Friday, January 18, 2008

New York Times on the Warsaw Ghetto uprising

Thanks to "Death by 1000 Papercuts" for alerting me to The People's Cube version of a hypothetical New York Times front page from the Warsaw ghetto uprising during World War II.

My question is, why didn't the New York Times actually use these headlines in 1943? We know that the Times writes today's stories that way - equating good with evil, blaming both sides, accusing those who defend themselves of overreacting, siding with U.S. enemies, etc. etc.

The accepted version of media history is that organizations such as the New York Times were patriotic during World War II and became "skeptical" of the government during Vietnam and Watergate. Establishment historians note the general supportive attitude of newspapers during WWII. The same historians note rising "skepticism" over the following two decades on the part of the media and attribute such skepticism to misconduct on the part of the American government.

In fact, the New York Times has been part of the fifth column since before World War II. But there was a very good reason that the Times (and others) did not oppose official U.S. interests during WWII. The New York Times' version of the ghetto uprising would have been just as bad as it is depicted on the above graphic had the uprising occurred two years earlier.

Prior to June 1941, Germany was allied with the Soviet Union. In June 1941, the Germans invaded the Soviet Union and threatened the workers paradise so admired by the left. The New York Times turned against Germany not out of a sense of patriotism or a lack of "skepticism," but out of loyalty to the Soviet Union. The Times and other media outlets saw a threat to their real ally. The U.S. just happened to be on the same side - thus making the Times appear patriotic.

Had Germany and the Soviet Union remained allied during the entire war, the Times' coverage of the war would have been very different. The graphic above is a good example. Leftist historians would today refer to WWII as a boondogle, where America learned the "limits of imperialism." Today, we would constantly hear warnings about not getting into "another WWII."

There is no real difference between the NY Times of Walter Duranty's day and the New York Times of today. The war coverage seems different because today we don't have the Soviet Union on our side to keep our newspapers loyal.

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