The Stunning Illogic of the New York Times

by DAVE LINDORFF

So New York Times columnist Tom Friedman and former Times executive editor Bill Keller are both saying that the massive NSA spying program on all Americans’ communications is a needed thing because if they don’t do it, then maybe there could be another major terrorist strike on the US, and democracy would be erased in the US.

What’s wrong with this argument?

Precisely that it is news organizations like the New York Times that make that kind of twisted calculus work.

When 9-11 happened, the New York Times was an enthusiastic cheerleader for the ensuing undermining of civil liberties, was an integral part of the conspiracy to convince Americans that there was a grave threat to the US posed by Al Qaeda, that Saddam Hussein was linked to Al Qaeda and that he was developing nuclear, chemical and germ weapons that could be targeted against the US, and that we needed the Constitution-gutting PATRIOT Act, as well as invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq, to protect us from this supposedly existential threat.

It could well be correct that if there were another major mass-casualty terrorist attack, even a fraction of the size of the one on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, on some iconic target in the US, democracy would go down the tubes here, but the reason that could happen is because news organizations like the Times, judging by past history, would be braying for it to happen.

If the corporate news media would do their assigned “Fourth Estate” Constitutional job of questioning authority — for example demanding to know why the FBI lied brazenly to the 9-11 commission about (for instance, the fact that it actually had found and has in its possession the four black boxes from the two planes that hit the World Trade Center towers), if the news media asked questions about why the Tsarnaev brothers are being tagged as the lone-wolf bombers of the Boston Marathon, when the two backpacks they were wearing look nothing like the exploded backpack in the FBI’s evidentiary photos, and also do not look in the surveillance photos like they have any significant weight in them — certainly not the weight of a fully-loaded 6-liter steel pressure cooker, if the media demanded answers now about the administration’s alleged evidence claiming to prove that the Syrian government is using Sarin gas, and about a report in the British Daily Mail that a British military contracting firm’s email appears to show it was asked to provide poison gas to the Syrian rebels to stage a “Washington-approved” false flag poison gas attack to justify US military intervention in Syria — if the US media were to do these things instead of just parrot the fear-mongering garbage spread by the Obama administration and by the war-mongers of both parties in Congress, we wouldn’t have the problem of our democracy being on the chopping block.

If the media, the next time there is an apparent terrorist attack, instead of shifting instantly into fear-mongering mode as they did following the Boston bombing, took a cool, calm view of things, asking probing questions and writing calming editorials assuring the public that our democratic society is strong enough, and our police investigators smart and well equipped enough to go after the perpetrators, without assaulting our rights, we wouldn’t have to fear losing our freedom.

Mainstream journalists need to start asking that age-old question when there is a terrorist incident: Who wins from this? That’s where good reporting has to start.

Certainly terrorists don’t really win from an attack unless the country goes into a frenzied tail-spin, shutting down transportation, closing businesses, adding new and costly burdens to travel and communications, etc. The people don’t win, since instead of being made safer, they become more fearful. Who wins? The politicians and the ruling elite, who get to clamp down on public protest, on public information, and on the media itself. So too, of course, do the businesses that supply the tools of the national security state and the military.

Friedman and Keller give journalism a bad name. They are part of the problem. Their words should be dismissed as part of the self-serving propaganda of the national security state, of which the New York Times has long been a crucial and integral part.

 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 03, 2015
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
stclair
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Greg Fulton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
A Day of Tears: Report from the “sHell No!” Action in Portland
Tom Clifford
Guns of August: the Gulf War Revisited
Renee Lovelace
I Dream of Ghana