Letter to Byron Calame, the New York Times ombudsman
Posted to www.marxmail.org on October 24, 2005
Dear Mr. Calame,
By dwelling on the failings of individuals (Judith Miller, Bill Keller et al), you fail as well in your role of ombudsman at the NY Times. In essence, the Judith Miller scandal must be understood as an institutional failing at the Times, which is rooted in its incestuous relationship to the government. I am sure that you people are at least aware that the problem exists in the public mind since Times editor Philip Taubman himself raised the question "Are we lapdogs to the Bush administration or are we watchdogs?" at a panel discussion last May.
This relationship was openly admitted by Max Frankel in his
recent book on the Cuban missile crisis. According to Frankel, who was
listening to Kennedy and James Reston over an extension phone at the time,
Kennedy said, "If you reveal my plan, or print that we discovered their
On August 4, 1964, when US planes bombed
In the next episode of imperialist bullying a decade later,
the NY Times also demonstrated its willingness to sacrifice truth at the altar
of national security. After Times reporter Raymond Bonner visited a small village
The removal of Bonner occurred at a time when the Times was embarrassing itself on a regular basis with reporting
from the Judith Millers of their day. The Times employed Shirley Christian at
the time, an open defender of Reagan's illegal war against
I can go on and on. Books have been written on the NY Times' failings on questions such as these, including Mark Hertsgaard's "On Bended Knees" and the recent effort by Howard Friel and Richard Falk titled "The Record of the Paper: How the New York Times Misreports US Foreign Policy." When asked by an interviewer from the Columbia School of Journalism whether anybody from the paper had gotten in touch with him, Falk responded, "Not a word. And I think that's characteristic of the Times' arrogance, in my view, their feeling that they don't want to even engage in a discussion of this kind of criticism." This, in a nutshell, indicates that the NY Times will continue to have problems of the sort associated with Judith Miller.