The NYT and Sudan

Summit Communications,

a company which makes money by taking the prestige of the New York Times and

selling it to corrupt third-world governments, has outdone itself today with

a "Special Advertising Section" on Sudan in the New York Times, featuring

second vice president Ali Othman Taha on the cover. "We have approached

the formation of the united government in a spirit of cooperation and partnership,"

he says in a big pull-quote.

Stefan Geens points

me to Summit’s website, which features

a long video interview with Taha, complete with sycophantic and extremely softball

questions. The interviewer, Racquel Picornell, tells us at the beginning that

she’s going to ask him about "the economic development that will ensure

a very rosy economic outlook", and that we will hear "the words of

one of the makers of its history, a history that will lead Sudan into a new

peaceful era".

Taha does not disappoint: "I feel honored to be what God has bestowed

upon me: to be one of the peacemakers in Sudan," he says.

Taha is not a peacemaker. Quite the opposite: he comes in fact very near the

top of the list of living genocides. As vice-president of Sudan (a post he still

holds, under the presidency of Omar al-Bashir, the strongman who came to power

in a military coup in 1989), Taha was the primary architect of the genocide

in Darfur. In a nutshell, Taha and the Arab militias have been slaughtering

black Sudanese in the western Darfur region of the country.

On Friday, the US State Department put out a press

release in which Nancy Pelosi and George Bush both agreed that there is

genocide going on in Darfur. The release comes in the wake of Pelosi’s visit

to Sudan, during which Taha admitted to her group that his government has supported

the genocidal militias.

Recently, Taha’s genocide has started spilling across the border and into Chad,

a development the New York Times abhors

in its leader today.

And yet the New York Times is happy to take the Sudanese government’s money

and run an eight-page advertisement for the country.

Would the New York Times run an advertorial extolling the charitable works

of Osama bin Laden? Would it run advertisements from Nambla, or from the Ku

Klux Klan? Taha is an evil man, a genocidal war criminal who has caused suffering

on an almost unimaginable scale. What he wants now is a modicum of international

respectability – and who better to give it to him than the New York Times.

So the Times takes Taha’s blood-soaked dollars and happily funnels them to its

shareholders, even as its very own Nick Kristof files heartbreaking dispatches

from Darfur. Here’s Kristof from his latest column:

Elie Wiesel once said, referring to victims of genocide: "Let us remember:

what hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor but the silence

of the bystander." And it’s our own silence that I find inexplicable.

The only thing worse than silence, of course, is outright complicity. I would

love to know what Nick Kristof thought of his employer when he picked up the

paper this morning.

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2 Responses to The NYT and Sudan

  1. al says:

    good job on democracy now this morning…the new york times seem to be nothing more than a bunch of money hungry hypocrites…ah yes! and they did sell the war in iraq…great progressive liberals that they be

  2. Kate Pastor says:

    To answer your question, no. The New York Times would not print ads from any of those groups because of the outrage they would be sure to ignite if they did. The problem here is partly the perception that the Sudan issue isn’t a no-brainer for Times readers (yes, despite Kristof’s coverage).

    And while it’s admirable that the two departments (advertising and editorial) are so distinct, doesn’t the editorial side have some obligation to at least run a story about the decision to run the ad?

    …Haven’t seen any such independent evaluation as of yet….What are they waiting for?

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