Why the NY Times ignored the attack on Ras Tanura

When I read over the weekend that Iran-backed Houthis attempted to mount a 12-drone attack on Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia (the world's biggest oil port), I wanted to check with the New York Times — but there was nothing to check on.  Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal reported the attack, but for the Times, it was not "news that's fit to print."

I wonder why.  Of course, the business publications had to report it because the failed (or repelled) attack made the markets nervous and briefly sent the price of crude to over $70 per barrel.  But there are other ramifications to the story, too; after all, Bloomberg filed its report under the "Politics" rubric.  Is it this "politics" aspect that the Times would rather wish its readers did not know?

Indeed, the attempted attack by an Iranian proxy does not look good for Biden's attempts to re-establish ties to Iran and to get back into Obama's Iran deal.  Houthis are armed by Iran, the world's worst state supporter of terrorism, and take orders from it.  Publicizing Iran's proxy attack on the major oil supply hub does not exactly help the task of making Iran look not as bad as it is, especially because the attack came shortly after Biden administration removed Houthi designation as a terrorist entity, in a clear signal to Iran of Biden's desire to lower the temperature and get back into the deal, a goal the New York Times fully supports.

Clearly, when deciding on what to put into the paper and what to leave on the cutting floor, the "paper of record" guides itself by the expected impact of what the reader will see reported.  In terms of priorities, informing the reader is a distant second to influencing him — a classical modus operandi of a propaganda sheet.

We now know about the mental climate in the Times newsroom thanks to the McNeil scandal.  The Times recently fired its veteran reporter, Donald McNeil, for uttering the N-word while answering a question on whether its use was ever justified.  McNeil did not stay silent, and his long and detailed account is fascinating — not so much as proof of his innocence as it is a vivid depiction of the paranoid culture at the Times, with its obsession over how the words may look rather than whether they are factually true.  Just like the non-story of the foiled attack on the Saudi port, the story of McNeil's firing is about mind control prioritized over informing the reader.

Read McNeil, and you'll see that the New York Times is a place of incredible oversensitivity, of thin skins and easily bruised egos.  A brusque journalist unearthing hidden truths and heroically bringing them to the public is a thing of the past.  Nowadays, a New York Times journalist is no brash fellow in search of sensational disclosures.  He is a hypersensitive who, before uttering a word, needs a long consultation with a lawyer — and a consoling talk with a shrink afterward.  Can such insecure neurotics inform and enlighten us?

I don't think so.  The New York Times' recent story of Donald McNeil, and its non-story of the attempted attack on Ras Tanura, is solid proof.

Image: N.Y. Times.

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