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Below are a few testimonials, and then links to some sample articles
from this month, plus the text of Ed Herman's latest Z Magazine piece.

Z Magazine Testimonials:

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Sample articles from this month's issue of Z Magazine:

Daniel McLeod
Late last year a small publisher released an autobiography titled
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins. Written in the style
of a spy novel, Perkins recounted his years as chief economist for MAIN,
an international consulting firm based in Boston.  

RESTORATIONS: Katrina's Early Landfall
Kristen L. Buras
Hurricane Katrina may represent an unprecedented episode of displacement
and destruction within the United States, but it has not washed away
forms of exclusionary politics that existed long before it made landfall
on the Gulf Coast.

FOG WATCH: The New York Times Versus The Civil Society By Edward S.
Herman The biases of the New York Times surface in one or another
fashion on a daily basis, but while sometimes awfully crude, these
manifestations of bias are often sufficiently subtle and self-assured,
with facts galore thrown in, that it is easy to get fooled by them. 

Full Table of Contents for Z Magazine December 2005:

Finally, to make it really easy to read Ed Herman's article, here it is,


The New York Times Versus The Civil Society 
By Edward S. Herman

The biases of the New York Times surface in one or another fashion on a
daily basis, but while sometimes awfully crude, these manifestations of
bias are often sufficiently subtle and self-assured, with facts galore
thrown in, that it is easy to get fooled by them. Analyzing them is
still a useful enterprise to keep us alert to the paper's ideological
premises and numerous crimes of omission, selectivity, gullible
acceptance of convenient disinformation, and pursuit of a discernible
political agenda in many spheres that it covers. 
The veteran Times reporter John Hess has said that in all 24 years of
his service at the paper he "never saw a foreign intervention that the
Times did not support, never saw a fare increase or a rent increase or a
utility rate increase that it did not endorse, never saw it take the
side of labor in a strike or lockout, or advocate a raise for underpaid
workers. And don't let me get started on universal health care and
Social Security. So why do people think the Times is liberal?" The paper
is an establishment institution and serves establishment ends. As Times
historian Harrison Salisbury said about former executive editor Max
Frankel, "The last thing that would have entered his mind would be to
hassle the American Establishment, of which he was so proud to be a

One very important feature of an establishment institution is that it
gives heavy weight to official and corporate news and opinion and little
attention to facts and opinions put forward by those disagreeing with
the official/corporate view. Government and corporate officials are
"primary definers" of the news, and experts affiliated with, funded by,
and/or supporting them function to institutionalize those views. In a
perverse process, the links of these experts to official and corporate
sources give them a preferred position in the media despite the built-in
conflict-of-interest, unrecognized by establishment institutions. (PBS
has repeatedly turned down labor-funded programs on grounds of
conflict-of-interest, but doesn't do the same for corporate-funded
programs, as PBS officials have internalized the establishment's
normalization of conflicts-of-interest involving the dominant
institutions of society.) Those in opposition, even if representing very
large numbers, even a majority of the population, have difficulty
gaining access. Another way of expressing this is to say that the media,
as part of the establishment, align themselves with other constituents
of the establishment, and are very often at odds with and give little
voice to the civil society.  

Of course the media defend their heavy and largely uncritical dependence
on the primary definers for news on the ground that they make the news
and define the reality, so that giving them the floor is justified on
grounds of inherent relevance. What this ignores is that the media may
be helping these primary sources accomplish their goals by serving as
conduits of assertions and claims that may be false, misleading, and
designed to manipulate the public; effectively, by allowing themselves
to be managed. Substantive, as opposed to nominal, objectivity calls for
examining and possibly contesting these claims, providing valid
information to the public, and serving as watch-dogs rather than
lap-dogs. Regrettably, we have moved into the age of the lap-dog,
nowhere more clearly than in the case of the New York Times.   

