Times Watch for January 15, 2004
More Double Standards on the Gaza Strip
Greg Myre's Thursday dispatch, "Gaza Mother, 22, Kills Four Israelis in Suicide Bombing" is preoccupied with the sex of the suicide bomber: "Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, said this was the first time his group had dispatched a woman to be a suicide bomber. Some militant Palestinian factions have been reluctant to do so, and some Islamic groups have questioned whether it is permitted under Islamic law."
Myre devotes two full paragraphs to this debate-as if the main outrage was with the sex of the murderer, not the killing itself.
On the same page, in contrast, there's Craig Smith's "Embattled Jewish Settlers in Gaza Pray for Miracles." While detailing the hardships of a settler family (one family of eight had three children maimed by a Palestinian mortar shell), it includes this line, which borders on blaming the victims of terrorism for bringing attacks down on themselves: "Flagships of extreme Zionism that often attract hard-line ideologues, they provoke Palestinian fury and are difficult for the army to defend."
For Myre's profile of the female suicide bomber, click here.
For Smith's profile of the settler family, click here.
" Israel | Greg Myre | Palestinians | Craig Smith | Terrorism
"Civil Rights Leaders" Tell Bush: Stay Away from MLK Day
Thursday's story by Jeffrey Gettleman and Ariel Hart, "Bush Plan to Honor Dr. King Stirs Criticism," find anti-Bush racial animosity in Atlanta on the eve of Martin Luther King's birthday celebration. Coauthor Gettleman previously compared "Ten Commandments" Judge Roy Moore and his supporters to Alabama"s segregationist former governor George Wallace. In his latest offering, Gettleman again flings down race cards every step of the way of his trip through urban Atlanta.
The story opens: "When President Bill Clinton came to town on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, crowds poured into the streets to watch him lay a wreath at the foot of Dr. King's grave. On Thursday, President Bush is coming to town. And the streets may be full again. Many of Atlanta's civil rights leaders are outraged about Mr. Bush's planned visit to commemorate Dr. King's 75th birthday and are using the occasion for protests. Already, they have marched with bullhorns, signs and thumping drums, shouting for the president to stay away."
Then the Times brings up the liberal anti-war angle: "Many demonstrators asked how Mr. Bush, who pushed for war in Iraq, could champion Dr. King, who stood for nonviolent resistance. 'It's hypocritical,' said Minister Mmoja Ajabu of Providence Missionary Baptist Church. Pointing to Dr. King's tomb, a slab of white marble overlooking a reflecting pool, Mr. Ajabu added, 'It's quite possible that Dr. King will get up out of his grave there and say, 'What's going on here? You're killing so many people?'
Gettleman and Hart apparently finds Ajabu's criticism credible. What they don't mention is Ajabu's, er, inflammatory past. A former Black Panther militia leader, he was arrested in 1996 for burning an American flag at an Olympics celebration. In 1994, after a fire destroyed Randolph County High School in Wedowee, Ajabu was quoted as saying, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution: "The school board wouldn't get rid of [Principal Hulond] Humphries, so somebody got rid of the school. This sends a message that black folks aren't going to sit down and let white folks run over us." (The school was the subject of protests after the school's principal opposed mixed-race dating at the school prom.)
Gettleman and Hart continue with more anti-Bush criticism: "Civil rights leaders said the hastily planned presidential visit, to be followed by a $2,000-a-person fund-raiser in Atlanta, is interfering with birthday plans. They also said coupling a visit to honor Dr. King with a political fund-raiser was in poor taste. 'It's the epitome of insult,' said the Rev. Timothy McDonald, an organizer of the birthday celebrations. 'He's really coming here for the fund-raiser. The King wreath was an afterthought.'"
Again, the Times ignores the radical background of the "civil rights leader" they quote. In August 2002, lamenting the defeat of anti-Israeli Rep. Cynthia McKinney, McDonald blamed everyone in sight for her loss: "McKinney was defeated by the extreme wing of the Jewish community; the Southeastern Legal Foundation, which sued the city of Atlanta over its affirmative action program; the Christian Coalition, which gave us right-wing ideologues in Congress; and the Republican Party, which took advantage of the opportunity to cross over in a Democratic primary."
