Crime Falling, Yet Prisons Still Filling, Part XIX - July 28, 2003

Times Watch for July 28, 2003

Crime Falling, Yet Prisons Still Filling, Part XIX

A teaser on Mondays front page sent Times Watch into nostalgic reverie: Prison Population Rises - The nations prison population grew 2.6 percent last year, the largest increase since 1999. Researchers found the jump surprising, since serious crime had fallen.

The Times is up to its old rhetorical tricks. Ever since a September 1997 headline that read Crime Rates are Falling, but Prisons Keep on Filling, (as if the two trends were unrelated) the Times has been willfully nave on the connection between more criminals being in prison and a corresponding drop in the number of crimes being committed. The prime offender is crime reporter Fox Butterfield, so its no surprise to turn to page A12 and spy Butterfields byline. Butterfields back with yet another story where hes unable to grasp the connection between putting criminals in prison and a fall in the crime rate. The subhead to Butterfields story reads: More Inmates, Despite Slight Drop in Crime. Butterfields actual story focuses more on alleged racial disparity in the prison population, but its nice to know some things never change in Times-land.

For the rest of Fox Butterfields trip down memory lane, click here.


Gorbachev Still A Cold War Hero

On Saturday the Times again hails former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as the man who ended the Cold War. In Gorbachev Pushes Plan to Turn Iron Curtain Into Parkland, about Gorbachevs efforts to turn the old cold war border into a nature reserve, reporter Otto Pohl writes: Several speakers at the conference observed that Mr. Gorbachev - who could have rolled back eastern Europe's anti-Communist revolutions by force as his predecessors did - was on hand and had, in effect, made the border park possible.

Pohl doesnt mention Gorbachev did try to roll back revolution in Lithuania and other Soviet satellites. In January 1991, he ordered Soviet tanks and troops into Vilnius, where they killed 14 Lithuanians defending a television tower. Revisionist history also forgets that Gorbachev sent Soviet forces into Armenia, Moldova and the Ukraine to discourage independence movements in those lands.

For the rest of Otto Pohls story, click here.


Late Burial Deprives Hussein Brothers of Dignity

A Saturday story by Dexter Filkins, Hussein Bodies Shown to Skeptical Iraqis hails from the U.S. just cant win department. Searching for reaction to the deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein, Filkins plays funeral director for the former Iraqi dictatorship, finding Arabs enraged that the bodies have not yet been buried: The immediate effect of the public display of the bodies, and of their continued denial of burial, was to prompt anger throughout the Arabic-speaking news media. Muslim tradition generally requires a swift burial for the dead, and Uday and Qusay Hussein have been dead for three days. Scholars and commentators also denounced the public display of the corpses, saying the men's dignity had come at the expense of an American propaganda victory. Muhammad Emara, an Egyptian scholar, told Al Jazeera television that displaying the bodies publicly violated Islamic law. Times Watch notes that Filkins reports little reaction from Iraqis themselves apparently, people who actually lived under Uday and Qusay Hussein arent quite as concerned about proper burial rights for the brothers in thuggery.

As Andrew Stuttaford points out in the Corner on National Review Online, such sudden concern on the part of Arabs for the niceties of quick burial and respect for the dead smacks of hypocrisy. He points to a September 2000 report (with disturbing graphic photos) headlined: The Taliban use cranes to hang two men in public. The article continues: The bodies of the two men will remain on the cranes all day as part of Taliban's policy to deter others. What happened to that traditional respect for the dead?

For the rest of Dexter Filkins story on Arab outrage over the tardy burial of brutal thugs, click here.


Huge Study Confirms Bias at the Times

The 170-page report, Government: In and Out of the News, was conducted by The Center for Media and Public Affairs. The study found, according to Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz, that Major news outlets provided more favorable coverage of the first year of the Clinton administration than of George W. Bush's or Ronald Reagan's government during comparable periods.

Though it hems and haws a bit, reluctant to accuse the Times directly of partisan bias, the report does say on page 89: The New York Times displayed a tilt toward the Democrats. The Times gave more favorable (though still mainly negative) press to the Clinton administration (33 positive evaluations) than to the Reagan and Bush administrations, which received only 25 and 30 percent positive comments respectively. Bill Clinton also bested his rivals in his personal coverage, with 38 percent positive press vs. 32 percent positive for both Ronald Reagan and George W Bush.

The difference was even wider when it came to policy: These modest gaps widened with regard to policy issues: Clintons policies beat out Reagans in the good press derby by twelve percentage points (34 to 22 percent positive) and Bushs (29 percent positive) by five points. On foreign policy, the Clinton administration received almost twice as much good press as did Reagans, by 38 to 20 percent positive judgments, with Bush in between at 33 percent positive. Clintons domestic policies received ten percentage points better press than Reagans (31 to 21 percent positive) and seven points better than Bushs (24 percent positive).The evidence suggests that the Times tilts somewhat toward the Democrats, particularly in its Congressional coverage, while the [Washington] Post has been more even-handed overall.