a totally preposterous, extreme example of nyt double standards

The NYT runs propaganda about how moral Pindostan was till Trump got in charge
Donald Johnson, Mondoweiss, Mar 13 2017

Trump with NYT publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr at NYT after his victory last November

How can the NYT print a piece about Russia Today as propaganda on Mar 9, saying “RT is unquestionably a case study in the complexity of modern propaganda,” and two days later publish a piece like this and keep a straight face? It’s headlined “Allies Fear Trump Is Eroding Pindostan’s Moral Authority.” The only foreigners actually cited re Pindostan’s “moral authority” say things which are all very disputable, to say the least, like how good Bush 43 was for Muslims:

Even in the days of Bush 43, there was no feeling that Bush 43 was against Muslims, said Marwan Muasher, a former foreign minister of Jordan now at the Carnegie Endowment.

Or there are the German leaders who are dismayed by Trump’s blunt defense of Vladimir Putin to Bill O’Reilly:

There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country’s so innocent?

Apparently, their feelings are as follows:

The comment alarmed many because it underscored an approach by Mr Trump, like the rejection of migrants from certain predominantly Muslim countries, that has stripped much of the moral component from Pindosi foreign relations and left him being lectured by Chancellor Angela Merkel and others about his duties under international law. Her foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, has gone one step further, reminding Pindostan of its moral duty as the most powerful Western country and one founded by Christian refugees.

Other voices pushing this “moral authority” claim in the article are not allies but Pindosi establishment figures, like Joseph Nye, a former senior State Dept official now at Harvard, who said:

The Berlin Wall didn’t come down because people were responding to Pindosi howitzers!

Michèle Flournoy, the liberal interventionist who was seen as Hillary Clinton’s choice to be sec def, contributed:

The most burning question overseas is, ‘Can we rely upon Pindostan to keep its commitments? Can we rely upon you to lead in the way we expect?

Reporter Alissa Rubin asserts that the idea of “a moral component in Pindosi identity dates back to the pilgrims,” and barely even begins to touch on the sorts of things a critic of Pindosi policy would say. There is a token vague mention of “Guantánamo Bay, the use of torture on suspected terrorists and the civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, to name a few,” but the reader is meant to assume that overall, Pindostan had some sort of moral authority before Trump. This is propaganda, as sure as anything you might criticize in Russia Today, and it is exactly the sort of thing one expects from the NYT. The interesting thing is, who do they think their audience are? There seem to be a depressingly large number of liberal NYT readers who swallow this nonsense. It’s the same at MSNBC, which has become an upscale Fox News for liberals. A similar criticism can be made of this piece by Max Fisher that the NYT published today: “What Happens When You Fight a ‘Deep State’ That Doesn’t Exist.” What makes this propaganda is that it is couched in simple good vs evil terms:

Mr Trump has put institutions under enormous stress. He has attacked them publicly, implied he would reject intelligence findings that cast his election in a poor light, hobbled agencies by failing to fill critical positions and cut off bodies like the NSC from shaping policy. That has forced civil servants into an impossible dilemma: acquiesce, allowing their institution to be sidelined, or mount a defense, for example through leaks that counter Mr Trump’s accusations or pressure him into restoring normal policy-maker practices.

So if you oppose Trump you are automatically a noble public servant just trying to do your job. In many areas this is surely true, such as environmental protection, where Trump will be a complete disaster, but notice how Fisher lumps judges and people working at the EPA in with the “intelligence community”:

Polarizing supporters against intelligence agencies which, in response to leaks, he has called “un-Pindosi” and has said echo “Nazi Germany,” makes it easier to reject their policy recommendations, freeing up Mr Trump to pursue policies at home or abroad that those agencies might oppose.

One of these things is not like the other. I could well believe that people who favor a harsher, more confrontational approach to Russia would try to undermine Trump there. I would expect people in DC would be motivated by all the usual mixture of good and bad reasons, and some would see opposition to Trump as a way to make it seem like support for the CIA or their favorite policies is part of the struggle against incipient fascism. But just a few years ago, the CIA was fighting tooth and nail to suppress investigation into their record on torture. That’s all gone down the memory hole. This is not a newspaper trying to present what’s going on in all its complexity. This is a newspaper writing to a script of good vs evil. It is possible to distrust both Trump and some of his opponents within the bureaucracy, but the way people write in the NYT, it is all so simple. Trump deserves to be criticized almost non-stop on almost everything, but you could criticize Trump without this oversimplification. The oversimplification is actually part of what the NYT wants to convey. They don’t want to admit that the system was rotten in many respects, and this opened the way for a demagogue like Trump. No, everything was fine.

One Comment

  1. FE-N
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Thanks much for the mondoweiss. The real gem in it was Fisher’s Wurlitzer arpeggio. First Remnick in the New Yorker denying there’s a deep state. Then Fischer in the Times denying there’s a deep state (not even paywalled!) That’s some delectable sweaty panic.

    In Remnick, two muttered mentions of the C-word CIA, in the predicate of unsupported assertions. In Fischer, zero mentions of the C-word. One entity in the US government has impunity in municipal law for universal-jurisdiction crimes. One entity can kill you or torture you and get away with it. CIA. Ignoring CIA impunity is the Big Lie.

    The little lies include omission of CIA focal points, documented first by Fletcher Prouty and administratively expanded in the 1970s with the express purpose of diffusing the observable effect of the agency’s actions. Results include proliferating ‘proprietaries’ and structures on the Safari Club model in which colluding foreign intelligence agencies use each other’s agents as cutouts and shield them from legal scrutiny as intelligence sources and methods. By this means CIA effected armed attacks on the civilian population, infiltrating and protecting terrorists including Andreas Strassmeir, Ali Mohamed, Khalid al-Mihdhar, and Ramzi Yousef.

    ‘CIA takes orders from the president’ has been US Juche since the Pike Commission. Bullshit. Since CIA got impunity in 1949 they pushed aside your first choice, Taft, for Ike, killed your second president and two disfavored aspirants, RFK and King, purged your fourth president and replaced him with a guy who covered up the murder of your second president, plotted with foreign enemies to humiliate and defeat your sixth president, and shot the seventh. Then they dropped the pretense and put their own nomenklatura in there to run the country: GHW Bush; Clinton, recruited at Oxford by Cord Meyer; spy brats GW Bush and BIC intern Obama, son of spooks, grandson of spooks, greased into Harvard by Khalid al-Mansour.

    Want to prove there’s no deep state? Extradite CIA suspects under the universal-jurisdiction law of command responsibility for torture.

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