This lap-dog role and failure to serve civil society is regularly
displayed in the media's treatment of protests where large numbers are
often driven to gathering in the streets to try to gain media access
denied them in the normal course of events. Where the protests are large
enough, they may be covered, but the media regularly give undercounts of
numbers, unfavorable placement, disproportionate attention to
counter-protestors and protester violence-sometimes concocted as well as
inflated-and they rarely attempt to convey the messages and analyses of
the protesters, let alone give editorial support to the protesters. This
is true of protests against wars of aggression, globalization, racism,
or corporate aggrandizement and labor disputes.
In The Whole World Is Watching, Todd Gitlin described how during the
Vietnam War the New York Times eased out of reporting on war protest a
reporter who was showing too much sympathy with the protesters (Fred
Powledge) and gradually moved to trivialization and aggressive
denigration of antiwar protests, in the process "screening out
discrepant information to which its own routines gave access." Gitlin
showed how in a major antiwar protest in April 1965, while the Times's
news article acknowledged that the protesters outnumbered the
counter-demonstrators by better than 150-1, the paper carefully selected
from among a set of available photos the one that gave the pro-war
counter-demonstrators equal photographic space. (On the fallacy that the
paper was "against the Vietnam war," see Edward Herman, "All The News
Fit To Print, Part 3, The Vietnam War and the myth of a liberal media":

Throughout the Cold War, the Times treated protests in the Soviet Union
and among the Soviet satellites with great and uncritical generosity,
with front page attention, photos of crowds, and in one case even
providing a box featuring the protest signs of Soviet protesters,
something they never did with U.S. protests.  

Jumping to the present, the Times placed its small news report on the
large September 24, 2005, Washington, DC antiwar protest on page A26
(Michael Janofsky, "Antiwar Rallies Staged in Washington and Other
Cities," September 25, 2005) and gave that protest no editorial support.
By contrast, on October 22, the paper had a large front page picture of
"Hundreds of protesters [there were 150,000 or more in Washington on
September 24] gathered at the grave of Lebanon's former prime minister
in Beirut yesterday to demand the ouster of Syria's president." This
front page picture-and there was one on A8 as well, showing the crater
that a bomb left that had killed Rafik Hariri-geared well into the Bush
administration's campaign to destabilize Syria. On the same day there
was a front page article on "Bush pushes U.N. to Move Swiftly on Syria
Report," and day after day there has been a steady tattoo of similar
articles featured in the paper as it serves Bush once again in the same
capacity as it had served in the pre-invasion Iraq propaganda campaign.

We should also note that the civil society uprising in the Ukraine in
2004-2005, funded heavily by U.S. government agencies and friendly NGOs,
was given much more lavish news treatment than domestic protests, along
with editorial support. The close association between news-editorial
attention and support and external protests consistent with U.S. foreign
policy initiatives, and grudging attention and non-support (or
opposition) to domestic civil society actions protesting ongoing
official policy, is long-standing and is observable in other areas.  

Labor Disputes  

The New York Times, as well as its mainstream news rivals, all supported
the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, following the lead of
the business community, whereas organized labor and a consistent
majority of the population at large opposed that agreement. In one of
the most telling exhibitions of the Times's class bias and narrow
definition of the "national interest," and its resentment at labor's and
the civil society's refusal to accept this elite initiative, the paper
actually editorialized against labor's attempt to influence the outcome
of this debate ("Running Scared From Nafta," November 16, 1993, with a
chart, Labor's Money: Congressional opponents of NAFTA from the New York
metropolitan area, northern New Jersey and Connecticut who have received
more than $150,000 in campaign contributions from labor political action
committees since 1983). It had no comparable editorial on the even
larger business intervention in this debate, or even the multi-million
dollar publicity campaign carried out by the Mexican government in the
United States.  

The Times had only modest and scattered coverage of the Reagan-business
community attacks on organized labor in the 1980s, even though many of
these attacks were in violation of the law, and although they were badly
weakening an important civil society institution that protects ordinary
citizens both in the workplace and political arena and was arguably
essential to a real rather than nominal democracy. Business Week wrote
in 1984 that "over the past dozen years...U.S. industry has conducted
one of the most successful union wars ever" assisted by "illegally
firing thousands of workers for exercising their right to organize." But
you would hardly know this reading the New York Times (or for that
matter its mainstream colleagues).   

