Wednesday, December 21, 2005

NYT's Michael Slackman Weak On Mideast Extremists

Certainly, it's one of the jobs of foreign correspondents in the Middle East to explain the region and its standards to the folks back home. But Michael Slackman, a former L.A. Times correspondent in Cairo and now a New York Times correspondent in the Middle East. is too much of an apologist for Middle Eastern excesses.

On Iran and Syria, Slackman in recent months has been far too prone to excuse the diatribes of Iranian President Mahmound Ahmadinejad, whose nuclear ambitions threaten Israel and the West, and too ready to take the Syrian government side on the issue of complicity in bombing murders in Lebanon.

Slackman has been an apologist for Ahmadinejad since his highly suspicious election victory last June. Although both LAT correspondent John Daniszewski and Slackman, in the Iranian capital at the time, raised questions initially whether the election had been fixed, and both noted that Armadinejad claimed victory when the initial official count had him behind, Slackman abandoned that tack, and any suggestion of a tainted election by the next day.

Since then, Slackman has been noticeably softer on Armadinejad than other Western correspondents. On Tuesday, December 20, in a New York Times article headlined, "Iranian's Oratory Reflects Devotion to '79 Revolution," Slackman joined local correspondent Nazila Fathi in cravenly proclaiming, " should not have been a surprise when he {Ahmadinejad) quoted Ayatollah Khomeini and called for Israel "to be wiped off the map," then labeled the Holocaust a legend that was the fault of Europeans and said Israel should therefore be moved to Europe."

Later, he added, "Some Iranian analysts say that by increasing the world's hostility, Mr. Ahmadinejad is hoping to reproduce (a) sense of internal unity.

"Iranian analysts say he is also trying to satisfy, and perhaps distract, supporters who have begun to feel disappointed that he has not provided financial relief. Throughout his campaign, Mr. Armadinejad promised to try to distribute the nation's vast oil wealth."

"His comments are more for domestic consumption," said Saeed Laylaz, an Iranian political analyst.

Slackman's article is just like the comments of appeassment advocates in the 1930s that Hitler was not really so anti-Semitic, that he was just saying these things to rally support in Germany.

Slackman concluded this article by another paragraph seeking to softpedal Armadinejad's statements: "I don't think there is anything new in what Armadinejad said," said Mosayeh Naimi, editor of Al Vefagh/Al Wefaz, an Arabic daily published by the official Islamic Republic News Agency. "He expressed his view on historical events. The Holocaust is a historical event; either it took place or it didn't. If it didn't take place, then it is a fabrication. If it did, it wasn't the Arabs who did it; it was the Europeans. Why then should the Palestinians pay the price of what the Europeans did against the Jews?"

Right under this silly ending was a small dispatch from Tehran, not by Slackman, reporting that Amadinejad has banned all Western music from Iranian radio and television stations.

A Los Angeles Times editorial this morning says everything that need be said about Amadinejad in its very first paragraph: "Iran's President is a menace. In October, he said Israel should be "wiped off the map." Last week he called the Holocaust a "myth." A nation led by Mahmoud Ammadinejad needs to be kept as far from nuclear weapons as possible."

Slackman has not only emerged as a major apologist for this fanatic, but also for the Syrian regime of Bashir Assad.

In a recent article, he discounted the value of a United Nations investigation conducted by Detliv Mehlis placing likely responsibility for the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri in Lebanon last February on high figures in the Assad regime.

Basically, Slackman took the position that many Arabs lie to investigators, so the people who told the U.N. investigator that the Assad regime threatened Hariri and then was responsible for setting up the killing could not be relied upon. Since the investigator was a German and not a Middle Easterner, he would not have understood this, the reporter claimed.

Bushwa! Slackman is either catering favor with unsavory characters like Ahmadinejad and Assad to save his own skin, or because he habitually leans over too far to be understanding of the Persian and Arab positions.

In any case, he should be put on home leave.


Anonymous Jeremayakvoka said...

I haven't followed Mr. Slackman's Mideast reportage, but I was highly displeased with a NY Times article he wrote while still in New York and for which he'd interviewed me.

Your post strengthens my suspicions of him.

7/05/2006 7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree with your assessment.

7/22/2006 6:43 PM  
Blogger Jason said...


Take this Monday's header in NYT: "On Two Fronts, One Nuclear, Iran Is Defiant." Now come on. You have to be kidding if you think this guy is not a total alarmist. But I fear that you are such a greater alarmist that you aren't quite satisfied. Go figure.

9/03/2007 5:25 AM  
Blogger blowback said...

Time has shown that Detliv Mehlis was a pile of shit but that Michael Slackman is still a neo-con shill.

9/05/2007 5:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Analysis == Apology ???

You must have been a great reporter if you think that:

A Los Angeles Times editorial this morning says everything that need be said about Amadinejad in its very first paragraph: "Iran's President is a menace. In October, he said Israel should be "wiped off the map." Last week he called the Holocaust a "myth." A nation led by Mahmoud Ammadinejad needs to be kept as far from nuclear weapons as possible.

I thought reporting was supposed to include more than just opinions.

6/23/2008 5:29 AM  
Blogger K said...

I am a white Christian veteran. Anything written that does not paint Muslims as barbarians and Jews as a loving people results in articles like this. Take a look at people like Madoff. I am a disabled veteran and I had a Rabbi evict me because of my disability while he took tax money to supposedly "help" others. Americans will some day wise up to the scam that has given us 9/11 and the hate of the Arab world.

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