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WikiLeaks, bias and the press

Another letter to the editor

From: Daniel Simpson
Date: 29 January 2011 00:00:19 GMT
To: Alan Rusbridger
Subject: WikiLeaks, Max Frankel and biases

Dear Alan,

Thanks for the enlightening article on WikiLeaks.

Having resigned from The New York Times in disgust at its Iraq performance, I was fascinated by the lines from Max Frankel. This one in particular was striking:

“It is, however, part of our obligation to reveal the biases and apparent purposes of the people who leak or otherwise disclose information.”

Could you ask him if that extends to U.S. officials, and if so why the Times so often fails to do as much? Please feel free to forward him this email.

Bill Keller has suggested one reason, noting the close relations between his staff and the government (e.g. Richard Holbrooke’s attendance at a party for Roger Cohen). Howell Raines was more explicit still:

“It misses the point to say that the Times is an ‘elite’ publication. It is the indispensable newsletter of the United States’ political, diplomatic, governmental, academic, and professional communities.”

No doubt Max would think Matt Taibbi’s take sophomoric, but it seems not much has changed in half a century: selective “prudent silence” when it counts, and hand-wringing mea culpas after the carnage.

Still, at least the Times apologised to readers. Might the Guardian some day see its way to doing so? Or do you still think “the news is by and large fair” if you recycle official untruths without exposing them? I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Simpson

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