In his classic account of the last Presidential election, ‘Crashing the Party’, Ralph Nader devoted a whole chapter to exposing the role of the mass media titans in determining the political destiny of the nation and the world.
As these media giants become ever more global, along with global advertisers, their self-importance and impact become almost unreal. On the occasion of announcing Time Warner’s merger with AOL, Time Warner CEO, Gerald Levine declared exuberantly that the global media is fast becoming the predominant business of the 21st century and “is more important than government, its more important then educational institutions and non-profits”. Ralph Nader, Crashing the Party
During the campaign, George Bush walked over to one arrogant New York Times reporter and inquired if ‘Sulzberger (the publisher) had worked his way to the top’. Four decades earlier, Bob Kennedy had raised the same question about the family that has a Stalinist iron grip on the Gray Lady.
A little over a month ago, I gave a lecture in Portland and passed around a picture of Sulzberger and not a soul in the crowd recognized him. I went on to ask how many folks knew the name of the publisher of the New York Times. And I got the same blank stare.
Earlier that week, I had walked around New York and asked a number of ‘professional’ looking individuals if they could name the publisher of the city’s largest paper. No one knew. I then asked what they thought Sulzberger looked like. The majority imagined him to be an old man. He is actually a rather short pudgy man in his early fifties.
More recently, I sent an article to a publisher and he sent it back asking me to add a few words to identify Sulzberger to his readers. He had a valid point. You have to explain to Americans that a mere mortal publishes the New York Times.
To digress for a moment, when was the last time the Supreme Court made a decision that effected your life as a citizen? Some will respond that it was the last election, but others will correctly point to Wade versus Roe and the school desegregation ruling. That was a mere thirty years ago. For all practical purposes, the Supreme Court is now just a court of last appeal for those facing capital punishment.
Sulzberger, with a bully pulpit like the New York Times, does more to ‘fix’ the public agenda than the Supreme Court and any random group of thirty senators. Note that the Sulzberger clan also owns the Boston Globe and thirty other newspapers. If journalism is the first draft of history, Sulzberger’s first draft usually ends up being the last say in the history books. If his journalists misinform the public on a certain subject, they do so with the deliberate intent of distorting the political agenda and the historical record.
The point is that Americans ought to know a little bit about a publisher with so much political muscle. Knowing the Sulzberger clan goes a long way in explaining the media bias on important issues of public policy, including foreign policy. On the subject of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Sulzberger’s crew is a de facto party to the conflict. A little bit of New York Times history will serve to remind us all of why their journalists take such a belligerent view of the Palestinian struggle for liberty. The more you know about the Sulzberger clan, the more you will understand why they are apologists for even the most vicious acts of Israeli repression.
One of Sulzberger’s great grandfathers, Adolph S Ochs, purchased the New York Times in 1896 on the strength of a fake bank balance arranged by the Citizens Savings Bank of Chattanooga. Having acquired the paper in a scam, he was later accused by one of his employees of faking circulation figures to enhance advertising revenues. The full sordid story can be found in ‘The Trust’, a book by Susan E Tifft. Today, there is a slice of 47th street in Manhattan named after Adolph Ochs. A few blocks over, towards Grand Central Station, another section of 47th street is named for David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister. They should just rename the whole street ‘Zionist Alley’ or the Yiddish Supremacist Boulevard of the Stars.
On his paternal side, Sulzberger’s great grandfather was the vice president of the American Zionist Federation. His grandfather, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, attended Zionist Congresses as a boy. He published the New York Times through World War II and up to the fifties and made the paper the potent power player that it remains today. In 1937, his grandfather visited Palestine and returned advocating partition. At the time, the Jewish population, mostly first generation immigrants from Russia and Eastern Europe, barely made up twenty per cent of the population. Yet, he continued denying being a Zionist and made a public show of confronting their political program.
