Guest Writings
 02/11/03 AMNESIASOF BARON SULZBERGER by Francois Costes

I got an email the other day from a reader referring to the piece I wrote on conspiracies, who said,

    "It makes for interesting reading an[d] is all probably as true and shady as you say, but this sort of reporting no longer works The reporters who brought Watergate to light became famous and spawned a whole new generation of hotshot investigative journalists."

Then I got the following piece via Israel Shamir’s mailing list concerning the New York Times consistent under-reporting/distorting of news coverage of the anti-war movement in the US and around the world which gives the lie to the notion that effective campaigning on the way the corporate press covers important events can have an effect and points to the fact that the real issue is that we don't get our act together to effectively expose the way the corporate press manipulates events. The article shows that following blatant manipulation of numbers on an anti-war demonstration by the NYT, it received thousands of emails and letters protesting its coverage that it was forced, albeit in a mealy-mouthed manner, to retract. [WB]

Date Su, 2 Nov 2003 04:26:34 +0200

Subject: THE AMNESIAS OF BARON SULZBERGER by Francois Costes

Reply-To: shamireaders-owner@yahoogroups.com

English/French document

THE AMNESIAS OF BARON SULZBERGER B Fraçois Costes

    "We, Israelis, enjoy full immunity, and have no doubt, if and when our government decides  to turn the Palestinians into canned meat, the New York Times will celebrate its nutritional values." Israel Shamir
    Kid Sister
    Jaffa, February 17, 2001 

    "They've probably mentioned [the 1956 Kafr  Kassem] massacre before and may have reported it at the time. But at the time the [New York] Times was not a pro-Israel paper. It was kind of non-Zionist. So it's quite possible that they reported it accurately  at the time. In recent decades, the Times  has been a highly pro-Israel paper."
    Noam Chomsky interview with David Barsmian, Apil 10, 2000, Propagnda and the Public Mind (2001)

The editors and the publisher of The New York Times, Baron Arthur Sulzberger, seem to suffer from acute memory losses.

Here's how the newspaper has reported to the American public several major demonstrations that took place in France, in the United States, in the United Kingdom, and in Italy during the year 2002.

Paris,April 7, 2002

On Sunday, April 7, 2002, a demonstration in support of the State of Israel took place in the streets of Paris (France). A Reuters wire posted the same day on the site of the French daily Libération gives an idea of the magnitude of this event: 

Au ledemain d'une mobilisation en aveur des Palestiniens," pusieurs dizaines de milliers de personnes on manifesté" à Paris et en province pour dénoncer les violences antisémites" et soutenir Israël. (...) Dans la capitale française, 150.000" personnes selon les organisateurs, 53.000 selon la police," ont défilé de la place de la République jusqu'à la Bastille.

During this demostration, hundreds of extremists organized in commandos belonging to the Betar and the Jewish Defense League (JDL) attacked journalists, policemen, Arabs, Blacks, and pacifist Jews, as reported in the French daily Le Monde in its April 8 and 9 editions (Internet):

"Quand les manifestants arrivent place de la Bastille, vers 19 heures, quelques dizaines de jeunes excitésles ont précédés depuis longtemps. ertains portent des blouson du Betar, ce mouvement proche de la droit nationaliste israélienne (Le Monde daté 7-8 avril), d'autres des tee-shirts jaunes de la Ligue de défense juive, organisation radicale. Pendant près de deux heures, ils prennent pour cible des Maghrébins passant par hasard sur la place ou dans les rues adjacentes. Courant par bandes, armés de casques ou de bouts de bois – souvenirs depancartes - voire de petites battes de base-ball, les jeues du Betar n'ont eu cure desrappels à l'ordre et des cris des anifestants pacifiques. Ils ont même frappé ceux qui tonnaient contre eux, leurs autres cibles privilégiées étant les CRS et les journalistes. [...] Ces chasses à l'homme apparaissaient préméditées. Dpot taki-walkies pour éviter le réseau téléphonique saturé, ces jeunes extrémistes, dont beaucoup paraissaient mineurs, se fé des coups donnés en se tapnt dans les mains, aux cris de " lus d'Arabes, plus de problèmes ! ".

