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Chomsky writes: "We can be confident that this colossal lie in the service of the state will not merit lengthy exposure and denunciation of disgraceful misdeeds of the Free Press, such as plagiarism and lack of skepticism."

The New York Times building. (photo: Reuters)
The New York Times building. (photo: Reuters)


The New York Times' Media Bias

By Noam Chomsky, teleSUR

09 April 15

 

The media reflects, uncritically, the approved doctrine: that the U.S. owns the world, and it does so by right.

front-page article is devoted to a flawed story about a campus rape in the journal Rolling Stone, exposed in the leading academic journal of media critique. So severe is this departure from journalistic integrity that it is also the subject of the lead story in the business section, with a full inside page devoted to the continuation of the two reports. The shocked reports refer to several past crimes of the press: a few cases of fabrication, quickly exposed, and cases of plagiarism (“too numerous to list”). The specific crime of Rolling Stone is “lack of skepticism,” which is “in many ways the most insidious” of the three categories.

It is refreshing to see the commitment of the Times to the integrity of journalism.

On page 7 of the same issue, there is an important story by Thomas Fuller headlined “One Woman’s Mission to free Laos from Unexploded Bombs.” It reports the “single-minded effort” of a Lao-American woman, Channapha Khamvongsa, “to rid her native land of millions of bombs still buried there, the legacy of a nine-year American air campaign that made Laos one of the most heavily bombed places on earth” – soon to be outstripped by rural Cambodia, following the orders of Henry Kissinger to the U.S. air force: “A massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. Anything that flies on anything that moves.”

A comparable call for virtual genocide would be very hard to find in the archival record. It was mentioned in the Times in an article on released tapes of President Nixon, and elicited little notice.

The Fuller story on Laos reports that as a result of Ms. Khamvongsa’s lobbying, the U.S. increased its annual spending on removal of unexploded bombs by a munificent US$12 million. The most lethal are cluster bombs, which are designed to “cause maximum casualties to troops” by spraying “hundreds of bomblets onto the ground.” About 30 percent remain unexploded, so that they kill and maim children who pick up the pieces, farmers who strike them while working, and other unfortunates. An accompanying map features Xieng Khouang province in northern Laos, better known as the Plain of Jars, the primary target of the intensive bombing, which reached its peak of fury in 1969.

Fuller reports that Ms. Khamvongsa “was spurred into action when she came across a collection of drawings of the bombings made by refugees and collected by Fred Branfman, an antiwar activist who helped expose the Secret War.” The drawings appear in the late Fred Branfman’s remarkable book Voices from the Plain of Jars, published in 1972, republished by the U. of Wisconsin press in 2013 with a new introduction.

The drawings vividly display the torment of the victims, poor peasants in a remote area that had virtually nothing to do with the Vietnam war, as officially conceded. One typical report by a 26 year-old nurse captures the nature of the air war: “There wasn't a night when we thought we'd live until morning, never a morning we thought we'd survive until night. Did our children cry? Oh, yes, and we did also. I just stayed in my cave. I didn't see the sunlight for two years. What did I think about? Oh, I used to repeat, ‘please don't let the planes come, please don't let the planes come, please don't let the planes come.'"

Branfman’s valiant efforts did indeed bring some awareness of this hideous atrocity. His assiduous research also unearthed the reasons for the savage destruction of a helpless peasant society. He exposes the reasons once again in the introduction to the new edition of Voices. In his words:

“One of the most shattering revelations about the bombing was discovering why it had so vastly increased in 1969, as described by the refugees. I learned that after President Lyndon Johnson had declared a bombing halt over North Vietnam in November 1968, he had simply diverted the planes into northern Laos. There was no military reason for doing so. It was simply because, as U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Monteagle Stearns testified to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in October 1969, ‘Well, we had all those planes sitting around and couldn't just let them stay there with nothing to do’.”

Therefore the unused planes were unleashed on poor peasants, devastating the peaceful Plain of Jars, far from the ravages of Washington’s murderous wars of aggression in Indochina.

Let us now see how these revelations are transmuted into New York Times Newspeak: “The targets were North Vietnamese troops — especially along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a large part of which passed through Laos — as well as North Vietnam’s Laotian Communist allies.”

Compare the words of the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission, and the heart-rending drawings and testimony in Fred Branfman’s cited collection.

True, the reporter has a source: U.S. propaganda. That surely suffices to overwhelm mere fact about one of the major crimes of the post-World War II era, as detailed in the very source he cites: Fred Branfman’s crucial revelations.

