Patterico's Pontifications

7/16/2006

New York Times Editors Tell Us Whose Side They’re On

Filed under: General,Media Bias,War — Patterico @ 9:06 am



The caption to a photo in the New York Times of an enemy sniper:

A sniper loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr fires towards U.S. positions in the cemetery in Najaf, Iraq.

[Times assistant managing editor for photography] Michele McNally: “Right there with the Mahdi army. Incredible courage.”

(h/t Goldstein.)

I am reminded of what Bill Keller said:

I guess I would say if you’re under the impression that the press is neutral in this war on terror, or that we’re agnostic — and you could get that impression from some of the criticism — that couldn’t be more wrong.

As I said to the guys on Pundit Review Radio: you notice he didn’t say which side he’s on.

By the way, this attitude — that it’s perfectly fine for a journalist to sit by and watch the enemy fire on our troops — is nothing new. Armed Liberal has written many times about the panel with Mike Wallace and Peter Jennings, in which Wallace (and later Jennings) agreed with the sick proposition that journalists should “roll tape” when the enemy is ambushing American troops:

Then Ogletree turned to the two most famous members of the evening’s panel, better known than William Westmoreland himself. These were two star TV journalists: Peter Jennings of World News Tonight and ABC, and Mike Wallace of 6o Minutes and CBS. Ogletree brought them into the same hypothetical war. He asked Jennings to imagine that he worked for a network that had been in contact with the enemy North Kosanese government. After much pleading, the North Kosanese had agreed to let Jennings and his news crew into their country, to film behind the lines and even travel with military units. Would Jennings be willing to go? Of course, Jennings replied. Any reporter would-and in real wars reporters from his network often had. But while Jennings and his crew are traveling with a North Kosanese unit, to visit the site of an alleged atrocity by American and South Kosanese troops, they unexpectedly cross the trail of a small group of American and South Kosanese soldiers. With Jennings in their midst, the northern soldiers set up a perfect ambush, which will let them gun down the Americans and Southerners, every one. What does Jennings do? Ogletree asks. Would he tell his cameramen to “Roll tape!” as the North Kosanese opened fire? What would go through his mind as he watched the North Kosanese prepare to ambush the Americans? Jennings sat silent for about fifteen seconds after Ogletree asked this question. “Well, I guess I wouldn’t,” he finally said. “I am going to tell you now what I am feeling, rather than the hypothesis I drew for myself. If I were with a North Kosanese unit that came upon Americans, I think that I personally would do what I could to warn the Americans.” Even if it means losing the story? Ogletree asked.

Even though it would almost certainly mean losing my life, Jennings replied. “But I do not think that I could bring myself to participate in that act. That’s purely personal, and other reporters might have a different reaction.” Immediately Mike Wallace spoke up. “I think some other reporters would have a different reaction,” he said, obviously referring to himself. “They would regard it simply as a story they were there to cover.” “I am astonished, really,” at Jennings’s answer, Wallace said a moment later. He turned toward Jennings and began to lecture him: “You’re a reporter. Granted you’re an American”-at least for purposes of the fictional example; Jennings has actually retained Canadian citizenship. “I’m a little bit at a loss to understand why, because you’re an American, you would not have covered that story.” Ogletree pushed Wallace. Didn’t Jennings have some higher duty, either patriotic or human, to do something other than just roll film as soldiers from his own country were being shot? “No,” Wallace said flatly and immediately. “You don’t have a higher duty. No. No. You’re a reporter!” Jennings backtracked fast. Wallace was right, he said. “I chickened out.”

I would have liked to think that this disgusting attitude would be rare in journalism. Perhaps it is. But apparently the New York Times agrees with the Wallace/Jennings position.

P.S. If NYT editors had learned of the 9/11 plot beforehand, would they have warned the government? Or would they have set up videocameras to get the best possible shot of the first plane hitting the tower?

An outrageous question? I think not. In light of this photograph, it seems like a perfectly sensible question.

UPDATE: Guess who would do the same thing?

111 Responses to “New York Times Editors Tell Us Whose Side They’re On”

  1. Would the fact that the picture is available for the world to see give you a clue whose side the
    cameraman was on. Michelle McNally -Incredible
    treason.

    pagar (ba389e)

  2. [Times assistant managing editor for photography] Michele McNally: “Right there with the Mahdi army. Incredible courage.”

    Right. Because its total cowardice to hang around next to a target for HE rounds.

    actus (ebc508)

  3. Be of good faith. Times circulation has steadily plummeted over the past years, and its stock is worth about half of what it once was.

    This most recent stunt of theirs will help our cause — to de-legitimize the Times’ “journalism” and by default the rest of the MSM — not hinder it.

    Sure, the past few weeks have been infuriating, but it actually helps people see the truth. Not their “truth,” but ours — that every “news” story in an MSM publication must be taken with a large grain of salt.

    Because of these Times stunts, more and more people drop their subscriptions. And those who keep their subscriptions know to assume that every story is slanted and every unnamed source was fabricated by the writer or the editor until proven otherwise.

    And the left helps us, too. They aren’t rallying to help their beloved MSM, but are threatening boycotts and keeping the heat on because the MSM isn’t liberal enough for them.

    So why should we be angry that the Times is going to these great lengths, national security issues aside? They’re helping us.

    If you’re mad enough, take time today to drop your MSM subscription — even your local paper, no matter how small, is influenced by the Times. Take time to walk into a local shop and tell the owner that you won’t shop there because he/she advertises in the MSM. Give a good tongue-lashing to the person at the supermarket offering you an MSM subscription. Upset them enough and maybe they’ll find other work, thus disrupting the MSM chain of supply.

