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Déjà Vu, All Over Again

The New York Times and its wars against John Bolton and Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

12:00 AM, Jul 31, 2006 • By SCOTT W. JOHNSON
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Moynihan also noted the tilt of coverage on the news pages of the Times. "[S]omething of Oakes's editorial page opinions eventually seeped into the news reporting," Moynihan observed. Rather than covering the press conference called to announce his Commentary article on the United Nations, the Times sent a reporter to interview Moynihan. The U.N. Human Rights Commission had just passed a resolution censuring Israel for "torturing Arabs," and Moynihan was not amused by the spectacle of moral instruction issuing from dictatorships whose jails were filled with their own people: "We should rip the hides off everybody who presumes to talk about prisoners--shame them, hurt them, yell at them . . . There is scarcely a member in the United Nations that is not guilty of far more discreditable situations and yet it would be unthinkable for us to make such charges against third-world countries although they do so routinely against us." The Times headline over the interview with Moynihan read: "Moynihan Calls on U.S. to Start 'Raising Hell' in U.N."

WARREN HOGE'S WARMED-OVER HIT PIECE on Bolton is a distant echo of the Times's editorial disapproval of Moynihan's nomination to serve as America's ambassador to the United Nations. In its May 3, 1975 editorial on Moynihan's nomination ("New Man at Turtle Bay"), the Times opined:

As Washington must have anticipated, the prospect of Mr. Moynihan at Turtle Bay has aroused among some friends of the United Nations genuine doubts about United States policy toward the world organization, and especially toward third-world countries, which [Moynihan] recently castigated in pungent language: "Shame them, hurt them, shout at them." In short, does Washington still view the United Nations as an essential if limited arena for constructive, collective diplomacy, or--wounded by unfair criticism and a cascade of Assembly defeats through the "tyranny of the majority"--is the United States now out simply to respond in kind?

In his memoir, Moynihan dryly commented on the editorial:

There was no integrity in this. I had not proposed that we go about shaming and hurting other countries. Just the opposite: I had said that we should defend the Jews against defamation, and vigorously if need be. But Oakes chose not to understand. It would go on this way.

Indeed it would.

Scott Johnson is a contributing writer to THE DAILY STANDARD and a contributor to the blog Power Line.