Monday, May 5, 2008

Who needs Dana Perino when you have the NYT's Michael Gordon?

By Glenn Greenwald

"......Like clockwork, the administration's most stalwart surge supporter/journalist -- the New York Times' Michael Gordon -- has a lengthy article today bolstering the administration's war-justifying accusations against Iran. It claims in the lead sentence that "militants from the Lebanese group Hezbollah have been training Iraqi militia fighters at a camp near Tehran," and that "the training, the Americans say, is carried out at several camps near Tehran that are overseen by the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Command, and the instruction is carried out by militants from Hezbollah, which has long been supported by the Quds Force."

As usual with Gordon's articles, nothing is done here other than uncritically repeating Bush administration claims under the cover of anonymity. Virtually every paragraph in this article is nothing more a mindless recitation of uncorroborated assertions which he copies from Bush officials and then weaves into a news narrative, with the phrase "American officials say" tacked on at the end or the phrase "according to officials" unobtrusively interspersed in the middle......

Gordon's reporting is as predictable as it is uncritical and unreliable. Any time the administration ratchets up its war-threatening rhetoric with Iran, Gordon -- who was almost as responsible as Judy Miller for some of the NYT's most dubious pre-war articles uncritically mouthing administration claims -- pops up with a prominent article that does nothing other than repeat Government claims as fact. In fact, the claims he breathlessly passes along today -- that Iran is using Hezbollah to train Iraqi militants to kill American troops inside Iraq -- are the exact same claims he uncritically "reported" in July of last year, also based exclusively on the claims of Bush officials.......

The administration's war-threatening rhetoric against Iran has plainly reached new heights in the last several weeks. Whether they really intend to follow through on those threats before Bush leaves office is unclear, though some commentators with a history of insight and prescience -- such as Scott Ritter -- are convinced they will. But what is clear is that the administration has no better ally in disseminating its war-provoking accusations than Michael Gordon and his NYT Editors, for whom "reporting" consists of repeating whatever Bush officials say -- no matter how significant or dubious -- and to do so without challenge and while baselessly granting them anonymity to make their provocative accusations without accountability.........

It was this "echo chamber" behavior by Gordon that allowed Dick Cheney to go on Meet the Press prior to the invasion and claim that even the NYT reported that Saddam had sought to obtain aluminum tubes of the type necessary to build a centrifuge. The Government had fed Miller and Gordon that claim; they mindlessly re-printed it; and then the Government cited their "reporting" as proof that it was true. How can someone who did that -- and continues repeatedly to do it -- be anything close to a "good reporter"? .........

For a superb analysis of the current situation in Iraq, including the role of Iran, see this detailed piece by the always-excellent journalist Nir Rosen, who spent several years in Iraq after our invasion.

For real journalism on Iraq, watch this interview (in two 10-minute clips) of Rosen by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now from last month, after Rosen returned from his latest trip to Iraq (where he does not rely on the U.S. military to select his itinerary and herd him around)........."

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