    And if you run into any reporter on any business at all, take the time to say, “I don’t believe you. At all.” Trust me, reporters tend to be very thin-skinned people and it will ruin their day.

    If the Times makes you mad, quit griping and do something about it. Quit bellyaching about how un-American the MSM is and cancel your subscription. Change the channel.

    The Hound (0c2f10)

  4. Remember the LAT romanticized photo essay of the Palestinian “activists” occupation of the church of the Nativity?

    These people are sickening.

    Patricia (2cc180)

  5. Right. Because its total cowardice to hang around next to a target for HE rounds.

    I agree with you, actus. I wish more reporters would hang around next to HE round targets.

    The Hound (0c2f10)

  6. Right. Because its total cowardice to hang around next to a target for HE rounds.

    “Flying planes into buildings. Incredible courage.”

    Depending on how you define courage, that could be true. But it’s not the point I’d choose to emphasize.

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  7. Depending on how you define courage, that could be true. But it’s not the point I’d choose to emphasize.

    Right. Because flying planes into buildings kills lots of innocent people. Taking pictures? not so much.

    actus (ebc508)

  8. Right. Because flying planes into buildings kills lots of innocent people. Taking pictures? not so much.

    It’s a sin of omission — taking pictures instead of warning our troops — versus a sin of commission. It’s a less serious sin, but then I would have expected more from the photographer than I would from a terrorist.

    See my P.S. above. If NYT editors had learned of the 9/11 plot beforehand, would they have warned the government? Or would they have set up videocameras to get the best possible shot of the first plane hitting the tower? What if they had only time or resources to do one or the other? I wonder.

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  9. It’s a sin of omission — taking pictures instead of warning our troops — versus a sin of commission.

    So its like being a passenger on the plane being flown into the building.

    actus (ebc508)

  10. As much as I despise what passes for “journalism” these days, I need to modify my last comment (no. 5).

    I know a lot of Iraq war veterans, and to a man, they said journalists are anything but heroic and never leave the Green Zone unless it’s to villainize the military. More need to get off their butts and report.

    But my last post read as if I was wishing harm on reporters. Not the case at all. I love reading daily about MSM cutbacks and layoffs, but I’d never wish harm upon anyone.

    I apoliogize if that’s how anyone read my poorly-worded post. But “heroic” journalists? With a few exceptions, puh-leeze.

    Your beloved MSM’s credibility is fizzling out like a bad fart, actus, and no amount of trolling on conservative sites will ever, ever, change that.

    The Hound (0c2f10)

  11. A theme of C.S. Lewis’s was the sin of elevating one particular principle above all others. The principle of journalistic neutrality and “get the story” is admirable *to a point*. That point is far short of the point where you stand by and refuse to warn or otherwise aid soldiers of your own nation when they are about to be set upon by enemy units you are “covering.”

    Anwyn (c259db)

  12. I should have said, “…elevating one particular principle above all others of intrinsically greater value.”

    Anwyn (c259db)

  13. Your beloved MSM’s credibility is fizzling out like a bad fart, actus, and no amount of trolling on conservative sites will ever, ever, change that.

    I think that standing next to terrorists is dangerous, given that our troops are effective. Call this a lack of credibility or whatever. The guy puts himself next to an unfriendly target to get us a shot of a rather untrained looking sniper.

    And then everyone tells me that he should have shared his info with the troops — maybe with publication — Because they know he didn’t.

    actus (ebc508)

  14. So its like being a passenger on the plane being flown into the building.

    It’s exactly like that. Except that the passenger can’t warn the government and the photographer can — if he or she leaves and misses the chance to take the shot. Oh, and the passenger dies, whereas the photographer might not.

    Other than those points, which make the examples absolutely nothing like each other, they are exactly alike.

    What it’s *actually* like is what I said: it’s like the NYT failing to warn the government about 9/11. Just on a much smaller scale — but the principle is the same.

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  15. There’s a guy with a rifle–in a room with a broken window; he’s supposedly in Iraq and supposedly shooting at US troops–based on the bogus stuff that Keller is feeding us these days, am I the only one in the world to suspect that this picture may have been posed for the Times on the equivalent of some Middle Eastern movie studio backlot?

    But let’s go the other way and assume it’s real–Little Miss Muffet McNally doesn’t understand that this guy is doing what snipers–on both sides of any war–do. Not to put too fine a point on it, they shoot people in the head, chest or back whenever the intended target makes a mistake.

    I don’t think that Ms. McNally, who comes from a world where the most agonizing choice is whether you have strawberry or peach jam on your morning toast, is qualified to comment on what constitutes courage.

    Mike Myers (290636)

  16. Because its total cowardice to hang around next to a target for HE rounds.

    Excellent point. If that sniper position had been blown up, would Silva get 72 virgins? Or would he have to split them with the sniper?

    Jim Treacher (c3be1b)

  17. Except that the passenger can’t warn the government and the photographer can — if he or she leaves and misses the chance to take the shot.

    Like the Flight 93 folks didn’t warn anyone. But photogs can safely cross the lines between the two warring parties. Specially when right after he leaves the guy he was sitting next to blows up.

    But the way I look at is if he’s in the business of being an informant he won’t be getting much information, which makes it not much of a choice.

    But if you want to provide a duty to warn, a sort of duty to act to rescue, that could be done. And then everyone will know that when they talk to reporters, they are talking to agents of the state. Which is the same principle, but on a different scale.

    actus (ebc508)

  18. “I would have liked to think that this disgusting attitude would be rare in journalism.”

    Yes, it would be nice to think it was rare, but, given their reluctance to show an American flag lapel pin after 9/11, it’s probably wise to surmise that it is rampant.

    sharon (fecb65)

  19. Like the Flight 93 folks didn’t warn anyone.

    What exactly should they have done that they didn’t do?