"Un noyau de 400 à 500 personnes appartenant à des mouvements extrémistes pro-israéliens, organisés en commandos très mobiles -...- n'ont cessé de provoquer pendant plusieurs heures", a dé, lundi 9 avril, le préfet de police de Paris, Jean-aul Proust, qui a affirmé que "toutserait mis en oeuvre" pour retrover les agresseurs d'un commissaire de police en uniforme, frappé d'un coup de couteau et dont les jours ne sont pas en danger.  Reporters sans frontières a demandé au procureur de la République de Paris l'ouverture d'une enquête, à la suite des violences dont plusieurs journalistes couvrant la manifestatio ont été victimes. Selon l'association, un cameraman de latélévision espagnole Antena 3 a &eaute;té passé à abac " par des membres du service d'ordre de la manifestation qui portaient des brassards. Par ailleurs, x uralistes et techniciens de la chaîne France 2 ont été pris à partie, dont un cameraman d'origine guadeloupéenne, qui a subi des injures racistes. Un photographe travaillant pour un site Interneta été frappé à coups de pied. Les mouvements extrémistes juifs du Betar et de la Ligue de défnse juive (LDJ) sont particuli&egrve;rement mis en cause. Le Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre es peuples (MRAP) a dmnd&ecute;, lundi 8 avril, la dissolution de la Ligue de défense juive, accusant cette organisation d'avoir mené une " véritable chasse au faciès " et des " ratonnades dans les rues de Pari ". Plusieurs témoignages rapportent, en effet, que des jeunes vêts du T-shirt jaune de la LDJ ont poursuivi et frapp&eacue; des personnes d'origine maghr´bine en marge de la manifestation, sur la place de la Bastille et dans le rus oisines. Les manifstnts d'n rassemblement organisé par le mouvement pacifiste Shalom Archav (" La Paix maintenant ") ont également été pris à partie.

How did The New York Times report this event? With utmost discretion: In its national edition of Monday, April 8, 2002, there is just one photo showing the Paris crowd (ection A, page 3). Curiously, this photo is inserted in an article by Marlise Simons entitled "The Mideast in Marseille: Violence Shakes a City". Its legend indicates only: 

About 50,000 people marched yesterday in Paris to protest anti-Jwish attacks and to support Israel. Clashes broke out between counterdemonstrators and marchers and a police officer was stabbed.

Sulzberger's newspaper does not state clearly that the violence was provoked by a large group of Zionist extremists linked to the organizers of the march and that the French police officer was stabbed by one of them.

In contrast, when, a few days later on Wednesday, April 10, 2002, some Jewish teenagers playing soccer in a Paris suburb were beaten by masked aggressors, The New York Times dedicated a whole article to the story under the catchy title "Gang Attacks Jews on Sport Field in France" (04/13/2002, Section A, page 3). The author, Suzanne Daley, made no reference whatsoever to the violence committed by the Betar and the JDL the previous Sunday, even if these actions may have explained a retaliatory attack on the soccer players.

Washington, April 15, 2002

A week later, on Mondy, April 15, 2002, another deonstration in support of the State of Israel took place, this time in the streets of Washington (DC).

How did The New York Times report this event? Sulzberger's newspaper did it the following day (04/16/2002) with an article and a large color photo entered on the upper part of the front page. Its legend says:

    More than 100,000 demonstrators rallied yeserday at the Capitol, urging the Bush administration to support Israel and refuse negotiations with Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader.

The article mentioned the participation of several American Zionist and Israeli public figures such as Paul Wolfowitz and Benjamin Netanyau with quotes of their declarations. The front-page photo was taken at an angle such that the crowd seems enormous. In fact, the 100,000 figure given by The New York Times was largely inflated due to... a "coordination" problem with one of its desks: The real number was in the low thousands (see below).

London, September 28, 2002

On Saturday, September 28, 2002, a demonstration took place in the streets of London against the war planned in Irak by the Washington administration with the full support of the Jewish-American-Zionist lobby (JA) and the Israeli governmet. An article published in CounterPunch (09/16-30/2002), one of the best American political gazettes, gives an idea of the magnitude of this event:

The London rally on September 28 against any attack on Iraq was huge. The police and the Murdoch-owned London Sunday Times put the crowd at 150,000. The Independent reported "between 150,000 and 350,000". The rally's organizers reckoned more than 250,000 and the Guardian said "up to 40,000".

