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Parry writes: "Everything that the Times writes about Ukraine is so polluted with propaganda that it requires a very strong filter, along with additives from more independent news sources, to get anything approaching an accurate understanding of events."

The New York Times building. (photo: Ramin Talaie/Getty Images)
The New York Times building. (photo: Ramin Talaie/Getty Images)

Will Ukraine Be NYT’s Waterloo?

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

04 May 14


or Americans interested in foreign policy, the New York Times has become the last U.S. newspaper to continue devoting substantial resources to covering the world. But the Times increasingly betrays its responsibility to deliver anything approaching honest journalism on overseas crises especially when Official Washington has a strong stake in the outcome.

The Times’ failures in the run-up to the disastrous Iraq War are, of course, well known, particularly the infamous “aluminum tube” story by Michael R. Gordon and Judith Miller. And, the Times has shown similar bias on the Syrian conflict, such as last year’s debunked Times’ “vector analysis” tracing a sarin-laden rocket back to a Syrian military base when the rocket had less than one-third the necessary range.

But the Times’ prejudice over the Ukraine crisis has reached new levels of extreme as the “newspaper of record” routinely carries water for the neocons and other hawks who still dominate the U.S. State Department. Everything that the Times writes about Ukraine is so polluted with propaganda that it requires a very strong filter, along with additives from more independent news sources, to get anything approaching an accurate understanding of events.

From the beginning of the crisis, the Times sided with the “pro-democracy” demonstrators in Kiev’s Maidan square as they sought to topple democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych, who had rebuffed a set of Western demands that would have required Ukraine to swallow harsh austerity measures prescribed by the International Monetary Fund. Yanukovych opted for a more generous offer from Russia of a $15 billion loan with few strings attached.

Along with almost the entire U.S. mainstream media, the Times cheered on the violent overthrow of Yanukovych on Feb. 22 and downplayed the crucial role played by well-organized neo-Nazi militias that surged to the front of the Maidan protests in the final violent days. Then, with Yanukovych out and a new coup regime in, led by U.S. hand-picked Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the IMF austerity plan was promptly approved.

Since the early days of the coup, the Times has behaved as essentially a propaganda organ for the new regime in Kiev and for the State Department, pushing “themes” blaming Russia and President Vladimir Putin for the crisis. [For details, see’s “Ukraine, Though the US ‘Looking Glass.’”]

In the Times’ haste to perform this function, there have been some notable journalistic embarrassments such as the Times’ front-page story touting photographs that supposedly showed Russian special forces in Russia and then the same soldiers in eastern Ukraine, allegedly proving that the popular resistance to the coup regime was simply clumsily disguised Russian aggression.

Any serious journalist would have recognized the holes in the story – since it wasn’t clear where the photos were taken or whether the blurry images were even the same people – but that didn’t bother the Times, which led with the scoop. However, only two days later, the scoop blew up when it turned out that a key photo – supposedly showing a group of soldiers in Russia who later appeared in eastern Ukraine – was actually taken in Ukraine, destroying the premise of the entire story.

Soldiering On

The Times, however, continued to soldier on with its bias, playing up stories that made Russia and the ethnic Russians of eastern Ukraine look bad and playing down anything that might make the post-coup regime in Kiev look bad.

On Saturday, for instance, the dominant story from Ukraine was the killing of more than 30 ethnic Russian protesters by fire and smoke inhalation in Ukraine’s southern port city of Odessa. They had taken refuge in a building after a clash with a pro-Kiev mob which reportedly included right-wing thugs.

Even the neocon-dominated Washington Post led its Saturday editions with the story of “Dozens killed in Ukraine fighting” and described the fatal incident this way: “Friday evening, a pro-Ukrainian mob attacked a camp where the pro-Russian supporters had pitched tents, forcing them to flee to a nearby government building, a witness said. The mob then threw gasoline bombs into the building. Police said 31 people were killed when they choked on smoke or jumped out of windows.

“Asked who had thrown the Molotov cocktails, pro-Ukrainian activist Diana Berg said, ‘Our people – but now they are helping them [the survivors] escape the building.’”

By contrast, here is how the New York Times reported the event in its Saturday editions as part of a story by C.J. Chivers and Noah Sneider focused on the successes of the pro-coup armed forces in overrunning some eastern Ukrainian rebel positions.

