Reprinted from Consortium News
Traditional U.S. journalism and the American people are facing a crisis, as the preeminent American newspaper, The New York Times, has fully lost its professional bearings, transforming itself into a neoconservative propaganda sheet eager for a New Cold War with Russia and imposing a New McCarthyism on public debate.
The crisis is particularly acute because another top national newspaper, The Washington Post, is also deeply inside the neocon camp.
The Times' abandonment of journalistic principles has become most noticeable with its recurring tirades about Russia, as the Times offers up story after story that would have embarrassed Sen. Joe McCarthy and his 1950s Red-baiters.
Operating without any actual evidence, a recent Times article by Neil MacFarquhar sought to trace public challenges to official U.S. government narratives on world events to a massive "disinformation" campaign by Russian intelligence. Apparently, it is inconceivable to the Times that independent-minded people might simply question some of the dubious claims made by Official Washington.
Perhaps most stunningly, the Times sought to prove its point by citing the slogan of Russia's English-language television network, saying: "RT trumpets the slogan 'Question More.'"
So, now, presumably if someone suggests questioning a claim from the U.S. government or from the NATO alliance, that person is automatically a "Russian agent of influence." For a major newspaper to adopt such a position is antithetical to the tenets of journalism which call on us journalists to question everything.
The Times' position is particularly outrageous because many key claims by the U.S. government, including some used to justify aggressive wars against other countries, have turned out to be false. Indeed, the Times has been caught peddling some of these bogus claims, often fed to the "newspaper of record" by U.S. government officials or from think tanks funded by American military contractors.
Most memorably, in 2002, the Times pushed disinformation about the Iraqi government reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, a lie that was then cited by Vice President Dick Cheney and other senior officials to help stampede the American people behind the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Lesser known moments of the Times serving as a disinformation conduit include a discredited assertion about the 2013 sarin attack in Syria, in which the Times purported to show how the flight paths of two missiles traced back to a Syrian military base, only later to grudgingly acknowledge that aeronautical experts judged that the one missile found to be carrying sarin had a maximum range of about one-fourth the required distance.
During the 2014 Ukraine crisis, the Times accepted photographs from the U.S. State Department which purported to show Russian military personnel in Russia and then later inside Ukraine, except that it turned out that the photograph supposedly taken in Russia was actually taken in Ukraine, destroying the premise of the Times article.
Yet, the Times holds itself out as some paragon of objectivity. This delusion further underscores how out of control and indeed dangerous the Times has become as a source of U.S. government disinformation, while accusing others of spreading Russian disinformation which often isn't disinformation at all.
In its recent article, the Times cites reasonable questions raised by Swedish citizens about a proposal for the country entering into a military association with NATO and dismisses these concerns as proof of Russian government propaganda and lies:
"The claims were alarming: If Sweden, a non-NATO member, signed the deal, the alliance would stockpile secret nuclear weapons on Swedish soil; NATO could attack Russia from Sweden without government approval; NATO soldiers, immune from prosecution, could rape Swedish women without fear of criminal charges."