How did The New York Times report this event? In its national editions of Sunday, September 29, and Monday, September 30, 2002 (section A), there is nothing about this demonstration.

A week earlier, on Sunday, September 22, 2002, another important demonstration has taken place in the British capital. A huge crowd had gathered in London to defend country lifestyle and.. fox hunting! Interestingly, The New York Times did report this event the following day (09/23/2002) under the title "400,000 Rural Protesters Take to London Streets" with a photo of the demonstrators and their signs.

Is Iraqi hunting a less important topic than fox hunting?

Rome, September 28, 2002

On Satuday, September 28, 2002, a demonstration against the war in Irak took place in the streets of Rome (Italy). A Reuters wire of the same day gives an idea of the magnitude of this event:

    "Des milliers de pacifistes italiens armîs de drapeaux et de sifflets ont manifesté samedi dans les rues de Rome pour exprimer leur hosilité à une nouvelle guerre contre l'Irak. Accusant le président américain George W. Buh de nourrir des desseins belliqueux, le cortège s'est frayé un chemin au coeur de la Ville éternelle, avant de s'immobiliser sur une grande place du centre-ville. Selon Refondation communiste, organisateur de la marche, cette dernière a rassemblé plus d 100.000 participants. La police n'a pas fourni d'estimations mais les journalistes présents ont, qunt à eux, avancé un chiffre plus proche des 50.000."

Another source (http://www.eurolegal.org) confirms the importance of this demonstration: 

    "But 70% of the Italian public are against military intervention in Iraq: On 28th September 2002 around 100,000 people demonstrated on the streets of Rome against Berlusconi's support for Bush and there was aso a big demonstration in Milan."

How did The New York Tmes report this event? In its national editions of Sunday, September 29, and Monday, September 30, 2002 (section A), there is nothing about this demonstration.

Washington, October 2, 2002

On Saturday, October 26, 2002, a demonstration against the war in Irak took place in the streets of Washington near the White House. A report posted on the Internet site of International Answer (ww.internationalanswer.org), the organizer of the march, gives an idea of the magnitude of this event:

    "In the largest anti-war demonstration since the Vietnam War era, more than a quarter of a million people took to the streets in Washington, DC and San Francisco. Other demonstrations took place in cities around the world. [...] The largest demonstration took place in Washington D.C., where tens of thousads of people participated in a raly that began adjacent to the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial. While the Washington Post and police put the figure at above 100,000, news anchors on Pacifica radio, which broadcast the event live, put the figure at over 200,000. [..] The march in Washington D.C. was so large that when marchers at the front of the procession returned to Constitution Avenue on their way back, they had to wait to allow demonstrators at the tail of the march to pass. Organizers say a demonstration of this magnitude had not happened since 1969, five years after Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin authorizing President Johnson to launch a war on Vietnam."

How did The New York imes report this event? In its national editions of Sunday, October 27, and Monday, October 28, 2002 (section A), there is nothing about this demostration.

Under the pressure of the public, Sulzbergers newspaper finally published something, but four days after the march (10/30/2002), and the article omits a lot of things. For instance, it does not mention the participation of famous activists and public figures like Ramsey Clark or Jesse Jackson and, consequently, does not quote any of them, in spite of the fact that the media had their own podium facing the stage with a battery of cameas and microphones.

I was in Washington on October 26, 202. Under blue skies, I spent half a day in a huge crowd that gave a great lesson of democracy to the country. A very mixed and joyful crowd of students, unionists, veterans, pro-Palestinian activists, socialist militants, Franciscan nuns, mothers and children, pacifist lawyers, sympathizers of all kinds and, probably, agents of the FBI and the Mossad. On the thousands of signs mixed with Palestinian flags, one could read devastating slogans against the planned attack and the warmongers of the Bush administraton: "Drop Bush, not bombs", "We're in deep shit when our bombs are smarter than our President", "Draft Richard Perle" or "Axis of evil = Rumsfeld, Bush, Powell". In the morning, many speakers took the stage near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and I had the great privilege of hearing two extraordinary activists, the actress Susan Sarandon and the former Assistant Attorney and then Attorney General of the Kennedy and Johnson adminitrations.

