Tuesday, December 06, 2005

How to write propaganda like the New York Times

A single sentence in a New York Times article about the poor reception Condi Rice's denial of US torture received in Europe very concisely illustrates the paper's current function as a willing vessel of Bush administration propaganda.
To some Americans at least, the way the charges about secret prisons and C.I.A. flights have gained currency illustrates the readiness of many Europeans always to believe the worst about the United States.
This is the only statement about American opinion anywhere in the article. The statement is unsourced and does not name any Americans who hold this view. It ludicrously intimates that the charges about secret prisons and CIA flights only have gained currency in Europe, when in fact all of the US papers are full of these stories, even the New York Times itself. The sentence also ignores the fact that there is a whole lot of corroborated evidence that the US is in fact engaging in widespread torture--from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo to the renditions program. And the majority of Americans believe it too.
Whatever their personal tolerance for various practices, 51 percent of Americans believe the U.S. government is employing torture "as a matter of policy" as part of the war against terrorism. And two-thirds think the government is using physical abuse that stops short of torture.
And on top of all this, this sentence momentarily "forgets" the most recent evidence for believing that the US engages in torture that this very article earlier admitted
There have been too many reports in the news media about renditions - including one involving an Lebanese-born German citizen, Khaled el- Masri, kidnapped in Macedonia in December 2003 and imprisoned in Afghanistan for several months on the mistaken assumption that he was an associate of the Sept. 11 hijackers - for blanket disclaimers of torture to be widely believed.
To sum up: hiding behind the conceit of "some Americans believe," this sentence, without having to bother to cite any sources and in plain contradiction to all the evidence, is able to plant the suggestion that Europeans only believe that we torture because they are reflexively anti-American.

A nice piece of work by the paper of record. Hail Victory!


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