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  20. […] The Times has a vivid account of the scene in Haifa after a Hezbollah rocket hit the train station, killing eight people. Nasrallah tells Israelis to consider themselves lucky that the city’s chemical plants haven’t been targeted — yet. According to JPost, the IAF is dropping Bunker busters to try to kill him. JPost also says Syria has mobilized some of its reserves, perhaps in anticipation of an Israeli invasion of south Lebanon. Chief of Staff Dan Halutz says there are no plans right now … but there is a report of IDF reserves being called up and heading north. Nasrallah says he can’t wait. No doubt the Times already has its people in place. […]

    Hot Air » Blog Archive » Hezbollah rockets kill eight in Haifa; Tel Aviv next? (d4224a)

  21. What exactly should they have done that they didn’t do?

    Should? I don’t think we should impose legal duties like that. Not on south africans in Iraq, Not on people on flight 93. But they did warn. Which you said htey can’t.

    actus (ebc508)

  22. I think the most telling thing regarding the NYT and their loyalties in this current war is the fact that they are a repeat offenders. Does anyone rememeber the letter from the dead solider that they edited? Does anyone rememeber the tenor of the Abu Grahib coverage, not to mention the SWIFT stuff. It’s just one thing after another. But then one can’t really argue that Newsweek or Time have exactly been helpful to American soldiers, either.

    corvan (d19e5c)

  23. I don’t understand why some of you good folks continue to indulge “actus” in his sophomoric sophistry, and his thirst for attention.

    You all have long known that he’s rooting against USA & Israel in this war, so why do you expect that unleashing facts & logic upon him is going to elicit him to experience an eye-opening epiphany ?

    He’s not here to engage in a mature exchange about the issues—he’s behaving like an insecure adolescent who just wants to shock you with his punk-rock haircut.

    Once you stop feeding bread crumbs to the pigeons, they usually will fly elsewhere in search of food.

    Desert Rat (d8da01)

  24. So none of you considered the much more logical idea (no really) that the photography editor was talking about the photographer’s courage, not the enemy’s?

    >>By the way, this attitude — that it’s perfectly fine for a journalist to sit by and watch the enemy fire on our troops — is nothing new

    It’s also nothing you have proof for. In this case, especially.

    Justene at CalBlog pointed me your way a while ago and I’ve had you blogrolled for months. Don’t go off the deep end; hatred, blind or otherwise, is an ugly thing.

    Temple Stark (1807f9)

  25. So none of you considered the much more logical idea (no really) that the photography editor was talking about the photographer’s courage, not the enemy’s?

    Of course that’s what the editor was talking about.

    But why is she praising a photographer who watched the sniping happen, rather than contacting our troops with the location of the sniper?

    That’s the point.

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  26. But why is she praising a photographer who watched the sniping happen, rather than contacting our troops with the location of the sniper?

    Because the sniper would have killed the reporter maybe? How do you know that the reporter didn’t do that when it was safe to do so?

    Psyberian (dd13d6)

  27. So, y’all actually engage actus, huh?

    Have you ever gotten anywhere with that?

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  28. TS,

    Patterico doesn’t hate the NYT. He simply observes what they seem to be doing and points it out. If they don’t like the picture they should change their practices. And no watching an enemy attempt to kill our troops is not okay.

    corvan (d19e5c)

  29. By the way, this attitude — that it’s perfectly fine for a journalist to sit by and watch the enemy fire on our troops — is nothing new

    But its not perfectly fine. Its dangerous and out of the ordinary.

    actus (ebc508)

  30. But they did warn. Which you said htey can’t.

    I think they told relatives. I said the typical passenger can’t warn the government, because they’re on a plane and have very little time. Also, your comparison of a photographer sitting in a room with a sniper as comparable to a passenger on a hijacked plane is ultra-ridiculous, not just for the reasons I’ve mentioned, but also because the photographer makes the choice to be in the situation and the passenger doesn’t.

    It’s one of the most absurd comparisons I’ve ever seen. And I’m not going to discuss it any further because it’s a waste of time, as any rational person can already see what I’m trying to prove.

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  31. Try not to feel so mistreated by the NYT righties. The left gets mad at the paper too. So it probably isn’t as one-sided as some would have you believe.

    For instance, Atrios descries how Kornblut quoted Hillary out of context.
    http://atrios.blogspot.com/2006_07_16_atrios_archive.html#115306675335323628

    Psyberian (dd13d6)

  32. Sorry – “descries?” Make that “describes.”

    Psyberian (dd13d6)

  33. And what is the intrinsic value of these photographs, anyway? Either they are pure propaganda staged for the photographer, or they show what we already know is true: Islamic thugs, who are not in the uniform of any nation, are killing Americans and Iraqis and wrecking the world.

    They confirm our resolve, not weaken it.

    Patricia (2cc180)

  34. I think they told relatives.

    Some dialed 911.

    lso, your comparison of a photographer sitting in a room with a sniper as comparable to a passenger on a hijacked plane is ultra-ridiculous, not just for the reasons I’ve mentioned, but also because the photographer makes the choice to be in the situation and the passenger doesn’t.

    I know. Its as ridiculous as your comparison of this fotog to a terrorist on a plane.

    as any rational person can already see what I’m trying to prove.

    You’re trying to say that south african journalists who manage to gain access to positions firing on US soldiers should compromise that access and become US informants. And that to gain that sort of access is not courageous, or should not be highlited.

    actus (ebc508)

  35. They confirm our resolve, not weaken it.

    And yet some idiots think its propaganda. go figure.

    actus (ebc508)

  36. Ok so I asked bush hater Glenn Greenwald what he would do in the same situation. Here was his answer.

    Personally, I would not, because I’m not a jouranlist. But if I were a photographer assigned to that region and to cover the insurgency, of course I would. I’d want Americans to see the reality of the forces we are fighting, rather than suppressing their images.