Florence, November 9, 2002

On Saturday, November 9, 2002, a demonstration against the war in Irak took place in the streets of Florence (Italy). Wires posted the same day on the Internet sites of the French daily Le Monde (via AFP) and Reuters give an idea of the magnitude of this event

"Entre 400.000 et un million de personnes, selon la police o les organisateurs, ont paticipé samedi à Florence à une marche contre la guerre, point culminant du premier Forum social européen. More than half a million anti-war protsters from across Europe marched through this Italian Renaissance city on Saturday in a loud and colorful demonstration denouncing any possible U.S. attack on Iraq. Brimmingwith anti-American feelings and riled by a tough new U.N. resolution to disarm Iraq, young and old activists from as far afield as Russia andPortugal joined forces fo the carnival-like rally, singing Communist anthems and 1970s peace songs. [...] Authorities estimated that some 450,000 protesters flooded Florence's streets for the marh on a chilly autumn afternoon. But by dusk, the crowd had swelled to over half a million, many of them arriving on specially chartered trains and buses. Organizers estimatedthe gathering at around one million, making it one of Italy's biggest ertiarralies."

How did TheNew York Times report this event? This time, Sulzberger's newspaper quickly informed the American public with a front-page color photo i its Sunday edition (11/10/2002). But its legend minimizes the success of the march:

"More than 100,000 said "No tothe War in Iraq" as they marched yesterday in Florence."

Why did The New York Times finally decide to cover promptly a massive anti-war rally? Two reasons could explain this flip-flop. After the October march in Washington, the newspaper received more than a thousand e-mails from outraged readers protesting its coverage (source: www.fair.org). Its publisher was certainly concerned about a tarnished reputation and inclined to some damage control. Moreover, at the time of the Florence march, the mid-term elections were over (11/05/2002) and had been won by the Bush camp, the one who pushes the most or a war against Irak and the one that the bellicose JAZ lobby favors above all. Therefore, there was no immediate need for The New York Times to control further the minds and the hearts of the American public. During the election campaign, no dissident piccolo was supposed to disturb the concert for trumpets and bass drums orchestrated for or by the White House. 

In a recent article published on www.conterpunch.org ("How the Press Downplayed the Protests: Deceptions and Illusions", Jnuary 18-19, 2003,), Wayne Madsen rightly writes:

The New York Times has become the chief perpetrator of low balling anti-Bush protestor numbers. A photo caption on its web site stated, "thousands of protestors" took part in the January 18 protest. A similar anti-war protest held in Washington last October 26 was estimated at between 100,00 and 200,000. It was the largest anti-war protest since the Vietnam War, but the Times reported the number of protestors as being in the "thousands." However, an April 15, 2002 pro-Israel rally at the US Capitol, was reported by the Times to be 100,000. In reality, the numbers were merely in the low thousands. The "Old Grey Lady" later admitted it had erroneously reported the inflated number due to a "coordination" problem with one of its desks. Five days later, a pro-Palestinian rally was held on the White House Ellipse. Organizers claim the crowd was 100,000 but Washington police chief Charles Ramsey put the numbers at between 35,000 and 50,000. Once again, the Times reported the nmber to be in the "tens of thousands." This is not just shoddy journalism but willful disinformation being perpetrated by corporate newspapers that want to curry favor with the White House, Congress, and the Pentagon.

"Expect the World" promise day after day advertisements for The New York Times. But what world are you talking about, Baron Sulzberger? Do you really live on the same planet as ours? 

Perhaps the time has come to rename your rag The Zionist Times of New York.

François Costes
October 31, 2002
Revised January 23, 2003
English version 1.3

See also:

When "Doves" Lie
The New York Times plays down anti-war opinion
Jim Naureckas

FAIR
April 2003

http://www.fair.org/extra/0304/nyt-doves.html

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