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Recycled Excrement

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Without explanation, Sunday’s Boston Globe ran a 3-day-old and controversial article recycled from the LA Times. It is about North Korea and documents an interview in Beijing with a North Korean “businessman with close ties to the government” (surprise!). This article’s uncritical repetition of the North Korean Party Line has caused quite a stir since it appeared in the LA Times last Thursday. See Power Line here and here, and Hugh Hewitt here. This is my favorite little quote from the piece:

He said Americans have a wrongheaded notion that North Koreans are unhappy with the system of government under leader Kim Jong Il. ”We Asians are traditional people,” he said. ”We prefer to have a benevolent father leader.” He also said US criticism of North Korea’s record on human rights was unfair and hypocritical. The State Department in its annual human rights report characterized North Korea’s record as ”extremely poor.” It said that 150,000 to 200,000 people are in detention camps for political reasons and that there continued to be reports of extrajudicial killings and disappearances. ”Is there any country where there is a 100 percent guarantee of human rights? Certainly not the United States,” he said. ”There is a question of what is a political prisoner. Maybe these people are not political prisoners, but social agitators.”

Why, pray tell, did the Globe decide that we in Boston needed to be subjected to this piece of purest excrement that is correctly described as one that could have been penned by Walter Duranty? Did they need to recycle something from another publication to fill the space? Was it media solidarity with their sister NY Times Corporation publication? A way to say “in your face” to those who were offended by the LA Times article? I can only guess.

However if they are going to proceed along this line, I have some suggestions for pieces in a similar vein they could run in future Sunday Globes:

The soft side of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness

Pinochet shows tenderness with neighborhood teens

Bomber says that Beslan village was over-run with too many children

Congolese war-lord says coked boys are his happiest soldiers

Islamic slaveholder speaks his mind about how much he taught his charges

Al Axa Martyrs Brigade explains that Israeli teenagers will be happier when dead

Nazi ex-pat believes that Dr. Josef Mengele was a “misunderstood humanitarian”

A Janjiweed freedom fighter insists that Darfur women really ask for it

From Squaring the Boston Globe

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About Harry

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    I think hearing from anyone with ties to North Korea is newsworthy. The interview did not seem to be biased: questions were asked, and they were answered. Is the dude a shill for North Korea’s regime? Undoubtedly — but most intelligent readers can figure that out of their own.

    The idea of journalism is supposed to be (in theory) objective, remember?

  • http://squaringtheglobe.blogspot.com Harry Forbes

    How is it showing objectivity when a journalist does not follow up difficult questions or provide appropriate context in a story about a government that has murdered hundreds of thousands and probaby millions?

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    It’s common knowledge that North Korea is a Communist dictatorship that abuses human rights, commits atrocities, etc. Unless there’s new information to dole out, I don’t think it’s necessary to provide the additional context, etc. that you’re calling for.

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    The very quote you pulled from the interview as your showcase example points out the State Department’s official findings about detentions.

    What else are you looking for?

  • http://squaringtheglobe.blogspot.com Harry Forbes

    You must call liars liars or you are not being truthful.

    Historical revisionism is powerful. See as an example the holocaust deniers. The fundamental facts of a story always need to be repeated.

  • http://squaringtheglobe.blogspot.com Harry Forbes

    To answer your question: The North Korean government claims it is benovlent. The US State Department claims it is brutally repressive. Does the reporter say which source is more creditable? No. You and I agree on the answer, but this fact should be a prominent part of the article. It was not.

    Remember that in the 1930s and 1940s there were many newspaper accounts of Jews being happily re-settled by the Nazis. These accounts just repeated the Nazi party line without adequate context. This story does the same.

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    Where are the lies that must be called out?

    I see nothing wrong with the article at all. It’s basically a human perspective, showing a North Korean citizen’s view.

    To label it “excrement” is an attempt to broadly censor non-US perspectives.

  • http://squaringtheglobe.blogspot.com Harry Forbes

    Still, he expressed strong enthusiasm over North Korea’s recent announcement that it had developed nuclear weapons. The declaration was not intended as a threat, he said, but as a way to advance negotiations.

    [No mention that it violated an international agreement they negotiated with Clinton]

    He said Americans have a wrongheaded notion that North Koreans are unhappy with the system of government under leader Kim Jong Il

    He also said US criticism of North Korea’s record on human rights was unfair and hypocritical.

    Maybe these people are not political prisoners, but social agitators.

    It is not censorship to call lies by their name.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    When you say it’s caused quite a stir and then link to two right-wing bloggers … well, are you just stirring the … excrement?

    Your outrage is noted. Shame it took a lousy BC post to do it. Great headline by the way. That’ll look good on Google News. [/ sarcasm]

    And I just noted your first two words “Without explanation …” Sheesh, Eric B’s got it right. You and every member of the thinking world knows the other side. Are you really trying to say the LA Times or the reporter is cozying up to North Korea? Or that they believe everyone they write about? Because that would be, how do you say, shit.

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    If you haven’t done a Google News search on ‘excrement’ – possibly because you never felt constipated enough – now is a good time to do so – this column heads the list, accompanied by such newsworthy stuff like the Dave Mathews Band story, and interestingly, a South Korean piece on corruption in the army and excrable practices.

  • SFC SKI

    It’s pretty sad that some people can’t tell the difference between fed a line of crap by a shill for the North Koreans.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    You should see the fun when you search for shit in Google NEWS.

    Congrats Harry – you’ve risen to the top.

    SFC? Come again?

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    It would be great if all BlogCritics writers will keep in mind that what we write — particularly in our top level posts — has a very high visibility rate nowadays.

  • http://squaringtheglobe.blogspot.com Harry Forbes

    Risen to the top? Temple, does that illustrate the old saying that “s–t floats”?

    Seriously, just read this article and imagine how similar it is to those written in the 1930s about the Nazis or the Ukraine famine. There were many such written…and they ended up doing people harm.

    I don’t believe that the LAT should believe everyone they write about or everyone they quote…but they should believe every article they write.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    What’s wrong with being #1?

    Maybe Eric disagrees, but I don’t much feel like I should censor myself because we’re now recognized by Google News. If we start doing that [excrement], then we’ll just become a mirror of the dreaded MSM.

    Bombs away, Harry!

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    This Eric (at least) doesn’t believe in self-censorship, bhw. My above comment referred to accuracy, spelling, proofing, and so on.

    I fully recognize that there are going to be many posts (like this one) that I have problems with. That’s the nature of having a broad, general-interest melting pot like BlogCritics.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    My above comment referred to accuracy, spelling, proofing, and so on.

    Ahhhh….

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    >> I don’t believe that the LAT should believe everyone they write about or everyone they quote…but they should believe every article they write.

    Look that makes no sense (perhaps oyu meant “believe in.”

    A newspaper does a profile of a child molester. It’s ostensible reason is to figure out why and how this man got to be such a sicko. But do they “believe in” him. no, they believe they are putting forward some truth – albeit someone’s twisted version of it.

    What did you learn from this piece? Not a huge amount. But you learned that denial is still very real in North Korea. You learned that the struggle to turn that country around – through dimplomacy is going to be a hard road.

    — By the way censoring your headlines to not sound retarded, reactionary or sensationalistic is not the same as self-censorship. It’s self-discipline.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    by the way “dimplomacy” is very much like diplomacy except there’s a lot more smiling.

  • sydney

    Shit, we better haul ass over their an liberate the poor basterds. Anybody with me???

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