Sowing distrust

Sowing distrust

PE Bias Grade : C

By: Allen Nitschelm on January 6, 2020 | Article Review, Investigative Journalism

This is a review of the following Boston Globe Article:
Article Title Amid growing tension, Trump chose extreme option
Date 01/05/2020
Article Link Boston Globe ( Page A4 )
Syndicated From New York Times
Journalist Eric Schmitt
Helene Cooper
Maggie Haberman
Rukmini Callimachi
Article Summary

Boston Globe (via NYT) sheds light on Trump administration decision to take out Iran’s Qud leader.

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Killing a foreign government official is risky, even if the official is part of a rogue regime, supports international terrorism, and is a terrorist himself. But when he directs attacks on Americans at the American embassy in Baghdad, reminiscent of his country’s illegal takeover of our embassy in Tehran, a very forceful response is appropriate.

We will never know “what if” we had continued to “look the other way.” Except that this recent passive posture by President Trump despite a year’s worth of Iranian escalation (shooting down our drone, attack on Saudi oil fields, seizing of tankers, etc.) has not slowed them down one bit. The embassy attack was the last straw, and Trump acted decisively to stop this continued escalation. It was not “the Pentagon’s” decision, it was not the generals’ decision, and it was not the anonymous source’s (the one who keeps the New York Times in the loop) decision. It was the President’s decision.

It was a bold and unexpected move by the President, one which previous administrations have chosen not to take. But our embassies were not under attack back then. Iran was not abrogating their nuclear restraints under the nuclear agreement. Iran was not as active in supporting insurgencies in the area. The situation has changed and once our embassy was under direct attack, Trump decided the gloves had to come off.

I say we can’t know what might happen, but actually we do have a clue. As a country, and under several previous administrations from both parties, we collectively “looked the other way” as North Korea developed nuclear weapons. What a surprise that they lied to us all those years! Our intelligence community had no idea what they were doing. Everyone was “shocked” when they exploded a nuclear bomb in their first test. Looking the other way does have long-term consequences and we would have seen Iran’s in a few years, and everyone knows it would have followed the same path as the Kim family’s in North Korea. Can we learn from that experience and decide to handle Iran differently?

* * *

The NYT’s reliance on an anonymous Trump administration source or two to second-guess our country’s foreign-policy decisions related to war and the use of force is appalling. These officials are not being patriotic. If someone within the administration disagreed with the killing of this Quds-force general, then speak up and get fired or resign. Don’t go crying to the media which makes the U.S. look weaker overseas and divides us internally. Write an Op-Ed under your name and explain why you think the policy is bad and urge people to vote for the Democrat in 2020. That would be patriotic. Or if that is too bold, then resign and return to the private sector. If you can’t work on the President’s team, then quit. Don’t work from within to undermine him. That is being a traitor, not a patriot. And the reason is because Trump was elected. He is the leader of the country until at least January 20, 2021. Working against the President’s interests from within the administration is awful and not appropriate behavior.

The Globe article describes Trump’s action as “extreme.” This is a loaded word, like “extremist.” How about using the word “forceful” instead? How about decisive? Why not say he took the strongest response after seeing our embassy attacked?

Remember when Trump called off the widely expected retaliatory air strike? Trump has finally decided that “turning the other cheek” was not working. So he took out Soleimani, the mastermind behind these attacks on American forces and interests.

It was a bold move and one which caught the US “generals” by surprise. (The only ones more surprised were the Ayatollahs.) Why wouldn’t they be surprised? Previous presidents have declined to confront rogue regimes including this one, and the generals are probably used to having a “paper tiger” in the Oval Office. They’ve had one for years, ever since Ronald Reagan.

The Boston Globe uses loaded words to attack President Trump to make him look incompetent, like a rogue actor. The generals were “stunned.” They “didn’t think he would” do it. They only offered this option to make the others seem more palatable (I wonder how such a blanket statement can be made by the journalists without interviewing every single pentagon briefer in the room?). And the final description was the generals were “flabbergasted.” I guess if they don’t want the president to pick an option, they shouldn’t present it.

Being surprised, shocked, stunned, or flabbergasted is a strange reaction when the generals presented President Trump with this option themselves. So obviously, the words are inaccurate and are meant to inflame passions despite their lack of internal consistency with the facts as presented.

The article reads like the NY Times had a single source to base its conjecture on. This source called the evidence for an imminent attack by Iran on US forces or personnel “thin.” But others obviously disagreed. The source bases this on pretending to know every communication between the Quds leader and Iran’s dictator. So we know what they had for breakfast but we couldn’t tell for 10 years that they were working on a nuclear bomb? GIVE ME A BREAK. Talk about thin evidence.

(See this 2011 article on Iran’s clandestine program that we knew nothing about. Where was this new administration “whistleblower” when we needed him?

This source described Monday as “normal” and the travel to Baghdad as “business as usual.” Was it also normal for our embassy to come under attack? Just normal business as usual? This is an absurd argument given an attack on our “sovereign soil” and the death of the American contractor the week before. I guess this analyst believes that unless Iran launches rockets at the U.S. mainland, things are just “business as usual” over there. We should expect attacks on our embassy and should not take decisive action against the Iranian-backed rioters to prevent further attacks because that is simply unjustified. What a poor argument for continuing our appeasement policy. Perhaps this explains why the partisan stooge in the administration wishes to remain anonymous. He isn’t just a coward, he is also wrong.

The storming of the embassy reminded me of Tehran 40 years ago, but reminded President Trump of Benghazi. This story downplays the seriousness of the attack. Here is their description:

But the Iranians viewed the strikes as out of proportion to their attack on the Iraqi base and took to violent protests outside the US Embassy in Baghdad….

Did the violent protests stay “outside” the embassy? Ahhh…….Noooooo. Here is a link to some photos, which describe the perimeter wall being breached.

The Globe’s focus on how “flabbergasted” the military leaders were does not reflect on their support (or lack thereof) of Trump’s decision. Being surprised or stunned could be because you didn’t expect such a forceful reaction no matter how justified, or you don’t support such a forceful reaction because you don’t think it is justified. All signs point to the former but the newspapers want you to believe the latter. But regardless, the military does not make these decisions, the Commander-in-Chief does.

So this type of article which casts doubt on the internal deliberations and intelligence assessments by innuendo and an anonymous source are not helpful to the U.S. And undermining the President during this critical confrontation does not advance U.S. interests. We used to have an unwritten policy that partisan politics stopped at the water’s edge. The media, including the New York Times and the Boston Globe, are now partisan players in our democracy, yet they do not want to accept this suggestion of behavior. They want to be partisans, but don’t mind if it hurts the United States in the world. We have many dangerous enemies and several complicated relationships with allies and having a partisan press that hides behind the veneer of objectivity but is really trying to actively undermine the President is truly unfortunate and remarkable.

But if the press is going to pretend that it has no duty to support our Commander-in-Chief during a time of potential war, then play by journalism’s rules and stop publishing biased coverage. This latest “whistleblower” who is telling tales out of school about our internal deliberations on foreign policy matters of war and peace obviously has a political agenda here and a bias against the President. The media is all too eager to exploit these anonymous sources if they speak against President Trump.


Allen Nitschelm is publisher of He critiques the Boston Globe, mostly focusing on the bias in their news reporting. News articles are graded for bias, and the website has a listing of the average bias ratings for all reporters reviewed. See our website for more information and the four categories of articles we publish.

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