We can be confident that this colossal lie in the service of the state will not merit lengthy exposure and denunciation of disgraceful misdeeds of the Free Press, such as plagiarism and lack of skepticism.

The same issue of the New York Times treats us to a report by the inimitable Thomas Friedman, earnestly relaying the words of President Obama presenting what Friedman labels “the Obama Doctrine” – every President has to have a Doctrine. The profound Doctrine is “‘engagement’, combined with meeting core strategic needs.”

The President illustrated with a crucial case: “You take a country like Cuba. For us to test the possibility that engagement leads to a better outcome for the Cuban people, there aren’t that many risks for us. It’s a tiny little country. It’s not one that threatens our core security interests, and so [there’s no reason not] to test the proposition. And if it turns out that it doesn’t lead to better outcomes, we can adjust our policies.”

Here the Nobel Peace laureate expands on his reasons for undertaking what the leading US left-liberal intellectual journal, the New York Review, hails as the “brave” and “truly historic step” of reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. It is a move undertaken in order to “more effectively empower the Cuban people,” the hero explained, our earlier efforts to bring them freedom and democracy having failed to achieve our noble goals.

The earlier efforts included a crushing embargo condemned by the entire world (Israel excepted) and a brutal terrorist war. The latter is as usual wiped out of history, apart from failed attempts to assassinate Castro, a very minor feature, acceptable because it can be dismissed with scorn as ridiculous CIA shenanigans.

Turning to the declassified internal record, we learn that these crimes were undertaken because of Cuba’s “successful defiance” of U.S. policy going back to the Monroe Doctrine, which declared Washington’s intent to rule the hemisphere. All unmentionable, along with too much else to recount here.

Searching further we find other gems, for example, the front-page think piece on the Iran deal by Peter Baker a few days earlier, warning about the Iranian crimes regularly listed by Washington’s propaganda system. All prove to be quite revealing on analysis, though none more so than the ultimate Iranian crime: “destabilizing” the region by supporting “Shiite militias that killed American soldiers in Iraq.”

Here again is the standard picture. When the U.S. invades Iraq, virtually destroying it and inciting sectarian conflicts that are tearing the country and now the whole region apart, that counts as “stabilization” in official and hence media rhetoric. When Iran supports militias resisting the aggression, that is “destabilization.” And there could hardly be a more heinous crime than killing American soldiers attacking one’s homes.

All of this, and far, far more, makes perfect sense if we show due obedience and uncritically accept approved doctrine: The U.S. owns the world, and it does so by right, for reasons also explained lucidly in the New York Review, in a March 2015 article by Jessica Matthews, former president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: “American contributions to international security, global economic growth, freedom, and human well-being have been so self-evidently unique and have been so clearly directed to others’ benefit that Americans have long believed that the U.S. amounts to a different kind of country. Where others push their national interests, the U.S. tries to advance universal principles.”

Defense rests.

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+28 # Stilldreamin1 2015-04-09 09:57
It's the mouthpiece of state power and policy- we were just fed the illusion that it was something more- taken in by our own exceptionalism.
 
 
+1 # Justice Lady 2015-04-10 11:08
Calllling bringing back the landlords that enslave the peaseant that the Taliband hade kicked out in Iraque, reinstating the "Pillars of society" was one Times article a ways back.We export & support our own landlord system. That's why we're hated & what gives power to damgerous groups like the Taliband.
 
 
+35 # JayaVII 2015-04-09 10:24
Was the Jessica Matthews quote at the end earnest (i.e., purely stupid) or ironic? It seems that no unlobotomized human being could mouth something so fatuous.
 
 
+17 # tingletlc 2015-04-09 12:05
It's a compelling question, and "fatuous" is a generous characterizatio n. Mathews (sic; the double-t is a misspelling) is hugely bright on paper, but she seems to have spent far too many years inside the self-congratula tory neoliberal funhouse of good intentions. Smarts are counterproducti ve if you're working with corrupted information.
 
 
+14 # tingletlc 2015-04-09 12:33
Oops! Commentator's remorse. Having shot from the hip, I've now gone to the trouble of looking at the context of the Mathews quote, which is in a review of two books taking divergent views of the history of U.S. foreign policy. My apologies to everybody: Mathews looks as smart as I thought she was, and in the context, the passage does come off as ironic.
 
 
+6 # Granny Weatherwax 2015-04-10 08:09
Kudos for checking.
 
 
+2 # tingletlc 2015-04-10 09:24
Thanks! But I should have checked first.
 
