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Before Jayson Blair: AIM and The New York Times
By William Alford
November 12, 2003


Subsequent to the fallout over Jayson Blair's numerous instances of fraud, inaccuracy and plagiarism, senior staff at The N.Y. Times surely hoped that credibility doubts would end by throwing the 27-year-old journalist over the side in May. Questions nonetheless persisted over such practices as the widespread misuse of unnamed sources, attributing freelancers' work to staff reporters, and insufficient research and 'advocacy' journalism. On an early June "day that breaks my heart," publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. announced the 'resignations' of executive editor Howell Raines and managing editor Gerald Boyd. Will lopping off a few heads be enough?

Accuracy In Media hopes that The N.Y. Times and other major media outlets will henceforth take seriously their responsibility to provide complete, accurate and objective news. A long history of the opposite does not inspire confidence.

In 1932, N.Y. Times reporter Walter Duranty received the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of life in the USSR. It was later revealed that his dispatches were cleared by Soviet officials and were thus sanitized of the purges and artificial famines that would eventually kill and displace tens of millions before WWII. There is now an ongoing campaign to strip Duranty of his Pulitzer.

Rather than an isolated incident, this proved to be part of a pattern. At The N.Y. Times, trusting their readership by merely reporting the facts has apparently been subordinate to serving The Cause for several generations.

Since 1969, AIM has been here to expose it.



- please click titles for original articles -

THE POWs AND THE PRESS Do the News Media Share the Blame for the Torture of the POWs? - April 1973
American POWs were systematically tortured by the North Vietnamese to obtain not only information but also to extract 'confessions' and denunciations of the US military for propaganda purposes. The N.Y. Times was foremost in publicizing these statements, but several years were allowed to pass before reporting the fact that torture was the impetus. At the time, Accuracy In Media asked:

  1. By publicizing propaganda statements extracted from the POWs by torture, did the news media encourage the Communists to practice torture?
  2. Why did not the media earlier expose the mistreatment of the POWs and thus stir demands for humane treatment?

In that same issue:
American News Media Did Cooperate in Transmitting Propaganda Statements
Very important segments of the American news media responded pretty much as the Communists hoped. Harrison Salisbury and his newspaper [The N.Y. Times] were evidently willing to serve as a transmission belt for propaganda by reporting from Hanoi Communist charges about American bombing as if he were describing what he had himself observed or confirmed.

N.Y. TIMES KNOCKS SOUTH KOREA; TAKES MONEY FROM NORTH - Jan. 1976
The NY Times printed paid ads from North Korea denouncing the South. They were full of distortions and violated the Times' official publication policy. Not only were they run, Times editors and journalists piled on with condemning copy of their own [unbalanced by any exposition of the Stalinist dictatorship to the North].

THE IRVINE-SULZBERGER DEBATE - May 1977
After the 1975 fall of Saigon, the wholesale slaughter that then ensued in Indochina was not reported until Accuracy In Media Chairman Reed Irvine confronted N.Y. Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Sr. about it during a shareholders' meeting in 1977.

AFGHANISTAN: THE NEW CAMBODIA - May 1980
In July 1979, Soviet soldiers [along with those of their puppet regime] machine-gunned over 1000 men women and children for chanting 'Allahu Akbar' [God is great] rather than pledging allegiance to the communist dictatorship. When this was finally reported in the N.Y. Times, a Soviet declaration that the story was 'monstrous disinformation' was uncritically included. If there was any effort to investigate the story, no results were deemed 'fit to print.'

SAVAGING EL SALVADOR - Feb. 1982
During the early 80s, El Salvador was under attack by the Nicaraguan [i.e. Soviet/Cuban]-backed FMLN. Spoon-fed by the 'guerrillas,' Reporter Raymond Bonner then uncritically presented N.Y. Times readers with the image of a villainous US-supported regime being opposed by 'heroic revolutionaries.'

N.Y. TIMES EDITOR ATTACKS AIM - May 1982
The N.Y. Times ran a story alleging that US military advisers were present while a torture-training session for Salvadoran soldiers was in progress. Accuracy In Media subsequently received a letter from Times Chairman Arthur Ochs Sulzberger conceding that the story lacked sufficient corroboration, as the single source was a 'young deserter.' When AIM then questioned The Times' credibility for giving such a poorly sourced story such prominence, executive editor Abe Rosenthal went on the offensive:

"Credibility is a word used by people who are partisans. AIM criticizes the press for political motivation [was there no 'political motivation' in printing such a story?]; it's pure agitprop, just as the communists use agitprop. They seize on a point and carry on a propaganda campaign against the paper or the individual."

