Patterico's Pontifications

9/9/2009

Another New York Times Reporter Freed in Afghanistan

Filed under: Media Bias,War — DRJ @ 12:18 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

A New York Times reporter held hostage by the Taliban has been freed by British commandos:

“Stephen Farrell, a New York Times reporter held captive by militants in northern Afghanistan, was freed in a military commando raid early Wednesday, but his Afghan interpreter was killed during the rescue effort.
***
In a brief telephone call about 7:30 p.m. New York time on Tuesday, Mr. Farrell told Susan Chira, the foreign editor of The Times: “I’m out! I’m free!”

Ms. Chira said Mr. Farrell told her that he had been “extracted” by a commando raid carried out by “a lot of soldiers” in a fierce firefight with his captors. Mr. Farrell said he had also called his wife.”

A British commando was also killed in the raid that freed Farrell. Farrell had traveled to Afghanistan to cover a recent NATO airstrike that reportedly killed up to 90 civilians.

This is the second time the New York Times and other media kept secret a reporter’s abduction to protect his safety:

“Until now, the kidnapping had been kept quiet by The Times and most other news media organizations out of concern for the men’s safety.

“We feared that media attention would raise the temperature and increase the risk to the captives,” said Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times. “We’re overjoyed that Steve is free, but deeply saddened that his freedom came at such a cost. We are doing all we can to learn the details of what happened. Our hearts go out to [interpreter] Sultan’s family.”

The rescue of Mr. Farrell came about 11 weeks after David Rohde, another reporter for The Times, escaped and made his way to freedom after more than seven months of captivity in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In that case as well, The Times and other news organizations kept Mr. Rohde’s kidnapping silent out of fear for his safety.”

I wondered before about a media double-standard in comparing the months of secrecy the media afforded the Rohde abduction with the immediate coverage about the capture of Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier whose story the BBC and other media published within days.

Is there a double-standard that leads the media to protect their own reporters when they are taken hostage, but not others? I’m not the only one asking that question:

“A New York Times reporter falls into the hands of the Taliban and not a word appears in major news outlets until after his escape seven months later.

An American soldier in Afghanistan falls into the hands of the Taliban, and although the military seeks media restraint while it launches a search, his plight earns barely three days of silence.

A double standard?

Maybe yes, maybe no.”

‘Maybe no’ because the military press office apparently mistakenly confirmed Bergdahl’s capture to the local media. ‘Maybe yes’ because the BBC relied on local reports that the media had ignored in Rohde’s case:

“Interviews and research using the LexisNexis news database and other sources show that the BBC’s Worldwide Monitor picked up and relayed a report that day by a small news service, the Afghan Islamic Press, which said a Taliban commander had told it his forces had captured an American soldier and three Afghans.

The Afghan Islamic Press added that the U.S. military in Afghanistan had confirmed that one of its soldiers was missing.

This was the sort of report major media had ignored during Rohde’s captivity. But not this time.

Less than an hour after the time stamped on the BBC’s imprimatur of the Afghan report, Bergdahl’s plight was international news, quickly picked up and reported on by what would become numerous other news outlets, including Stars and Stripes, and even draw public notice from President Barack Obama himself.

Whitman said the military official who had provided the confirmation that opened the dam had mishandled it.”

I’m happy for this reporter and his family. I wish the same for Pfc. Bergdahl and his family, too.

– DRJ

37 Responses to “Another New York Times Reporter Freed in Afghanistan”

  1. “KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, — An American woman and her Afghan driver were kidnapped by gunmen in this southern town Saturday morning on her way to work, the provincial governor said.”–NYT, 1/27/08

    Oh, there’s a double standard all right.

    And, there ain’t no maybe about it.

    Dave Surls (8f4404)

  2. Maybe the military ought to play tit for tat and out a few captured reporters until they wise up.

    Kevin Murphy (3c3db0)

  3. Maybe the military ought to play tit for tat and out a few captured reporters until they wise up.
    Comment by Kevin Murphy — 9/9/2009 @ 12:36 am

    I understand the sentiment, but we don’t do that. Nothing more to say really because why we don’t should be obvious.

    Stashiu3 (ed6467)

  4. ‘In a brief telephone call about 7:30 p.m. New York time on Tuesday, Mr. Farrell told Susan Chira, the foreign editor of The Times: “I’m out! I’m free!”’

    Pity at least two people got whacked out, after you decided to head off into Taliban territory to play war reporter. Personally, I would have left your sorry ass there.

