The New York Times announced today that beginning Monday, January 7, Russian President Vladimir Putin will write a weekly column for its op-ed page.
“We are thrilled to add Vladimir Putin's distinctive voice to our op-ed page,” said Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor. “He is a captivating leader and keen observer of the 21st-century political landscape. His work will undoubtedly be provocative in this election year. Plus, he threatened to have me poisoned if I didn't hire him.”
Mr. Putin is currently the leader of Russia, a country sliding back into Soviet-era dictatorship. The Russian president, formerly a member of the KGB and later the head of FSB (a successor agency to the KGB), once contributed a weekly column to his high school newspaper The State. Mr. Putin is also an origami enthusiast, a fan of the CW hit Gossip Girl ("What can I say? I'm hooked.") and believed to be behind the assassinations of at least 20 journalists since his presidency began in 2000.
Critics say The Times' decision underscores the paper's increasing willingness to showcase views of those who are less concerned with the constraining nature of reality and truth. But Rosenthal scoffed at such assertions.
“I'm not sure if I understand this weird fear of opposing views," said Rosenthal. "We have views on our op-ed page that are as thuggish or more so than Vladimir's." He added, "The idea that The New York Times is giving voice to
a guy who is a serious, respected and brutal leader — and
somehow that’s a bad thing. How intolerant is that? The whole point of the op-ed page is to air a variety of opinions."
In further defending the hire, Rosenthal explained, "Look, Hitler and Stalin are dead. Pol Pot, too. Osama bin Laden tends toward the run-on sentence. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has trouble meeting deadlines. Musharraf told us he has too much on his plate right now to commit. Charles Manson's parole board has repeatedly declined our requests for Chuck to pen a column for us while serving out his life sentence. Dick Cheney can't write a sentence without dropping an F-bomb. And, well, let's just say all options were off the table concerning President Bush."
Following The Times' decision to publish the NSA illegal wiretapping story in December 2005, Mr. Putin reportedly asked President Bush why he didn't just "quietly silence the responsible editors of such an irredeemable, second-rate paper of record."
In an interview with Politico.com yesterday, Putin said he was flattered to watch "the heads of liberal bloggers explode" over news of his hiring at The Times, but added, "I prefer to watch them explode literally, as in my own country."
The following are quotes and headlines culled from this past year at MediaBloodhound (keep in mind some were said/written prior to '07 but were noted here during the year). Some are real (fact) and some are from satirical articles (fiction) posted under "The Wounded-Courier." See if you can distinguish between the two. Take the 2007 Fact or Fiction Challenge:
1) "The real danger here for Democrats is
looking overly beholden to the rule of law." - NBC's Tim Russert
2) “It was a bloodbath. I haven’t seen anything like it since Chevy
Chase’s talk show.” - Anonymous reporter on Rich Little's White House
Correspondents Dinner performance
3) "As I sit across from Barack Obama in his Senate office,
I feel like Ingrid Bergman in 'The Bells of St. Mary’s,' when she plays
a nun who teaches a schoolboy who’s being bullied how to box." - NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd on Barack Obama
4) "What exactly was it that Jose Padilla was convicted of doing today?" - PBS Newshour anchor Jim Lehrer
5) Headline: "Humans Caught 'Crabs' from Gorillas"
6) “Though I may differ in substance with the strategic and
epistemological underpinnings driving President Bush’s new direction in
Iraq, faced as he is with the febrile chorus of hand-wringing naysayers
who have fashioned no plan of their own, I must say I admire the
president’s tenacious Hobbesian pluck.” - ABC's George Will
7) "The media unleashed a full-scale coverage orgy, with CNN at one point
going 90 minutes without a commercial, making the death of Anna Nicole
Smith a more significant news event than a State of the Union address
and slightly less than 9/11." - Jon Stewart
8) “Some will say Tom Vilsack never had a chance. But Tom Vilsack was the
first to drop out of this race. Number one. And no one can ever take
that milestone away from him.” - Hillary Clinton
9) "Assholes." - Kurt Vonnegut's response to the question: "What targets would you consider fair game for a satirist today?"
