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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Maureen Dowd, "Still Mad as Hell": At Everyone Except The New York Times

Is Maureen Dowd "mad as hell"? I suppose that depends upon how you define "mad."

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Still Mad as Hell" (http://observer.com/2014/02/the-tyranny-and-lethargy-of-the-times-editorial-page/#axzz2sl80ftwH), Dowd wonders what Paddy Chayefsky, who wrote the 1976 flick "Network," would think about today's media. Dowd specifically asks how Chayefsky might regard:

  • Kim Kardashian
  • Brian Williams
  • Internet
  • Twitter
  • cable news
  • Murdochization of the news
  • Norman Pearlstine
  • Google
  • Facebook

Dowd's conclusion:

"If Paddy, who used to say 'truth is truth,' could see how far beyond 'Network' we’ve gone, he would not only be mad as hell. He’d be scared as hell."

Needless to say, Maureen does not inquire how Chayefsky might regard The New York Times of today.

Do any of you remember Max Frankel? Frankel was the editorial page editor of The New York Times from 1977 to 1986, before becoming the newspaper's executive editor from 1986 to 1994. On November 14, 2001, in its 150th anniversary issue, the Times published an article by Frankel entitled "Turning Away From the Holocaust" (http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/14/news/150th-anniversary-1851-2001-turning-away-from-the-holocaust.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm), which acknowledged that during World War II, the Times ignored reports of the Holocaust. Frankel wrote:

"There is no surviving record of how the paper's coverage of the subject was discussed by Times editors during the war years of 1939-45. But within that coverage is recurring evidence of a guiding principle: do not feature the plight of Jews, and take care, when reporting it, to link their suffering to that of many other Europeans.

. . . .

'You could have read the front page of The New York Times in 1939 and 1940,' [Laurel Leff, an assistant professor at the Northeastern School of Journalism] wrote, 'without knowing that millions of Jews were being sent to Poland, imprisoned in ghettos, and dying of disease and starvation by the tens of thousands. You could have read the front page in 1941 without knowing that the Nazis were machine-gunning hundreds of thousands of Jews in the Soviet Union.'

. . . .

And to this day the failure of America's media to fasten upon Hitler's mad atrocities stirs the conscience of succeeding generations of reporters and editors. It has made them acutely alert to ethnic barbarities in far-off places like Uganda, Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo. It leaves them obviously resolved that in the face of genocide, journalism shall not have failed in vain."

Well, some 70 years after the Holocaust, The New York Times is again keen on papering over barbarism, this time that of the Assad regime in Syria.

Five months ago, in an editorial entitled "More Answers Needed on Syria" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/29/opinion/more-answers-needed-on-syria.html?_r=0), The New York Times took the position that there was insufficient evidence of the use of chemical weapons by Assad against civilians on the outskirts of Damascus. According to the Times:

"For starters, where is the proof that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria carried out the attack? American, British, French and Turkish officials have been unequivocal in blaming Mr. Assad for the attack, which seems likely since there has been no indication that his regime has lost control of its chemical weapons arsenal or that the opposition has the capability to deliver such a weapon. Still, no evidence to support this claim has been released."

Today, no one denies that Assad used chemical weapons against civilians.

Obama of course stated that the use of chemical weapons against civilians would be a "red line" for the US. However, when faced with the ugly reality that Assad had indeed killed his own people with sarin, America's procrastinator-in-chief first asked Congress for authorization to act against the Syrian mass murderer, and then reached a deal brokered by Russia's Putin, providing for the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal.

During his State of the Union address, Obama claimed that he had achieved a remarkable foreign policy success involving the destruction of this arsenal:

"American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated, and we will continue to work with the international community to usher in the future the Syrian people deserve – a future free of dictatorship, terror and fear."

Obama, of course, was lying. As reported by Reuters in an article entitled "U.S. accuses Syria of stalling on chemical arms handover" by Lesley Wroughton and Matt Spetalnick(http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/30/us-syria-crisis-chemical-idUSBREA0S19720140130):

"The United States on Thursday accused Syria of dragging its feet on giving up its chemical arms, putting at risk a deal to remove such weapons of mass destruction from the country as it splits apart in a chaotic civil war.

President Barack Obama this week touted the chemical weapons agreement as one of the few U.S. diplomatic achievements on Syria, but the State Department said just 4 percent of Syria's deadliest chemical agents has been shipped out of the country for destruction at sea.

The United States has few good choices to force President Bashar al-Assad to comply."

And now we are learning that Assad (John Kerry's "dear friend") is moving his chemical weapons stockpiles to "Alawite enclaves on the western coast of Syria" (see: http://www.jpost.com/Home/Assad-armed-to-the-teeth-stockpiling-weapons-of-mass-destruction-340081).

Any mention of this falsification on the op-ed page of the Times? Not a chance.

Worse still, pictures are now emerging of children starving as the result of the ongoing civil war in Syria. Have a look - if you have a sufficiently strong constitution - at a CNN article entitled "Syrian children dying of hunger" (http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/05/world/syria-children-dying-hunger/index.html?hpt=hp_c1). Query: Is the killing of children by starvation more acceptable than murder by chemical weapons?

Any mention of this barbarism on the op-ed page of the Times? Again, not a chance. It would embarrass Obama.

Regarding the decision of the Times to ignore the Holocaust, Max Frankel wrote that "in the face of genocide, journalism shall not have failed in vain." As evidenced by the behavior of the Times over the past year, Frankel was dead wrong.

So, what would Paddy say today about the op-ed and editorial team of the Times, which, under the able guidance of Andrew Rosenthal, has become little less than an Obama cheerleading squad? Yes, I'm also mad as hell.

How about an airlift of food to those dying of starvation in Syria, President Obama?

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