Tuesday, December 29, 2020

THE NEW YORK TIMES never learns

THE NEW YORK TIMES shredded their reputation with their Iraq War coverage (the pre-war coverage helped sell the illegal war, the immediate coverage after the war started kept it going).  They learned nothing from that moment and now 'star reporter' Rukmini Callimachi has brought more shame to the paper.  AP explained, " A high-profile podcast on terrorism from The New York Times that had been a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize was withdrawn as a contest entry in the wake of the newspaper saying the claims of a man central to 'Caliphate' could not be verified. [. . .] The paper had previously said it would return a Peabody award it had won for “Caliphate,” and the Overseas Press Club of America said it was taking back an honor it had bestowed on the podcast. The story’s central reporter, Rukmini Callimachi, will be reassigned off the terrorism beat, the newspaper said."  Brian Cathcart (BYLINE TIMES) notes, "After a lengthy internal investigation, the New York Times (NYT) has issued a series of corrections and apologies relating to work by one of its star reporters, terrorism specialist Rukmini Callimachi, winner of both a Pulitzer Prize and an Emmy. Callimachi, who has admitted only limited errors, has been moved to other duties." Sana Saeed (AJPLUS) pointed out:

Caliphate, like most journalism around "terrorism" and "Muslim violence" or "radicalization," relied on unconfirmed sources, displayed disregard for usual ethical and factual considerations in reporting, and uncritically accepted the Global “War On Terror” (GWOT) narrative. The latter, in particular, introduced us to a lexicon of terms and ideas that reinforce the concept of a looming, amorphous threat of brown and Black bogeymen from the lands of sand and oil.

As an example, take the term “radicalization” – there’s no agreed upon criteria for how to define this term for any group. State bodies like the FBI have long exploited that ambiguity, and the media has followed suit. Think back to that moment when a horde of reporters in 2015 went into the San Bernardino shooters’ home and examined innocuous Muslim ritual beads and books as proof of brewing “radicalization.”

The Caliphate project and Callimachi's work were simply well-produced exercises in fearmongering rooted in racist tropes of Muslim/Muslim-adjacent subjects – even if you take out the fraudulent story of Shehroze Chaudhry, aka “Abu Huzayfah.”

Very rarely, if ever, does this strain of journalism focus on anything other than so-called “radical Islamist violence.” Other forms of nonstate political violence such as white nationalist or militias will be categorized under other beats. In doing so, nonstate violence by groups and individuals identified as Muslim or using language derived from Islam to package their political goals (whether or not it’s “actually Islam” becomes irrelevant) is pathologized; it becomes something unique, cosmic and disconnected from the historical circumstances and material conditions.

And in this process, there is a mass dehumanization of Muslims.


For more on this, see C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," Rebecca's "callimachi needs to be fired," Mike's "Look at the little bitch Glenn Greenwald" and Elaine's "NYT needs to fire Rukmini Callimachi."


Instead of addressing that, the paper's attempted to silence critics.  David Brennan (NEWSWEEK) reports:

The host of a popular New York Times podcast pressured several journalists to soften their criticism of the paper over the investigation into and retraction of its Caliphate podcast, according to NPR media reporter David Folkenflik.

Michael Barbaro, host of the Times' The Daily podcast, reportedly leant on multiple journalists who were critical of the newspaper's handling of the Caliphate scandal. The Times launched an investigation of its own reporting when it emerged that one of the Caliphate's central figures had lied about his supposed role as an Islamic State fighter and executioner in Syria.

Barbaro, as Marisa Sarnoff (MEDIAITE) notes, was actually too close to the story to be a part of covering it:

Barbaro, who interviewed Times executive editor Dean Baquet about the retraction, has multiple personal and professional ties to the team that produced the hit podcast about ISIS, NPR reported. The first few episodes of Caliphate ran as part of Barbaro’s The Daily podcast, and multiple staffers from The Daily eventually joined the Caliphate podcast. Most remarkably: Barbaro is engaged to Caliphate executive producer Lisa Tobin.

That relationship was not disclosed to listeners of Barbaro’s interview with Baquet.

This conflict of interest should have kept him away from the story but the paper refused to impose any standards at all which is how Barbaro ended up working behind the scenes to try to silence critics.  Jessica Chasmar (WASHINGTON TIMES) writes:

But NPR reported that Mr. Barbaro was simultaneously “doing damage control” behind the scenes, including “admonishing” NPR host Lulu Garcia-Navarro “to demonstrate restraint” on criticizing The Times and warning her she was “hurting the feelings of people at the newspaper.”

Mr. Barbaro also repeatedly contacted Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple to criticize his use of the word “retract” on Twitter to describe what happened, Mr. Wemple told NPR. The Times’ position is that only parts of the series were retracted, specifically the parts about Mr. Chaudhry and his history.

Brad Slager (at the right-wing TOWNHALL) offers, " A journalist encouraging other journalists not to engage in journalism is about the best example you can find as to how something this disastrous could take place at The New York Times."  We may not agree with him politically but he nailed that one correctly. 


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