10) "You can’t say, ‘She was slurring her words with Entertainment
Tonight a week ago; that’s why she died.’ I will
say I saw the video where she was getting her picture taken with Hulk
Hogan and Don King. She didn’t look ill and she doesn’t look like
someone who suffered from a long-lasting illness.” - CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Anna Nicole Smith
11) "Beyond his smooth-jazz façade, the reassuring baritone
and that ensorcelling smile, the 45-year-old had moments of looking
conflicted." - NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd on Barack Obama
12) Headline: "Woman Faces Jail in Toilet Paper Theft"
13) "The law’s no barrier to
this patriot. And I have every confidence the attorney general will
once again rise to the occasion.” - George W. Bush on Alberto Gonzales
14) "Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention." - Molly Ivins
15) Headline: "Golfer, 76, Saves Drowning Dog, Plays 18 Holes"
16) "Well, that was probably the coolest presidential image since Bill Pullman played the jet fighter pilot in the movie Independence Day.
That was the first thing that came to mind for me." - Time magazine columnist Joe Klein on President Bush's "Mission Accomplished" flight suit moment
17) "Nobody wants to see this guy reading bedtime stories to your kids, but
he’s got that requisite loony don’t-screw-with-me quality that makes
every American a little weak in the knees." - MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Vice President Dick Cheney
18) "Volume II of a lengthy Washington saga that captured the media's attention - and pretty much no one else’s - is over.” - CBS journalist Hillary Profita on coverage of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's verdict
19) “No one has made the case for the necessity of U.S. soldiers to stay in
Iraq better than has Mr. al-Zawahiri." - National Security Advisor
Stephen J. Hadley
20) "The people of Iraq are living in a Marquis de Sade version of Groundhog Day. " - Counter-terrorism expert Larry Johnson
21) Headline: "Edwards' Hair Takes Over in Campaign Shakeup"
22) "I think it is Emersonian even, or Fitzgerald." - MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Ann Coulter's book Godless: The Church of Liberalism
23) Headline: "Hillary Clinton's Tentative Dip Into New Neckline
24) "When you look at the calculation
that goes into everything that Hillary Clinton does, for her to argue
that she was not aware of what she was communicating by her dress is
like Barry Bonds saying he thought he was rubbing down with flaxseed
oil, OK?" - CNBC chief Washington correspondent John Harwood on Hillary Clinton's cleavage
25) "And his favorite actress is Glenn Close, who had to
dub Andie MacDowell’s lines in her first big part, 'Greystoke: The
Legend of Tarzan,' because her Southern accent was so thick." - NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd on John Edwards
26) Headline: "Democrats Sign Resolution for Presidential 'Timeout'"
27) Headline: "Lightning Shreds Pants on Man Mowing Lawn"
28) "The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist." NY Times columnist Tom Friedman
29) “When I referred to Rudy Giuliani’s derogatory statement the other day
about our brave 9/11 first responders as evidence he’s taken a break
from reality,” said Edwards, “I couldn’t have known the depths of Mr.
Giuliani’s delusional episodes until watching him attack a candidate
who doesn't exist. This man is right out of Dr. Strangelove.
How long before we’ll hear Rudy Giuliani talking about how we must
defend ourselves from a ‘conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our
precious bodily fluids.’” - John Edwards
30) "In a sense, the media were victims of their own professionalism.
Because there was little criticism of the war from prominent Democrats
and foreign policy analysts, journalistic rules meant we shouldn't
create a debate on our own." - Washington Post columnist David Ignatius
So how did you fare? Get all thirty correct and you'll receive a year supply of free Tom Friedman "Suck On This!" pacifiers and a copy of Maureen Dowd's new book All the Snark That's Fit to Shiv: How I Destroyed Al Gore and Opened the Floodgates of Hell. (Yes, fiction. Sort of.)
It's nothing new for our country's Paper of Record to stick a crucial story in its back pages (often while providing front-page real estate to a particularly banal article).
