NYT editor: We won’t run photos of the Koran burning because they add nothing to the story

posted at 4:22 pm on September 10, 2010 by Allahpundit

Nice try, but alas, I must call B.S.

Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, said in an e-mail message that the newspaper had “no policy against publishing things that might offend someone — lots of people are offended by lots of things — but we try to refrain from giving widespread offense unless there is some offsetting journalistic purpose.”

“A picture of a burning book contributes nothing substantial to a story about book-burning, so the offense seems entirely gratuitous,” Mr. Keller continued. “The freedom to publish includes the freedom not to publish.”

Well, for starters, the “offsetting journalistic purpose” here would be visually illustrating the key moment of the event you’re reporting on, no? It’s one thing to not print a photo if it contains something offensive that’s unrelated to the story, like an idiot giving the finger while standing behind a politician who’s speaking to reporters, but when your whole purpose for being there is to cover something offensive happening, I dare say a photo of it happening qualifies as “newsy.”

But beyond that, the Times’s non-coverage of the Mohammed cartoons a few years ago proves how bogus Keller’s argument is. Not only did they refuse to print them, thus making it impossible for readers to see what the global fuss was about without consulting an outside source, but — infamously — they chose to illustrate a story inspired by the cartoon uproar about offensive imagery with a photo of … the Virgin Mary painted in elephant dung. The painting was mentioned in the piece, but only tangentially; the focus was, of course, the cartoons and the insane reaction to them. Faced with the choice between no illustration, a highly newsworthy illustration that offended Muslims, and a glancingly related illustration that offended Christians, they went with the last one notwithstanding the fact that, in context, it had little “journalistic purpose.” Why? Because, of course, Keller doesn’t really care about gratuitous offense; he cares about people getting bombed when Muslim fundies get mad. I can sympathize to some extent with the media trying to save lives by not giving lunatics a pretext to be lunatics, but if you’re going to do that, at least have the dignity to acknowledge that that’s what you’re doing. Appease if you must, but don’t be dishonest about it.

Follow the link up top and read the entire Times piece, as it provides a timeline of how the media helped create the Frankenstein monster they’re now desperately trying to kill. It’s not a complete narrative — for that, read this Salon piece too about how hard Arab media has worked over the past few months to demagogue Jones’s stunt — but it’s useful in tracking how early some U.S. media outlets picked this up as a way of pushing their Islamophobia narrative. As far as I can tell, Jones’s first appearance on a major network came all the way back on July 29 when he turned up on — ta da — Rick Sanchez’s show, which doubtless caught the attention of some media players in the Middle East. (Think Progress flagged the clip the next day under the heading “Radical Right-Wing Agenda.”) It was Petraeus’s comment over the weekend about how much traction the story’s already gotten in Afghanistan that then sent the media into overdrive this week, turning the story into the global clusterfark it’s now become. And now that it is one, and everyone from Obama to the Vatican is begging Jones to stand down, the media’s trying to atone for hyping this crank by either blacking out coverage of what he’s up to or, as you’re about to see, dropping any pretense of objectivity and condemning the guy themselves. Enjoy as Mika Brzezinski disgraces herself by accusing Jones of potentially having “blood on his hands” — wrong, wrong, wrong — before ex-Newsweek editor Jon Meacham delivers a little New Testament pep talk and then they cut away, without Jones ever uttering a word. They’ve gone from moronic hyperventilation to obnoxious self-congratulation in the span of about 24 hours. Amazing.

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A sermon from John Meacham????

It’s enough to make me want to change religions.

PattyJ on September 10, 2010 at 6:14 PM

Well, that’s because i’m right!

Tom_Shipley on September 10, 2010 at 6:00 PM

Wow! Total narcissism. Is your real name….Barack Obama?

capejasmine on September 10, 2010 at 6:20 PM

from Drudge.
Co-Worker Calls Alleged Shooter: “Very Spiritual”
guess the religious affiliation,this network NBC did not duck as did the rag in NY.

Col.John Wm. Reed on September 10, 2010 at 6:38 PM

Sorry to disrupt this discussion, but LOOK! OVER THERE!!!!
At Lucianne.com! On the home page, just down a little as you arrive — a photograph of a burning Koran!

OMG! It’s terrible! The Koran in flames! I am so filled with rage! Just look at it! This is horri…

Oh. Wait. Never mind. I’ve put on my glasses for a better look. Sorry. I thought it was a Koran burning.

Let’s get back to condemning that terrible idiot pastor, now, shall we?

FlameWarrior on September 10, 2010 at 6:42 PM

Tom_Shipley on September 10, 2010 at 6:00 PM

Seriously..what is the theme music going on in your pea brain when you post here???

BigWyo on September 10, 2010 at 6:52 PM

My dog refuses to crap on the NYT

malkinmania on September 10, 2010 at 7:09 PM

Soooo, the NYT will not show a koran burning while MAKING UP STORIES about flushing one down an imaginary toilet? The NYT WILL write stories on FBI methods of intercepting terrorists phone calls into the US from abroad? Take moron.org ads depicting Gen Petraeus as “Betray us”? Take many opportunities to promote defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan which, in previous times, would be grounds for treason.

dthorny on September 10, 2010 at 7:20 PM

The Gray Pusillanimous Lady

curved space on September 10, 2010 at 8:09 PM

Seriously..what is the theme music going on in your pea brain when you post here???



xblade on September 10, 2010 at 8:43 PM

NYT editor: We won’t run photos of the Koran burning because they add nothing to the story

“Instead, we at the NYT are going to require all editors to keep their heads in the sand at all times….except, of course when we are receiving the latest FAX from the DNC.”

the NYT editor continued:

“The sandblasters are nearly finished correcting the NYT motto emblazoned on our building to read:

All the news that fits, we print.'”

landlines on September 10, 2010 at 8:43 PM

They add nothing to the story.

Unlike, oh, pictures of flag-draped coffins of American soldiers.

Well-Armed Lamb on September 11, 2010 at 1:10 AM

Wow, isn’t that nice. The NYT will not run a photo of a Koran burning because “it adds nothing to the story.” However, he will run more photos of abu ghraib because they add more to the story. And he will run stories about secret CIA bases throughout the world because, that’s one heck of a story. The only good use for the NYT is you can line the bottom of your bird cage with and wrap fish in it.

Wills on September 12, 2010 at 8:28 AM