York Times a “Propaganda Megaphone” for War, Says Former
By Alex Newman
This article was originally posted atThe New American-
The New York Times has essentially become a “propaganda
megaphone” to peddle the establishment’s narrative — especially
when it comes to war — charged foreign correspondent Daniel
Simpson, who resigned from the paper in disgust. According to
Simpson, the paper, which is often lambasted and ridiculed by
conservatives and libertarians for its blatant “liberal” bias,
is actually just a propaganda tool for the ruling establishment.
explosive interview with the Kremlin-funded RT media
broadcaster, the former Times correspondent, who was
based in the Balkans during his stint at the newspaper, offered
an inside look at how it all works. What appears to have
bothered him more than anything was how the supposed paper “of
record” was so determined to sell the Iraq war to the American
people, even if it meant basically lying or repeating government
lies to do so.
"It seemed pretty glaringly obvious to me that the 'news fit to
print' was pretty much the news that's fit to serve the
powerful," Simpson explained, citing the warmongering over Iraq
as a prime example. "The way that the paper's senior staff think
is exactly like those in power — in fact, it's their job to
become their friends."
An ambitious reporter, Simpson joined the paper a decade ago
when he was just 27 years old. He had been hired to report on
the Balkans, where the U.S. government and other Western powers
had intervened in an internal conflict. However, within a few
months, disillusioned by the Times' war-mongering, he
"I was young and naive and idealistic, I suppose. I thought I
was going to be holding people in power to account," said
Simpson, who wrote a recently published book about his
A Rough Guide to the Dark Side. "It turned out
instead that when I joined in 2002, the New York Times
was very much engaged in doing exactly what those in power
wanted them to do, and printing fake intelligence information to
start the war in Iraq."
As the establishment’s propaganda about "Weapons of Mass
Destruction" in Iraq was getting in full swing, Simpson said he
was asked to report bogus information about Serbians selling WMD
delivery parts to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The Serbs,
however, were actually just selling spare airplane parts, not
WMD delivery systems, he explained.
"They were looking for every possible way of getting this
weapons-of-mass-destruction story into the news media," Simpson
told RT, adding that the Washington Post quickly jumped
on the dubious allegations. "So I came under enormous pressure
from my bosses to start looking at it the same way, and I
couldn't see any evidence for doing that."
While the Times did apologize for some of its most
outrageously bogus WMD “reporting” — or war-mongering, as
critics have labeled it — the paper "hasn't really changed its
policy," Simpson explained. Among other problems, he pointed to
Howell Raines, the executive editor during his time at the
wrote a long article in the Atlanticafter losing
his job in 2004 that offered insight into the way top officials
at the paper view its role.
Raines wrote that the Times was “the indispensable
newsletter of the United States' political, diplomatic,
governmental, academic, and professional communities.” To
Simpson, though, the former executive editor was basically
admitting that "he sees his newspaper as being this propaganda
megaphone for those who run the world."
RT host Abby Martin agreed, slamming the paper and the “illegal
and immoral” war repeatedly. She said the Times had
indeed become a “propaganda megaphone” by simply reprinting
government press releases and official statements — the
"establishment line" — as if it were truth. Critics of the paper
have been saying that for decades.
Asked about how the censorship over such a vast organization
could function, Simpson explained that "there are different
processes at work." Citing his own experience, the self-styled
“renegade” correspondent said that even in the Balkans, the
Times had a pre-determined view of what happened. Editors
were not interested in analyzing the tragic effects of Western
military intervention, and they certainly were not open to
exploring alternative explanations and views.
Reporters, meanwhile, would quickly adapt to their environment
and learn to parrot the establishment narrative — at least if
they hoped to advance their careers and have their stories
published. "I was just so disgusted by this situation that I
didn't want to play the game anymore," Simpson said, adding that
he had previously been "very keen" to "play the game" in order
to further his ambitions.
During the interview, Simpson gave various examples of how
stories were framed to suit the Times’ — or the ruling
establishment’s — world view. "You learn, you internalize these
little phrases that you apply to other countries, like Serbia is
'nationalist' or engaged in 'extremist policies,' but the United
States is never doing those things, of course — and you wouldn't
put them in a story,” Simpson explained.
Times employees are expected to tout the agenda no
matter how hypocritical. “You'd never frame a story that said
the United States has started a war of aggression, but it's
instead engaged in a 'foreign policy project,'” Simpson added.
“Or you would talk about 'harsh interrogation techniques' as
opposed to torture. These are things that people just learn to
In a separate interview with Green Left Weekly, Simpson
echoed those comments, explaining how reporters themselves
learn to accept the situation if they want to move forward. “It
only seemed possible to rise higher at the Times if I
bought their illusions, and having seen through them, this would
have been consciously corrupt,” he explained. “Until that point,
I’d been unconscious of cooption as a journalist — like most of
my peers. But as my eyes lost their scales, I saw my own flaws
more clearly, and freaked out.”
In the interest of fairness, it is worth pointing out that the
Times recently became the first media outlet to admit
that much of the establishment press — the Times
included — was
allowing the Mitt Romney and Barack Obama presidential campaigns
to censor news reports about themselves. The Times
actually published a front-page story about the startling
practice, leading to an uproar among media critics that
eventually sparked policy changes at newspapers nationwide.
The Times also recently ran a column by then-Public
Editor Arthur Brisbane
openly admitting that “the paper’s many departments ...
share a kind of political and cultural progressivism ... that
virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times.” Of
course, that has long been obvious to honest observers. But the
fact that the newspaper was actually willing to publicly
acknowledge its bias was celebrated by analysts.
Of course, the Times is hardly the only establishment
news outlet to peddle propaganda as truth. Amber Lyon of CNN,
for example, recently exposed censorship at the Cable News
accused her employer of “making me put what I knew to be
government lies into my reporting.” Former reporters at Fox and
other media outlets have made similar accusations.
Less than one fourth of Americans trust TV news programs, and
newspapers across the nation are dying as readers flock to
alternative media sources online. In fact, a new Gallup survey
found that distrust in the media hit a new high, with 60
percent of Americans saying they have little or no trust in the
mass media to report the news.
As the Founding Fathers knew when they enshrined freedom of the
press in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, if the
American people hope to remain free, they must have a free press
to keep them informed. Today, with much of the “mainstream”
serving as a propaganda megaphone for the establishment, it
appears increasingly likely that the alternative media will have
to fill the void.
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