New York Times Reprints Irresponsible Gossip, Endangers Lives, Leaves Out the Other Side, and Calls It a Day
The New York Times today runs an article titled Pro-American Iraqi Blog Provokes Intrigue and Vitriol. It is about Iraq the Model, and the tinfoil-hat accusations that they are connected with the CIA.
The piece is stunningly incompetent. It doesn’t even merit the term “journalism.”
Here’s how it starts:
When I telephoned a man named Ali Fadhil in Baghdad last week, I wondered who might answer. A C.I.A. operative? An American posing as an Iraqi? Someone paid by the Defense Department to support the war? Or simply an Iraqi with some mixed feelings about the American presence in Iraq? Until he picked up the phone, he was just a ghost on the Internet.
And it goes on like that.
In essence, the reporter took most of her article from a post and comments on a disreputable leftist site, which I will not dignify with a link. (There is a link to it in the article.) The post on the leftist site was filled with silly, conspiratorial speculation. Even Oliver Stone would dismiss it as paranoid nonsense.
The reporter, Sarah Boxer, failed to talk to a single person who might have offered perspective on the other side.
Ali’s brothers would have been a logical place for Boxer to start. Boxer could have talked to any number of people who met the brothers in the States. Specifically, she could have talked to Jeff Jarvis, who helped the brothers start blogging. Or she could have talked to Marc Danziger, who connected Spirit of America to the brothers.
She even could have talked to me. (She could have found me through Cathy Seipp’s National Review article or through any number of comment threads on the topic.) Not only have I met Omar and Mohammed, I also could have told her how the unbalanced leftist who wrote the silly post that started all this has both:
- made the embarrassing and since-disproved claim that Iraq the Model was simply an “obvious Langley-intern project”; and
- told a bald-faced lie about me in a comment on my own blog.
Interviews with any or all of the above people could have provided some much-needed perspective and balance. But none of this would have fit the storyline, so the New York Times reporter skipped it all, choosing instead to publish an article filled with baseless insinuation that could endanger the lives of three Iraqi patriots.
This is how Big Media plays with people’s lives. It isn’t pretty, and it isn’t journalism. In fact, it isn’t really much of anything, besides irresponsible.