“Violence also erupted Friday in the previously calmer port city of Odessa, on the Black Sea, where dozens of people died in a fire related to clashes that broke out between protesters holding a march for Ukrainian unity and pro-Russian activists. The fighting itself left four dead and 12 wounded, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said. Ukrainian and Russian news media showed images of buildings and debris burning, fire bombs being thrown and men armed with pistols.”

Note how the Times evades placing any responsibility on the pro-coup mob for trying to burn the “pro-Russian activists” out of a building, an act that resulted in the highest single-day death toll since the actual coup which left more than 80 people dead from Feb. 20-22. From reading the Times, you wouldn’t know who had died in the building and who had set the fire.

Normally, I would simply attribute this deficient story to some reporters and editors having a bad day and not bothering to assemble relevant facts. However, when put in the context of the Times’ unrelenting bias in its coverage of the Ukraine crisis – how the Times hypes every fact (and even non-facts) that reflect negatively on the anti-coup side – you have to think that the Times is spinning its readers, again.

For those who write for the Times – and the many more people who read it – the question must be whether the Times is so committed to its prejudices here that the newspaper will risk whatever credibility it has left. The coup regime from Kiev may succeed in slaughtering many ethnic Russians in the rebellious east — as the Times signals its approval — but will this bloody offensive become a Waterloo for whatever’s left of the newspaper’s journalistic integrity? your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+76 # fredboy 2014-05-04 11:37
Isn't this the same NY Times that championed the (illegal) U.S. invasion of Iraq? With false information (WMDs, aluminum tubes etc)?
-11 # tgemberl 2014-05-05 13:13
So if a newspaper isn't always right about everything, it can't be any good at all? The world is a complicated place. We're all going to make mistakes sometimes.

I believe the Times cares about ordinary people. If there's a famine somewhere in the world, you can be sure it will be on the front page. I stopped subscribing to The Atlantic years ago because I got the impression it didn't care about ordinary people.
-4 # tgemberl 2014-05-05 15:05
Parry wrote:
Even the neocon-dominate d Washington Post led its Saturday editions with the story of “Dozens killed in Ukraine fighting” and described the fatal incident this way: “Friday evening, a pro-Ukrainian mob attacked a camp where the pro-Russian supporters had pitched tents ... “Asked who had thrown the Molotov cocktails, pro-Ukrainian activist Diana Berg said, ‘Our people – but now they are helping them [the survivors] escape the building.’”
[end quote]

Okay, so if a "neo-con" newspaper can give that good a report, doesn't that raise some questions about whether all of this reporting is really propaganda?

We all have biases. In the thick of events, it's sometimes not possible to check all the facts, and we make mistakes. As some commenters on this article have pointed out, there is an article in yesterday's Times that doesn't show bias against pro-Russian groups in eastern Ukraine. So the whole claim that the paper is a "propaganda organ" is unfounded.
+60 # Activista 2014-05-04 11:42
will this bloody offensive become a Waterloo for whatever’s left of the USA/NATO integrity?
I hope so - Times is just the front page of US system.
+4 # RLF 2014-05-05 05:20
The way it will get rid of the myth of integrity is to "improve" the economy by taking it back to the post WWII economy by starting a war with Russia, killing tens of thousands of our moronic youth that is badly educated enough to not know what is up, and American hegemony...assu ming we win and then Russian hegemony with the same plutocratic leaders as we have now making even more money. There is always a business plan in place.
+63 # jwb110 2014-05-04 11:47
The NYT is a rag! It has not been liberal in my lifetime which, though I am loath to admit, is six decades and change.
+57 # Archie1954 2014-05-04 11:51
It is always sad when a venerable journalistic institution becomes corrupted by government influence. The NY Times is now a propaganda organ for the US Administration and has unfortunately lost all semblance of factual reporting. It reminds me of Faux "News" on the Television side. They mirror each other across the ideological abyss. Both are crashing. Faux has an ageing demographic readership and the Times has lost the trust of the people having called wolf one too many "times".
+16 # Douglas Jack 2014-05-04 13:03
Archie, "government influence" I know from reading your other comments that you use the word 'government' as representative of the corporations, parties & other interests who set its policy, hire its politicians, buy media. These in turn are the property of certain trillionaire & their subsidiary billionaires who set long term goals & strategies with perpetual-war & government action as the visible 'tip-of-the-ice berg'. The right-wing being 'hate' based have limited mental faculties & are unable to discern a chain of 'cause & effect' so as to mistakenly conclude governments as the evil seminal force.