As in the case of political protests, however, you could find a great
deal of Times coverage of the Solidarity movement actions in Poland in
the early 1980s, and the Soviet miners strike in the late 1980s. The
latter is especially interesting as it overlapped the significant
Pittston miners strike in the United States, which took place in 1989,
with a plant takeover phase in September of 1989. The plant takeover was
not covered at all by the Times (or by the TV networks), and was barely
mentioned anywhere in the mainstream press. The Times did have a fair
number of articles on the Pittston strike-54 versus 39 on the Soviet
miners strike between February 1, 1989 through February 21, 1990-but the
Soviet strike drew more full-length treatments (24 versus 16), more
front page attention (9 versus 1) and more op-eds (3 to 0). The Soviet
strike received concentrated attention in July 1989, with 15 full-length
articles, 7 beginning on page 1, 1 on the first page of the Sunday Week
in Review, and 2 op-ed columns. The coverage of the Pittston strike
never had any such concentrated attention, and its one front page
article was on the settlement of the strike. 

Again, this fits a pattern of news coverage that follows an
establishment agenda. The intensive coverage of the Soviet strike served
the Reagan-era effort to put the "evil empire" in a bad light and
encourage opposition to Soviet rule. Intensive treatment of the Pittston
strike might have aroused interest in the deteriorating condition of
U.S. labor and sympathy with labor's plight here, which is not something
the U.S. elite was eager to do (the Times "left" in the 1980s, Anthony
Lewis, even lauded Margaret Thatcher for having put labor in its place;
and Lewis assailed labor for its opposition to NAFTA in 1993).
Similarly, in the same time frame as the great attention given
Solidarity in Poland, the Times and its colleagues essentially ignored
the even more ferocious attack on labor in Turkey by its military
government, which, hardly coincidentally, was supported by the U.S.

War Crime Tribunals  

Privately organized tribunals are another way in which civil society
tries to counter establishment criminal activity like aggressive wars
and sponsored terrorism. Of course, the establishment organizes its own
tribunals, as with the ICTY and the trial of Milosevic, and through
tribunals nominally organized by its client/puppet governments, as in
the case of the forthcoming trial of Saddam Hussein. The New York Times
has given the Milosevic trial enormous-and hugely biased-coverage
(Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, "Marlise Simons on the Yugoslavia
Tribunal: A Study in Total Propaganda Service," (ZNet, 2004), although
interestingly that coverage fell to virtually zero once the prosecution
case was ended and the defense began. The trial of Saddam Hussein has
produced more coverage in the paper than all the dissident tribunals in
history, even before the trial has commenced.
In 1967, when Bertrand Russell organized an International War Crimes
Tribunal to examine and denounce the U.S. war against Vietnam and fight
"Against the Crime of Silence" (the title of the published proceedings),
the New York Times and other establishment media treated it with extreme
brevity and hostility. The same was true of a Second Russell Tribunal on
"Repression in Latin America," held in Rome and Brussels in April 1974
and January 1975, which took very impressive testimony on the
brutalities of the U.S.-sponsored system of National Security States
that had made Latin America the torture center of the world, but which
was barely mentioned in the mainstream media.  
The Iraq invasion-occupation brought forth a surge of civil society
tribunals-20 or more linked tribunals on U.S.-British war crimes against
Iraq, culminating in a major three-day session in Istanbul from June
24-27, 2005 (www.worldtribunal.org). This very moving session, featuring
Arundhati Roy, Richard Falk, Dennis Halliday, Hans Von Sponeck, Walden
Bellow, Dahr Jamail, Wamidh Nadhmi (and seven other Iraqis), provided a
large volume of telling evidence and background on the U.S.-British war,
and, as Richard Falk indicated, it represented civil society speaking.
This civil society had spoken in the massive, global protest marches of
February 2003 before the war and polls at that time showed that a large
majority of people in the world opposed that war. The New York Times and
mainstream media in general have completely ignored the Istanbul and
other tribunals, a deterioration from 1967, and showing the growing gap
between the establishment, establishment media, and ordinary citizens.  