    Photographers should take pictures of all newsworthy events – good and bad. They’re journalists, not propagandists. I want to read about what the insurgents are doing and I want to see them doing it. That’s how people who want to know about the world thing, and it’s what journalists are supposed to do.

    What good would possibly come from ignoring the insurgency and pretending that it didn’t exist? That’s what the Bush administration did for the last three years and look where it brought us.

    The Ugly American (26d35f)

  37. Its as ridiculous as your comparison of this fotog to a terrorist on a plane.

    I am comparing the admiration of a terrorist on a plane to the admiration of someone who watches a sniper shooting at our troops. Both might be courageous under some definitions of the word, but citing that courage without any condemnation shows a blindness to their more glaring culpability.

    Did I really need to explain that?

    OK. Now I’m done. Distort and misunderstand as only you can do, actus. But do it on your own.

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  38. Actually, what he’s saying Actus, is that the NYT shouldn’t employ photo-journalists who are embedded with people killing American soldiers and that the Times certainly shouldn’t laud said photo-journalists work and promote it. He’s also saying that as an American corporation supported by the parents, brothers, sisters, husbands and wives of the people that little piece of dreck with the rifle is shooting at the Times should be a little less proud of the people who promote his cause. But that would be similar to showing some compassion and appreciation for American soldiers, and it is becoming very clear that’s not in the Times’s agenda.
    Oh, and if you don’t think that the photo-journalist in charge is promoting jihadis take a look at his book.

    corvan (d19e5c)

  39. I’d want Americans to see the reality of the forces we are fighting, rather than suppressing their images.

    Again, this makes no sense. The photos add nothing to our understanding of the enemy. They are propaganda promulgated by the NYT to scare us and “a newly humbled” administration, as they put it in their op-ed today, into surrender.

    Patricia (2cc180)

  40. Actually, what he’s saying Actus, is that the NYT shouldn’t employ photo-journalists who are embedded with people killing American soldiers and that the Times certainly shouldn’t laud said photo-journalists work and promote it

    Is he actually an employee or just a contractor?

    The photos add nothing to our understanding of the enemy.

    Over on proteinwisdom people were discussing how poorly this sniper was using his rifle.

    actus (ebc508)

  41. If he’s a contractor it’s even worse, because then the Tmies surely has no reason to purchase the photo or laud his work. And again the issue here is the Times support for a man who is glamorizing folks who kill Americans. Whether the sniper was very good at his job or just average is something only the photographer can tell us, or for that matter, could have told coalition soldiers. BTW people at Protien Wisdom are also discussing your poor use of logic and your horrible reading cognition. Of course, that’s no more germane to this discussion than what you pointed out about Protien Wisdom, but I thought I’d toss it out there any way.

    corvan (d19e5c)

  42. As I said to the guys on Pundit Review Radio: you notice he didn’t say which side he’s on.

    And if you’ve huffed too much paint, it wasn’t readily apparent from the context.

    jpe (3544e6)

  43. “I am comparing the admiration of a terrorist on a plane to the admiration of someone who watches a sniper shooting at our troops.” – Patterico

    They aren’t “our troops” to a Portuguese-South African war photog, whose current NYT gig came after freelancing for a half-dozen outfits.

    Joao Silva captured this widely-praised, tears-shed-in-the-dark tribute to a fallen American being loaded on to a helicopter:

    http://graphics.nytimes.com/images/2006/06/28/world/29sold650.1.jpg

    Impromptu last respects for one Sgt. Terry Michael Lisk, 26, of Zion, IL. Notice the wounded soldier on a stretcher also saluting.

    steve (6cbac1)

  44. nd again the issue here is the Times support for a man who is glamorizing folks who kill Americans.

    He doesn’t look very glamorous. And I don’t see why its worse to have an arms length contractor relationship.

    actus (ebc508)

  45. Steve,

    They should be our troops to the NYT. And I assume from your post that your pointing out that Mr. Silva is not an independent contractor, but a Times employee, right? Taking the pictures the Times wants took, right?
    And as far as the second picture goes are you saying it atones for the first? That The Times should be free to laud the work of journalists embedded with the enemy so long as the same journalists occasionally take a picture of Americans grieving for soldiers killed by terrorists? Maybe even the self same terrorists the journalist was embedded with? Is that the point you’re making?

    corvan (d19e5c)

  46. Actus, you need to talk with Steve. He seems to have information that Mr. Silva is a Times employee. Steve?

    corvan (d19e5c)

  47. Also Steve,

    Was Mr. Silva embedded with the Terrorist Army in Sadr city while he was a Times employee? If he was is that a good thing?

    corvan (d19e5c)

  48. Steve?

    corvan (d19e5c)

  49. But why is she praising a photographer who watched the sniping happen, rather than contacting our troops with the location of the sniper?

    That’d be the end of war journalism. But who needs that when we’ve got courageous Hugh Hewitt bravely reporting from the front lines?

    jpe (3544e6)

  50. Glenn Greenwald is qouted in #36 above as saying:

    Personally, I would not, because I’m not a jouranlist. But if I were a photographer assigned to that region and to cover the insurgency, of course I would. I’d want Americans to see the reality of the forces we are fighting, rather than suppressing their images.

    Well the reality here is that this image is of a scruffy looking young man who wants to kill an American; do you suppose that American soldiers don’t see that nearly every doggone day in the field? What use is this photo, other than to give the NYT another chance to bray?

