In an earlier post called The Most Dangerous Nation I had criticized The New York Times for its reliance of ‘official’ sources to report complex stories in a exasperatingly one-sided way. The Times reporter David Sanger had penned a rather shoddy piece of reporting, titled Obama’s Worst Pakistan Nightmare, on Pakistan that made it to the front pages of the magazine section. My specific complaints centered on ….

The American journalist’s love of rubbing up to power, to be known as someone with access to the ‘inner’ corridors of power, is perhaps its greatest failing at the moment.  Mr. Sanger is spending all his time in the offices of ‘officials’ and eating too much of the fine cuisine available at fine restaurants that I am sure he is dined at.  In Pakistan he is traveling through the living and dining rooms of the small elite – unable to speak the country’s language, ignorant of her history and her cultural diversity, uninterested in confronting it as a complex entity, Mr. Sanger has produced the classical American piece on Pakistan; sensationalist, fear mongering, officially sanctioned, and fed.

This propensity to rely, lazily, on ‘official’ sources continues, despite the scandals (remember Judith Miller on Iraq anyone?) as we proceed to build a decade long case for war against Iran. The old troupes are being trotted out and of course, New York Times journalists, complete with their fine degrees and corporate-sponsored Pulitzer prizes are there to provide the dynamite.

Michael Massing analyzed a recent piece written by Helene Cooper and Mark Mazzetti called Cryptic Note Ignited An Iran Nuclear Strategy Debate where he points out the following sources used to complete the piece:

  1. a senior administration official
  2. a second senior administration official
  3. administration officials
  4. senior intelligence officials
  5. the officials
  6. the official
  7. White House officials
  8. American officials
  9. a senior administration official
  10. the officials
  11. a senior official
  12. American officials
  13. the officials
  14. a senior administration official
  15. the administration official
  16. a senior administration official
  17. administration officials
  18. one administration official
  19. senior administration official

You can see his piece here, called Eyes Wide Shut On Iran

We are back in time, back to the routine, back to same mindless, and frankly irresponsible ‘professional’ journalism that seems to be carried out by trained technocrats as desperate to climb their journalism career ladders as they are to rub shoulders with ‘power’. The fiasco of American journalism that was the build up and execution of the illegal, immoral, unnecessary and frankly hideous war against Iraq seems to have faded into distant memory, and the newspapers back at their old games. Yesterday it was Judith Miller,  clawing her way to fame and celebrity, today it could be Helene Cooper or any number of dozens of New York Times, The Washington Post and other ‘career professionals’ unable to see past their own skull sized kingdoms (to borrow a phrase) and letting all integrity, rigor, ethics and even journalist practice go to hell!

Arundhati Roy has penned perhaps one of the harshest and most vivid autopsies about pathologies of modern democracy that I have ever read. Titled Democray’s Failing Light it exposes the underlying dysfunctions, deceptions and deceits that mark the theater of ‘modern democracies’. In America, newspapers and journalists at the New York Times are clowns in the show that is America’s version of the game called ‘democracy’.