October 27, 2001
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A dispatch from Cairo in the international section of today's New York Times reports, "In Egyptian newspapers, the United States is portrayed as a case study in immorality: corrupt, hypocritical, anti-Islamic, anti-Arab, weak, uncaring about civilian casualties in Afghanistan and swayed by a Zionist lobby."
Later on, the Times article refers to the same press as "government-controlled."
And then, a few paragraphs later, the Times says, "Some members of Egypt's elite are also aware that the bitterness now expressed against the United States could, at some point, redound against the moderate Mubarak government and against them."
If the Egyptian press is so virulently anti-American, and the Egyptian press is controlled by the government, why does the New York Times persist in describing the Egyptian government as "moderate"? It doesn't make much sense to speak about the bitterness against the United States redounding against the Egyptian government when the Egyptian government is a key disseminator of the bitterness.
Opposed: A front-page article in today's New York Times reports that widening the American military campaign to include Iraq "is opposed by Arab countries and European allies already nervous that the American campaign is being seen as a Western assault on Muslims." This is wishful thinking by the Times; it's certainly premature. If indeed Iraq turns out to be linked to the Anthrax attacks on America or the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon -- and the Prague meeting between Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer is certainly an intriguing sign of this -- then no European "allies" of America would oppose American retaliatory strikes against Iraq. If they do, then it's inaccurate to use the word "allies" to describe them.
Roche: A front-page article in today's New York Times reports on the Pentagon's decision to award a $200 billion contract for a new fighter jet. The Times also reports that James Roche, the secretary of the Air Force, "was in charge of the selection process." The Times article reports that the team awarded the contract "includes Northrop Grumman, which will build the central fuselage and design the plane's radar and stealth systems." Nowhere, however, does today's Times mention that immediately before becoming secretary of the Air Force, Mr. Roche, according to his official biography, "held several executive positions with Northrop Grumman Corporation, including Corporate Vice President and President, Electronic Sensors and Systems Sector." He'd been with Northrop Grumman since 1984. Mr. Roche has a truly stellar reputation in Washington and Smartertimes.com would wager he made his decision strictly on the merits. But it does seem odd that the Times article doesn't even touch on the issue of how Mr. Roche handled the unavoidably awkward matter of making a $200 billion decision that affected his former colleagues.
Public Interest: An article in the metro section of today's New York Times refers to "the city's 13-year-old campaign finance law, which is considered a model by public interest groups." These groups are only in the public interest if one believes that the public interest lies in having, as a practical matter, limits imposed on political speech. The Times may be of the opinion that that is the public interest, but there are plenty of people, including the framers of the First Amendment, who hold and held a different view. The Times news article could have respected this difference of opinion by labeling these free-speech restriction groups as something other than "public interest" groups.
New In Letters: The Letters about the Times section was updated last night with comments about fish, dolphins and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Letters about Smartertimes section was updated last night with comments about the Global Positioning System, Orthodox Jewish burial practices, and press criticism in wartime.
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