Commentary

Whining By The 'NY Times'

Earlier in the day that someone exploded a couple of bombs in Boston, killing the innocent and maiming scores more, the New York Times had run an op-edby a prisoner housed at Guantánamo Bay since 2002. Well, he didn't exactly write it, he told his story, through an Arabic interpreter, to his lawyers at the legal charity Reprieve in a telephone call. So in this daisy chain there were multiple opportunities to change, or perhaps even "improve" his story. Yet the Times chose to run it.

It is no accident that the guy's story supports the Times' own relentless "editorial position" on how cruel and unusual it is to keep suspected terrorists locked up indefinitely. Needless to say, our boy claims he is innocent, was never a terrorist, but headed for Pakistan with the rest of the bad guys when the U.S. starting kicking ass after 9/11. So now, he is on a protracted hunger strike (since nothing else got him released so far) and is pissed because the U.S. uses painful methods to force-feed him, with tubes inserted into various orifices.

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If you can put aside all of what you have read and seen about 9/11, IEDs, car bombings, train and bus bombings and videos of U.S. citizens having their throats cut, then maybe, just maybe, you might start to feel sorry for this guy. Clearly, the Times did. I did not get through the nearly 400 comments from readers, but they were pretty polarized between those who think it is unjust to continue to hold suspected terrorists in Cuba and those who can't put aside all of what they have read and seen about 9/11, IEDs, car bombings, train and bus bombings and videos of U.S. citizens having their throats cut. And now Boston.

While I am sure you have your own strongly held POV on the morality of Guantánamo Bay and all it represents, please don't bother filling up the comments box with it. I would rather hear how you feel about the Times thinking this was somehow credible enough to give space to it on its op-ed page. To me it seemed kind of desperate. After all, they have run a bunch of their own editorials about Gitmo, fully covered nearly every "injustice" they could find about the place -- and yet still can't manage to get the President or Congress to close it down. So maybe -- as in marketing when the facts and figures don't move product -- you go for the emotional appeal. But, also like marketing, when you go to the extreme, you run the risk of turning off as many as you turn on with your message. And of course, timing is everything.

This guy had about 10 hours of shelf-life before the Boston bombings automatically throttled back any sympathy instinct. He's going to have to hope another high-profile prisoner gets out on "new DNA evidence" to have any chance of anyone feeling sorry because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

On April 23, 1943, at the height of World War II, the Times ran an editorial with the headline: “Apology to Rattlesnakes.” It began: “Once or twice since Pearl Harbor, The Times has likened the Japanese to rattlesnakes. This is to apologize to the rattlesnakes.

“Compared with self-styled human beings who strike from the dark and slay without provocation or warning, who torture their helpless victims and murder them in cold-blooded defiance of honor and decency, the rattlesnake is one of nature’s noblemen.”

Oh, but I guess we are much more modern these days.

8 comments about "Whining By The 'NY Times'".
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  1. Juliette Cowall from Godwin Plumbing & Hardware, April 19, 2013 at 10:17 a.m.

    I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it. - Voltaire

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 19, 2013 at 11:19 a.m.

    So all the Japanese during WWII should have been in internment camps ? The purpose of Gitmo, as you have so sentimentally call it, was to rile the public to support wars for profit and glory. Trials could have occurred years ago to prove guilt or innocence, but that would have taken media focus off of symbols of terrorists, a tactic of power centric entities during the middle ages. The rattlesnakes are the hate mongers and all christians have killed, murdered, committed genocide because of religiosity. Well, maybe not all in the modern world. I think you should visit Spanish 1492, just for kicks, and spend some quality time there.

  3. Charlene Weisler from Writer, Media Consultant: WeislerMedia.blogspot.com, April 19, 2013 at 6:07 p.m.

    Any astute reader of any paper will know that paper's editorial skew even within its supposedly objective news section. Showing certain types of photos (whether it is a close-up of a person vs the landscape of a bombed bus with no faces shown to personalize it), the strategic placement of articles beside other articles, the non-reportage of certain news items -- these all contribute to the framing of a newspaper's position where that position need not be obviously stated as in the editorial section. I could name many many examples from the Times (some so obviously skewed as to be infuriating) and I am sure others can name examples from other publications.

  4. Tim Orr from Barnett Orr Marketing Group, Inc., April 19, 2013 at 7:03 p.m.

    Yes, I am very glad "we are much more modern these days." Due process is what is at issue. Whatever the changes or improvements various people may have made to the man's story, the indisputable fact is that he has not been given a fair trial in all this time. (Calling him a "prisoner of war" or "enemy combatant" is just a convenient rationalization.) In the American system of justice, only a trial can settle whether or not the man is innocent or a part of your catch-all group of people who have violated the rights of U.S. citizens. Nothing else can. It is a mark of progress that the Times has not repeated the mistake it made in 1943. Oh, and by the way, give up on the notion of "objective reporting." There is no such thing. The term is a complete oxymoron. And believing in objective reporting is far more dangerous than knowing it is to be a myth. I also believe your opinion might be different if he were an American being held in a Pakistani prison camp without trial and being force-fed. I know who I think is doing the "whining" here.

  5. Domenico Tassone from Viewthrough Measurement Consortium, April 20, 2013 at 2:32 p.m.

    Taking what Charlene says a step further...who cares? Sorry to tell you but only New Yorkers and wannabes obsess about the what the NYT op-ed page says. I realize MediaPost is based there, but try to consider that most of the non-NYC national audience really could care less about such navel-gazing.

  6. Jennifer Finger from KeenReader Inc., April 21, 2013 at 6:43 p.m.

    Actually, Domenico, it's not true that only New Yorkers care, or that anyone else shouldn't care. As everyone likes to point out to us New Yorkers, we're not the only ones in the world; nor is it "navel-gazing" to read what is published on the op-ed page of the Times or any other publication. If that's the case, then whatever you read must also be termed "navel-gazing." So knock off the snark because it kills your logic.

  7. John Casey from Carmichael Industries, April 24, 2013 at 11:40 a.m.

    The NY Times has been whining and blaming America first for years. They're a bunch of Democrat party propagandists who are more concerned about those in Gitmo than the prisoners' brothers performing female genital mutilations, honor killings, raping soldiers, killing Jewish women and children, blowing up civilians, and on and on, as though living in the 8th century. Let them rot or be quickly dispatched. I agree, stop the feeding tubes.

    Paula, Tim, & Jennifer should go live in Afghanistan w/ the rest of their fascist brethren.

  8. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, May 8, 2013 at 2:51 p.m.

    Actually, John, you need to look up the meaning of fascism and then look in the mirror.

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