"Both are crashing". The oligarchy's hired government & media aren't effective communicators. It takes very little organization & even less intelligence to threaten & execute nuclear war on a perceived enemy as Obombya is presently undertaking. Obombya as puppet is speaking a programmed script, which represents the worldview of our hidden controlling oligarchs who somehow insist upon their right to launch a nuclear war with billions dying. In the computerized missile 'advance-launch -upon-detected? -threat' programming systems we have in place these trillionaire dead-heads believe they will survive. They don't realize themselves as parts of the whole human being.
+30 # barbaratodish 2014-05-04 12:19
IMHO, the NY Times is, and maybe always has been, only dedicated to ego and drama images, and social PERFORMANCES, and it almost never publishes the truth! "All the news that is fit to print" WHAT A JOKE! Even the NY Times mission/slogan reeks of judgment, instead of objectivity, because the 1% always DECIDED WHAT NEWS IS "FIT TO PRINT"! The 1% build their as if "lives" around SOCIAL PERFORMANCE COMPETITIONS! You can only get into the social pages if you are one of the 1%, or if you "brown nose' enough and sell your consciousness, body, and soul, and convince the 1% you are a 1% wannabe!
-1 # tgemberl 2014-05-05 13:17
If there's a famine somewhere in the world, you can be sure it will be on the front page of the New York Times. The "social pages" you're talking about are buried in the back.

Reader Supported News has become an "echo chamber" like Fox News. A place for people to read articles by people they agree with and congratulate each other. In the Times comment sections, there are real differences of opinion, and the comments are often highly informative.
+4 # Douglas Jack 2014-05-05 16:16
tgemberl, You're missing quite a lot. RSN provides a diversity of sources & articles about what is happening on the ground in the Ukraine as well as worldwide hidden US, Canadian, Israeli & NATO foreign interference definitely not found in the NYTs. We read only oligarchy selected sources in the NYTs so the debate is uninformed. If you pay attention, the well-researched readers of RSN link huge amounts of well-informed alternative web-sites for more exacting details. RSN readers have a mission to get to the truth of things, not found in NYT. IMHO from constantly reading multiple worldwide sources including the NYTs, RSN provides a catalyst for finding the truth, while the NYTs dulls the reader's mind. Then again you might have gotten used to it. Ever wonder how colonial humanity got us into this mess?
-1 # tgemberl 2014-05-05 18:55
When this crisis hit and Parry started writing on it, I read the interview of Stephen Cohen. I listened to the tape of Nuland and Pyatt, and listened to her speech at the National Press Club, where she said we have given the Ukrainians $5 billion *since 1991*. I have attempted to listen to both sides of the issue. I haven't seen any really convincing evidence that we orchestrated the coup. See the posting from Uziel in the NYT that I posted below at 10:03. I think that shows a balanced understanding of both sides of the issue.

I think for some people, the "neocon" concept has become a sort of dogma that provides a ready-made analysis for any situation that comes up. In the hands of someone like Noam Chomsky, it may make sense. I haven't noticed any comments from him about this Ukraine crisis. It makes me wonder if he thinks his "disciples" may be misapplying it.
+3 # Douglas Jack 2014-05-05 21:32
tgemberi, RE: "I haven't seen any really convincing evidence that we orchestrated the coup." Before concluding based on NYTs read RSN, Common Dreams, Truth-Out, Democracy-Now. Rather than getting lost in what you perceive as an "echo chamber", begin to follow links given by readers to various publications. The details about US, Canada, Israel, NATO etc. financing mercenaries in Ukraine, Syria, Venezuela, Libya, Lebanon are there in detail with links to now public documents. The US is presently operating destabilization espionage activities in over 80 countries worldwide in what Dana Priest CIA reporter for the Washington Post describes as the CIA's World-wide Threat Matrix.

Because of relative dollar economies, 5 billion US dollars spent in Ukraine buys the equivalence of at least 20 billion dollars worth of goods & services there. There are one billion seconds in 32 years, each one a dollar x 20 = 640 years worth of seconds. These billions are only those so far discovered through phone tapping. One can assume there is much more. Would you accept destabilization moneys spent in your own or a neighbouring country to you without freaking out?

Chomsky has commented extensively on Ukraine. Here's a good link about RED-LINES which nations draw in self-defence.
+4 # Douglas Jack 2014-05-05 21:40
The way to defuse violence is by giving each side simultaneous 'Dialectic' ('both-sided')R ights to equal-time, recorded & published dialogues. Neocons are intellectual-co wards, unwilling to debate their perceived opponents in the court of public opinion. They enact state terrorism precisely because they are afraid of their own words & intellectual capacities.

