NYT still engaging in Iraq War-style fear mongering

The primary function of the New York Times for the past several years has been to mindlessly regurgitate anonymous claims from government officials that we’re all in serious danger from super-terrorists.  That was true in the lead-up to the illegal Iraq war and continues to be true to this day.  The piece Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane wrote for yesterday’s paper is remarkable only because their scare tactics are so transparent that even a casual reader could see how irresponsible their reporting was.  Let’s be annoying Internet people and criticize the work of real journalists who get paid to scare the citizenry.  It’ll be fun!

With a lede like this, I wouldn’t expect much from the article.

American officials said Wednesday that it was very likely that a radical group once thought unable to attack the United States had played a role in the bombing attempt in Times Square, elevating concerns about whether other militant groups could deliver at least a glancing blow on American soil. [emphasis added.]

Okay, okay, NYT.  So, “American officials” said that.  Wow, that’s quite a damning sentence.  And, frankly, I live in New York City and I’d hate it if any radical groups could attack my home.  So, who is making that claim, exactly?

Officials said that after two days of intense questioning of the bombing suspect, Faisal Shahzad, evidence was mounting that the group, the Pakistani Taliban, had helped inspire and train Mr. Shahzad in the months before he is alleged to have parked an explosives-filled sport utility vehicle in a busy Manhattan intersection on Saturday night. [emphasis added.]

Well, I could do without the passive voice, but, okay.  Officials said that.  Certainly if there’s mounting evidence that the Pakistani Taliban was partly behind this attempted bombing, any official who was disseminating that information could go on the record, right?  Or else, I mean, why would the Times print it?  If the case is so flimsy that no one wants their name attached to it, maybe it’s not fit to print?

Officials said Mr. Shahzad had discussed his contacts with the group, and investigators had accumulated other evidence that they would not disclose. [emphasis added.]

Again, if this is true, why won’t someone go on the record with it?  It’s almost like Obama administration officials are using the press the same way Bush officials did, ie, to create scary narratives that justify continued war and occupations.  And the Times is mindlessly regurgitating these claims once again.  In the first two paragraphs of this story, the reader is told that American cities are now in danger from foreign terrorist groups because of information Shahzad has given up.  We should believe that claim based on nothing other than blind trust in anonymous officials and reporters who aren’t following their paper’s own guidelines for providing anonymity.  Forgive me for being skeptical.

At least the journalists know what they’re talking about.  Otherwise, this story is literally doing nothing other than scaring people.

American officials, speaking about the continuing inquiry only on condition of anonymity, gave few details about what Mr. Shahzad had told investigators, and said their understanding of the plot would evolve as a dragnet spanning two continents gathered more evidence. [emphasis added.]

GAH.  Has nothing changed since the run up to the Iraq war?  No.  Nothing has.  The press still worship those in power and are desperate to be on the receiving end of their whispers.  They need access because they consider it their job to scream administration talking points into their filthy megaphone.  Reporters can’t be stenographers if they’re not in the room, after all.

But there’s a broader point here.  Articles like this one are the reason that that myth of the liberal media is so infuriating.  It doesn’t matter how many editorial boards endorse a Democrat for president if their reporting departments continue to print stories like this one.  People read this unverifiable nonsense and they think it’s true.  Pakistani Taliban, Jesus Christ that shit sounds scary! Maybe that group is behind this attempted attack, but there’s no way of knowing whether or not it is, and there’s no way to hold those who are claiming the PT is behind the attack accountable.

The Times should hold their reporters to the guidelines the paper has established and has promised their readers they will abide by.  This kind of irresponsible journalism gets people killed.

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One Response to NYT still engaging in Iraq War-style fear mongering

  1. jcalton says:

    ONLY after the strict “condition of anonymity” was met could they be convinced to release “few details?”

    Trust us, heads will roll when these vague and meaningless statements get out.

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