New York Times

From SourceWatch
Jump to: navigation, search

The New York Times is an internationally influential daily newspaper published in New York and distributed worldwide. The paper's current slogan is "All The News That's Fit To Print."


Nicknamed "The Gray Lady" or The Times, this newspaper was founded as The New-York Daily Times in 1851 by Henry J. Raymond and George Jones as a sober alternative to the more partisan newspapers that dominated the New York journalism of the time.

In its very first edition on September 18, 1851, the paper stated, "We publish today the first issue of the New-York Daily Times, and we intend to issue it every morning (Sundays excepted) for an indefinite number of years to come."

Adolph Ochs acquired the Times in 1896, and under his guidance the newspaper achieved an international scope, circulation, and reputation. It is currently owned by the New York Times Company, in which descendants of Ochs, principally the Sulzberger family, maintain a dominant role.

The Times Today

The Times enjoys the reputation of being a generally reliable source of news. The editorial position of the Times is often regarded as liberal in its interpretation of social issues and events. However, it does have a mix of editorial columnists, ranging in approximate political position from Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, and Bob Herbert on the left to William Safire and David Brooks, formerly of the Weekly Standard magazine, on the right.

Many conservatives believe that the Times news coverage, as well as its editorial board, has a liberal slant. Many books have been written about the reliability of the New York Times and its impact on the political community. Comparisons have been made between the Times and the New York Post and Wall Street Journal, both of which are also published in New York have a much more conservative slant, at least on their editorial pages.

Flaws and instrumental in propaganda campaigns

Ignominious role in pushing propaganda for war against Iran

Not unlike the NYT's previous role in propagating propaganda for a war against Iraq, beginning in 2003, the NYT similarly became a counduit for propaganda for war against Iran. This time it is David E. Sanger, William J. Broad[1] and Ethan Bronner who are the key journalists in this operation. The NYT pushes a Iran-nuclear frame where Iran is portrayed as pursuing a secret weapons development program. All evidence that questions this postulate is diminished and contradicted. Ray McGovern, a former CIA senior officer who briefed several US presidents, summarized the NYT's handling of the admission by the Israeli Defense minister and Leon Panetta, the CIA director, that Iran did not have a nuclear weapons development program:

At The New York Times, the initial coverage of Barak’s interview focused on another element. An article by Isabel Kershner and Rick Gladstone appeared on Jan. 19 on page A5 under the headline “Decision on Whether to Attack Iran is ‘Far Off,’ Israeli Defense Minister Says.”
To their credit, the Times’ Kershner and Gladstone did not shrink from offering an accurate translation of what Barak said on the key point of IAEA inspections: “The Iranians have not ended the oversight exercised by the International Atomic Energy Agency.… They have not done that because they know that that would constitute proof of the military nature of their nuclear program and that would provoke stronger international sanctions or other types of action against their country.”
But missing from the Times article was Barak’s more direct assessment that Iran apparently had not made a decision to press ahead toward construction of a nuclear bomb. That would have undercut the boilerplate in almost every Times story saying that U.S. and Israeli officials believe Iran is working on a nuclear bomb.
But That’s Not the Right Line!
So, what to do? Not surprisingly, the next day (Jan. 20), the Times ran an article by its Middle East bureau chief Ethan Bronner in which he stated categorically: “Israel and the United States both say that Iran is pursuing the building of nuclear weapons — an assertion denied by Iran — ….” By Jan. 21, the Times had time to prepare an entire page (A8) of articles setting the record “straight,” so to speak, on Iran’s nuclear capabilities and intentions: Here are the most telling excerpts, by article (emphasis mine):
1. “European Union Moves Closer to Imposing Tough Sanctions on Iran,” by Steven Erlanger, Paris:
“Senior French officials are concerned that these measures [sanctions] … will not be strong enough to push the Iranian government into serious, substantive negotiations on its nuclear program which the West says is aimed at producing weapons.”
“In his annual speech on French diplomacy on Friday, President Nicolas Sarkozy accused Iran of lying, and he denounced what he called its ‘senseless race for a nuclear bomb.’”
“Iran says it is enriching uranium solely for peaceful uses and denies a military intent. But few in the West believe Tehran, which has not cooperated fully with inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency and has been pursuing some technologies that have only a military use.”
(Pardon me, please. I’m having a bad flashback. Anyone remember the Times’ peerless reporting on those infamous “aluminum tubes” that supposedly were destined for nuclear centrifuges — until some folks did a Google search and found they were for the artillery then used by Iraq?)[2]

David Bromwich comments (1 March 2012):

An extraordinary op-ed in the New York Times today is entitled "Israel's Last Chance to Strike Iran." Written by Amos Yadlin, a former chief of Israeli military intelligence, the article deepens the impression that members of Israel's security establishment have a faucet at the Times which they can turn on at pleasure. Thus on the eve of Netanyahu's AIPAC visit, Yadlin observes with alarm that Israel cannot bomb Iran as effectively as the U.S. can; yet if President Obama waits much longer, Israel will be forced to act alone. Israel, however, is willing follow Obama's schedule provided it gets "ironclad American assurance" that he will bomb when a moment arrives on which the two countries have agreed in advance.
This is discussed in public, in a famous American newspaper. For what purpose if not to soften American opinion? The New York Times is helping one more war after Iraq and Afghanistan -- a war against Iran -- to become for us an everyday fact, an understood arrangement.[3]