But one of the most
egregious examples of such editorial decisions is today'smove by The New York Times to bury news of
presidential candidate Senator Christopher Dodd's victorious filibuster
threat against the proposed telecom immunity bill.
So what page did The Times slip in this account of Dodd's courageous and historic stand? What page did it cover this patriotic push-back to a bill that, if passed, would effectively reward telecom companies for complicity in the Bush administration's illegal wiretapping of millions of innocent American citizens and set a frightening precedent of similar retroactive immunity in such cases where various parties (CIA,
Blackwater mercenaries, etc.) took part in torture, extraordinary renditions or other criminal activities
in George Bush's "war on terror"? What page did the paper that sat on the illegal wiretapping story for a year - before "scooping" it - deem this fit to print?
A29. Yes, A29.
(The online version has no page numbers, but this news is buried there
as well; no mention of it even makes the home page - where over 90
stories currently reside.)
Now ask yourself how? Who at The Times authorized this inane editorial decision? And what excuse can possibly explain it away?
Senator Dodd's threat to filibuster yesterday and his triumph in having the patently unconstitutional bill withdrawn from a vote last night is precisely the kind of story that should be big news in a democracy, especially one such as ours, which has been gasping under the boot of an overtly criminal White House for seven long years.
What's the sound of one U.S. senator taking a successful stand against a rogue White House administration and its spineless collaborators in Congress?
If you're The Times, it's something akin to a whisper.
(Editor's Note:If you tried to comment today and received a message about triggering the spam filter - some people got this, some didn't - I apologize for your troubles. Typepad, which hosts this site, has installed a new, overly aggressive spam filter. Rest assured I can now access this filter and publish anyone's comment that incorrectly winds up there. So post comments as you normally would. If you don't see yours right away, you will shortly. Thanks for your patience and for contributing to the conversation.)
UPDATE: Commenter EastFallowfield left this earlier today:
A29 in the Times doesn't mean it's buried. It's not front page, but the first x amount of pages after page 1 are International News.
The National news starts in the middle somewhere, and this time of year there are a ton of fullpage or other large ads filling up many pages of the A section. It was right in the middle of all the pages on politics and such.
The Times is no "Thinkprogress" or Kos, but if it's not on the front page then it was pretty much where it was supposed to be in their world.
I responded to it in the comments section and thought the points made helped to further clarify the irresponsibility of The Times' editorial decision, so I'm reposting my response here, too:
EastFallowField, thanks for your comment. But I think you're giving The Times far too much credit here. First, there's no valid reason why this story didn't make the front page. That said, here's a deeper examination of its specific placement:
When the Times thinks a story is important but is short on space, it sometimes puts a photo of the story on the cover that calls out the page number inside (as it did for the large Darfur peace rally in Central Park a year and a half ago).
Or the Times will highlight a story on the front page's "Inside" section. What were some of the stories on the "Inside" section that beat out the Dodd news yesterday? #2: "NBC Late Shows to Resume"; #4: "Why the Long Face?" (about a new book that helps you diagnose what's ailing your pet dog, cat, ferret, etc.); #7: "A Winning Influence" (a successful all-Indian high school basketball team in Oklahoma).
In addition to the "Inside" section (located on the cover), there is also the "News Summary" area located on the following page (A2). This section also serves to highlight important articles inside the paper, from International, National, New York/Region, Business, Science, Health & Fitness, and Editorial. This section calls out five National stories. The Dodd news wasn't there either. What's one of the stories that was? #3: "Churches Battle Witchcraft." I wish I were making that up. Unfortunately, this was yet another story The Times deemed more critical than Dodd's victory.
Finally, the first page of the National section on that day was A24; the Dodd news, as mentioned, was located on A29. That's six pages into the National news section. While it should've been on the cover, that it didn't make the first page of the National section and didn't appear until six pages deep into it, only further underscores the absurdity of The Times' editorial decision and confirms the story was indeed buried.
Moreover, please note two of the three National stories trumping Dodd's victory on the first page of the section - the aforementioned witchcraft article: "A Midnight Service Helps African Immigrants Combat Demons" and this more pressing national news item: "San Francisco's Mayor Proposes Fee on Sales of Sugary Soft Drinks."