    Mike Myers (290636)

  51. Steve,

    You seem to have information regarding Mr. Silva’s employment. Can you tell us where you found that. Is it on the NYT website?

    corvan (d19e5c)

  52. Hound1: “I agree with you, actus. I wish more reporters would hang around next to HE round targets.”

    Patterico: *silence*

    Hound2: “But my last post read as if I was wishing harm on reporters. Not the case at all. I love reading daily about MSM cutbacks and layoffs, but I’d never wish harm upon anyone.

    I apoliogize if that’s how anyone read my poorly-worded post.”

    Kudos to Hound for stepping back from the fantasies of political violence.

    I’m not surprised “sin-of-omission” Patterico gave the original comment a pass though: it’s the sort of thing he appears to be quite comfortable hearing from commenters.

    m.croche (c42b77)

  53. I find the issue far more difficult than our host does.

    Consider: The coverage of the enemy is substantially assisted by access. As part of the condition of that access, the photographer has doubtless agreed to not act as an agent of the U.S.

    At this point, it becomes a line-drawing exercise. To a substantial extent, accurate coverage of the enemy is beneficial to the war effort. The photographer could have charged the sniper and tried to take his weapon, but would that have had as much benefit? And what of future journalists?

    Of course, the idea that journalists must be neutral in all courses is inconsistent with their actual actions generally. Journalists routinely talk to people in ways that are calculated to change behavior, either for societal gain or for ease of coverage. Certainly, if it is a situation where you have no agreement – you’re in Iraq and notice a bunch of folks laying mines – you have an obligation to step up and report.

    To violate an embed agreement, you’ll need a stronger reason. I’d guess – and with just a picture, it’s solely a guess – that there’s a reasonable justification for not violating such an agreement here.

    And, yes, I realize that what I am proposing has the concrete, visible effect of the wrongful death of Americans. I am hopeful that the newspaper understands that, too. In order to accept this, you have to have a substantial benefit; these line-drawing exercises are often difficult, and reasonable minds may disagree.

    (The Swift thing, for comparison, was a different animal, though it was also a line-drawing exercise in which the newspapers had to determine if the interest in suppressing the news outweighed the reasonable default position – and I think it is a reasonable default postion – of publication. In that case, the justification of publication appears to me to be quite weak, while the interests against publishing it were quite strong.)

    –JRM

    JRM (de6363)

  54. I realize my prior post isn’t as concrete as it might be:

    Scenario 1: Sniper is hanging out, ready to snipe, with no Americans known to be headed in. Photographer need not be condemned, IMO.

    Scenario 2: Sniper is planning on shooting Dick Cheney, who he’s learned is coming through. Photographer is an agent of the enemy and should be condemned.

    In Scenario 1, though, that’s still an appreciable risk of harm; I am unwilling to condemn the photographer based on that.

    I think that the access depends on accepting that risk; if the photographer takes action, no more photographers generally and no more coverage (and no more opportunities to sit in on Scenario 2.)

    –JRM

    JRM (de6363)

  55. Troglodyte that I am I don’t think that the NYT should be employing folks or contracting with folks who are embedded with the enemy. It is just that simple. I also return to Mr. Silva’s second photograph. The one that shows American soldiers honoring a fallen comrade. That sort of photo must be much easier to find when a photographer, who can travel across enemy lines at will, has all ready embedded with the enemy and knows where the terrorists are going to strike, eh?
    Also the NYT in this case seems to have been very happy to honor Mr. Silva’s embed agreement, but less willing to be as cooperative with the American government regarding SWIFT. I wonder why?
    Finally, the chances that embedding with the enemy will help America’s war effort seems rather slim to me. Especially when journalists gaurd the enemies secrets so zealously, and publish America’s secrets with such pride.
    No JRM, I can’t agree with you on this one.

    corvan (d19e5c)

  56. Sorry, croche. I’m already on record as pre-condemning everything in the world said by anyone:

    I condemn everything. It’s safer that way.

    Also, my lack of need to condemn every vile comment that comes along has been validated by none other than Glenn Greenwald.

    So I’m in the clear.

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  57. I don’t think the issue is whether the photog chooses to be embedded with the enemy. Lord Haw Haw chose that course and stuck to it. If the Times wants to show how noble the Mahdi Army is shooting at US troops, so be it. I just think that they should not then be let back into the Green Zone. Let them stay with their side and we will stay with ours. Richard Tregaskis didn’t try to switch back and forth between the Marines and the Japanese on Guadalcanal.

    I suspect the Japanese would not have been very enthusiastic anyway, but newsies have found that enemies of the US are much more media savvy since Hitler expelled William Shirer from Germany in 1940. Actually, he left voluntarily after he was required to have three censors approve his material. In Vietnam, they learned that the US media can be an ally and the NY Times is living up to those expectations.

    Mike K (416363)

  58. Our esteemed host wrote:

    It’s exactly like that. Except that the passenger can’t warn the government and the photographer can — if he or she leaves and misses the chance to take the shot. Oh, and the passenger dies, whereas the photographer might not.

    Other than those points, which make the examples absolutely nothing like each other, they are exactly alike.

    Well, maybe: it’s entirely possible that the journalist couldn’t warn the target of the sniper, for logistical reasons.

    But it raises the larger question: why would American reporters put themselves in a morally compromising position like that? And why would our enemies (and I think it reasonable to define people who shoot at American troops as our enemies) even think that they could trust reporters from The New York Times not to reveal their movements and hiding places and attack positions to the military? The fact that they do trust those reporters tells you that they know on whose side teh reporters are.

    Dana (9f37aa)

  59. Treason…

    This really disgusts me. Let al-Jazeera get that photograph, let the media from countries not at war with the Islamists get the story; it’s not like this would go uncovered. But the brave editors of The New York Times seem to think that their …

    Common Sense Political Thought (819604)

  60. But it raises the larger question: why would American reporters put themselves in a morally compromising position like that?

