NY Times Takes Iraqi PM Out of Context: Plus, the Word No Other Media Outlet Heard

The full headline deck to Friday's lead story from Baghdad by Richard Oppel Jr. is certainly provocative:

"Iraqi Accuses U.S. Of 'Daily' Attacks Against Civilians -- Premier Assails Troops -- New Government Vows Its Own Inquiry in Deaths of 24 in Haditha."

Oppel begins:

"Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki lashed out at the American military on Thursday, denouncing what he characterized as habitual attacks by troops against Iraqi civilians.

"As outrage over reports that American marines killed 24 Iraqis in the town of Haditha last year continued to shake the new government, the country's senior leaders said that they would demand that American officials turn over their investigative files on the killings and that the Iraqi government would conduct its own inquiry.

"In his comments, Mr. Maliki said violence against civilians had become a 'daily phenomenon' by many troops in the American-led coalition who 'do not respect the Iraqi people.'"

"'They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion,' he said. 'This is completely unacceptable.' Attacks on civilians will play a role in future decisions on how long to ask American forces to remain in Iraq, the prime minister added."

But Eric Umansky, who writes the "Today’s Papers" column for Slate, points out:

"What the paper doesn't include is another part of the prime minister's quote, where he says, carefully, 'Yes a mistake may happen but there is an acceptable limit to mistakes....I am not saying that they are intentional. But it is worrying for us.' That's a useful bit of context, no? (For what it's worth, TP did a quick Nexis search and couldn't find another publication that quotes Maliki's charging "daily" attacks against civilians.)"

The wording of the quotes that appear in both papers are slightly different in other respects, but the Washington Post has Maliki calling it only a "phenomenon," not a "daily phenomenon," a word which made the Times' headline.

The Post also plays the story on A16, not as the day's top story as the Times does, another clue that the New York Times may be overplaying things. (The Associated Press also only heard the word "phenemenon").

For more examples of New York Times bias, visit TimesWatch.

Iraq New York Times
Clay Waters's picture