A Few Random Observations on the NYT’s Reporting on Syria

by Jul 8, 2012Foreign Policy0 comments

Oftentimes, if you read Times' articles backwards and pretend the last paragraph is the lede, you can get a better picture of what's going on.

I spent the past week writing a paper on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act (to be published shortly) and am only just now catching up on the news from the previous week. On Syria, from the New York Times:

The diplomatic developments were punctuated by a particularly bloody day in Syria, as more than 100 people were killed, by one estimate, most of them civilians caught in shelling.

What “one estimate”? Whose estimate? What is the source for this claim? Let me guess, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights? Is the Times so embarrassed by the American media’s favorite source for information on what’s happening in Syria that it can’t even mention where it gets its information from?

Having paused from the article to take the time to write the above, on the second page, I find I was wrong. It wasn’t the SOHR:

“Massacres have become like breakfast to us,” said Imad Hosary, an activist with the Local Coordination Committees, which tracks casualties and put the death toll on Saturday at 100. A second opposition group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, recorded 81 deaths.

The Times, of course, doesn’t bother to tell readers that the LCC, like the SOHR, is not an independent human rights group, but an anti-regime opposition group. Anti-regime activists and the associated armed rebel forces have continuously peddled propaganda to the Western media, ranging from unverified to outright fabricated.

And remember how the Times had said most of the civilians killed that Saturday were killed by (government) shelling? The very next paragraph after the one above states:

The worst attack took place at a funeral for an opposition activist, Abdul Hadi al-Halabi, in the Damascus suburb of Zamalka. A car bomb exploded, killing 20 to 50 people, according to various activists.

So who was responsible for this act of terrorism? The only hint is:

Details on the explosion in Damascus, which occurred around 7 a.m., were scant, but witnesses said it appeared to be in the area of the Police Academy and other heavily secured facilities in the Qaboun neighborhood. Activists said the target had been the police special forces unit, but there was no way to immediately confirm that.

Hmm… A terrorist attack targeting government law enforcement. CIA backed terrorists, perhaps?

In a separate article, the Times describes the SOHR as “an opposition group in Britain with a network of contacts in Syria”. Nice to see the pretense of it being a “watchdog agency” or some other such description being dropped and readers actually being informed this is an opposition “group” consisting of a single individual distributing information to media from his “network of contacts” out of his home in London.

Another article mentions the Turkish jet downed by Syria:

Turkey’s military said in a statement on Thursday that the bodies of the two pilots, found a day earlier at the bottom of the eastern Mediterranean 8.6 nautical miles from Syria’s shoreline, were recovered and sent to the Turkish town of Malatya, home to their air base, where the doomed F-4 Phantom took off on its final mission June 22….

Turkey says Syria brought down the plane over international waters, but Syria says it was in Syrian airspace at the time.

The Times doesn’t bother to mention that under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, territorial waters include up to 12 nautical miles from a nation’s sovereign territory, meaning that the jet was found within Syrian waters.

In the same article, one can read:

Mr. Assad’s contention that outside terrorist agitators are responsible for the violence in Syria was partly corroborated on Tuesday by the claims of the Al Nusra Front, a shadowy group that aligns itself with Al Qaeda, that it was responsible for a number of attacks on pro-government targets in Syria last month, including the killing of seven people at a television station on June 27.

That’s the second-to-last paragraph, of course. Oftentimes, if you read Times‘ articles backwards and pretend the last paragraph is the lede, you can get a better picture of what’s going on.

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About Jeremy R. Hammond

About Jeremy R. Hammond

I am an independent journalist, political analyst, publisher and editor of Foreign Policy Journal, book author, and writing coach.

My writings empower readers with the knowledge they need to see through state propaganda intended to manufacture their consent for criminal government policies.

By recognizing when we are being lied to and why, we can fight effectively for liberty, peace, and justice, in order to create a better world for ourselves, our children, and future generations of humanity.

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