Top editors at the supposedly objective New York Times admitted on Friday that its coverage of Syria differs substantially from its coverage of Iraq thanks to the newspaper’s warm feelings toward President Obama. Margaret Sullivan, public editor of the newspaper, wrote, “I’ve been observing The Times’s Syria coverage and its editorials for many weeks, with an eye to this question….the tone cannot be described as consistently skeptical….I have also found that The Times sometimes writes about the administration’s point of view in The Times’s own voice rather than providing distance through clear attribution.” The Times, she pointed out, “seems to take the government’s position at face value.”
Amidst accusations that the Times is pumping up Obama administration claims about chemical weapons use by Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, and going out of its way to back military action, managing editor Dean Baquet admitted to treating Syria differently than Iraq. “I’ve never said, ‘Let’s remember what happened in Iraq,'” he said. “I don’t think it’s necessary. I haven’t had to instruct the staff to ask hard questions. They are doing that.”
Why the differing treatment of Syria and Iraq? “The press’s coverage of Iraq always lurks in the background,” Baquet said. “But it was a long, long time ago.” According to Sullivan, Baquet also said that Syria was not like Iraq because the Obama administration wasn’t as enthusiastic about going to war as the Bush administration. “Nobody could read our coverage and say that The New York Times is trumpeting war,” Baquet stated.
But editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal differed from Baquet in his opinion of the paper’s coverage. “We can’t ever accept at face value what we’re being told [after Iraq],” he said. “[W]e’ve had direct discussions about this, where we’ve said, ‘We’re back in Iraq.”
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).