May 23, 2013


Remember when the whole country began to realize that Bush's mission wasn't ever accomplished in Iraq? (Unless his mission was to destroy that country and fritter away billions which now "must" be recouped by cutting benefits like Social Security.) And we began to ask ourselves if we should have invaded them in the first place? By the time most of us caught on to the fact that we definitely should not have, both CNN and the NY Times apologized publicly to the American people for not asking harder questions of the Bush administration in the lead-up to the Iraq war. Please remember that the NY Times is considered the nation's top liberal media bastion--yet it doesn't ask tough questions of a even Republican president? Shockingly, this email from indicates that the Times is actually pushing the president towards attacking Syria based on what looks like trumped up evidence. First we claimed that the government used chemical weapons on rebels. Now we think the rebels who we're trying to help used it? If in doubt, attack! Sounds like another misguided mission and war propaganda to me. Too bad even lefty institutions like the NY Times are pushing it. NY TIMES: On May 5, the Times claimed that President Obama's "credibility" was "at stake" due to his failure to respond to "evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria." And if the "liberal" Times is goading us to war, imagine Fox New's battle cry. Americans are sick of war. Obama saying he'd draw down troops is a big reason we voted him back in. And we don't want combat in Syria, Benghazi, North Korea or anywhere else except a war to combat out crumbling infrastructure which would...GULP...create jobs. Whew! Good thing our government doesn't want something silly like that, right? MOVEON.ORG: "The run-up to the Iraq war showed that the New York Times has tremendous power to establish "truth" in the United States—and that when the Times wields that power irresponsibly, the results can be catastrophic. Last week, the media watchdog Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting documented a lack of skepticism in New York Times reporting of allegations of Syrian government use of chemical weapons. [1] Times reporting suggested that the U.S. government had strong evidence that Syria had used chemical weapons. But, as FAIR documented, the U.S. government was not nearly as certain as claimed by the Times' initial reports. At the same time that the Times was uncritically reporting these claims, other media were appropriately skeptical. The stakes were high, because it was widely claimed that if the U.S. knew that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, that fact alone would compel direct U.S. military involvement in Syria's civil war, even though polls show most Americans oppose direct U.S. military involvement. Urge Margaret Sullivan, the New York Times Public Editor, to examine whether the Times showed appropriate skepticism in its reporting of Western government claims about the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons. On April 18, the Times reported [2] that, according to unnamed diplomats, the UK and France had sent letters to the UN about "credible evidence" Syria had used chemical weapons. On April 23, the Times reported [3] that Israel had "evidence that the Syrian government repeatedly used chemical weapons last month." In its print edition April 25, the Times reported [4] that the White House "shares the suspicions of several of its allies that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons." That same day, with headline "White House Says Syria Has Used Chemical Arms," the Times then reported [5]: The White House, in a letter to congressional leaders, said the nation's intelligence agencies assessed ''with varying degrees of confidence'' that the government of President Bashar al-Assad had used the chemical agent sarin on a small scale. The article cited Sen. Dianne Feinstein as saying "agencies actually expressed more certainty about the use of these weapons than the White House indicated in its letter." On April 26, a Times report [6] warned against delaying action to be sure that the claims that Syriahad used chemical weapons were true: If the president waits for courtroom levels of proof, what has been a few dozen deaths from chemical weapons--in a war that has claimed more than 70,000 lives--could multiply. In subsequent reporting, the Times referred to allegations that Syria had used chemical weapons in ways that suggested that strong evidence existed to back up U.S. government claims. On April 27, the Times referred to [7] "growing evidence that Syrian officials have used chemical weapons"; on April 28, the Times referred [8] to "revelations last week that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, is believed to have used chemical weapons against his own people." On May 5, the Times claimed [9] that President Obama's "credibility" was "at stake" due to his failure to respond to "evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria." But the next day, the BBC reported that [10] Carla Del Ponte, a senior investigator on a UN team investigating human rights abuses in the Syrian civil war, claimed that the UN had collected evidence that chemical weapons had been used in Syria by the rebels, not by the government, and the official story that allegations of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government were known fact began to unravel. Outside the New York Times, FAIR noted, skepticism about the evidence pointing to Syrian use of chemical began much earlier. On April 26, Jonathan Landay of McClatchy reported that [11] a source characterized U.S. intelligence on alleged chemical weapons use as "tiny little data points" that were of "low to moderate" confidence. On May 6, McClatchy noted that: [12] no concrete proof has emerged, and some headline-grabbing claims have been discredited or contested. Officials worldwide now admit that no allegations rise to the level of certainty.... Existing evidence casts more doubt on claims of chemical weapons use than it does to help build a case that one or both sides of the conflict have employed them. Examining this documented trail of credulous New York Times reporting of government claims that could serve as a justification for war should be a top priority for the Times Public Editor. Urge Ms. Sullivan to investigate.