    How about south african reporters?

    The fact that they do trust those reporters tells you that they know on whose side teh reporters are.

    Or they could just kill the reporter. And enforce his silence, rather than trust it.

    actus (6234ee)

  61. JRM notes the problem of access. That’s fair enough, but it begs the question why does it have to be an American medium that has such access, why does it have to be an American reporter doing this crap?

    Al-Jazeera has photographers and al-Jazeera has reporters, and it’s not like this story would have gone uncovered. Why is it necessary for an American newspaper to commit treason, and yes, I do see it as treason, to cover something like this?

    Dana (9f37aa)

  62. I guess I’m very confused about this issue.

    One of the responsibilities of journalists is to report on important events happening in our world, capturing those events from multiple perspectives. In this situation, a journalist was attempting to capture part of the experience of the Iraq insurgency by depicting one of the insurgents. It appears that the photograph in question was a staged photo, and there is no evidence whatsoever that the insurgent was in the act of shooting at American troops.

    Some are arguing that it was the photographer’s responsibility to immediately warn American soldiers about the sniper’s presence. Was he supposed to pick up a cell phone, call the US Army’s 1-800 number and say “Hey, I’m in a dilapidated building somewhere in Najaf with a sniper who’s posing for a photograph. He’s got a gun and he may shoot at American troops at some point.” My guess would be that the photographer arrived in that building specifically to photograph what he photographed, i.e., this wasn’t some revelation (“Oh my god, this guy’s firing at people”). If one is going to argue with the photographer’s presence there, then the argument should be that he never should have agreed in the first place to photograph insurgents engaged in the acts of insurgency. And, if he tried to contact the US Army the moment he got to the sniper’s position, he would have been killed and likely nothing positive would have resulted.

    Others have argued that the NY Times should not have published this photograph. Why not? In what way is publishing this photograph helping the insurgents?

    Some arguments have gone along the lines of “Well, what if it were your brother in his sights, what if it were the President, etc.?” Well, if the situation were different, then the photographer may very well have acted differently. But in this case, there is no evidence whatsoever that the sniper is actually engaged in shooting at anyone. And publishing this photograph helps the American public to see a face of the Iraq war that they do not typically see, which furthers the interests of free information, without in any way (at least that I can see) glorifying or praising the insurgents or the insurgency.

    I really just don’t understand the controversy.

    unceph (b169f3)

  63. why does it have to be an American reporter doing this crap?

    Joao Silva is a south african of portuguese ancestry.

    actus (6234ee)

  64. Actus, I expect reporters from countries not at war with the Islamists to cover such stories, I expect al Jazeera to do such things, and I could hardly have any particular disgust for them for covering what, to them, is a patriotic resistance.

    I might not like the fact that al-Jazeera is helping the enemy, but I’d at least understand it, and could hardly see it as a crime.

    If Mr Silva, the photographer, is an American citizen, he should be arrested the moment he steps back into an area controlled by American authorities, and charged with treason.

    Dana (9f37aa)

  65. Actus informs us that Mr Silva is not an American; that means he hasn’t committed treason. But he is employed by Americans (note that the photo credit given is “Joao Silva for The New York Times); that means that they are traitors.

    Lock ’em up!

    Dana (9f37aa)

  66. they are traitors.

    Can you spell out the treason charge? like, use the constitutional definition — adherence, and aid and comfort.

    Also, try to see what sort of first amendment problems might come up.

    actus (6234ee)

  67. “And publishing this photograph helps the American public to see a face of the Iraq war that they do not typically see, which furthers the interests of free information, without in any way (at least that I can see) glorifying or praising the insurgents or the insurgency.”

    Isn’t this a way of humanizing the enemy so that one would be more sympathetic to them?

    sharon (fecb65)

  68. The sniper, for all we know, has been ID’d as a result of the photo.

    As perhaps *this* al-Sadr militiaman, also caught in his lens:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/20/politics/20iran.html?ex=1153195200&en=ba9c94f18364ed77&ei=5070

    We’re loitering at the intersection of Surmise & Suppose.

    No one knows the rules under which Silva operates and whether CENTCOM debriefs him and harvests intel. This public discussion may be putting his life and a tactical Coalition resource at great risk.

    Two can play this game.

    steve (6cbac1)

  69. The “incredible courage” must refer to the photographer’s chutzpah to submit such a phony photo. If that’s a sniper, I’m the Queen of May. Fake but accurate? I have never shot a Dragunov but I have shot comparable .30 caliber weapons. If the clown squeezes off a shot like that, the scope will poke out his eye. Not that he’s likely to do that anytime soon since his finger is not on the trigger. And the way he’s tilting his head and resting the rifle and squinting… oh, what the heck! This “sniper” took modelling lessons, not shooting lessons.

    nk (57e995)

  70. No one knows the rules under which Silva operates and whether CENTCOM debriefs him and harvests intel. This public discussion may be putting his life and a tactical Coalition resource at great risk.

    That damn New York Times — putting valuable Coalition resources at risk again!

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  71. “Isn’t this a way of humanizing the enemy so that one would be more sympathetic to them?”

    Again, I feel as if I must be misunderstanding something. What exactly do you mean by “humanizing”? The enemy IS human — how does publishing this type of a photo of an insurgent “humanize” them?

    If by “humanize” you mean that the photograph somehow paints a sympathetic portrait of the insurgents, or in some way glorifies them, then I must disagree with you. The photo in question does not present the subject in a sympathetic fashion, nor does it convey a sense of glorification. In fact, the photo seems to be rather emotion-free.

