by the deformations that characterize the current Times depiction of the Israelo-Palestinian conflict would do well to revisit the manichean image that the Times and kindred media created of "Great Serbian Nationalism" and its supposed opponents/"victims" back then. The image will seem strangely familiar.)
Starting with my essay on "The Legend of the Squandered Sympathy", I often had occasion on the old Trans-Int to pose the question whether the deformations in the Times reporting specifically on Europe are a matter of incompetence or editorial decision. We have come across much evidence that speaks for the hypothesis of a truly mind-boggling level of incompetence (and, most fundamentally, a lack of the relevant language skills). See, for instance, here and here. But we have also come across some examples that, like the one Mediacrity has spotted, constitute straightforward and obvious manipulations and that thus speak for the hypothesis of bad faith. See, notably, my "The New York Times Protects its Myth".
As I have suggested before, the correct answer is undoubtedly: both.
- October 18th, 2005