Ignominious role in spreading propaganda for war against Iraq

Beginning in 2001, many articles appeared in the New York Times pushing the various US government and neoconservative propaganda lines about Iraq, e.g., weapons of mass destruction, connection to Al Qaeda, etc. Alexander Cockburn, the co-editor of CounterPunch, has written several articles about Judith Miller's exploits, this statement summarizes her ignominious role:

Lay all Judith Miller’s New York Times stories end to end, from late 2001 to June 2003 and you get a desolate picture of a reporter with an agenda, both manipulating and being manipulated by US government officials, Iraqi exiles and defectors, an entire Noah’s Ark of scam-artists.
And while Miller, either under her own single by-line or with NYT colleagues, was touting the bioterror threat, her book Germs, co-authored with Times-men Steven Engelberg and William Broad was in the bookstores and climbing the best seller lists. The same day that Miller opened an envelope of white powder (which turned out to be harmless) at her desk at the New York Times, her book was #6 on the New York Times best seller list. The following week (October 21, 2001), it reached #2. By October 28, –at the height of her scare-mongering campaign–it was up to #1. If we were cynical…
We don’t have full 20/20 hindsight yet, but we do know for certain that all the sensational disclosures in Miller’s major stories between late 2001 and early summer, 2003, promoted disingenuous lies. There were no secret biolabs under Saddam’s palaces; no nuclear factories across Iraq secretly working at full tilt. A huge percentage of what Miller wrote was garbage, garbage that powered the Bush administration’s propaganda drive towards invasion.
What does that make Miller? She was a witting cheer-leader for war. She knew what she was doing.
And what does Miller’s performance make the New York Times? Didn’t any senior editors at the New York Times or even the boss, A.O. Sulzberger, ask themselves whether it was appropriate to have a trio of Times reporters touting their book Germs on tv and radio, while simultaneously running stories in the New York Times headlining the risks of biowar and thus creating just the sort of public alarm beneficial to the sales of their book. Isn’t that the sort of conflict of interest prosecutors have been hounding Wall Street punters for?[4]

John F. Sugg, an investigative journalist, reinforced this by stating:

I don’t like what Miller represents in journalism. She is not, to my mind, a journalist. She forfeited that claim when she became a conduit of propaganda for the neo-conservative cabal that has its bloody hands on the control levers of the nation. In a stunning declaration this month, Miller admitted that she’d been granted a Pentagon security clearance. She tried to backpedal on the assertion, claiming the clearance was routine. But she couldn’t spin away the disclosure that she’d been blindsiding her editors and colleagues. She had become a shill for the Bush administration; her employment at the New York Times was merely a cover. [...]Information bartering is, indeed, part of journalism, but it’s clear that what Miller was up to was far from anything that even remotely could be called newsgathering. She was simply spreading the smear the White House wanted spread. The WMD lies exposed by Wilson were integral to the whole scare-and-deceive-the-public strategy to bolster support for the war. The famed British "Downing Street Memo" spoke of the Bushies’ efforts to "fix" intelligence. Miller was nothing more than one of the fixers.[5]

Norman Solomon, a journalist and activist, adds:

More than any other New York Times reporter, Judith Miller took the lead with stories claiming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Now, a few years later, she’s facing heightened scrutiny in the aftermath of a pair of articles that appeared in the Times on Sunday — a lengthy investigative piece about Miller plus her own first-person account of how she got entangled in the case of the Bush administration’s "outing" of Valerie Plame as a CIA agent. It now seems that Miller functioned with more accountability to U.S. military intelligence officials than to New York Times editors. Most of the way through her article, Miller slipped in this sentence:
"During the Iraq war, the Pentagon had given me clearance to see secret information as part of my assignment ‘embedded’ with a special military unit hunting for unconventional weapons."
And, according to the same article, she ultimately told the grand jury that during a July 8, 2003, meeting with the vice president’s chief of staff, Lewis Libby, "I might have expressed frustration to Mr. Libby that I was not permitted to discuss with editors some of the more sensitive information about Iraq."
Let’s replay that one again in slow motion.[6]

Jayson Blair

In 2003, the Times admitted to journalism fraud committed over a span of several years by one of its reporters, Jayson Blair, and the general professionalism of the paper was questioned, though Blair was immediately fired following the incident. Questions of affirmative action in journalism were also raised, since Blair was African American. Several top officials, including the chief of its editorial board, also resigned their posts following the incident.


Executive editors


Public editors

Other SourceWatch resources

Contact details

External links


  1. Edward S. Herman, Bombing for Ethnic Cleansing and Hegemony Rights, Dissident Voice, 28 March 2012.
  2. Ray McGovern, US, Israel Agree: Iran NOT Building Nukes,, 25 January 2012.
  3. David Bromwich, The Israeli case for war in 'The New York Times', MondoWeiss, 1 March 2012
  4. Alexander Cockburn, Judy Miller’s War, CounterPunch, 16 August 2003.
  5. John F. Sugg, Judith Miller and Me, CounterPunch, 25 October 2005.
  6. Norman Solomon, Judith Miller, the Fourth Estate and the Warfare State, CounterPunch, 17 October 2005.

Note: Portions of this article are taken from a corresponding article in the Wikipedia.