 
+8 # jsluka 2015-04-09 16:44
Shades of "The United States of America is awesome!" Fox News host Andrea Tantaros' reaction to the Senate Intelligence Report on torture.
 
 
+24 # David Peterson 2015-04-09 10:27
Friends: Vintage Chomsky. -- Never forget that barbarians and savages are as barbarians and savages do. It’s really that simple. Nor should we care how barbarians and savages justify their actions. Instead, we should focus exclusively on what they do. Not on what they say.

By thr way, the quote from Jessica Matthews, at the end of this commentary, is breathtaking for its slavish adherence to doctrine, and its ignorance of the true role of the United States in the world. -- But emanating from such a high-ranking member of the doctrinal classes, one should expect no less a performance.
 
 
+19 # reiverpacific 2015-04-09 11:20
En précis, the self-assumed and entirely hubristic status of American Exceptionalism, permits the "Homeland-Reich " to treat the rest of the world as a series of self-aggrandizi ng social experiments and/or cannon-fodder entirely to "Serve and protect" the interests and ever-swelling cash and assets of the Corporate/Milit ary/ Extractive industry totalitarian behemoths ultimately aimed at world domination (sound familiar yet), with a Militarized police dedicated to the same task at home, whilst it denies many millions of it's own citizens and residents basic human rights like Affordable Housing, Universal Healthcare, Free Public Secondary and Higher Education, unhampered voting rights and usurpation of the Public Airwaves and the remaining Broadsheet News Media -such as the NYT- by the same commercial interests and their subsidiaries which "massage" truths, trivialize or suppress significant issues, causes and promote the monopolist/gove rnment stances.
Democracy anybody?
 
 
0 # Justice Lady 2015-04-10 11:16
The name of the game is monopoly. All the monopolys should be publicly owned. And the biggest monopoly of all is land ( which includes all natural resources) which if taxed fully would amount to public ownership of the rents (& thus the land) which the community creates.The fruits of individual efforts (if not a monopoly) should be left with the individual.This is Henry George's thesis in "Progress & Poverty". & "Social Problems". This would not only be just but is the only way to really raise wages & end involuntary poverty & depressions.
 
 
+13 # reiverpacific 2015-04-09 11:23
En précis, the self-assumed and entirely hubristic status of American Exceptionalism, permits the "Homeland-Reich " to treat the rest of the world as a series of self-aggrandizi ng social experiments and/or cannon-fodder entirely to "Serve and protect" the interests and ever-swelling cash and assets of the Corporate/Milit ary/ Extractive industry totalitarian behemoths ultimately aimed at world domination (sound familiar yet), with a Militarized police dedicated to the same task at home, whilst it denies many millions of it's own citizens and residents basic human rights like Affordable Housing, Universal Healthcare, Free Public Secondary and Higher Education, unhampered voting rights and usurpation of the Public Airwaves and the remaining Broadsheet News Media -such as the NYT- by the same commercial interests and their subsidiaries which "massage" truths, trivialize or suppress significant issues, causes and promote the monopolist/gove rnment stances.
Democracy anybody?
Side note; my spellcheck doesn't and never has recognized the term "exceptionalism ". Coincidence or programmed omission?
Shitsky! -I hit the 'reply' instead of "Edit" button again -sorry folks.
"The fault I find with most American newspapers is not the absence of dissent. it is the absence of news. With a dozen or so honorable exceptions, most American newspapers carry very little news. Their main concern is advertising." Izzy Stone.
 
 
+18 # Shades of gray matter 2015-04-09 11:29
Carnegie ENDOWMENT for International PEACE. That sounds even better than the Ministry of Truth. Maybe James Rison should do an investigative expose of the NYTimes. Give the Times credit, though. They own up to 1 in every 10,000 of their lies. Love you, Noam. You help us hang on to our sanity.
 
 
+7 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-04-09 13:06
I'd love Noam more if he would say something about the actions of the apartheid nation of Israel. Talk about 'exceptional', hey! these people are chosen by God to do whatever they want.
 
 
+6 # Texan 4 Peace 2015-04-09 20:40
He does, frequently. Google it.
 
 
-3 # SBader 2015-04-10 08:34
Yes. He does it frequently but he too refers to "the 1967" borders. That stops me from considering him as a true frontline progressive mind.
Still in this age of moguls and rats I can't help respecting him.
 