    If publishing this photo serves to “humanize” the insurgents, which you seem to suggest is a bad thing, would you conversely argue that the American press should be attempting to dehumanize the insurgents? If so, then you and I would appear to have vastly different conceptions of the role of the First Amendment and the press in a liberal democracy.

    unceph (b169f3)

  72. The photo in question does not present the subject in a sympathetic fashion, nor does it convey a sense of glorification.

    If anything, it seems unsympathetic to show someone shooting at american soldiers. Thats what’s gotten everyone around here in a tiff!

    actus (6234ee)

  73. I guess if you start with the premise that the New York Times is treasonous, and that all of the actions undertaken by the New York Times are treasonous, then it stands to reason that publication of this photo is treasonous. Figuring out the explicit ways in which publication of the photo represent treason is just coloring in the details, and counter-arguments are simply annoyances.

    Accepting those premises, however, strikes me as slightly irrational.

    unceph (b169f3)

  74. Just for the record, the advertising blurb for Mr. Silva’s book, http://www.biz-community.com/article/196/73/8033.html. certainly doesn’t seem critical of terrorists or terrorism. Perhaps Mr. Silva will tell us how feels and if he was debriefed by Coalition forces after his cozy encounter with this particular terrorist. Perhaps a note requesting such information should be sent to the NYT ombudsman? I’m sure the NYT will enjoy an opportunity to address this matter publicly. Any objections guys?

    corvan (d19e5c)

  75. (Re: #73) I gather this is the passage you found so incriminating:

    “In the Company of God is a photographic compilation that portrays Iraqi Shi’a Muslims in a period of occupation and transition. This photographic body of work, recorded over twelve months, richly captures the Shi’as’ intense commitment to their faith and their indomitable spirit of sacrifice.”

    http://www.biz-community.com/Article.aspx?c=73&l=196&ai=8033

    steve (6cbac1)

  76. certainly doesn’t seem critical of terrorists or terrorism.

    Those darn south african traitors.

    actus (6234ee)

  77. I don’t necessarily find it incriminating. But it’s not exactly a condemnation of terrorism either. I do figure it would save you and I both a little lung power if we just went straight to the source and asked what’s up. You object to that? Oh, and did you ever figure out whether Mr. Silva was an employee of the Times or an independent contractor. And do you think the Times should be lauding the work of photographers who have embedded themsevles with terrorists?

    corvan (d19e5c)

  78. And the issue is whether the NYT should be paying for these sort of pictures, and praising the people that take them, not whether Mr. Silva is a traitor to a country he is not a citizen of. Of course you knew that, Actus, but you seem incapable of telling the truth.

    corvan (d19e5c)

  79. Geez Patterico, great minds think alike.

    For the record, I posted mine at 1:46 a.m.

    Hoystory (de9da0)

  80. […] LC & IB Patterico isn’t impressed with the al-Qaeda Times either, and even less surprised. He thinks back on the interview in which Bill Musab al-Keller declares that his paper isn’t neutral in the war, and delivers the following scorching observation in reply: you notice he didn’t say which side he’s on. […]

    Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler » Blog Archive » “Courage” (502642)

  81. […] Paterico’s Pontifications has commentary from himself and others about some NY Times photographs of terrorists and insurgents. He puts these pictures into the context of Bill Keller’s non-answer about WHICH SIDE the Times and other press are on. […]

    What the Heck was I Thinking!? :: Since Bill Keller wasn’t clear, the answer’s in the pictures :: July :: 2006 (2f634e)

  82. I’m with nk all the way: That “sniper” is as authentic as the Dan Rather troopergate memos.

    The NYT is — yet again — attempting to defraud the public.

    Federal Dog (9afd6c)

  83. “Again, I feel as if I must be misunderstanding something. What exactly do you mean by “humanizing”? The enemy IS human — how does publishing this type of a photo of an insurgent “humanize” them?”

    Humanizing…as in, “making the insurgents look less monstrous.” You said it helped Americans “see a face of the Iraq war that they do not typically see.” Offered one possible reason that might be objectionable.

    “If publishing this photo serves to “humanize” the insurgents, which you seem to suggest is a bad thing, would you conversely argue that the American press should be attempting to dehumanize the insurgents? If so, then you and I would appear to have vastly different conceptions of the role of the First Amendment and the press in a liberal democracy.”

    If we were playing a game of Risk, I might agree with your hypothesis. However, this is real life with American soldiers in the crosshairs. I take that very seriously.

    sharon (fecb65)

  84. Joao Silva captured this widely-praised, tears-shed-in-the-dark tribute to a fallen American being loaded on to a helicopter:

    http://graphics.nytimes.com/images/2006/06/28/world/29sold650.1.jpg

    I would think that the picture of an enemy sniper
    taken by a cameraman clearly in the the same room,
    and the above mentioned picture of a fallen American by the same person, should clearly indicate to both sides that here is a camera person who should not be trusted.

    pagar (ba389e)

  85. If the photographer was “courageous” the caption writer was less so. Why the formulation: “A sniper … fires towards U.S. positions…”? Snipers don’t fire at “positions” they fire at individual targets. So, if this is not posed, this man is aiming a sniper rifle at an individual American soldier and preparing to kill him. Why not come out and say it? How about captioning the picture: “A Sniper prepares to kill an American soldier while our photographer stands by”? That would clarify the situation a bit wouldn’t it?

    Rob in London (b5527c)

  86. […] LGF: The Media Are Our Enemy Joao Silva * Michele McNally NYTimes photo album “In the Company of God” Goldstein * Power Line Patterico * Moran * Anchoress […]

    Hot Air » Blog Archive » Which side is the NYT on? (d4224a)

  87. There is a depressing history of phony photos being published by MSM. Here’s another example that was supposed to be a car bomb outside a polling place the day of the election in 2005. Somebody noticed all the photographers who just “happened” to be there when it went off. The classic example was a series of photos of “insurgents” who turned out to be in the same location with pics taken from different angles and the “insurgents” in some cases had changed clothes but could be seen to be the same folks. I can’t find that one this morning.

