Definately No Bias At The NYT


You may have heard of this report yesterday from the NYT and writer Dexter Filkins:

Less than two days before nationwide elections, the Iraqi border police seized a tanker on Tuesday that had just crossed from Iran filled with thousands of forged ballots, an official at the Interior Ministry said.

The tanker was seized in the evening by agents with the American-trained border protection force at the Iraqi town of Badra, after crossing at Munthirya on the Iraqi border, the official said. According to the Iraqi official, the border police found several thousand partly completed ballots inside.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the Iranian truck driver told the police under interrogation that at least three other trucks filled with ballots had crossed from Iran at different spots along the border.

The official, who did not attend the interrogation, said he did not know where the driver was headed, or what he intended to do with the ballots.

But lookie lookie here:

The head of Iraq’s border guards denied police reports on Wednesday that a tanker truck stuffed with thousands of forged ballot papers had been seized crossing into Iraq from Iran before Thursday’s elections.

“This is all a lie,” said Lieutenant General Ahmed al-Khafaji, the chief of the U.S.-trained force which has responsibility for all Iraq’s borders.

“I heard this yesterday and I checked all the border crossings right away. The borders are all closed anyway,” he told Reuters.

Iraq’s frontiers are closed for the period of the election.

“I contacted all the border crossing points and there was no report of any such incident,” Khafaji said.

Interior Minister Bayan Jabor also denied the reports, which the New York Times ran prominently, quoting a single unnamed Interior Ministry source, and said it was an attempt to discredit the election process.

The Times story said a tanker packed with partly filled-in ballots had been stopped by border police at the town of Badra, east of Baghdad, after entering from Iran.

The driver had told the border police that three other tankers had entered Iraq at other crossings with forged ballots, the unnamed source told the Times.

Khafaji said that when he established the reports were false he tracked the source of the rumor, and said it appeared to have come from the Defense Ministry’s intelligence unit.

Get outta here. No way the NYT would rely on one single source for such a huge story that they then run front page. Sigh.

Ed Morrissey spells it out quite clearly:

Oops! I guess Dexter Filkins and the several layers of editors at the Paper Of RecordTM didn’t think to check out the well-reported fact that the roads in and out of Iraq on both the Iranian and Syrian borders had been closed. That makes it pretty difficult for eighteen-wheelers to sneak in and out of the country. They tend to get bogged down in the sand and dirt otherwise, making it hard to put the ballots into the polling places. And how exactly were these tankers supposed to get the ballots into the boxes anyway — pump them into election stations with a hose? The boxes are watched by election judges and a few thousand outside auditors.

It turns out that Filkins’ source either works for the Defense ministry’s intelligence unit or passed along a rumor that got sourced from there. Stories based on anonymous, single sources can do tremendous damage, especially to a reporter’s reputation and that of his newspaper. Perhaps the Gray Lady should think about that before jumping in with both feet to repeat stupid and easily-debunked urban legends such as these.”

Not that the NYT has much of a reputation left anyways. Well, a good reputation. Guess we can be glad there were no Korans and toilets in the story.

Get outta here. No way the NYT would rely on one single source for such a huge story that they then run front page. Sigh.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I’ve been covering this story, and Michael Ledeen thinks that there might actually be something to the original story – he thinks that the denials don’t quite sound right to him.