- Truly an Orwellian twist. Asserting a moral equivalency between questioning the political motivation behind running an outrageously biased report and the propaganda of a one-party dictatorship is very revealing indeed.

MEDIA CHOKE ON NOT-GUILTY FINDING - Sept. 1987
Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North's congressional testimony began to sway American public opinion toward supporting the Contras, who were fighting against the Soviet/Cuban-backed Ortega dictatorship in Nicaragua. For its part, The N.Y. Times latched onto a $23.8 million lawsuit filed by the radical left Christic Institute, alleging that the Contras participated in campaign of assassinations, gun-running and drug-smuggling. When a House panel investigated these charges and found no substantiation, media organs such as The N.Y. Times were no longer interested in the story.

NETWORKS CENSOR REAGAN - Nov. 1987
The major TV networks took the unprecedented step of refusing to air a US President's speech. This was done three times with President Reagan who, on this particular occasion wished to explain to the American people why he stood behind Judge Robert Bork. This was during the now notorious Senate confirmation hearings that transformed an able and sincere jurist's surname into a verb in the American lexicon.

Disgraceful Treatment by The Times
For its part, The N.Y. Times buried the report of the President's speech in the next to the last page of the D-section. When contacted by Accuracy In Media, the story's author conceded that there was no attempt to provide readers with an analysis of Judge Bork's true record [in comparison to the political caricature then widely disseminated by the press as a factual representation].

MEDIA BITE ON HISS HOAX - Nov. 1992
Eager to exonerate convicted Soviet spy Alger Hiss, The N.Y. Times printed an article entitled, "After 40 Years, A Postscript On Hiss: Russian Official Calls Him Innocent." There was apparently no room in this lengthy piece to inform readers that the interviewer was a long-time Hiss advocate and lawyer. Neither was there any mention that the Russian general serving as the 'exonerating source' was actually a former Soviet propagandist of equally dubious credibility.

NEW YORK TIMES SDI HOAX - Sept. 1993
The N.Y. Times was antagonistic to the Strategic Defense Initiative ever since President Reagan first announced it in the early '80s. Typical were such characterizations as SDI being a "bizarre, costly concoction... science-fiction... lunacy... [and] sheer fantasy." The Times did not allow for the possibility that the Soviets could not economically cope with countering SDI thus:

...goading the Soviets into the most fruitful arms negotiations of the Cold War, and, perhaps most importantly, hastening the collapse of what Mr. Reagan correctly called 'The Evil Empire.'

PAYING TO REPORT THE NEWS - Apr. 1994
Frustrated at the lack of coverage, Accuracy In Media was forced to buy space in The N.Y. Times to report Paula Jones' infamous allegations against Clinton in 1994. Columnist Mickey Kaus explained, "Few journalists want to see the President crippled…"

N.Y. TIMES SHUNS "COMMUNISM" - Jan. 1996
In obituaries for anticommunist writers and activists such as Bernard Yoh, Daniel James, John Chamberlain and Irene Corbally Kuhn, their political views and activities were curiously omitted. Not so for a German playwright named Heimer Muller:

The Times gave [his obituary] more space, including a photo, than it devoted to the obituaries of John Chamberlain, Daniel James and Irene Kuhn combined. It described Muller as "an independent Marxist" who pursued "a powerful critique of both the failed socialist experiment in his native East Germany and the barbarity of capitalism." Since even Muller's admirers were said to describe his plays as "extremely idiosyncratic and frequently difficult for theatergoers to understand," we wonder what, if anything, except his aversion to capitalism, explained why The Times treated him so generously.

The Times' Dubious Sources - Aug. 2002
The N.Y. Times ran a story alleging that American bombs had killed 'hundreds, maybe thousands' of Afghan civilians. It turns out that the sole source for these allegations was the Leftist political advocacy group Global Exchange. No independent verification was cited [or, apparently, sought].


These are but a handful of examples demonstrating The N.Y. Times' bias that Accuracy In Media has revealed over the years. It is one of many media organs we monitor daily - and for good reason.

An informed citizenry is essential to the health and well being of a free society. American journalists are thus given considerable latitude and deference to enable the fulfillment of their responsibilities. When reporters arrogantly choose instead to 'manage' information provided to the general public - that is abuse of their trusted position that must be exposed. Recent history has shown that certain tyrants have been emboldened to perpetrate such atrocities as torture, ethnic cleansing and genocide because they had come to realize that it would not be exposed by a politically agendized Western free press.

With so much at stake, it is therefore essential that Accuracy In Media remains at the ready to hold the press accountable, and we appreciate your continued support.

William R Alford is a Government & International Politics/Electronic Journalism student at George Mason University in Fairfax VA. He can be contacted via email at william_r_alford@yahoo.com