Militarization and War 
As the United States has militarized and become a global interventionist
and rogue state par excellence, the Times has gone along with this, with
occasional small reservations at haste and excess. It never challenged
the string of "gaps" and threats used to justify each surge in the
buildup of overkill, brilliantly exposed in Tom Gervasi's The Myth of
Soviet Military Supremacy (1986), which the Times failed to review in
the midst of the Reagan-era buildup based on the lies of that era. It
was revealing that the Times editorialized in favor of barring Ralph
Nader from the debates in 2000 on the ground that Gore and Bush provided
the public with all the alternatives they needed, although both
supported a further enlargement of the U.S. military budget-neither
favored any "peace dividend," and then and still today the paper does
not contest a military budget that has little to do with "defense." The
civil society demurs, polls disclosing regularly-except in times of
actual war and stoked fears-that the majority would like to see social
expenditures enlarged and the military budget reduced.
It is now clear and has even been admitted by the editors that the Times
served the Bush administration in its drive to an invasion-occupation of
Iraq. What is remarkable in their doing this is that the basis of the
invasion was so crude, the lies so blatant, the violation of
international law so gross that you would think a hired press agency of
the government would be embarrassed to have to swallow these and push
for war. But the Times pushed ahead, not just disseminating propaganda,
but propaganda whose central components were disinformation. Judith
Miller's statement that, "The analysts, the experts and the journalists
who covered them-we were all wrong. If your sources are wrong, you are
wrong," is a lie. There were a great many experts and analysts who were
right, but the New York Times ignored them, misrepresented their views,
and even smeared them (Barry Bearak, "Scott Ritter's Iraq Complex,"
November 24, 2002).
It is important to recognize that the paper's performance as a de facto
public relations arm of the war party was by no means confined to Judith
Miller. It was an institutional process that can be seen in the
editorials, opinion columns, news, magazine, and book reviews. It
reflected the choices and decisions of the paper's leadership, including
publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller. The
editorials were vacillating, but had these characteristics: they never
once mentioned international law and the UN Charter and the fact that an
invasion without Security Council approval would be the "supreme crime";
and they repeatedly asserted as proven that Iraq had weapons of mass
destruction (even speaking of its "storehouses of biological toxins,"
September 13, 2002). The editorials set the moral stage for war, as did
their op-ed columns that gave no space to informed opponents of the war
like Scott Ritter, Hans Von Sponeck, or Glen Rangwala (a close student
of the official lies: see Glen Rangwala and Raymond Whitaker, "20 Lies
About the War," The Independent, July 13, 2003); or legal authorities
like Richard Falk, Francis Boyle, or Michael Mandel; but instead offered
generous space to war protagonist Kenneth Pollack (four long op-ed
columns) and pro-war legal authorities Ruth Wedgwood, Anne-Marie
Slaughter, and Michael Glennon. The New York Times Magazine was
saturated with the war apologetics of George Packer, Michael Ignatieff,
Barry Berak, and James Traub.  

These were the choices of editors with an agenda, and that agenda
overwhelmed the news department as well. Whatever the Bush team spouted,
the paper would feature heavily, even if it was repetitive and another
"vow" or expression of "resolve." They felt no obligation to check the
sources cited (if any) and to search aggressively for alternative
sources, even though the Bush team had already shown an unrestrained
willingness to lie.  

Even when alternative sources were available, time after time the paper
would filter out news that was incompatible with the party line. Thus,
while Miller and her colleagues swallowed a steady stream of informants
supplied by Chalabi and the Bush team, whose credibility was extremely
dubious, the paper never got around to reporting the fact that the
defector Hussein Kamel told the CIA that Saddam Hussein had destroyed
all of his chemical and biological weapons stocks and delivery missiles
in 1991. Here was the highest-ranking Iraqi official ever to defect from
Saddam Hussein's inner circle, a person who had direct knowledge of what
he claimed: for ten years he had run Iraq's nuclear, chemical,
biological and missile programs. His admission had been hidden by the
Clinton administration, but was finally reported in Newsweek in early
March 2003 (John Barry, "Exclusive: The Defector's Secrets," March 3,

This extremely important information about Saddam's WMD by a qualified
and credible defector has never yet been mentioned by the Times. They
have also failed to report Colin Powell's statement made in 2001, but
before 9/11, that Saddam Hussein "has not developed any significant
capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to
project conventional power against his neighbors." This admission, made
before the party line was firmed up, is not only newsworthy in itself
but would alert an honest news agency to the possibility of fraud in the
later claims.  