The good folks over at Crooks and Liars have asked me to fill in for the multi-talented Mike Finnegan, who's currently on tour with Joe Cocker in Europe. I'll be guest hosting Mike's Blog Round Up through next Saturday. Actually, my first guest round-up was already posted on Sunday morning. (I apologize for the delayed notice.) They're generally posted at C&L every morning around 11 a.m. (EST). So do stop by there all week. I promise plenty of great reads and videos.
As for here, I hope to put together some pieces during the week if time permits. But it will be tough.
In the meantime, Happy Chanukah to all my Jewish friends! Remember, ham is a "delicious" way to celebrate the Festival of Lights.
And via a commenter over at C&L, this helpful chart will help you decide whether you're a "Fake" Jew or a "Real" Jew.
(Cross-posted on Larisa Alexandrovna's at-Largely.)
“This is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it." -- Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, commenting in 1996 on the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children who died as a result of U.S.-backed economic sanctions.
In Tuesday's New York Times op-ed contributed by Mark Drapeau,
a fellow at the Center for Technology and National Security Policy at
the National Defense University, Mr. Drapeau makes clear, in light of
the U.N.’s warning last week of a potential cholera epidemic in
Baghdad, that this disease has already been a scourge in other parts of
This was hardly a surprise: cholera, caused by
a bacterium that produces severe diarrhea, broke out in Kirkuk, in
northern Iraq, in August and has now spread to at least half of Iraq’s
18 provinces. At least 30,000 Iraqis have displayed cholera-like
symptoms and more than 2,500 cases have been confirmed in Kirkuk alone.
goes on to explain that if this outbreak continues unabated, our own
troops will be at great risk as well (thus, the rather militaristic
title of his op-ed, “A Microscopic Insurgent”).
Glaringly absent, however, from Mr. Drapeau’s op-ed is any mention
of the estimated 500,000+ Iraqi children who died as a consequence of
U.S.-backed U.N. economic sanctions. Specifically, the little known
fact that U.S. forces targeted Iraqi water and sewage infrastructure
during the first Gulf War, which led to massive lethal outbreaks of
normally preventable or treatable diseases, such as cholera, typhoid
Joy Gordon, an expert on economic sanctions, has written extensively on the subject. Her 2002 article in Harper’s,
“Cool War: Economic Sanctions as a Weapon of Mass Destruction,” exposed
the quiet but systemic genocide suffered by Iraqis at the hand of
U.S.-led U.N. mandates, first imposed before the Gulf War, maintained
throughout the 1990s and lasting, for all intents and purposes, until
the U.S. invasion in 2003.
Often forgotten is the
fact that sanctions were imposed before the war-in August of 1990-in
direct response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. After the liberation of
Kuwait, sanctions were maintained, their focus shifted to disarmament.
In 1991, a few months after the end of the war, the U.N. secretary
general's envoy reported that Iraq was facing a crisis in the areas of
food, water, sanitation, and health, as well as elsewhere in its entire
infrastructure, and predicted an “imminent catastrophe, which could
include epidemics and famine, if massive life-supporting needs are not
rapidly met.” U.S. intelligence assessments took the same view. A
Defense Department evaluation noted that “Degraded medical conditions
in Iraq are primarily attributable to the breakdown of public services
(water purification and distribution, preventive medicine, water
disposal, health-care services, electricity, and transportation). . . .
Hospital care is degraded by lack of running water and electricity.”
Yet rather than act to prevent this catastrophe, it’s precisely what the U.S. government had in mind.
According to Pentagon officials, that was the intention.
