A Voice-Activated Tape Recorder

From Blah3.

Stenography Alert
Saturday, February 10 2007 @ 12:16 EST
Contributed by: Invictus

MediaAs Glenn Greenwald points out, the NY Times has apparently regressed to pre-Iraq stenographer mode when it comes to reportage about Iran. Witness today’s front page headline:

Deadliest Bomb in Iraq Is Made by Iran, U.S. Says

It is painfully clear that any headline asserting that the “U.S. Says” anything at all should be greeted with a very healthy dose of skepticism.

It was none other than the Times that treated us to these pre-Iraq war beauties:

U.S. Says Iraq Retools Rockets For Illicit Uses (March 10, 2003, Cushman & Weisman)

U.S. Says Iraqi Indicated Atom Project Is Continuing (December 10, 2002, Sanger)

Michael Gordon, the reporter whose story ran today, co-authored this gem with Judith Miller on Sept. 8, 2002:


Many such stories refer to “administration officials,” “military officers,” “intelligence sources” or “intelligence officials.” Anonymity was often granted because the matter was classified or the source was not authorized to discuss it. (Of course, one might argue the source needs anonymity because the bullshit s/he’s peddling is a flat-out lie and s/he doesn’t want to get caught in it, but that’s another story.)

That the Times would once again allow itself to fall into megaphone mode for this administration is, in a word, appalling.


And there’s this for a tongue-in-cheek account:

New York Times Reveals “Reporter” Michael Gordon Actually Voice-Activated Tape Recorder

NEW YORK — New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller today announced that the paper’s longtime staff writer Michael Gordon is not an actual person, but rather a voice-activated tape recorder.

“I’m not sure why everyone didn’t figure this out before now,” said Keller, pointing to the fact that, in Gordon’s 26-year career, all of “his” stories have consisted entirely of transcribed statements by anonymous government officials.

According to Jill Abramson, the paper’s Managing Editor, Gordon was purchased for $27.95 at a Radio Shack on West 43rd Street. Describing the situation as “a prank” that had “gotten slightly out of hand,” Abramson said the paper had decided to acknowledge Gordon’s identity because—after the tape recorder’s front page story today, “Deadliest Bomb in Iraq Is Made by Iran, U.S. Says”—there “was no place left to take the joke.”

Keller described how he and Abramson “really had a good laugh” while editing the Iran story, which is based on the following sourcing:

U.S. Says…United States intelligence asserts…reflects broad agreement among American intelligence agencies…civilian and military officials from a broad range of government agencies provided…military officials say…The officials said…The assessment was described in interviews over the past several weeks with American officials…Administration officials said…according to the intelligence…According to American intelligence…Some American intelligence experts believe…they assert…notes a still-classified American intelligence report…a senior administration official said…according to Western officials…Officials said…An American intelligence assessment described to The New York Times said…Other officials believe…American military officers say…American officials say…According to American intelligence agencies…Assessments by American intelligence agencies say…Marine officials say…American intelligence agencies are concerned…Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week.

“You can’t deny that’s funny,” said Keller, adding that the lack of skepticism displayed by Gordon was “literally inhuman.” Keller and Abramson asserted that the Iran article is “even more hilarious” than Gordon’s 2002 stories on Iraq’s purported nuclear program, written with Judith Miller.

According to the paper’s management, the Times plans to keep the tape recorder on its staff indefinitely, given that it does not require health insurance and its voice-activation feature “saves a lot of tape.” Indeed, the tape recorder formerly known as Michael Gordon has already filed its own story on the matter, consisting entirely of transcribed statements from anonymous government officials.


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