September 8, 2013

NYT Changes Headline, Content of Report on Obama’s Failure to Win ‘Wider Backing’ For Syria

On Friday, as seen in Google News search results showing posts and feeds at other web sites, a report at the New York Times by Peter Baker and Steven Lee Meyers had the following headline “Obama Fails in Bid for Wide Backing for Syria Attack.”

On Twitter, self-described “conservative academic” Will Antonin wondered (HT Twitchy), “How long until this NYT headline is changed?” The answer: Not long. Sometime before the story got to the Old Gray Lady’s September 7 print edition, the Baker-Meyers story’s headline was changed to “Obama Falls Short on Wider Backing for Syria Attack,” and its content had been changed. The original story, which had opened by saying that “President Obama emerged from the Group of 20 summit meeting with a few international supporters,” is no longer present on the Times’s web site.

The revised Times story indicates that the current coalition of the willing includes somewhere between four and ten other nations. The White House’s higher count is quite questionable (bold is mine):

ObamaG20Sept2013large

The only members of the Group of 20 nations that supported Mr. Obama’s plan, Mr. Putin said, were Canada, France, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, all of which were on Mr. Obama’s side when he arrived here on Thursday.

White House aides disputed Mr. Putin’s tally, and Susan E. Rice, the president’s national security adviser, negotiated a joint statement including those allies as well as Australia, Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain and South Korea. The statement condemned the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack near Syria’s capital, Damascus, and held the government of President Bashar al-Assad responsible. According to American intelligence agencies, the attack killed more than 1,400 people.

“We call for a strong international response to this grave violation of the world’s rules and conscience that will send a clear message that this kind of atrocity can never be repeated,” the statement said. “Those who perpetrated these crimes must be held accountable.”

The statement did not explicitly endorse military action, and some of the signers, like Italy, have warned against an American strike. But Obama administration officials argued that those that signed understood they were backing the United States as it was preparing for military retaliation, and therefore effectively embracing it.

So “some of the signers” of the statement who have “warned against an American strike” are “effectively embracing” the idea. Really? Additionally, Baker and Meyes “somehow” forgot to note that a week ago in Britain, one of the signatories, its parliament “unexpectedly rejected a motion designed to pave the way to authorising the UK’s participation in military action”

Imagine how Times reporters would have treated coalition-claiming mush like this if it had come from a Republican or conservative presidential administration.

As to the headline change, great catch and great call by Mr. Antonin. Failure is not an option — in an Obama-related New York Times headline.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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