    Dave Surls (8f4404)

  5. The US Military has excruciatingly high moral standards, to the libturds’ dismay — until one of their own is saved by the US Military.

    Tu Quoque is not now, nor ever has been, a game the US Military plays. The honor code would destroy them first. The US Military is a far cry better than every libturd and most Republicans and most conservatives re: the Honor Code.

    John Hitchcock (3fd153)

  6. And for that, I thank everyone who has donned the uniform (stash).

    John Hitchcock (3fd153)

  7. Pity at least two people got whacked out, after you decided to head off into Taliban territory to play war reporter. Personally, I would have left your sorry ass there.

    Comment by Dave Surls — 9/9/2009 @ 12:46 am

    I’m with you Dave. Our military has enough problems and their own people to protect without having to chase some guy who went there uninvited and got his ass in a sling.

    FrankM (f520dd)

  8. civilians, including women and children, were also killed in the firefight to free the journalists.

    How many Taliban were killed? They only describe the women and children even this time?

    j curtis (baef6f)

  9. God bless the British commando who was killed rescuing this moron. God bless his poor family who now have to live with his death.

    Little Banana (bfc7b1)

  10. Double Standard is right.

    Elvis (92d9a0)

  11. Also notice that NYT Editor Bill Keller didn’t say a word about the soldier who was killed.

    sam (fa6f62)

  12. Wall Street Journal Reporter Missing in Karachi for 2 Days:
    Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was in Karachi, Pakistan, reporting on Al Qaeda, has been reported missing. He left the home where he was staying on Tuesday to meet two people who had presented themselves as sources with contacts in the terrorist network, according to a spokesman for Dow Jones & Company, which owns The Journal.

    Mr. Pearl was reported missing on Wednesday by his wife, who is in Karachi, after he failed to return or make contact with his editors — a procedure required of reporters in dangerous regions. Karachi, a port city that is home to many Islamic religious schools and was the site of frequent anti-American demonstrations last fall, has a reputation among journalists as a particularly inhospitable place to work.

    Mr. Pearl was the second representative of an American news organization to disappear in the area this week. The first, Ghulam Hasnain, a contract writer for Time magazine, was reported missing by his family earlier in the week. He was released early Thursday by Pakistani authorities, who had picked him up for questioning on Tuesday.

    James Kelly, the managing editor of Time, gave few details of Mr. Hasnain’s captivity, saying simply, ”I’m delighted he’s been released.”

    I do beleive it was the NY fucking Times that served up Daniel Pearl’s story to the world. They might as well have laid him out on a slab with an apple in his mouth.

    papertiger (b40a74)

  13. Timeline for Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping and murder.

    Kidnapped Jan 23 2002
    NYTimes reports his abduction Jan 25 2002
    Kidnappers send out email threatening to kill him
    Jan 30 2002
    Beheaded Feb 1 2002

    papertiger (b40a74)

  14. It’s a shame that the commando and interpreter died.

    I know they have to take the fight to the enemy anyway, but Afghanistan is a warzone, and if a reporter goes there, he should know it’s on him if he gets into a bind.

    I’m growing extremely impatient with Obama to change course in Afghanistan. Obama is my president and I support him, even though I really don’t like him, when it comes to the war effort. But is his administration mature enough to admit it made the wrong call? We need to either fight to win or go home. In my view, we should never leave Afghanistan. Because of 9/11, we should simply maintain a presence there for eternity. And we should make that policy well known. but it’s not up to me, thank goodness.

    Juan (bd4b30)

  15. sam.
    Keller is with the NEW YORK TIMES. It’s not about little people. The expendables. For him, the terp and the Brit simply don’t exist.

    Richard Aubrey (3e0b93)

  16. Since he is a reporter for the New York Times, right away he blames the death of his interpreter on the soldiers who were risking their lives to rescue his.

    Typical.

    The story I read made no mention of the British soldier who lost his life, but did imply that because civilians were killed when the stolen fuel trucks were destroyed that the military had acted improperly.

    Why doesn’t the NY Times just employ Al Quada agents to write their stories? They’d probaqbly be less anti-American.

    Peter Grynch (7ecc02)

  17. This prick reporter went there with the purpose of writing about the evil NATO airstrike and the “intentional” disregard for civilian casualties.

    Two, much braver than this coward, gave their lives so that he might live to lie and propagandize another day.

    No way he was worth the cost.

    Matador (ad4464)

  18. And we all know this reporter is currently considering using this experience to boost his bona fides in future attempts to slur the war efforts we engage in.

    Juan (bd4b30)

  19. #17 is correct.

