Stories can be ingeniously “spun” so their significance is dimmed. The main facts might be mentioned; but the emphasis is expertly shifted and important details are placed toward the end. Opposing testimony is featured throughout. The “spun” story, a murmur of its prior self, is then buried on a back page.
A more radical, more Orwellian technique is to pretend that the story never happened. News is thus “disappeared.” Savor the irony. A vast organization–allegedly set up to find news–ends up functioning as a screening device to identify undesirable stories and hide them.
This second technique seems more commonplace and reckless in the Obama era. Previously, the Times could ignore a story, confident that few people would realize it hadn’t been covered. In the age of the internet and the New Media, the Times has to know that a big portion of the population will hear about significant stories. Bizarrely, the Times doesn’t seem to care about its own declining prestige.
Here then are three big stories NOT reported in the New York Times.
1 Hollywood Heroine. During the 2008 primary season, Bettina Viviano, a producer with serious film credits, was deeply involved in the campaign to nominate Hillary Clinton. She was typical of thousands of smart professional women who assumed that Hillary would be the nominee; and they wanted to be part of the process. Shockingly, they discovered that politics is a rough game indeed when played by the gang from Chicago.
Bettina Viviano witnessed intimidation, fraud, anything you can think of that gangster politicians have done throughout history. Viviano and colleague Gigi Gaston decided to make a documentary about this tainted primary. The title is “We Will Not Be Silenced.” Two things happened: lots of people had grim stories to tell; and great pressure was brought to shut down the project. Indeed, it was put on hold during 2009.
In the spring of 2012, Viviano decided she couldn’t remain silent. She wrote some articles, gave some interviews. She’s an impressive witness and tells a fascinating story. She argues that had the primary been conducted legally, Hillary would have been the candidate. More surprising to many is Viviano’s comment that everyone in the campaign assumed Obama was ineligible, and that Bill Clinton would step forward at the proper time to dismiss Obama’s legitimacy. He didn’t do this, Viviano said, because he was threatened. Anyway, at risk to her career (at least), Viviano told a detailed story that unfolds over months and now years. This is not some little anecdote but a big slice of American political history that should have been served up on the front page of every paper in America: INSIDERS SAY OBAMA MACHINE STOLE NOMINATION.
It’s far more significant than anything we heard about Herman Cain; but the Times covered Herman Cain in scores of stories, smirking, scorning, chortling (in a tone the Times would call “racist” if the subject were Obama.)
But if you go to the New York Times now to learn about a far more important chapter in our history, here’s what the search engine says: “Your search – bettina viviano, hillary clinton – did not match any documents.”
2) “America’s Sheriff.” This nickname tells you that Joe Arpaio is a national figure, and that probably millions of people know about his activities. He held a press conference on March 1, 2012, to announce that Obama’s newest birth certificate was most likely a forgery. Later in the year, July 17, he held a second press conference to announce there’s no doubt: the official White House birth certificate is a digital forgery. This is a huge story with many unique features, just what journalists used to hunger for. There’s only one investigation–Arpaio’s–by a law enforcement group into this birth certificate, and only one nationally famous sheriff. Not to mention, somebody in the White House is committing forgery.
The Times touched on this story a few times fleetingly, with no detail or forensic curiosity. At present there is a long biographical sketch of Arpaio, about 1500 words, on the Times website, with this single reference: “Mr. Arpaio has waged an increasingly bitter dispute with the Obama administration, including questioning the president’s birth certificate and portraying the civil rights investigation as politicized.”
This is almost comedy journalism. As Arpaio himself has mentioned, if a reporter wants to win a Pulitzer, all he has to do is refute the sheriff’s investigation.
3) Handicapper. Wayne Allyn Root is, according to his August 6 article and video, “one of the most accurate Las Vegas oddsmakers and prognosticators.” Furthermore, Root was in Columbia’s Class of ‘83, the president’s class. Root notes that virtually nobody remembers seeing this guy. But the real question is how does a student with mediocre grades, a fondness for reefer, and not much money manage to attend several Ivy League schools? Root plays the biggest hunch of his career, claiming that Obama had all his records sealed because he most likely attended Columbia as a “foreign exchange student.” In that classification, Obama did not need good grades, money, or even to attend class.
Rush Limbaugh read the entire column on the air. Root’s prognostications went viral. At that point, the Times should at least report the story. If they could refute Root’s analysis, why not do it?
This story, of course occurred a few months after another equally huge story that Obama, on his literary agent’s website, said he was from Kenya. This claim remained on the web for more than 10 years. Meanwhile, the president’s birth certificate has been denounced as a fake. A Republican politician would not survive two days with these convergent accusations hanging in the air. The Times would report them in banner headlines.
Times search engine reports: “Your search [last 12 months] – wayne allyn root – did not match any documents.
Where the president is concerned, the Times sees no evil, hears no evil, and reports no evil. The wider tragedy is that this faux-newspaper dictates what all the lesser papers will bother to report. Check your local paper: did it report these stories?
People should be asking when did “media whore” become a tautology? Once upon a time, media whore referred to people who would do anything to be mentioned in the news. Now the phrase better refers to media that will do anything to avoid mentioning the news.
Education is my main beat; I think of this as an education story. The media won’t report facts. Schools try not to teach facts. There almost seems to be, throughout our society, what Martin Gross called “a conspiracy of ignorance.”
As these and many other stories become common knowledge, the public may wake up to how corrupt and irresponsible some of our major institutions are.
Bruce Deitrick Price is an author and education reformer. He founded Improve-Education.org in 2005; his site explains theories and methods.