News Commentary – August 16, 2012
In the latest indication of its declining journalistic integrity, the New York Times treats as “credible” claims by ‘Syrian rebels’ that they have captured “elite fighters from Iran”.
Disregarding the fact that the ‘Syrian rebel’ claims are becoming ever more suspect, such as recent claims that its fighters killed a Russian general, who later appeared at the Ministry of Defence in Moscow to deny the allegation; the ‘Syrian rebels’ themselves are increasingly being revealed as mercenaries and complete outsiders, such as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, recruited by Western intelligence to help overthrow Assad.
In the process they appear ready to use whatever means are necessary to achieve that end. Including terrorism and a readiness to resort to lies.
Nonetheless, the New York Times treats as credible their claims that they have captured “elite fighters from Iran”.
This despite the fact that Iran has openly acknowledged that “retired Revolutionary Guards” were among a group of pilgrims seized while en route to the Zeinab shrine in Syria.
A closer look at the admittedly poor photo of the captives (below) tends to add weight to Iranian claims. These are older men, many of them past the age of retirement (particularly those at the rear of the picture), who would likely embark on a pilgrimage in their later years.
Despite the fact that the photo casts doubt on Syrian rebels claims, the New York Times devotes an entire article to it, although notably it was published without the inclusion of the photo.
So it’s no great surprise to hear that Mark Thompson, the outgoing head of the BBC will soon be moving to New York to takeover as CEO at the New York Times. Indeed, it’s no exaggeration to say that he’s just the man for the job.
Thompson originally took over at the British Broadcasting Corporation in 2004.
Thereafter the BBC blocked the broadcast of a charity aid appeal for Gaza, because according to Thompson:
“We worry about being seen to endorse something which could give people the impression that we were backing one side.”
In other words, Thompson was instrumental in banning the charity appeal because it would have challenged the BBC’s reputation for ‘impartiality’ and ‘even-handedness’.
Apart from blocking Palestinian charity appeals however, the BBC was also caught using photos from Iraq to publicise alleged massacres in Syria during Thompson’s watch.
All of which must have caught the attention of Arthur Sulzberger Jr, chairman of the Times Company and the New York Times publisher, who called Thompson:
“a gifted and experienced executive with strong credentials whose leadership at the BBC helped it to extend its trusted brand identity…”
Although no stranger to controversy while at the BBC, Thompson was amply rewarded. During his time as Director General he earned in excess of £800,000 per annum.
Still Thompson’s rewards are likely to be even greater when he goes to the New York Times, where he will replace Janet Robinson, who is reported to be leaving the publication with a severance package in excess of $24 million.
So “gifted and experienced” or maybe just a gifted liar, Thompson is likely to be richly rewarded to maintain the New York Times’ “brand identity”.
Syrian Rebels Said to Be Holding Elite Fighters From Iran
Tom Shanker & Damien Cave – New York Times August 16, 2012
American officials said Wednesday that they had obtained credible information that at least some of the 48 Iranians captured in Damascus this month by Syrian rebels were members of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, not the pilgrims described by the government in Tehran.
The new information came as Obama administration officials stepped up accusations of broad Iranian assistance to the embattled government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.
Officials would not describe the details that indicated the Iranians held by the rebels of the Free Syrian Army were members of the Revolutionary Guards, citing the delicacy of intelligence-gathering and -sharing efforts in the region, so it was not possible to verify the reports independently. The Iranians were on a bus that they said was on its way to a Shiite shrine when it was seized by the rebels.