Many American progressives don’t want to recognize how bad the U.S. mainstream news media has become. It’s easier to praise a few exceptions to the rule and to hope that some pendulum will swing than to undertake the challenging task of building a new and honest media infrastructure.
But the hard reality is that the U.S. news media is getting worse, with now both premier national newspapers – the New York Times and the Washington Post – decidedly sliding into the neocon camp, where the likes of the Wall Street Journal have long resided.
For the Post, this may already be an old story, given its enthusiastic cheerleading for the Iraq War. The Times, however, was a somewhat different story. Yes, it did let Judith Miller and other staff writers promote the fictions about Iraq’s WMD, but it hadn’t sunk to the depths of the Post.
That is now changing as the Times – behind executive editor Bill Keller and editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal – tosses aside all pretense of objectivity in the cause of seeking “regime change” in Iran, today’s top priority for the neoconservatives.
At Consortiumnews.com, we have noted this trend for some months, not only in the New York Times opinion section but in its news columns where Iran’s alleged interest in acquiring a nuclear weapon is trumpeted incessantly (despite its denial of such a desire), while rogue nuclear states in the region (such as Israel, Pakistan and India) are given a pass. [See, for example, “US Media Replays Iraq Fiasco in Iran.”]
This Sunday, the Times’ bias was on display again in the lead editorial entitled, “New Think and Old Weapons,” which purported to examine the state of nuclear weapons in the world.
Fitting with the Times’ deepening neocon tendencies, Iran’s nuclear weapons (even though they don’t exist) were a major topic, while the rogue nuclear states of Israel, Pakistan and India (which have refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) weren’t mentioned.
So, you had formulations like this: “Iran, North Korea and others have seemingly unquenchable nuclear appetites” and the need to “bolster American credibility ... to rein in Iran, North Korea and other proliferators.” In all, there were four such references to North Korea and Iran, but no specific references to Israel, Pakistan and India.
The Times also observed that China was “the only major nuclear power adding to its arsenal [which] is estimated to have 100 to 200 warheads.” There was no mention of Israel, which is believed to possess one of the most sophisticated nuclear arsenals in the world, totaling some 200 or more devices.
Ironically, the Times editorial also cited problems of “hypocrisy and double standards” and noted that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was “battered.”
The Times did not seem at all embarrassed by its own hypocrisy and double standards. Nor did it bother to note that one of the key reasons this “bedrock” treaty is in trouble is that non-signatories – like Israel, Pakistan and India – have built nukes, often with a wink and a nod from Washington.
As neocon propagandists pursue their goal of riling up the American public against some new foreign threat, that effort requires highlighting certain facts (and even fictions). But the propagandists equally must make sure that many inconvenient truths are conveniently forgotten. Otherwise the alleged threat might not seem all that unusual or threatening.
So, in the world of neocon propaganda, Iran – a treaty signatory that has no nuclear weapons and insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes – must be endlessly badgered, but Israel – an undeclared rogue nuclear state with a vast arsenal – must be shielded from similar criticism and pressure.
That the New York Times has now embraced these neocon biases, almost with the ardor of the Washington Post, is a serious development for the U.S. news media and for the nation.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.
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This story was published on February 28, 2010.