The New York Times Rediscovers the Bosnian Genocide
by Stephen Schwartz
[On this occasion we offer a personal perspective by our Ashk, a colleague of the martyred Brother Jamal Khashoggi. Our Ashk is under constant personal attack. Please post far and wide. -- Zana]
THE NEW YORK TIMES, our American journal of record, has some curious habits. This I know from my experience as a contributor, a book reviewee, and a former official of The Newspaper Guild, the union representing NYT employees.
The TIMES hates to get little things wrong, and resists corrections. It is not so irritable about getting big things wrong. It just ignores them as long as possible.
The TIMES is, however, a skinback factory. On stories it got wrong, sometimes with murderous results, it produces later, followup copy. It's a form of diversion, reminiscent of Orwell's 1984 fantasy of history constantly rewritten.
TIMES scribbler Walter Duranty and his colleagues denied the genocidal nature of Stalin's Ukrainian famine, propagandized for the Moscow purge trials, and lied flagrantly about events during the Spanish revolution and war of 1936-39. His fellow-liar on Spain, Herbert Matthews, went on to pimp for dictator F. Castro, the "little Peron" of the Caribbean, whose behavior with Russia was more "Little Eva," flirting, dancing, putting the cash in her panties, and running off the stage when it came time to put out, I mean, put up.
The record of the NYT on the Russo-Serbian "Putin Holocaust" in ex-Yugoslavia was also a bit of a strip show, though some of the dancers proved to be honest journalists who had been lured into the intellectual equivalent of sex trafficking. Gangster of the pen David Binder, a recipient of Serbian favors, presented Slobodan Milošević as the reforming Gorbachev of South Slavistan, capital Belgrade. (Full disclosure: Binder dislikes me, even attempting to assault me, while he was on a walker, at a DC event, because I denied that Hungary was, a decade or more ago, preparing an invasion of Serbia.)
The NYT was lousy on the Croatian Liberation War, presenting President Franjo Tuđman as a neo-Nazi, but righted itself on Bosnia. Heroic reporters Roger Cohen, John Burns, and others told the bitter truth about Serbofascism. They deserve all honor.
But the NYT couldn't get the Balkans, and espccially Kosovo, right consistently, employing a certain Chris Hedges as a cleanup man in the region. Hedges had labelled the combatants of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) as effectively, fascist bandit ranch guards, rather like Billy the Kid. Not long ago the TIMES sent one of the most inept practitioners of the media craft ever, Carlotta Gall, to defame the entire country of Kosovo as under the control of Saudi Arabia, when the Kosovo Muslims have conducted the most serious and impactful struggle in the whole world against radical Islam.
Hedges published bogus charges against the leaders of Bosnian Islam, and was fired by the NYT, in a rare outcome for the paper. I, however, was endangered in Bosnia by defenders of Hedges, who ran local media on behalf of Brussels. I had criticized Hedges in Bosnian media, and had to be crushed, preferably with punches. (I wasn't).
Nevertheless, the skinback is NYT product par excellence, generating rehashed copy to avoid correcting gross mistakes.
Thus, on October 19, a TIMES tool named Andrew Higgins announced breathlessly that Bosnia is divided between Muslims, Serb Orthodox, and Croat Catholics. Who knew? Or better, who didn't know?
Mr. Higgins delivered this gem in a stemwinder indicating that the NYT had learned, more or less accidentally, that ex-Yugoslavia was sundered by nationalist populism. And that America could face a similar downfall for similar reasons.
Pardon me for failing to engage in fake modesty, but this has been my message to Americans for some time: the Russian playbook on cross-border subversion, based on ethnic demagogy, fomenting of political lawbreaking, and rampant disinformation, arrived in America after being tested in Turkey, Iran, Kurdistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Kazakhstan, the Caucasus, Azerbaijan and Armenia, ex-Yugoslavia, and Ukraine.
Mr. Higgins' inappropriateness for this assignment was admitted by the NYT, which added the following to his reportage: "Correction: November 19, 2018. An earlier version of this article misspelled the given name of an activist in Mostar. She is Amna Popovac, not Amnia. The article also misspelled the name of a river that the Bosnian wartime front runs along. The river is the Neretva, not the Nirveta. In addition, the article misspelled the surname of the United Nations' high representative in Sarajevo. He is Valentin Inzko, not Inzeko."
Pardon me while I yawn.
How can journalists adequately defend our profession against Trump's attacks, when the flagship NYT engages in flagrant exercises in "fake news?" Media is a business, as is Saudi Arabia. Mr. Bone-Saw, aka Muhammad bin Salman, benefited from NYT accommodation until he ordered the martyred Jamal Khashoggi killed. But honestly, would the fate of Brother Jamal had been noticed if he hadn't worked for THE WASHINGTON POST? I find the Western media emphasis on Brother Jamal's DC journo billet distasteful.
Journalists also died in the Balkan Wars. I watched as a young Croatian-American friend, Fran Tomasic, walked out of the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE newsroom, armed with a press credential I had secured him. I was concerned when he said he was going there with a rather despicable writer, William T. Vollman, who got Fran killed in Bosnia in 1994.
19 journalists were killed in the Serbian aggression against Bosnia. Look it up.