A lesson in self-criticism

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Clark Hoyt, the Public Editor of the New York Times, published a fascinating article in the paper on Sunday (thank you Jim Giles for bringing it to my attention).

‘Seeing Al Qaeda around every corner’ strongly criticises the NYT for swallowing the Bush administration’s rhetoric on Iraq. ‘Bush and the United States military in Baghdad’ Hoyt writes ‘are increasingly pointing to a single villain on the battlefield: Al Qaeda’.

But instead of challenging the administration’s simplification of the situation, the New York Times has, Hoyt says ‘slipped into a routine of quoting the president and the military uncritically about Al Qaeda’s role in Iraq — and sometimes citing the group itself without attribution’.

Hoyt has spoken to ‘Middle East experts’ to confirm that the situation on the ground is ‘much more complicated’ than the one promoted by the US administration. Though most US papers are said to be reporting the administration’s line uncritically, Hoyt reserves his admonishments for his own paper.

The UK press can rarely be accused of failing to challenge the government’s line, but it’s a long while since I saw any UK paper be so self-critical, Guardian included.

Written by Martin Moore

July 12th, 2007 at 12:38 pm

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