    HeavenSent (01a566)

  20. I agree with post 17. I think “reporters” go at their own peril and the military should not be required to save them. Let them get their own security. They didnt even have the decency not to publish the picture of the dying soldier. Same with those two female “reporters” who were caught in N Korea – they took the risks per Al Gore, let him rescue them. And now they admit they were in N Korean terrority.

    Krys (b7da94)

  21. The fool wanted to be embedded with the Taliban. He made his bed he should be allowed to sleep in it.

    Alta Bob (e53677)

  22. The loss of life is horrific. As a consumer of news its hard to rationalize my reading the results of this sort of reporting. I won’t be picking up a NY Times for awhile. Call it at grieving period.

    Juliet (9d1004)

  23. Matador says exactly what I was thinking – these people only protect their own kind. And the irony of a reporter going there to dig up dirt and cast more aspersions on our military (I know, the Germans are more likely to have screwed up here, but you know who they’re really going to blame) will of course be completely lost to their elitist superiors.

    Dmac (a93b13)

  24. It is a 1st Amendment RIGHT for these people to be provided military cover and have the full use of military resources to save their arses when they do something stupid.

    Fortunately for them, the men and women of the US military have more dignity and honor than the journolists could ever dream of having.

    JD (8541bc)

  25. Now about that book deal Mr Farrell…..

    The Emperor who is trying to be more understanding (1b037c)

  26. I understand the sentiment, but we don’t do that. Nothing more to say really because why we don’t should be obvious.

    Of course not, but the case needs to be made that the double standard is intolerable, and repeatedly. Op-eds, official comments every time either a soldier’s capture is reported of a reporter is freed, even Presidential lectures to the media. I’m not going to hold my breath for the last one.

    Kevin Murphy (3c3db0)

  27. [...] Another New York Times’ Reporter Freed in Afghanistan (patterico.com) [...]

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  28. DRJ…a nit:
    It would be more accurate to head this post as “NYT reporter rescued…”
    The Taliban didn’t free him, the Brits rescued him, and there is a difference.
    JMTCW

    As to whether or not military forces should be out looking for these journos:
    Yes, if they were captured while embedded with military forces;
    No, if they are out in the country-side free-lancing. Let their parent orginization pay for their security and rescue.

    AD - RtR/OS! (5b5739)

  29. “Maybe the military ought to play tit for tat and out a few captured reporters until they wise up.
    Comment by Kevin Murphy — 9/9/2009 @ 12:36 am

    I understand the sentiment, but we don’t do that. Nothing more to say really because why we don’t should be obvious.

    Comment by Stashiu3 — 9/9/2009 @ 12:46 am”

    No it is not obvious at all. Especially for ‘reporters’ of the house organ of the communist party. If not embedded with our forces or Allied forces then our troops should not be tasked with risking their lives for the enemies shills.

    As for the 90 killed, who gives a shit. Too bad it wasn’t 90,000 killed.

    cubanbob (409ac2)

  30. [...] Another New York Times’ Reporter Freed in Afghanistan (patterico.com) [...]

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  31. The reporter was on his way to take pictures of dead “civilians” from a NATO airstrike. I wonder how much his capture by the enemy actually hurt the enemy propoganda that he would have generated.

    smarty (eed5d4)

  32. I wonder again about the wisdom of allowing embedded reportage anymore – it only serves to project the reporter’s biases against all US Military personnel.

    Dmac (a93b13)

  33. It is a RIGHT, I tell you, a RIGHT !!!!

    JD (a7fa4a)

  34. What I find especially irritating is is that this isn’t the first time this clown has been captured by guerrillas while roaming around in places he ought not to be in. According to Farrell he was also captured by Iraqi guerrillas a few years back.

    He managed to get out of that scrape all by himself.

    This time around though, he got a couple of people killed playing at being the fearless war reporter (plus maybe some Afghani civilians in the bargain).

    I don’t like that much.

    Dave Surls (fb5e8a)

  35. We traded a brave soldier for a NYTimes reporter. And is anyone surprised that Bill Keller doesn’t give a shit?

    Kevin Stafford (5d18a5)

  36. AD:

    DRJ…a nit:
    It would be more accurate to head this post as “NYT reporter rescued…”

    You’re absolutely right. I’m not going to change the title this long after it was posted, but I agree with your point and I’ll try to keep it in mind if there’s a next time.

    DRJ (6a2898)

  37. If the Pentagon had said “Tough titty, he got himself into the mess, let him get himself out”, bet you it would have been front page news every day.

    nk (df76d4)


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