In a June 23, 1991, Washington Post article, Pentagon officials stated
that Iraq's electrical grid had been targeted by bombing strikes in
order to undermine the civilian economy. “People say, 'You didn't
recognize that it was going to have an effect on water or sewage,'”
said one planning officer at the Pentagon. “Well, what were we trying
to do with sanctions-help out the Iraqi people? No. What we were doing
with the attacks on infrastructure was to accelerate the effect of the
the many deprivations Iraq has experienced, none is so closely
correlated with deaths as its damaged water system. Prior to 1990, 95
percent of urban households in Iraq had access to potable water, as did
three quarters of rural households. Soon after the Persian Gulf War,
there were widespread outbreaks of cholera and typhoid—diseases that
had been largely eradicated in Iraq—as well as massive increases in
child and infant dysentery, and skyrocketing child and infant mortality
rates. By 1996 all sewage-treatment plants had broken down. As the
state's economy collapsed, salaries to state employees stopped, or were
paid in Iraqi currency rendered nearly worthless by inflation. Between
1990 and 1996 more than half of the employees involved in water and
sanitation left their jobs. By 2001, after five years of the Oil for
Food Programme's operating at full capacity, the situation had actually
In the late 1980s the
mortality rate for Iraqi children under five years old was about fifty
per thousand. By 1994 it had nearly doubled, to just under ninety. By
1999 it had increased again, this time to nearly 130; that is, 13
percent of all Iraqi children were dead before their fifth birthday.
For the most part, they die as a direct or indirect result of
The United States
anticipated the collapse of the Iraqi water system early on. In January
1991, shortly before the Persian Gulf War began and six months into the
sanctions, the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency projected that,
under the embargo, Iraq's ability to provide clean drinking water would
collapse within six months. Chemicals for water treatment, the agency
noted, “are depleted or nearing depletion,” chlorine supplies were
“critically low,” the main chlorine-production plants had been shut
down, and industries such as pharmaceuticals and food processing were
already becoming incapacitated. “Unless the water is purified with
chlorine,” the agency concluded, “epidemics of such diseases as
cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid could occur.”
Near the end of Mark Drapeau’s Times
op-ed, he displays the kind of tone-deaf arrogance and shortsightedness
that enabled our invasion of Iraq in the first place: “Cholera is a
grave threat for the American project in Iraq, but also an opportunity
to capture the hearts and minds of the population.” “The American
project in Iraq” speaks volumes, the presumptuous, naked rhetoric of an
empire. Moreover, it should be self-evident why an unprovoked U.S.
invasion and occupation of a sovereign Iraq – not to mention a botched
reconstruction and humanitarian effort - would in and of itself
preclude capturing “the hearts and minds of the population.” Such
seemingly altruistic rallying cries highlight either how little our
leaders have learned from our past and present experiences in Iraq or
what lengths they're willing to go to spin history.
In contrast, here’s how Joy Gordon concludes her 2002 well-researched Harper’s article:
would say that the lesson to be learned from September 11 is that we
must be even more aggressive in protecting what we see as our security
interests. But perhaps that's the wrong lesson altogether. It is worth
remembering that the worst destruction done on U.S. soil by foreign
enemies was accomplished with little more than hatred, ingenuity, and
box cutters. Perhaps what we should learn from our own reactions to
September 11 is that the massive destruction of innocents is something
that is unlikely to be either forgotten or forgiven. If this is so,
then destroying Iraq, whether with sanctions or with bombs, is unlikely
to bring the security we have gone to such lengths to preserve.
Pardon the delay in posting. The first part of the headline above sums up why.
In the meantime, NPR host Terry Gross' interview with investigative
journalist Mark Schapiro is required listening. (It will also prepare
you for a related, woefully underreported story on which I've been
planning a follow-up.)
While the U.S. media has more recently reported on the toxic toys and
goods flooding our market from China, absent from coverage has been the
underlying reason why America is the number one consumer of such
poisonous foreign products, which extend beyond Chinese imports.
Schapiro details how the Bush administration has encouraged these
deadly imports under the guise of sensible free trade at a time when
our friends in the European Union have made it a point to block them.
No, it's not because EU countries are necessarily more concerned about
the health of their citizens. Rather, contrary to Bush administration
rhetoric and motivation, they just figured out it makes
long-term economical sense.
Feel free to describe your (mis)adventures in moving or Mr. Schapiro's excellent report in the comments section. I'll be back when my apartment is no longer a sea of boxes and I can find my corkscrew again.