All the news that’s fit to print

Joe Katzman at Winds of Change notes this on WSJ Opinion Journal’s ‘Best of the Web Today’:

Torturing the News

Tom Fox, a member of the anti-American Christian Peacekeeper Teams, has been murdered by terrorists in Iraq who held him hostage for more than three months, the New York Times reported on Saturday. On Sunday, the paper carried a follow-up report that Fox “had apparently been tortured by his captors before being shot multiple times in the head and dumped on a trash heap next to a railway line in western Baghdad.”

The story of Fox’s death ran on page A8; the story of his torture, on page A10. So what made the Times’ front page on Saturday? Yet another story about Abu Ghraib.

Joe writes

Wouldn’t want people to get the wrong impression that our enemies might be a prime source of evil in the world. Makes it too difficult to keep the focus where we want it, dontcha know: on the evil of the Bush Administration….

Luckily for all of us, the first two commenters haven’t lost focus. One writes

It’s man bites dog. It’s not news that a bunch of terrorists tortures people, it is news that the Army of the United States of America does.

If the point is that Al Qaeda and the other Iraqi insurgents are vicious animals who are more morally depraved than soldiers of the world’s greatest democracy, you know what? I think we all get that. That’s not a point that should need to be reinforced. It’s not a point we should have to think about, frankly, and we wouldn’t be thinking about it but for the fact that this administration has recklessly undercut the reputation of the US military.

I responded

Okay guys…if it’s understandable to put the “Fox was tortured” story on page 10 because “we all get that”, what makes the Abu Gharib story front-page material?

Are you suggesting that the NYT’s readers are unaware of the problems at Abu Gharib? After two years, Abu Gharib is still front-page material but Fox never gets there at all because we know terrorists are bad guys?

I’m certainly not defending everything that happened at Abu Gharib, but front-page stories two years later on a story covered in-depth (and beyond) for all that time seems to be more than a bit “man bites dog” to Murdoc.

I’m also a bit curious about “recklessly undercut the reputation of the US military”. Does anyone out there think the reputation of the US military has been “undercut”?


  1. Just for the record here at MO, the NYT story has serious problems. The person they wrote about is a fake. Evidently editors at, who, in their own words, spent days and days reviewing Abu Gharib photographs (man how DOES anyone get jobs like that!?) immediately noticed that the pictures they have reviewed don’t match the picture of the guy the NYT claimed was a ?victim?. The military has been in contact with the NYT about the problem. NYT, to it’s credit, says ‘we’re looking into it’. That’s a lot more than they usually say when they’ve been caught. Will someone be fired? Yeah, maybe in Trent Lotts office. After all, he bought a NYT one time.