To mark the recent fifth anniversary of the Iraq War, The New York Times published an interactive timeline. This is the second in a series of posts exploring the most misleading statements and glaring omissions from its Iraq War history (read Part I here).
Timeline Entry: DC Antiwar Protest
This entry reads in full: "Jan. 18, 2003, Antiwar Demonstration: Tens of thousands of demonstrators converge on Washington to protest the threatened use of force in Iraq."
FACT: First of all, a demonstration of equal or greater size (according to varying estimates) occurred in San Francisco on the same day. The Times did report the San Francisco protest in its corresponding 2003 article (a link is provided beneath the timeline). So, to put it mildly, it's a peculiar omission. Additionally, employing terminology such as "tens of thousands" rather than, say, 200,000 - the estimated number of participants in both DC and San Francisco on Jan. 18, 2003 - is patently misleading. (The San Francisco police department's original calculations, by the way, were 40,000 before it altered its count several times, from 55,000 to 100,000-125,000 a few days later, to then stating 150,000 a "safe estimate," while also conceding it could've been closer to 200,000.) The mainstream media, led by The Times, has regularly used such language to describe the number of Iraq War protesters. Such statistically blunting nomenclature has been a gift to the Bush White House and an assault on the most American of activities: peaceful dissent.
As the Jan. 26, 2003 editorial in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat noted: "A demonstration of 40,000 is newsworthy. A protest of 150,000 to 200,000 is historic."
Yet even more egregious than this entry was the timeline's failure to mention what was arguably the single largest day of protest in recorded human history: February 15, 2003, in which up to 30 million people in over 600 towns and cities across the globe protested the imminent invasion of Iraq. Roughly half a million people gathered in New York City alone. The 3 million who protested in Rome entered the Guinness World Records as the "Largest Anti-War Rally" ever.
What's more, in a February 17, 2003 front-page news analysis by reporter Patrick Tyler, The Times itself printed:
The fracturing of the Western alliance over Iraq and the huge antiwar demonstrations around the world this weekend are reminders that there may still be two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion.
In his campaign to disarm Iraq, by war if necessary, President Bush appears to be eyeball to eyeball with a tenacious new adversary: millions of people who flooded the streets of New York and dozens of other world cities to say they are against war based on the evidence at hand.
For the moment, an exceptional phenomenon has appeared on the streets of world cities. It may not be as profound as the people's revolutions across Eastern Europe in 1989 or in Europe's class struggles of 1848, but politicians and leaders are unlikely to ignore it.
Of course our politicians and leaders - the ones with the power to prevent this war - did ignore this. Five years later, so has The New York Times.
In other words, our paper of record presents an Iraq War timeline in which it includes one mention of one protest in one city, yet fails to record the largest coordinated global protest in the history of the human race.
Not Fox News. Not the Bush administration up on its White House website. The New York Times. This is ineptitude or censorship on a truly staggering level.