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To her credit, New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan has another great piece today criticizing the "paper of public record" for not being at the Bradley Manning torture hearing.  She wrote a similar piece last week that was equally poignant.But the excuses she offers are neither credible nor salutary.

To her credit, Sullivan contacted New York Times senior editors to find out why the paper was not covering the torture hearing of suspected WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning. David Leonhardt, the Washington bureau chief offered the following two excuses, which I will explain defy credulity:

1) The Times had already covered the most important aspects of the testimony, his treatment in solitary confinement.
This is preposterous because the Times only did two articles--19 months ago--on the subject. On March 3-4, 2011, Charlie Savage did two articles of about 300 words each. The first tells us that Manning spent 7 hours in his cell naked on one day, but the military would not explain why. The second tells us that "Manning will also be required to stand outside his ell naked during a morning inspection." This week's testimony renders both of these articles inaccurate.  The torture hearings have revealed critical details, such as the facts that four mental health doctors rendered Manning at no risk of suicide during the months he slept naked at night, which his chief captor, CWO2 Denis Barnes, had been informed was in violation of Secretary of the Navy instructions. These important details have been painstakingly documented and analyzed by bloggers like Kevin Gosztola of Firedoglake, for example here and here. (Unfortunately, Sullivan only gives a shout out to another MSM reporter from The Guardian, who was also present at the hearings for only four days.)
2) [A]s with any other legal case, we won't cover every single proceeding.  In this case, doing so would have involved multiple days of a reporter's time, for a relatively straightforward story.
This is also nonsense.  The Times has been able to put reporters on daily coverage of news stories of far less public significance, such as the trial of O.J. Simpson and the trial of William Kennedy Smith. As Kevin Gosztola pointed out on Twitter today, if the Times wanted, it could have found a staff reporter to regularly cover the Bradley Manning case. Yes, 12 days is a long time, and Ft. Meade is difficult to access. However, this is one of the most important trials of the decade and picayune military regulations that severely limit coverage (e.g., no public transcripts) are all the more reason why reporters should be there in person to witness this historical proceeding.

Leonhardt hints at a third possible excuse, that "Readers can definitely expect more coverage of Mr. Manning in the weeks to come," which Sullivan elaborates could mean "his bureau is working on something better . . . something significant in the works." This is laughable.  Even if the Times were to do ex post facto retroactive coverage of the most interesting part of the pre-trial proceedings--which could narrow what charges actually go to trial--it is no substitute for difficult old-fashioned, timely, on-the-ground reporting. Even when the Times finally sent a reporter of Friday, the resulting article was wanting because the reporter didn't have context from the previous eight days.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I think they would have been better off... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc

    ...with the tried-and-true excuse that it's a big country and an even bigger world, and not everything gets into the newspaper.  

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 07:22:00 AM PST

  •  The less publicity the better. (9+ / 0-)

    Keep in mind that prior legal history in the defense of individual rights was made by foreigners, Boumediene and Hamdi.
    The treatment of an American is potentially more interest generating and has the possibility of opening a can of worms -- specifically, that the information Manning released was just the tip of a gigantic ice berg.

    There is a reason why the architects of the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan do not want the engagement to end. When it does, there will be no more excuse for keeping the documentary evidence secret.

    The quiessence of the Pentagon in the face of significant budget cuts is suspicious. One might guess that keeping the lid on the embarrassment that is Iraq is the price of that quiessence.

    The Cons can continue to argue that Iraq was a success, but it just ain't so. It was FUBAR from start to finish and beyond.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 07:41:59 AM PST

    •  Great points, especially this: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eyesoars, Woody, aliasalias
      Keep in mind that prior legal history in the defense of individual rights was made by foreigners, Boumediene and Hamdi.

      My book, TRAITOR: THE WHISTLEBLOWER & THE "AMERICAN TALIBAN," is Amazon's #1 Best Seller in Human Rights Books for February 2012.

      by Jesselyn Radack on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 10:20:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Iraq War was successful to the oil industry (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Woody, aliasalias

      and the military industrial complex.  

      Big Oil's Scorecard in Iraq

      The 25 Most Vicious Iraq War Profiteers

      Bill Keller, the executive editor of the New York Times, between 2003 - 2011, is the son of former Chevron CEO and chariman, George M. Keller.

      The rich and powerful made a lot of money from these wars.

      Information is the currency of democracy. ~Thomas Jefferson

      by CIndyCasella on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 01:20:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, they didn't "make" money and the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Woody

        money is worthless, anyway. They may have accumulated a lot of money or spent it or wasted it. Iraq's oil is going to the highest bidders. It was never much use to them in the ground. What the war-mongers wanted was a permanent foot-print in the Middle East from which the Eastern Hemisphere could be "stabilized." They didn't get that. It is one of the main things they resent about Obama. Bush agreed to the SOFA the same way the Republicans agreed to the ACA--expecting to be able to reverse things after an electoral win. It didn't work out that way. The bank crisis didn't work out as they expected, either. Direct federal investment in student loans has swollen from $93 billion to $509. That's over four hundred billion for which the banksters are collecting no interest. The loan default rate will evaporate, if the private sector simply starts hiring college graduates.
        The problem with this economy is that people can't figure out what's motivating the deprivation. That the lust for power is stronger than the lust for money is simply beyond the comprehension of people who lust for neither.

        We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

        by hannah on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 02:04:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped for... (7+ / 0-)

    drinking the NYT's milkshake.

    'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

    by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 07:42:57 AM PST

    •  Wha? (1+ / 0-)

      My book, TRAITOR: THE WHISTLEBLOWER & THE "AMERICAN TALIBAN," is Amazon's #1 Best Seller in Human Rights Books for February 2012.

      by Jesselyn Radack on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 10:21:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's a good thing - Taking them to task (3+ / 0-)

        ..for their behavior and having the better argument.

        The dire straits facing America are not due poor people having too much money

        by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 11:31:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  From "There Will Be Blood": (2+ / 0-)

        Plainview: You're not the chosen brother, Eli. It was Paul who was chosen. You see, he found me and told me about your land. You're just a fool.
        Eli Sunday: Why are you talking about Paul? Don't say this to me.
        Plainview: I did what your brother couldn't. I broke you and I beat you. It was Paul who told me about you. He's the prophet. He's the smart one. He knew what was there and he found me to take it out of the ground, and you know what the funny thing is? Listen... listen... listen... I paid him ten thousand dollars, cash in hand, just like that. He has his own company now. A prosperous little business. Three wells producing. Five thousand dollars a week.
        [Eli cries]
        Plainview: Stop crying, you sniveling ass! Stop your nonsense. You're just the afterbirth, Eli.
        Eli Sunday: No...
        Plainview: You slithered out of your mother's filth.
        Eli Sunday: No.
        Plainview: They should have put you in a glass jar on a mantlepiece. Where were you when Paul was suckling at your mother's teat? Where were you? Who was nursing you, poor Eli- one of Bandy's sows? That land has been had. Nothing you can do about it. It's gone. It's had. You lose.
        Eli Sunday: If you would just take this lease, Daniel...
        Plainview: Drainage! Drainage, Eli, you boy. Drained dry. I'm so sorry. Here, if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. There it is, that's a straw, you see? You watching?. And my straw reaches acroooooooss the room, and starts to drink your milkshake... I... drink... your... milkshake!
        [sucking sound]
        Plainview: I drink it up!
        Eli Sunday: Don't bully me, Daniel!
        [Daniel roars and throws Eli across the room]
        Plainview: Did you think your song and dance and your superstition would help you, Eli? I am the Third Revelation! I am who the Lord has chosen!

        "The Democratic Party is not our friend: it is the only party we can negotiate with."

        by 2020adam on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 03:31:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Here you go JR... (0+ / 0-)

        'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

        by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 03:52:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'd like the Times... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melvynny, JesseCW, aliasalias

    And the media in general, to do a survey.

    Coverage of Bradley Manning case vs coverage of Petreaus sex scandal.

    Bet I know which story wins.

    "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

    by Notthemayor on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 08:58:13 AM PST

  •  print media (3+ / 0-)

    Sadly, the day when one could depend on print media has passed.  Money is tight and the will to piss of the government is gone.  There is there no equal replacement--blogs are good sometimes--fiction other times.  They have limited resources and usually a distinct perspective.  This led us into war with Iraq--ignorance from the media, or worse.  Big Brother is the winner--we're all losers.

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 09:22:02 AM PST

  •  there will be more coverage, (0+ / 0-)

    and they're working on something more substantive, it just won't be about torture. unless they're conducting some sitdowns with officials, to get the official word on torture. public hearings be damned.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 09:24:31 AM PST

  •  Jessalyn--I know someone who got in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody

    to Fort Meade just as an observer, no press credentials. I was considering coming this week. Is it in fact so difficult to get in?

    There are some things that are unforgivable. Your willingness to play political games while people suffer and die is one of them--Onomastic

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 10:15:52 AM PST

    •  You should come, just leave some extra time. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pgm 01, JesseCW, Woody, madhaus, aliasalias

      They have to inspect your car, and then once you're on base, you have to find the courthouse.  Then you have to go through another layer of screening where they wand you and rifle through your stuff (in much greater detail than TSA.)

      Kevin Gosztola of FireDogLake told me that the press pool is open. If you're a blogger, just get your editor to send you.

      My book, TRAITOR: THE WHISTLEBLOWER & THE "AMERICAN TALIBAN," is Amazon's #1 Best Seller in Human Rights Books for February 2012.

      by Jesselyn Radack on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 10:30:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Clearly, the NY Times wants to look forward, not (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody, plankbob, aliasalias

    backward on the Bradley Manning story.  

    Why?

    Motive:  Let's not forget how the NY Times published Judith Miller's "stories" that helped launch the Iraq War, which ceased to qualify it as a venerable newspaper, but as a propagandist for war.  Let's not forget that the NY Times sat on the NSA wiretapping story for a full year, which helped to re-elect George W. Bush, at the request of the White House.

    A propagandist for wars in the Middle East does not want their readers to know:

    1.  Bradley Manning allegedly heroically leaked a video of a war crime committed by US troops.  

    2.  Bradley Manning is an American victim of the same naked torture uncovered in Abu Ghraib and Gitmo.  Torture is not an aberration in the US Military, but has been institutionalized as a method to extract false confessions and compromise the sanity of innocent prisoners, which undermines their case against Manning.

    3. Adrian Lamo, a cyber criminal who broke into the New York Times internal computer network and eventually received a lenient sentence, is the "credible" source of the charges against Manning as the alleged leaker of over 260,000 diplomatic cables and the war crime video.  It's a coincidence of epic proportions that Manning met Lamo haphazardly on the internet and confided in him.  

    4.  Not a single person has died due to the alleged leaks.

    Information is the currency of democracy. ~Thomas Jefferson

    by CIndyCasella on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 12:52:47 PM PST

  •  To her credit, Sullivan contacted senior editors (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CIndyCasella

    That's her job. If she didn't do it, she should be fired. Lame excuses from whomever. Thanks for the info.

    I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night, alive as you and me.

    by plankbob on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 03:09:16 PM PST

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