Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Pot, Meet Kettle: 'NYT' Hits Bush for Al-Qaeda Claims -- after Public Editor Blamed Paper

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Pot, Meet Kettle: 'NYT' Hits Bush for Al-Qaeda Claims -- after Public Editor Blamed Paper

Article excerpt

A major article for Friday's New York Times carried the online headline, "Bush Distorts Qaeda Links." Reporters Michael Gordon (from Iraq) and Jim Rutenberg (in Washington) lay bare the president's recent, and unproven, charges that al-Qaeda is now dominating the insurgency in Iraq, adding that "his references to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and his assertions that it is the same group that attacked the United States in 2001, have greatly oversimplified the nature of the insurgency in Iraq and its relationship with the Qaeda leadership."

But just last Sunday, Clark Hoyt, the paper's new public editor, had criticized the paper for doing much the same, in increasingly pointing to al-Qaeda influence and failing to point out the distinction between the newly-formed Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia group and Osama bin Laden's operation.

Gordon had written many of those faulty (in Hoyt's view) storiies.

Here is how we covered the Hoyt column last weekend. *

In a remarkable column today, Clark Hoyt, the newly arrived public editor at The New York Times, charges that the Times in recent weeks has too often gone along with the new drive by the White House and the military to blame insurgent attacks on al-Qaeda. The column arrives on the same day the paper calls for a U.S. pullout in Iraq. .

E&P and other news outlets last week had noted the same tendency in the Times in the reporting of Michael R. Gordon and others. A top Times editor admits to Hoyt that the paper's reporting in this regard has become "sloppy."

Hoyt, who has had a long and varied high-level newspaper reporting and editing career, most recently directed the Iraq reporting out of the Knight Ridder (now McClatchy) Washington bureau which gained plaudits for its tough and skeptical reporting on the run-up to the war and progress since.

Today, Hoyt charges that the Times "in recent weeks as the newspaper has slipped into a routine of quoting the president and the military uncritically about Al Qaeda's role in Iraq -- and sometimes citing the group itself without attribution.

"And in using the language of the administration, the newspaper has also failed at times to distinguish between Al Qaeda, the group that attacked the United States on Sept. …

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