The New York Times fesses-up to conflict

Caught using an adocate as co-author of an article on Gitmo. Joe Strupp of Editor & Publisher writes:

The co-author of a recent front page story in The New York Times about the death of a detainee at the U.S. military base in Guantánamo should have disclosed his past opposition to the prison there, according to an editors' note in today's Times.

The editors' note, published on Page A-2, referred to a Tuesday Page One article that "described the problems of the tribunals at the American military base in Guantánamo, as seen through the failure to resolve the case of Abdul Razzaq Hekmati, an Afghan war hero who died there Dec. 30 after a five-year-long detention."

Andy Worthington, a freelancer who worked on the article, was listed as a co-author and "did some of the initial reporting but was not involved in all of it, and The Times verified the information he provided," the note added.

But, the note later revealed, Worthington had also written a book, “The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison." In it "he takes the position that Guantánamo is part of what he describes as a cruel and misguided response by the Bush administration to the Sept. 11 attacks. He has also expressed strong criticism of Guantánamo in articles published elsewhere.

This co-author business is an outrage, and is a trend. In the past year or so, I've noticed a few cases in which newspapers enlisted the services of a "freelance" co-author for stories of this sort. The most notable example that comes to mind was the L.A. Times' use of Nick Turse to do a big Vietnam (and Iraq) atrocity story. Turse is  a leftist radical who, among other things, had praised the Columbine shooters as 1960's-type rebels. I blogged on this at The Big Carnival, my own website.

I've also noted freelancers being used on stories dealing with race, and its supposed legacy (i.e. that America is still a racist society). Of course, when you use freelancers you also don't need to use staffers, and it saves you money; and it seems that the NYT is using lots of freelancers that it passes off as staffers.

Ray Robison is co-authro of Both in One Trench.