Over the years, the New York Times has been very careful to avoid being labeled a ‘Jewish paper’. The stated mission was “to give the news impartially, without fear or favor, regardless of party, sect or interests involved.” Nice slogan, but the evidence suggests that they have strayed far from these professed lofty aims.
For one thing, in a very diverse city, they have always had a staff and a leadership that is very Jewish. Joe Levlyveld, one of the executive editors, was the son of Rabbi Arthur Lelyveld. He headed the Zionist Committee on Unity for Palestine and boasted of influencing President Truman’s recognition of the state of Israel. Abe Rosenthal, an Arab-hating bigot, is now writing for the Jerusalem Post. Thomas Friedman is the guy who helped sanitize Ariel Sharon’s war crimes by creating plausible deniability after the Sabra and Shatila massacre in 1982. William Safire openly admits to doing public relations work for Ariel Sharon. If Safire had admitted that he was a ghostwriter for Bush, it would have caused a scandal at the ‘paper of record’.
The New York Times has consistently promoted Nakba denial. They continue to leave their readers with the impression that Israel did no wrong in expelling the native Palestinians in 1948. By their account, the 1956 Suez war was launched by Egypt, not by Israel, Britain and France. They pretend they have never heard of the Protocol of Sevres.
Israel’s 1967 invasion of three neighboring countries was an outrageous land grab, as evidenced by the annexation of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights and the settlement project. But in Sulzberger’s rag, the six-day war is portrayed as a war of aggression against Israel. The October 1973 war is also labeled as an attack on Israel. In fact, every battle of the war was fought on occupied Arab land by Egyptian and Syrian troops liberating their native soil. Even the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which many Israelis regret as an unnecessary ‘war of choice’, is now blamed on the Palestinians. The Sulzberger clan has spent decades marketing the belligerent Israeli colonial policies of uprooting the native population of the Holy Land for exclusive Jewish settlement.
As a publisher, Sulzberger must be held personally responsible for loaning out William Safire as a public relations agent for Sharon. Every one of his journalists must be held responsible for covering up the details of the recent Israeli war crimes in Jenin, Nablus and Bethlehem. Try to find any reference to Sharon’s war crime record stretching back to Qibya. They don’t do Qibya at the New York Times. If you ever want to pin the New York Times to the wall, find out the details of Qibya and why its ‘not fit to print’.
The whole fiction about the ‘generous deal’ rejected by the Palestinians at Taba was cooked up by the public relations wizards at the New York Times. When challenged on this subject matter, Sulzberger quashes debate. A ‘good’ Sulzberger reporter is trained to conveniently forget that Ariel Sharon was elected precisely to turn down Taba and destroy the Oslo peace process. Israelis, when confronted with the prospect of ending the occupation and dismantling the settlements, chose to turn up the violence against the Palestinians. The Israeli public believed that Sharon could deliver on a ‘military solution’ in 100 days and took the bait. So did the Israel Firsters on this side of the pond, led by barkers like Safire and Krauthammer.
Thomas Friedman continues to serve a full dose of canards to his readers. In a recent article he even blamed Arafat for the siege of Beirut in 1982. Apparently Sharon’s killing spree in the summer of 1982 is long forgotten by Thomas Fraudulent. The Israeli planes and tanks that murdered an estimated 17,000 Palestinian and Lebanese citizens is a detail Thomas would rather not concern his readers with.
Four generations of the Sulzberger clan have actively participated in promoting the repression of the Palestinian people. Journalists at the New York Times are carefully chosen from the ranks of confirmed Israel Firsters. The ‘liberal’ faéade is just a very slick cover for a very right wing ethnic enterprise that champions any Israeli government regardless of which particular war criminal is running the show in Tel Aviv. The Sulzberger clan has always been bad news for the Palestinians. Read all about the Sulzberger gang before you read another line of fiction in their warped first draft of history.
Mr. Ahmed Amr is Editor of NileMedia.com in Seattle and a regular contributor to Media Monitors Network (MMN).