    The Times is supposed to be on our side and most of the phony photos were al-Reuters or other sources with fewer ties to the US. I still say, let them bunk with the nasties and don’t welcome them back to the hotel bar in the Green Zone after they’ve aided and comforted the bad guys.

    Mike K (416363)

  88. […] Update: Patterico also chimes in. […]

    Chapomatic » Wallace Won (936c38)

  89. […] Part of the objection this time seems to be to NYT Assistant Managing Editor for Photography Michele McNally using the term “incredible courage” to describe a person whose job involves running around a war zone, attempting to take pictures of the war while it is happening. Fair enough. But mostly this is a prime example of the good-natured visceral attacks the NYT now receives on an almost-daily basis, and that have been going on long enough to become a sort of rhetorical five-finger exercise for righty bloggers. Beginning with a disagreement over the paper’s editorial direction, it only takes a hop and a skip to end up speculating along these lines: If NYT editors had learned of the 9/11 plot beforehand, would they have warned the government? Or would they have set up videocameras to get the best possible shot of the first plane hitting the tower? […]

    How Many Divisons Has Bill Keller? at Blog P.I. (beta) (c73bc9)

  90. al-Reuters

    Does putting ‘al’ in front of the name signify that they’re against us?

    actus (ebc508)

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    Steven (237b1a)

  92. “The Times is supposed to be on our side”

    Are you sure?

    sharon (fecb65)

  93. Whose side is the NY Times taking anyway?…

    Little Green Footballs (via Ace of Spades HQ) finds a photographer for the NY Times, Joao Silva, in a very suspicious position – he took pics while a terrorist fired on US troops in Iraq…

    Tel-Chai Nation (59ce3a)

  94. actus:

    Depending on how you define courage, that could be true. But it’s not the point I’d choose to emphasize.

    Right. Because flying planes into buildings kills lots of innocent people. Taking pictures? not so much.

    Depending on how you define courage, that could be true. But it’s not the point I’d choose to emphasize.
    Right. Because flying planes into buildings kills lots of innocent people. Taking pictures? not so much.

    So it sounds like you support this journalist and his actions.

    r.s. (0f22a5)

  95. FOR WHOM?…

    Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a a photo compilation titled “Memorable Photographs” by various photographers. The most shocking image was that of a sniper peering through the scope out a window at a target. The caption:

    Word Around the Net (f0d0ba)

  96. Checked back in. I can detect a little sincerity.

    Additional comments only seemed to go into other blaming tangents. There remains a lot of deliberate (it seems) misunderstanding and “this photo was staged” accusation.

    Just by way of a thought exercise, is Lt. Commander Charles Swift “on the other side?”

    Temple Stark (1807f9)

  97. So it sounds like you support this journalist and his actions.

    I’d rather it happen than it not happen. If that’s what you mean. I have a hard time saying true things should not be printed.

    actus (ebc508)

  98. i should add that your definition of staged might differ from mine. In a way it obviously was more staged then just any spot news photograph would be. To be there in the same room there obviously had to be some type of understanding – the photographer most likely just didn’t shoot with a 500mm from 1,000 feet away through an open window. But is it depicting something false? Is it depicting something that wasn’t happening? Those are more serious and unsubstantiated charges.

    As an aside, a lot of reporters and photographers have died in this conflict.

    Back to the Lt. Swift thought exercise, which I think I’ll drop at my site later today.

    Temple Stark (1807f9)

  99. I think there’s a pretty simple way of looking at this.

    This guy has a right to take pictures of his insurgents, showing incredible courage. And the New York Times has the right to print them.

    However, the US military has the right to deny embed, transport and protection to it’s employees. Furthermore, the military should make it clear to photographers such as this guy that since you’ve decided to cozy up with the enemy, you should stick with them. No logistical, protection nor evacuation should ever be offered to this guy, or those like them. Don’t bother with the green zone and certainly don’t call us if you’re in trouble. You can cover the war from whatever angle you want, but don’t think for a minute that you’re due any more protection than we’ll do our best not to kill you when you’re with the terrorists unless not doing so hampers our mission objectives.

    You either cover the war from our soldiers prospective or from the enemy, but not both.

    Jack Burton (d02bc7)

  100. Nice site!
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  102. So it sounds like you support this journalist and his actions.

    I’d rather it happen than it not happen.

    Sounds like an endorsement of the sniper and his photographer, Joao Silva.

    r.s. (0f22a5)

  103. Sounds like an endorsement of the sniper and his photographer, Joao Silva.

    Of the sniper? How so. I would rather there not be a sniper. But if there is, I’d rather have picturues than not. I’d rather not there was a war in Iraq. But if there is, I like having news from it.

    actus (ebc508)

  104. Its as ridiculous as your comparison of this fotog to a terrorist on a plane.

    What comparison?

    Gerald A (add20f)

  105. Then why do you oppose embeds?

    r.s. (0f22a5)

  106. Then why do you oppose embeds?

    Me? How do I oppose embeds?

    actus (ebc508)

  107. Me? How do I oppose embeds?

    Here.

    r.s. (0f22a5)

  108. “I’d rather not there was a war in Iraq. But if there is, I like having news from it.”

    The question is to what extent, if any, your personal desire for evening news trumps lives on the battlefield.

    Federal Dog (9afd6c)

  109. Here.

    How do a bunch of sponsored links oppose embeds?

    actus (6234ee)

  110. Its as ridiculous as your comparison of this fotog to a terrorist on a plane.

    What comparison? SECOND REQUEST

    Gerald A (dd601b)


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