Ironically, Martin Luther King himself was a strong supporter of Israel, a fact that should give Israel-bashers like McKinney and McDonald pause.
Gettleman and Hart contrast Bush's racially charged reception with that of another president: "When President Clinton came in 1996, he received a standing ovation. But this presidential visit will be different. It seems to have lifted the lid on long-simmering anger many blacks feel toward Mr. Bush. Some Bush policies, including tax cuts mainly benefiting those with higher incomes and cutting back on welfare-type programs, have alienated black voters, analysts say." They don't back up this dubious tax analysis and fail to cite any welfare cuts-in fact, a big complaint from conservatives is that Bush is spending too much on government programs like Medicare.
Finally, in paragraph 18, the Times gets around to the inconvenient fact that the actual caretakers of King legacy welcome Bush's presence in Atlanta: "The King Center is the official guardian of Dr. King's legacy, and a spokesman at the center said the president's visit was welcome. 'We don't have any problems with this,' said the spokesman, Robert Vickers. He called the security arrangements a 'minor inconvenience.'" Still, the Times gives the protestors the last word: "Those on the streets may disagree. This morning, a stream of civil rights activists marched through Dr. King's old neighborhood, singing spirituals while Buddhist monks banged on drums."
For the rest of the outrage from Atlanta, click here.
" George W. Bush | Jeffrey Gettleman | Ariel Hart | Israel | Martin Luther King | Labeling Bias
"Love Story," Starring Paul O'Neill
A Times editor really likes former Paul O'Neill's book. Wednesday's signed editorial by editorial board member Andres Martinez recites the former Treasury Secretary's descriptions of the Bush White house in Ron Suskind's new book, "Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill," which is based on interviews with O'Neill.
Martinez approvingly notes O'Neill's revelation that Dick Cheney is a White House heavy who favors ideology over facts: "Long after the reader has figured it out, Mr. O'Neill finally realizes that Mr. Cheney is the leader of the inner circle, which keeps facts-whether about global warming, the deficit, steel tariffs or Iraq-from getting in the way of policy".Mr. O'Neill came to feel that he, Christie Whitman and Colin Powell were essentially hired for cover by a president who had pledged to govern from the center, but really had no intention of doing so."
The Times then spares a kind word for, of all things, Nixon Republicans: "Mr. O'Neill was a Nixonian Republican caught up in a Reaganite restoration. He had admired how President Bush's father, when faced with a dire fiscal outlook, had reneged on his 'no new taxes' pledge. And while some Democratic liberals had viewed President Bill Clinton's fiscal discipline as a betrayal, for the likes of Mr. O'Neill it represented the triumph of Republican values."
Yes, Martinez did write "Bill Clinton's fiscal discipline."
Then he's on to mocking Bush administration secrecy: "Whether it's Mr. Cheney's energy task force, the supposedly independent commission on Social Security reform or the president's ridiculously scripted Waco economic summit meeting in the summer of 2002, the Treasury secretary continually registered his deep shock at what he rightly considered shoddy, if not dishonest, decision-making."
For the rest of Martinez's book review, click here.
" George W. Bush | Dick Cheney | Editorial | Andres Martinez | Paul O'Neill | Ron Suskind
"Conservatives" vs. "Democrats"
"2 on 9/11 Panel Are Questioned on Earlier Security Roles," a report from Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, pits "conservatives" versus-not liberals, but plain old "Democrats." They write in Thursday's Times: "The transition period between the Clinton and Bush administrations remains a sensitive issue, particularly in an election year. Many conservatives and supporters of Mr. Bush have argued that President Bill Clinton did not do enough to deal with the threat from Al Qaeda. Some Democrats and former Clinton administration officials have countered that the Bush administration did not take terrorism seriously enough, either, before 9/11."
For the rest of Lichtblau and Risen, click here.
" Labeling Bias | Eric Lichtblau | James Risen | Terrorism