I'm in my 60s so I remember well the talks in our Montreal area elementary school during the Cuban Missile Crisis when we were told to put our heads under the desks if the teacher requested us, as well as being led out with the whole school into the school yard to hear the principle speak about possible evacuation measures. Cuba is a sovereign nation which after multiple invasions by US financed mercenaries asked for Russia's protection. The USA having its red-line drawn throughout the western hemisphere felt that this was excuse, typical cowardice, enough for launching a nuclear WW3.

The US through its Project for a New American Century & NED believes itself justified to hire Neo-Nazi's to fire upon peaceful protesters in Maiden square as well as unarmed police from a building they control, to overthrow a democratically elected government even though an election was scheduled for short months away. Chomsky says all of this & much more. Colonial nations are built upon genocide of 1st Nations with 100's of 1000s of years of heritage
0 # tgemberl 2014-05-07 12:33
I do believe Cuba had a right to self-determinat ion. But do you think we should've just accepted them putting nuclear missiles within a short distance of our shores?

It's interesting that in one of Chomsky's articles, he talks about how "we now know that the Soviets weren't planning to attack us," or something similar. Well, did we know that at the time? And if not, wouldn't it be reasonable for us to take precautions against it? As the saying goes, "hindsight is always 20/20."
+2 # tgemberl 2014-05-07 12:28
Thanks for the Chomsky article. It makes some good points. It's certainly questionable for us to extend NATO eastward after making a commitment to Gorbachev that we wouldn't. However, you might want to consider the thesis of Reinhold Niebuhr's "Moral Man and Immoral Society." He says it's impossible to expect societies to follow the same moral standards as individuals. Some American official made a verbal commitment to Gorbachev not to extend NATO eastward, but then people in the Baltic states said they wanted to be in NATO. The course of events made it difficult if not impossible for the promise to be kept.

But here's a more basic question about your claim: are you saying that Ukrainians would have no desire to break from Russia if it were not for American interference?
+35 # Adoregon 2014-05-04 13:13
I stopped reading the NYT a while back.
On important matters, it is a jive-ass honkey party line rag.
+15 # Anonymot 2014-05-04 13:15
I have written this article's subject to the NYT on a number of occasions. Today, for the first time, I wrote a congratulatory letter to the Managing Editor for an informative, balanced article:
Behind the Masks in Ukraine, Many Faces of Rebellion

Then your article came in. You're right on, but I'm hoping this is a shift from their printing State dept. handouts.
+11 # Radscal 2014-05-04 15:47
Thanks for the suggestion. That's a remarkably even handed (for the NY Times anyway) article.

Referring to the Loyalists (what I've taken to calling Ukrainians who oppose the coup) it still had the "they seem to be Ukrainians, but..." tone, but overall it was quite good.
+38 # Charles3000 2014-05-04 13:29
The propaganda is pervasive. Even on NPR I heard a comment started about USA responsibility for instigating the crisis and they were promptly cut off by the MC....even on NPR....
+27 # ericlipps 2014-05-04 13:57
Quoting Charles3000:
The propaganda is pervasive. Even on NPR I heard a comment started about USA responsibility for instigating the crisis and they were promptly cut off by the MC....even on NPR....

Why should that be a surprise? A lot of NPR's funding comes from Washington.
+5 # jojo5056 2014-05-04 18:42
I good old news 4U--since McDonald's funded NPR-- in the million$,NPR is not anywhere near calling it news. McDonald's heiress and NPR agreement---no bad coverage of Jewishness. Note: this whole anti Russia is all about punishing Russia because of the treatment given to many Jews that cheated the system.
Same goes for New Dork Times.
+20 # Sweet Pea 2014-05-04 13:30
It's best to follow my grandmothers rule."Believe half of what you read--and none of what you hear."
+19 # WBoardman 2014-05-04 14:04
Dates and links to specifics would be appreciated.

Sunday, May 4, Times reports Odessa only in an inside
story all couched in disbelief and imprecision.

How is burning people alive in Odessa
different from burning people alive in Waco?
+18 # Radscal 2014-05-04 15:51
The slaughter in Odessa has gotten little coverage on corporate media. Not mentioned at all on some networks, and the Washington Post and NY TImes both suggested it may have been the anti-coup Loyalists who started the fire!
+10 # liteguy 2014-05-04 16:25
Now I don't believe that Russia is not taking part in all this crap, but I do believe that we and big oil were an integral part in this situation.
so what is the solution?
all I know is that gas prices are going up again...
this is all crap...
+9 # nickyus 2014-05-04 19:45
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

I don't know why your article is so long. The facts speak for themselves. The Times IS a propaganda organ. Duh.