 
+15 # dsepeczi 2015-04-09 12:15
The U.S. owns the world, and it does so by right, for reasons also explained lucidly in the New York Review, in a March 2015 article by Jessica Matthews, former president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: “American contributions to international security, global economic growth, freedom, and human well-being have been so self-evidently unique and have been so clearly directed to others’ benefit that Americans have long believed that the U.S. amounts to a different kind of country. Where others push their national interests, the U.S. tries to advance universal principles.”

Wow, I wish I could have been in the room with her when she made this statement. I would have loved the chance to put her in the "hot seat" by simply challenging her to name ONE country we've interfered with who's residents would agree was for the better.

I give her credit for the double-speak, though. Her reference to our contributions being "self-evidently unique" has a vague truth to it. "Self-evident" means this is evident only to self (as she speaks for the US) and unique doesn't mean "good". It means "different". I won't argue either of those points. It's only self-evident that the US has done any good around the world (most would disagree) and, yes, unilaterally bombing and engaging in "regime change" against countries we're not even at war with to make a big profit for weapons makers and oil companies is certainly "unique", but is unique in a purely evil fashion.
 
 
+1 # Granny Weatherwax 2015-04-10 08:16
France in 1944 would.
Since then...
 
 
+2 # dsepeczi 2015-04-10 13:26
Quoting Granny Weatherwax:
France in 1944 would.
Since then...


True. Maybe South Korea and South Vietnam, as well. If I count those, it would be 3 that benefitted. How would that list stack up against the number of countries that wish the US never existed, though. A VERY short list of those countries would be Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Palestine in the Middle East, along with Cuba, Haiti, Chile, Venezuela, Honduras ... can I just say the whole of South America ? Lol. Now we're messing with Ukraine and several countries in Africa as well. The list is too long to possibly remember all the negative influence we've had on the world so I apologize for any tragedies I've forgotten.
 
 
+12 # tedrey 2015-04-09 12:16
Great article.

To be fair, the quote from Jessica Matthews is not put down as her own opinion, but is part of a critique of America in Retreat by Bret Stephens, who does seem to hold that view.
 
 
+6 # dsepeczi 2015-04-09 12:18
Quoting tedrey:
Great article.

To be fair, the quote from Jessica Matthews is not put down as her own opinion, but is part of a critique of America in Retreat by Bret Stephens, who does seem to hold that view.


I wasn't aware of that. Thanks for the clarification.
 
 
+8 # tingletlc 2015-04-09 12:39
Right. Important qualification.
 
 
+2 # tm7devils39 2015-04-10 22:40
If she mouths the opinion, without taking exception to it, then she owns it...critique or no critique.
 
 
+8 # tedrey 2015-04-09 12:20
It's only fair to point out that the devastingly exceptionalist quote from Jessica Matthews is not her own opinion but part of a critique of a book which does hold those views.

I looked up the N. Y. Review article at once and found that out. We've got to be careful not to strike out indiscriminatel y -- that's what *they* do.
 
 
+8 # John Escher 2015-04-09 13:09
The best song on exceptionalism is by Spike Jones and can be heard and seen on YouTube and is called "Der Fuehrer's Face." Americans who don't understand their own exceptionalist bent need to hear this song over and over-- until it finally sinks in and they learn what it is saying about themselves. But they have to stop calling other people dictators as a first step toward realizing that THEY are the dictators. And in the meantime we will all go phhhssfffthp right in their silly face. Or should. Since laughter is the only thing that possibly will ever work in this case.

https://video.search.yahoo.com/video/play;_ylt=A2KLqIJg6SNVwhwAGfT7w8QF;_ylu=X3oDMTByYXI3cnIwBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDdmlkBHZ0aWQDBGdwb3MDNA--?p=Spike+Jones+Doing+Beedlebom&vid=7c7f4bbdcc95ec85cb9e11344e82fa2c&l=2%3A52&turl=http%3A%2F%2Fts4.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DVN.608030978651851691%26pid%3D15.1&rurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DwraaZ49ij8k&tit=Spike+Jones+%26quot%3BDer+Fuehrer%26%2339%3Bs+Face%26quot%3B+Useless+Bay+Films&c=3&sigr=11bq0qg4s&sigt=120nhs3ic&sigi=11rnft0oj&age=1393212198&fr2=p%3As%2Cv%3Av&fr=yhs-invalid&tt=b
 
 
+11 # MidwestTom 2015-04-09 13:29
We have ELECTED dictators, they do not hang around because they make so much money during and after leaving the Oval office why maintain the worries of running the world. Washington continues to operate totally free of any responsibility to ordinary citizens. We are expected to go fight and die in their contrived wars; paratroopers in Ukraine; bombing in Yemen, Troops in Israel; war games along Russia's borders. Does anyone really think that the4 majority of US taxpayers support any of these actions?
 
