Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Michael R. Gordon's Iran Reporting -- Iraqi WMD Redux?

I just sent this Letter to the Editor of the New York Times.

August 8, 2007

Re: Michael R. Gordon's Iran Reporting -- Iraqi WMD Redux?

Dear Editor,

I was dismayed to read Michael R. Gordon's article, "Iran-Supplied Bomb Is Killing More Troops in Iraq, U.S. Says" (August 8, 2007). Citing Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno and unnamed "American military officials," Mr. Gordon and his editors once again allow government officials to use the news pages of the New York Times as a propaganda sheet.

Mr. Gordon's entire article consists of unsupported assertions by military officials that Iran is responsible for the deaths of American soldiers. Once again, readers are forced to ask: Has the New York Times learned nothing from the Judy Miller fiasco? How can Times editors allow its journalists to repeat bellicose government propaganda uncritically, without a trace of skepticism, and without bothering to do the most basic research about the claims made by the government?

With Mr. Gordon's August 8 article, the New York Times once again effectively vouches for the truthfulness of the administration's claims about Iran's complicity in the death of Americans in Iraq -- despite the dubious and widely-disputed nature of those claims, without providing any context for, or doing the most basic research about the likely veracity of, those claims. Instead of skepticism and actual research into the veracity of the government's claims, Mr. Gordon's article simply passes on the claims, barely pausing to introduce such phrases as "according to military officials" and "military officials say."

At one juncture in his article, Mr. Gordon actually asserts that "American intelligence officials have presented evidence that the weapons come from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran," without troubling himself to describe the alleged evidence to his readers!

The quality of the New York Times' Iraq coverage, as evidenced by the stenographic work of Mr. Gordon and his editors, is lamentable. It was bad enough that the New York Times failed to function as an independent news organization during the run-up to the Iraq war. But it is absolutely inexcusable that the Times is rushing down this same path once again.