Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Blind and preachy

There are developments on the story I mentioned recently in which the New York Times dishonestly quoted from a dead soldier's last letter. Michelle Malkin has written a column about it:
Reader Michael Valois questioned the Times' reporter, James Dao, about his selection bias and forwarded me the exchanges. A defensive Dao (who did not respond to my e-mail inquiry) argued "there is nothing 'anti war' in the way I portrayed Corporal Starr." Dao then had the gall to berate the reader:
"Even the portion of his email that I used, the one that you seem so offended by, does not express anti-war sentiment. It does express the fatalism that many soldiers and marines seem to feel about multiple tours.
Have you been to Iraq, Michael? Or to any other war, for that matter? If you have, you should know the anxiety and fear parents, spouses, and troops themselves feel when they deploy to war. And if you haven't, what right do you have to object when papers like the New York Times try to describe that anxiety and fear?"
Mr. Dao sounds a bit unhinged playing the far-left chickenhawk card. Only people who have traveled to Iraq can criticize a paper's war-related coverage?
And Dao's dead-wrong about Corporal Starr's presumed "fatalism." If you don't believe Corporal Starr's own words, which Dao chose to ignore, listen to Corporal Starr's father, Brian. I asked him this week whether his son was fatalistic. "I don't agree at all. Jeff had an awareness of death, but was very positive about coming home."
Dao apologized to Valois for the tone of his snippy e-mail, but apparently feels no shame or sorrow for distorting a dead Marine's thoughts and feelings about war, sacrifice, and freedom.
Do read the whole thing. Also see this post of hers which has further comments and reader's letters. The Mudville Gazette has prescient comments (via Instapundit) and notes other instances that prove that the Times has a chronic problem quoting soldiers at least accurately (let alone fairly). The episodes listed are simply breathtaking. They have such an anti-military bias that they cannot (or will not) represent reality in an objective way, and they have the incredible chutzpah to send out preachy letters? As a friend of mine would say: "Am I having a close encounter of the third kind?" I mean - seriously - does the Times think its readers are stupid or are they simply blind to the fact that they are being dishonest?
As the media critic Jay Rosen wrote last month:
There were columnists whose way of arriving at opinions I didn’t trust, and periods when I lost trust in the editorial pages entirely. But I held to my assumption as a news reader (and paying subscriber) that the New York Times would always try to tell me what it knew when it covered a story, and it would always try to cover the stories it knew were news.
Clicking on to Seelye’s article last night, I realized that I didn’t expect the Times to try to tell me what it knew.
I totally agree, and what a pity it is.

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