Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Syria: Who Needs a Propaganda Operation When You Have the New York Times?

This article is published on PajamasMedia.

By Barry Rubin

To be immoral is bad; to be immoral against your own interests is worse.

No reporter has seemed more in the pocket of Hizballah and the Syrians than the New York Times' Anthony Shadid. His reporting on Lebanon often quotes mostly or exclusively their supporters, under a variety of labels, as if they are objective observers or represent a range of opinion.

While his latest article includes some material on how bad the situation is in Syria--350 people identified as killed so far by the regime--it reads like a press release from the dictatorship.

 Not since the days of the Cold War--probably in the 1970s--has a U.S. government become such an apologist for a repressive dictatorship. What makes the situation truly amazing is that the Syrian government is no U.S. ally but an enemy repressive dictatorship.

Shadid quotes Bouthaina Shaaban, a notorious Assad regime crony as saying, “You can’t be very nice to people who are leading an armed rebellion...." Yet there is no evidence that the opposition has used weapons. Nevertheless, he reports without comment the regime's claim that demonstrators have killed 100 soldiers and police even though not a single such case has been even minimally documented.

Shadid quotes U.S. officials as saying that Shaaban and Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa are the good guy reformers while President Bashar al-Assad's brother, Maher, is the bad guy hardliner. Poor Bashar is supposedly caught in the middle. What's a dictator to do?

Shabaan ridicules international "sanctions" against Syria and is right to do so. They amount to nothing, nothing except a license for the regime to murder its citizens without fear of repercussions.

Some day the Times coverage of Syria will be compared to its terrible reporting on the Stalinist Soviet Union and its largely ignoring the Holocaust.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/ His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is http://www.gloria-center.org/. His PajamaMedia columns are mirrored and other articles available at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/.

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