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As North Korea Threatens, New York Times Avoids Obama's Missile Defense Flip-Flop

The New York Times story on the Pentagon's response to North Korea's latest belligerence led Saturday's paper -- "U.S. Is Expanding Missile Defenses On Pacific Coast." But there was a key element missing.

The Pentagon will spend $1 billion to deploy additional ballistic missile interceptors along the Pacific Coast to counter the growing reach of North Korea’s weapons, a decision accelerated by Pyongyang’s recent belligerence and indications that Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, is resisting China’s efforts to restrain him.

The new deployments, announced by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Friday, will increase the number of ground-based interceptors in California and Alaska to 44 from 30 by 2017.

But the story by defense reporters Thom Shanker, David Sanger and Martin Fackler had a serious omission, which MRC's Brent Baker pointed out after the networks omitted the same point: "The Obama administration in 2009 dropped the Bush administration’s plan to add missile interceptor capability against North Korea, yet on Friday, when Obama’s Pentagon realized their error and scrambled to announce a reversal to implement the Bush plan, ABC, CBS and NBC failed to mention Obama’s dereliction." The number of interceptors would have risen to 44 under the plan originally proposed by the Bush administration, but it was scuttled when Obama took office in 2009.

The Times instead hyped doubts about the effectiveness of the missile defense system.

The missiles have a mixed record in testing, hitting dummy targets just 50 percent of the time, but officials said Friday’s announcement was intended not merely to present a credible deterrence to the North’s limited intercontinental ballistic missile arsenal. They said it is also meant to show South Korea and Japan that the United States is willing to commit resources to deterring the North and, at the same time, warn Beijing that it must restrain its ally or face an expanding American military focus on Asia.