 
+7 # John Escher 2015-04-09 14:20
Quoting MidwestTom:
We have ELECTED dictators, they do not hang around because they make so much money during and after leaving the Oval office why maintain the worries of running the world. Washington continues to operate totally free of any responsibility to ordinary citizens. We are expected to go fight and die in their contrived wars; paratroopers in Ukraine; bombing in Yemen, Troops in Israel; war games along Russia's borders. Does anyone really think that the majority of US taxpayers support any of these actions?


True about ordinary people, but implicit in this comment may be the crackbrain notion that W. Bush and B. Obama are dictators and equal as such. If they were/are dictators, they certainly are/were weak ones.

The bigger problem is the dictatorial propensities of institutions such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post not to mention all the commentatoes on television who leave important stuff out through inertia.

A bigger problem too is all the fools of every political stripe who now call themselves conservatives. Conservatives used to be good people who liked Theodore Roosevelt and the environment and national parks.

Non-critical America firsters (i.e., they lack the ability to justly criticize) and obscenely rich persons, Tom Wolfe's "masters of the universe" are the problem-- people who want to run everything with their unexamined ideas.

Like Adolph Hitler, they think they're super duper supermen.
 
 
+6 # jsluka 2015-04-09 16:54
I'm stunned! MidwestTom actually makes sense for once. He seems to be a seriously confused and contradictory individual. He defends police shootings of black Americans, but in this case criticises the political or power elite who run our country. Strange fellow.
 
 
+5 # reiverpacific 2015-04-09 16:58
Quoting jsluka:
I'm stunned! MidwestTom actually makes sense for once. He seems to be a seriously confused and contradictory individual. He defends police shootings of black Americans, but in this case criticises the political or power elite who run our country. Strange fellow.


Heh-heh!
Well observed.
 
 
+3 # RLF 2015-04-10 05:39
I often don't agree with Tom but the simplistic consistency that goes along with wwhat ever we are told the smart people think or the 'real' liberals thinks makes me just as sick.
 
 
+2 # Justice Lady 2015-04-10 11:20
Why should a president have special protection etc, for life at our expense? It's a disgrace all the money we waste on them.
 
 
+2 # fletch1165 2015-04-09 19:02
America?(Israel i occupied territory)
 
 
+7 # bibi 2015-04-09 19:15
Great article by Noam Chomsky. How much longer can such a mindset - the US government's - be supported and tolerated, or ignored?
 
 
+1 # corals33 2015-04-12 01:12
why anyone would expect anything different from something put in place to serve the wealthy and powerful still amazes me. When I was a child I understood as a child but now that I am a man it is astonishing how many educated adults still have the understanding of little children.Grow up folks, Today's story is about rebuilding the house that jack built not revisiting its vermin infested residence.
 
 
+1 # Justice Lady 2015-04-12 12:29
"If you had all the money & I had all the land I could get all your money for one night's rent" Shirley Anne Hardy author of "Stolen Land - Stolen Lives and the great con trick of DEBT!
 
 
0 # Dale 2015-04-12 07:37
In AmeriKa Inc.
Big Money continues to inspire economic suicide
While Fox News glorifies the perverse
And CNN presents Big Lies as balanced journalism,
Most all the media offering views that fit system maintenance
And Pentagon programmed militarism
To torture reason, degrade the noble, imprison the valiant
And strain to devour what remains of civilization.
Big Money monopolizes the media
To frame acceptable thought, to privatize public consciousness,
With the end of substituting trivia for substance,
Thought hegemony for critical appraisal, stupidity for rationality.
Media commentary promulgates indefensible speech
To corrupt rational thought, to make lies appear truthful,
Electronic surveilance of citizen´s private thoughts is the property of the Thought Police.
The media glorify war.
On the rare occasions presented, the media demonize reasoned dissent.
The media censor news that does not fit the paradigm of limits.
The media promote falsity.
The media portray Official Terrorism as a legitimate means of promoting National Security—
With the effect that fearful insecurity is diffused within the citizenry.
In this omnipotence of deceit truth telling is terrorism to the Oppressors,
Jail whistle-blowers , end independent journalism!
 
 
0 # Justice Lady 2015-04-12 12:27
But behind big money is Big LAND. Read "Progress & Poverty" The name of the game is monopoly & land is the biggest monopoly of all.
 

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