The Media as Fun-House Mirror

Russ Braley: Bad News: The Foreign Policy of The New York Times; Regnery Gateway; Chicago.

The publication of Russ Braley's Bad News represents a landmark moment in the history of current affairs. No longer will it be possible for some enthusiastic and devoted reader of the New York Times to argue his position without recognizing the extent to which this newspaper has systematically colored the major events of this century. Bad News, a fine book, is a counterweight to a narrowly parochial perception of modern history. This is by no means a polemical work. Mr. Braley provides a selective history of major American news stories from the Hungarian uprising and Suez crisis in 1956 to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 in a factual and dispassionate manner. Occasionally the reportage is almost dry, as if the author believes that the facts speak for themselves and require no interpretation. But the cumulative effect is staggering.

What this history conclusively demonstrates is that the New York Times has routinely encouraged reporting of the news that supports its political orthodoxy. This orthodoxy includes: an accommodationist spirit with the Soviet Union, a resistance to the deployment of American troops abroad for any reason, an unreasoning hatred of Nixon Republicanism, a desire for retribution against any anticommunist hardliners, and an insouciant belief that any self-proclaimed revolutionary represents the indigenous "will of the people."...

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