It’s certainly not a new low for the New York Times, which specializes in the use of negative characterizations to delegitimize anti-establishment actors. But it’s still pretty sleazy.
Yesterday, the NYT carried a thoroughly disgusting hit piece which seems to have as its only motive the undermining of Bradley Manning’s integrity. To do so, the NYT uses accounts of Manning’s purportedly difficult childhood to impugn his motives for leaking over one hundred thousand government and military communiques last month. The Times piece begins with the premise that:
And now some of those friends say they wonder whether his desperation for acceptance — or delusions of grandeur — may have led him to disclose the largest trove of government secrets since the Pentagon Papers.
But at no point in the article do any friends actually make either assertion. And, more to the point, not even the author can seem to point out anything that indicates “delusions of grandeur” as a motive for the leaks. While accounts of friends [and, more importantly, people who were not his friends, but merely knew him] depict an unhappy person struggling with his identity in a world with limited options, these characterizations do nothing to establish Manning’s motive. Indeed, he may have been the unhappiest 22 year old man on earth, but that in no way removes what seems like the most likely primary motive behind his actions–his conviction that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are immoral. I can tell you some stories about my childhood, and I certainly have found myself in some dead end jobs—that doesn’t interfere with my ability to see the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as disgusting, murderous shit storms. Duh.