News & Election Videos
Related Topics
2008 Polls National | Iowa New Hampshire South Carolina Florida | General Election

Send to a Friend | Print Article

New York Times: How the Mighty Have Fallen

By Ed Koch

The New York Times is special to me. It always has been, and it always will be. Over the years there were times when I was critical of The Times editorials, and on few occasions of its news stories. Yet, my day would not be complete if I had not read The Times.

While I was mayor, when I went to Europe, I made arrangements with the airline I used to bring me The Times every day. Reporters from other city newspapers who were traveling with me saw me reading The Times and asked if they could read it when I finished it. Of course, I said yes. One of them noted in his daily dispatch covering my trip that I was receiving the paper. After that, I was told by the airline that it had received complaints for the "favoritism extended" to me and it would have to bill me for the delivery which they did. The bill was, as I recall, several hundred dollars. Though I was upset at the time, it was well worth the cost.

So, the criticisms of The Times that follow are written in sorrow, not joy and are intended to help, not harass.

When I read the Times editorial page on June 6th, I was deeply disappointed. Why? Because on one day, in the same issue, three of the four Times editorials struck me as mean-spirited, lacking balance and just plain dumb.

The first editorial, entitled "Gitmo: A National Disgrace," berates President Bush for "ramm[ing] the Military Commission Act of 2000 through Congress to lend a pretense of legality to his detention camp at Guantanamo Bay..." The language "pretense of legality" is outrageous, considering that the U.S. Supreme Court in an earlier decision advised the Congress that it had the right to create military commissions to deal with "unlawful enemy combatants," those who don't wear uniforms on the battlefield and carry concealed weapons. "Lawful combatants (who wear uniforms and carry weapons openly) fall under the Geneva Conventions."

Pray tell, what is wrong with Congress and the President making that distinction when it comes to trials? Further, hasn't the military commission proved its fairness by the very fact that it dismissed the cases of the first two defendants brought before it, finding they were not "unlawful enemy combatants." Instead of assaulting the military tribunal as it did, shouldn't The Times have praised its fairness? Of course, but The Times is so blinded by its fury on the Iraq war and its hatred of President Bush that its editorial board can't think straight on these issues. The Times wants the Guantanamo Bay military prison closed. Isn't that senseless? Wouldn't a new prison for these alleged terrorists have to be built to hold them pending their trials?

The military commission and conditions at Guantanamo have been in American courts, with appeals going as high as the U.S. Supreme Court. As so far as I know, the President has obeyed every court order on the subject. But nothing will satisfy The Times on the war in Iraq or the continued leadership of President Bush, other than the immediate end of the war and the end of the President's tenure. How does The Times explain the fact that a Democrat-controlled Congress has not seen fit to end the military tribunals and the continued existence of Guantanamo Bay prison? Are they all wrong and only The Times' editorial board right? The Times simply will not accept the fact that we are at war and millions of Islamic fundamentalists believe it is their religious duty to kill every Hindu, Christian, Jew and other Muslims with whom they disagree on aspects of their shared religion. Wake up, New York Times. We are at war.

The second editorial on June 6th was entitled, "Jail Time For Scooter Libby." Libby testified before the grand jury that he learned of the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson -- a CIA covert officer -- from Tim Russert. That was untrue, and Russert testified to that effect. Whether Libby intentionally lied or was, as he stated in his defense at trial, merely forgetful, a trial jury found him guilty. We also learned that it was not he who revealed Plame's identity to the press, and that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage admitted he gave that information to Robert Novak, the reporter who published it. So far as I can recall, The Times did not castigate Rudy Giuliani, who testified before a grand jury inquiring into activities of his former police commissioner, Bernard Kerik, that he could not remember that his DOI commissioner had warned him that Kerik had ties with a business firm which had mob connections, before he recommended Kerik to President Bush to be considered for Secretary of Homeland Security.

Libby was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and fined $250,000 for "obstruction of justice, perjury and giving false statements." The Times is normally careful not to appear shrill in its editorial tone, but it took delight in Libby's sentence, writing, "The jail sentence and fine imposed on Scooter Libby, the former Chief of Staff for Vice President Cheney, are an appropriate -- indeed necessary -- punishment for his repeated lies to a grand jury and to FBI agents investigating a possible smear campaign orchestrated by the White House." This, in the face of an admission by Richard Armitage that he was the villain, albeit unintentional. He was not prosecuted, nor to the best of my recollection, castigated by The Times editorial board. Why are they so caustic here? Because they hate Dick Cheney so much and see the imprisonment of Libby as a scourging of Cheney. Again, shame on The Times.

Finally, there was a third June 6th editorial entitled, "Keeping A Watch on Winter." The article reported that the National Park Service in charge of Yellowstone Park is deciding whether to "raise the number of snowmobiles allowed into the park from 250 to 720 per day." The Times prefers "do[ing] away with snowmobiles altogether." I have never been on a snowmobile and would like to try one someday. I believe those who love the outdoors and use our national parks should have in controlled circumstances access to those parks including the use of snowmobiles. The Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, will be making a decision on snowmobiles shortly. The Times says, "He should help put an end to snowmobiles in Yellowstone. They have always contradicted the mission of the national parks..." Ridiculous.

Most Americans believe the parks should be visited by Americans and used in responsible numbers. If Kempthorne decides 720 is the appropriate number of snowmobiles to be permitted in Yellowstone, is he evil? The Times so hates President Bush, writing, "Over six years, the Bush administration has done its utmost to set these principals [on environmental preservation] aside, especially when it comes to snowmobiles." Personally, the thought of 720 snowmobiles trafficking in one of our largest national parks does not cause me to wake up in the middle of the night frightened that the world is coming to an end. No, I see the faces of 720 or more people enjoying this wonderful land every winter day in a very special way. Isn't that what parks are for?

I was not surprised when, on June 3rd, three days before these editorials, The Times front page had a story headlined "A Legal Debate In Guantanamo On Boy Fighters." The article reported, "The shrapnel from the grenade he is accused of throwing ripped through the skull of Sgt. First-Class Christopher J. Speer who was 28 when he died. To American military prosecutors, Mr. Khadr is a committed al-Qaeda operative, spy and killer who must be held accountable for killing Sergeant Speer in 2002 and for other bloody acts he committed in Afghanistan...His age is at the center of a legal battle that is to begin tomorrow with an arraignment by a military judge at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, of Mr. Khadr, whom a range of legal experts describe as the first child fighter in decades to face war-crimes charges...'International law,' the Justice Department asserted in a court filing...'does not prohibit an individual under 18 from being prosecuted for war crimes.' He is 20 now."

According to The Times, "He was born in Canada to a family with such deep Al Qaeda ties that some newspapers there have called them Canada's first family of terrorism." His father was "a senior deputy to Osama bin Laden."

The coverage given to this alleged war criminal by The Times includes a page-one, above-the-fold column, with an additional half-page article on page 35, conveying The Times' interest in the subject. But on the same front page, there is only a brief note reporting that "four charged in the bomb plot at Kennedy airport" were the subject of an article on page 37. Surely this shows a lack of judgment in selecting articles of importance for the front page. Glaringly so, when on that same front page there was an article on India concerning the new industry of making mud bricks, accompanied by a large color picture, all above the fold. Is The Times aware that New York State provides that adolescents 13 years or older are criminally responsible for certain aggravated criminal conduct?

How the mighty have fallen. New York Times, I weep for you.

Ed Koch is the former Mayor of New York City.

Email Friend | Print | RSS | Add to | Add to Digg
Sponsored Links
 Ed Koch
Ed Koch
Author Archive