Let's move on.
+9 # Johnny 2014-05-04 19:49
The New York Times, Washington Post, Nazi Propaganda Radio, ABC News--the lot of them owned by oligarchs--have long been mere organs of Zionist propaganda. Now they spread the big lies to generate support in the idiot masses for hostilities against Russia, to punish Russia for obstructing the Zionist war against Syria to punish Syria for its alliance with Iran, to punish Iran for its support for Hezbollah, to punish Hezbollah for resisting Zionist aggression against Lebanon.
0 # tgemberl 2014-05-05 12:22
"to punish Russia for obstructing the Zionist war against Syria to punish Syria for its alliance with Iran"

Russia helped to forge an agreement with Syria to get rid of its chemical weapons. Why would we "punish" them for doing that? Are you implying that the rebels in Syria, some of whom are actually allied with Al Qaeda, are working for "Zionism"?

Until we find some way to bring resolution between Israels and Palestinians, their conflict will distort lots of issues. But I doubt you can really bring much enlightenment to world affairs by explaining all the troubles by Zionism.
+2 # dascher 2014-05-06 15:31
your simplistic and screwy analysis stinks of anti-semetism cloaked as anti-Zionism. I speak as an anti-Zionist. If you are just stupid and not anti-semitic then it would be a good idea to get a little less stupid before spewing this kind of illogical nonsense.
+7 # Helen Marshall 2014-05-04 20:27
Even the cartoonists are on board. Is there a training camp somewhere to ensure that everyone is parroting the same nonsense??
+9 # Activista 2014-05-05 00:52
"After the fire died down the victors went in and robbed the bodies and took trophy video and pictures. After they went to hunt through the streets of Odessa for more supporters of Federalism which Kiev had agreed to originally as part of a referendum.
The Massacre at the Odessa Trades Union Building

The police found no weapons inside the Trades Union Building. The victims once again were unarmed. It was simple slaughter."
The US propaganda labels pro-Russian and pro-Ukraine are misleading ...
should be pro-Kiev and pro-Federation ..
Free Ukraine from Kiev-US junta
+16 # Anarchist 23 2014-05-05 02:36
The NYT made its rep on the 'Titanic' was the only paper to print the truth rather than false hopes..and that was 102 years ago...interesti ng that people in 1912 knew more in a few weeks about the 'Titanic's' sinking than people in 2014 know about 9/11...this is a country of lies...and when Net Neutrality ends...endless lies.
0 # tgemberl 2014-05-05 12:03
I thought this comment from today's NYT was insightful. It's by Uziel in Florianopolis:

The role of natural gas in Ukraine's economy is key to understand possible outcomes of the political mess in Kiev. The economic trade off is clear. Get closer to US/EU and expect long term benefits but pay a high price in the short term.

Energy intensive heavy industry dominates Ukraine's economy which, in turn, depends on imported cheap Russian natural gas to operate profitably. If pro Western political forces prevail in the struggle against Moscow, large swaths of the heavy industry will disappear as natural gas become more expensive.

In sum, the situation in Ukraine shows an interesting trade off. Moving towards integration with the EU will benefit young Ukrainians seeking a better life. However, Kiev politicians and industrial oligarchs lose cheap natural gas from Russia. The game ain't over, yet.
0 # dascher 2014-05-06 15:36
The NY Times coverage of Ukraine has reached a new low. It has been simply parroting the press releases of the US Government. Their articles appear to have been written as if they have nobody who knows anything about Ukraine, its history, its politics, on staff - and as if anybody reading these pieces has any knowledge of Ukraine.

They have been running these 'deep' pieces on Ukraine that a cub reporter would be ashamed to have published.

This is not the NYTimes usual shading - it is the NYTimes (again) leading a crusade.
+2 # Auteur47 2014-05-06 23:24
We in this country are being sold a bill of goods by the media and Washington. The last time this kind of thing happened was in the run up to the Iraq war. I would believe scholars such as Stephen Cohen and even Republicans such as Col. Lawrence Wilkereson and (believe it or not) Pat Buchanan who seem to have gotten it right. Our best hope would be a neutral Ukraine situated between Russia and the west. What's happening now is extremely scary with the potential for a major east-west military confrontation.

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