If one measures lying by quantity of people misled, their relative importance as decision-makers and influencers, and gravity of the deception, then the NYT is the biggest liar of them all, and their track record on Russia over the past couple of years, since the Ukraine crisis got going, has been nothing less than extraordinary.
Our analyst Jacob Dreizin digs into this week's juicy offering.
This is not the first time that RI has called out the New York Times for its amateurish, misleading coverage of Russia among other issues, and it won’t be the last.
Most of you readers know that since the dawn of the Internet and particularly since the post-2007 ad revenue depression, the Times and other Mainstream Media (MSM) outlets have been on a steep downward slope.
Quality has gone down the tubes as capable editors and hardboiled journalists are fired and replaced with a smaller number of recent college grads, many of them not even on the payroll (i.e., contract freelancers.)
Naturally, most of these folks have little real-world experience, few contacts, no language skills or cultural knowledge, etc., and are thus easy targets for “stories” fed to them by the Government and other vested interests, as well as social media memes and other nonsense. Incapable of real journalism, they repeat whatever the Power Structure wants the public to “know.” And nowhere has this been more evident than with regard to foreign policy, where the propaganda machine is at its finest.
Issues that Uncle Sam doesn’t want the press digging into—e.g., the CIA’s Libya-Syria arms funnel which culminated in the Benghazi disaster, or the massive CIA training-and-arming operation and “joint command center” for Syrian rebels in Jordan—are left untouched. They are taboo. The MSM has neither the resources nor the organizational cojones to piss off Uncle Sam by “going there.”
But where the New York Times leaves the pack and really distinguishes itself is in its ability to spring into action immediately as a slavish “amen” chorus for the Establishment, seemingly at the Establishment’s beck-and call, with shockingly amateurish, low-quality, misleading or simply fraudulent content.
We saw this in the spring of 2014, when the Times carried almost without question the State Department's ridiculous claims of Russian Special Forces involvement in the opening weeks of the Donbass war, which I have previously recounted in greater detail. The Times did it again with the October 2015 bad joke linked at the start of this piece, among many other instances.
And now, when the Establishment sees even Matt Drudge giving voice to Moscow’s position on the current Turkish drama, with the majority of online talkbacks across the English-speaking world either expressing sympathy for Russia or full-on taking Russia’s side, it sees a screaming need for something, anything to support the “Russia Bad” narrative. The alarm bells are going off, and you know the Times is the man to call.
Sounds reasonable enough, right? Fair and balanced. Except that after a few sentences and maps on “What Turkey Says” and “What Russia Says”, we fall into some kind of wormhole and proceed to the inexplicable meat of the piece, which is headlined, “Russia’s Pattern of Confrontation.”
In this section, completely ignoring Turkey’s well-known “Pattern of Confrontation” with regard to crossing international borders to bomb uppity Kurds, theTimes rehashes the long-running, popular myth of Russian military aircraft intruding on innocent NATO countries’ airspace.
It starts off talking about “a series of air encounters between Russia and the West” whereby “Russian military planes fly near, or into, the airspace of other nations.”
Now here is the truth of it: Since Vladimir Putin came to power, barring the ongoing Turkish drama, neither the U.S. nor any NATO government has even once claimed that a Russian military aircraft has flown without permission over its sovereign territory or territorial waters. Likewise, Putin's Russia has not once accused the U.S. or NATO of violating its sovereign airspace (though it was Uncle Sam who wrote the Cold War book on airspace violations—check out the U-2 Incident and Project Dark Gene for starters.)
At most, there have been intrusions into “Air Defense Exclusion Zones”, “Areas of Interest”, or other such arbitrary formulations, which—as with the U.S. and UK—can extend hundreds of miles beyond a nation’s coasts, and which have no weight under international law.
So to imply that there has been an ongoing “series” of Russian violations of Western “airspace”, is either speaking from careless ignorance, or a deliberate abuse of popular ignorance or assumptions as to the meaning of “airspace.”
However, this is just peanuts. It gets worse.
After setting up Russia as the sole guilty party for these types of “encounters” and “incidents”, the Times offers several maps (see this and this), probably sourced from the Pentagon or some thinktank, pinpointing Russia’s alleged hostile acts in the air.
Incredibly, nowhere is there so much as a hint that some points on these maps represent U.S. or other NATO aircraft coming near Russia’s shores.
Nay, the way the Times sets it up, by way of the language I've mentioned and other language you can read for yourself, every point on these maps is an instance of Russian aggression.
There is just no way that a simple reader coming at this material could see it in any other light.
What the hell was Uncle Sam doing there? The Sea of Okhotsk is bordered by Russia on three sides. For the U.S. military to be there is akin to the Russians flying into Hudson Bay, Canada, or possibly the Gulf of Mexico—which they have never done.
Oh, and how about those dots in the Black Sea? At least one (and probably all) of them was a U.S. spy plane being intercepted nor too far from Russian territory.
Now look at all these incidents in the Baltic Sea. You would think that Russia was going crazy off the coast of Estonia, Latvia, etc., wouldn’t you?
Except that some—we don’t know how many, but probably a lot—of these incidents involved Russian aircraft intercepting U.S. or NATO spy planes or other planes near Russian shores (i.e. near Leningrad or Kaliningrad), not the other way around!
May I ask, what the hell are Uncle Sam’s spy planes doing in the Baltic Sea? Does America have a Baltic coastline? Did we lose one of our states in the Baltic somewhere? And is Russia invariably the aggressor here?
There is only one reason for U.S. military surveillance aircraft to be in the eastern portion of the Baltic Sea, and that is to spy on and/or to intimidate Russia.
And if that’s not enough, here’s Bloomberg for you:
“Russian fighters flew more than 300 missions in response to NATO and other foreign military aircraft approaching the country’s borders this year, he[Lieutenant-General Mikhail Mizintsev] said.
…The number of flights by NATO’s tactical aircraft close to the borders of Russia and Belarus doubled to about 3,000 this year, according to Mizintsev.”
And for those who thought only Russia “dangerously” buzzes U.S. aircraft, judging by all the “why us?” and “we're lodging a protest!” whining from the Pentagon, consider this:
“Mizintsev said Russia registered 55 cases of foreign jets flying in “dangerous proximity” to its long-range military aircraft, at a distance of less than 100 meters, in 2013-14.”
OK, so Uncle Sam and his NATO vassals are routinely pushing the envelope and forcing Russia to scramble its air defenses, the same thing Russia is doing to Uncle Sam and his vassals. But this is Russian aggression?
And why is the New York Times aggressively—I would say, deliberately—mispresenting maps of Russia-NATO air incidents as an encyclopedia of Russian aggression, rather than a two-way street in which each side routinely tests the other, as was done in the Cold War?
Again, there is absolutely no way that Joe Sixpack with no background in this issue could possibly interpret the Times’ context for these maps as anything other than pure Russian aggression. The way the Times frames it, every single dot on these maps is “Russia bad.
This is a pure hit piece from the Times, coming at a point when the Establishment is desperate to remind everyone that Russia is the bad guy, despite the fact that “unnamed U.S. government officials” are now saying that Russia’s SU-24 was, in fact, shot down over Syria, just as Mr. Putin has claimed.
So let’s be clear: The New York Times has become trash. This is not the newspaper I grew up reading in the 1990s, which helped motivate and direct me towards politics and foreign affairs. If it is still my country’s “Newspaper of Record”, we are all screwed.