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Why is the NY Times Censoring Afghan News?

By Conn Hallinan | Dispatches From the Edge | May 16, 2011

On May 12, the New York Times did a very curious thing.

In an article entitled “Indian and Afghan Leaders Forge Deeper Ties in Meeting” by Alissa J. Rubin and Sanger Rahimi, the newspaper failed to mention that during his visit to Afghanistan, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had endorsed peace talks between the Taliban and the government of Hamid Karzai.

The Times’ piece—buried on the back pages—led with an agreement by the two governments to “move ahead on a strategic partnership” and then prattled on about aid. The words “Taliban” and “talks” never appeared.

In contrast, a May 13 Reuters article led with “India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, backing Kabul’s peace plan to reconcile with the Taliban-led insurgents.” According to Reuters, the Prime Minister said, “Afghanistan is embarked upon a process of national reconciliation. We wish you well in this enterprise.”

A BBC broadcast also led with the “Taliban talk” news, and the print version put it in the third sentence. To date the New York Times has yet to report the fact that India abandoned its previous opposition to opening talks with the Taliban.

How could the Times miss a story like that? There are only two explanations. One, that the two reporters are the kind that would have asked Mary Todd Lincoln if she liked the play. Two, that the reporters put the breakthrough remarks into the story, and an editor in New York took them out.

As a whole, Times coverage of the Afghan War has not been very good, certainly not nearly as good as the reporting by the McClatchy newspapers, let alone the international press. But their reporters have rarely demonstrated incompetence, and there is nothing in the record to suggest that Rubin and Rahimi are not good reporters. They could have missed what is probably the most important development in the past year—if so, time for reassignment to the Metro Desk—but it is much more likely that higher ups in New York left it on the cutting room floor.

Bad news sense? Maybe, but than again, maybe not.

On May 14, the Times wrote an editorial entitled “Pakistan After Bin Laden” where the following paragraph appears:

“The Obama administration also needs to take a harder look at military aid to Pakistan, to determine what is vital for counterterrorism and what might be tied to specific benchmarks, like apprehending the Taliban chief, Mullah Omar, and members of the Haqqani network.”

In short, the Times is arguing that Pakistan should take out the very people whom the Karzai government will need to talk with in any negotiations with the Taliban.  There is an old rule in the business of negotiations: don’t arrest or kill the people you want to talk with. That is, unless you don’t really want to have talks. … Full article

May 18, 2011 - Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism

1 Comment »

  1. “One, that the two reporters are the kind that would have asked Mary Todd Lincoln if she liked the play.” I like that one. I think most media when it comes to political and/or intellectual issues lately have become like a local sports media that covers a team that once was mighty and then was taken over by ownership that just wanted to milk the fan base with a barely tolerable product. Once upon a time, a United States deep in the pockets of the Israel lobby used to have the cash to make everything go their way. That just isn’t the case anymore. The Taliban talking to the government of India is like a top draft choice signing with a heated rival because the home team is simply not going to spend the money. Putting that in perspective, if Pakistan knew that Osama bin Laden was openly living in their country in 2011, would they fool around with their foreign aid by protecting him? Of course they wouldn’t. An independent and more industrialized India couldn’t care less and the press knows it so they’re just making up stuff that would be appropriate in Team America’s glory days.

    Comment by Eric Vaughan | May 18, 2011 | Reply


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