Now that the Biden administration’s shambolic Afghanistan bugout is (at least nominally) complete, the big question is: What comes next? The answer depends on what the American people, and the politicians who represent them, believe to be the reality on the ground. And if they get their information from the nation’s self-appointed “paper of record,” The New York Times, they’ll believe a reality quite at odds with what we really know about the Taliban.
In the weeks since the withdrawal and even during it, that coverage has often been light to nonexistent. And what reporting it has done has bathed the Taliban in a softer, gentler glow than anyone might have ever imagined.
Take the Times’ recent article on Afghanistan, a report on the Taliban’s decision to allow polio vaccinations to continue in the war-torn country. According to the Gray Lady, the Taliban is now “committed to providing protection to health care workers” — quite uplifting news for a murderous terror regime.
What didn’t get reported by the Times this week, however, speaks volumes. Such as that the Taliban’s interior minister this week was reportedly at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul to reward with money and clothes the families of suicide bombers who targeted the Indian embassy in 2008. The minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is the leader of the Haqqani terror network that previously bombed the very same hotel. Haqqani is also the author of one of the most noteworthy New York Times opinion pieces of all of last year.
Nor will Times readers know, for example, that the State Department’s inspector general is probing Team Biden’s latest diplomatic moves in Afghanistan.
Haqqani’s op-ed, full of platitudes about “inclusive” politics, “mutual respect,” “international partners,” “peace-building” and other insipid lies, did more to normalize the Taliban than any other single piece of Taliban propaganda in the history of the long war. And yet there was no lengthy editor’s note (such as the one the paper tacked on to Sen. Tom Cotton’s op-ed about using federal troops to quell riots) offering context — in this case, that the author was head of one of the most ruthless terror networks of the modern era.
It’s a troubling pattern. When the Taliban declared victory over the Afghan government, the story got front-page billing by major newspapers. The New York Times, however, didn’t think it worthy of front-page coverage, though it did offer front-page news that day about the death of “The Wire” actor Michael Williams.
This pattern has persisted, as other major dailies continued to carry harrowing stories of the Taliban rampaging through Afghanistan, while the Times often didn’t cover the events at all.
In writing “The Gray Lady Winked,” my book on how The New York Times alters history in service of its own interests, I learned that the paper’s most effective tool in “editing reality” (as I’ve come to understand it) is not what it covers but what it doesn’t. And the trend goes back decades.
The most famous example: The paper’s notorious Russia correspondent, Walter Duranty, who, at the behest of the Times management, decided not to cover Stalin’s genocide in the Ukraine in order smooth the path for US recognition of the new Soviet regime.
Think about it: Journalists love nothing more than scoops, and the Afghanistan withdrawal, and subsequent chaos, was the scoop of a lifetime. The Times’ decision to downplay these stories, or forgo coverage entirely, is a red flag that signals there is an agenda at work.
When the Times runs an op-ed by a mass murderer that reads like an Amnesty International brochure, and, one year later, omits coverage of that same terrorist handing out money to the relatives of a suicide bomber at a hotel his terror group attacked, you can be certain the cogs and gears of the Times’ agenda-machine are whirring frighteningly fast.
Ashley Rindsberg is author of “The Gray Lady Winked: How the New York Times’ Misreporting, Distortions and Fabrications Radically Alter History.”
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