The steady stream of evidence by Mohamed ElBaradei and the IAEA that
Saddam's nuclear programs had been destroyed and their negative reports
on their examination of alleged sites of possible renewed activity was
ignored by Kenneth Pollack and the Times editors and news gatherers, all
of whom preferred to pass along the claims of administration officials
and their favorite expatriates and defectors. (For detailed evidence of
the Times's ignoring or misrepresenting ElBaradei's and the IAEA's
findings (see Howard Friel and Richard Falk, The Record of the Paper:
How the New York Times Misreports U.S. Foreign Policy). Judith Miller,
of course, set the standard for reliance on administration claims and
the supposed evidence of defectors provided by Chalabi. This was
sometimes coordinated with administration claims, with Miller reporting
the new "evidence," and then Cheney or some other official the next day
citing the New York Times for evidence of the discovery of WMD like
mobile weapons labs. Here most clearly the Times operation was closely
integrated into the news/disinformation management efforts of the Bush
war-manufacturing machinery, that was, in the Times's own words,
"following a meticulously planned strategy to persuade the public...of
the need to confront the threat from Saddam Hussein." Here also it might
be argued that Miller and her bosses, Sulzberger and Keller, were part
of a "joint conspiracy" to carry out the supreme crime, and ought to be
in prison awaiting trial for serious criminal behavior.   

The awfulness of the Times's news coverage possibly reached its peak in
the front page article by Judith Miller on April 21, 2003, "Illicit Arms
Kept Till Eve of War, An Iraqi Scientist Is Said To Assert." Notice that
this piece reaches page one although it is clear from the title that
Miller didn't even talk with the alleged scientist, who is "said to
assert" something by "U.S. military officials," the same folks who
brought us the disinforming stories of Jessica Lynch, Pat Tillman, etc.
The "scientist" said everything the Bushies wanted: that Saddam had
buried his WMD, sent such stuff to Syria, and was cooperating with Al
Qaeda. While Miller couldn't talk to this ultra-convenient "source,"
"she was permitted to see him from a distance at the sites where he said
the material from the arms program was buried. Clad in nondescript
clothes and a baseball cap, he pointed to several spots in the sand
where he said chemical precursors and other weapons material were
buried." That's the last we heard of this find and this source's
This story is eerily reminiscent of an earlier Times fiasco, given a
marvelously satirical treatment by Alexander Cockburn, where one
Christopher Jones, writing in the New York Times Magazine on "In the
Land of the Khmer Rouge" in 1982, after visiting Khmer Rouge country,
wrote: "By an old Cambodian cemetery a blind man was chanting the
Ramayana, a part of Cambodia's cultural heritage, as he twanged a
primitive guitar. What better personification of Cambodia could I have
found than this old singer, whose heroic and poetic ballad had ceased to
have any connection with anything I had just seen? Cambodia, a land
possessed, its ancient hymns, like its temples, fallen on evil days. Of
all dead lands, the most dead." Cockburn pointed out that this exact
language is to be found in Andre Malraux's 1923 novel La Voie Royale.
Cockburn commented: "Of course if he was old when Malraux heard him in
1923, the singer must be quite marvelously venerable by now, but I dare
say Jones was too enthralled, on his remote frontier crossing, to notice

Judith Miller and the Times's editors must have been too enthralled with
the marvel of the new Iraqi "source" that found all these good things
supporting every claim of the Bushies to note that such lies had been
pushed and then embarrassingly found wanting with painful regularity in
the past. But some people will not learn if their biases and
will-to-believe are overwhelmingly strong. Unfortunately, however, as
the paper admitted in the wake of the Christopher Jones incident, such
performances "debase democracy."

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