It’s no surprise, really, considering the fact that, as the perspicacious Stephen Kruiser noted Thursday, the New York Times is no longer a news source, but “one big hyperventilating leftist Opinion section.” Still, to see the Times refer to Osama bin Laden as a “devoted family man” was startling, and even the Times’ editorial politburo seemed to agree: after an outcry, they changed the title of their article (a review of Peter Bergen’s book about bin Laden) from “Osama bin Laden, the Fanatical Terrorist and the Devoted Family Man” to “A Fuller Picture of Osama Bin Laden’s Life.” Remember back in school how they’d tell us always to go with our first answer, because it was most likely to be correct? So now, the Times should have stuck it out with its first headline, because it reflects more accurately what Times editors really think.
Robert O’Neill, who as a Navy SEAL in 2011 killed Osama bin Laden, had a trenchant response to the Times’ original headline: “Family man. He used his wife as a human shield. Lucky for me he was taller than her.”
Amid all the outrage and ridicule, however, few noted the real import of the Times’ first headline, and the similar significance of the Washington Post’s reference to Islamic State (ISIS) caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as an “austere religious scholar” in 2019. The Times and the Post speak respectfully about people such as Osama bin Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi because, quite simply, they respect them. They do not believe that these men were evil, and so they do not portray them as such.
This is a result of the values they shared with the dead terrorists. The New York Times and the Washington Post are two of the flagship publications of the Leftist intelligentsia that has contempt for Americans, despises America’s history and heritage, and regularly publishes propaganda about “systemic racism” and other imagined American evils. They would never admit it, but they have a congruence of outlook with bin Laden and al-Baghdadi, who dedicated their lives to destroying the United States as it is currently constituted and the remnants of the Judeo-Christian civilization that the Times and the Post regard with open distaste.
They also have a longstanding admiration for brutal authoritarians, which should be no surprise given the Left’s rapidly encroaching authoritarianism today. This goes back a long way: on July 9, 1933, just over five months after he became Chancellor of Germany and years after his virulent anti-Semitism and propensity for violence had become notorious worldwide, the New York Times published a fawning puff piece on Hitler that rivals even today’s media adulation of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Nancy Pelosi in its one-sidedness, myopia, and disdain for essential facts.
Pulitzer Prize-winning “journalist” Anne O’Hare McCormick traveled to Berlin to become the first reporter from an American news outlet to interview the new Chancellor, and she was an intriguing choice for the Times editors to make to conduct this interview, as in the presence of this man whose name has become justly synonymous with evil, she was decidedly starry-eyed: “At first sight,” McCormick gushed, “the dictator of Germany seems a rather shy and simple man, younger than one expects, more robust, taller. His sun-browned face is full and is the mobile face of an orator.”
As if that weren’t enough, she continues like a smitten schoolgirl: “His eyes are almost the color of the blue larkspur in a vase behind him, curiously childlike and candid. He appears untired and unworried. His voice is as quiet as his black tie and his double-breasted black suit.” What’s more, “Herr Hitler has the sensitive hand of the artist.” Little did Anne O’Hare McCormick realize, as Hitler’s blue larkspur eyes twinkled in her direction and his disarming smile made her heart flutter, that all these years later, the New York Times would still be publishing articles portraying authoritarian thugs positively – not just bin Laden, but also this one lamenting “misinformation” about Antifa’s noble “campaign against actions they view as authoritarian, homophobic, racist or xenophobic.”
Imagine, on the other hand, what the New York Times’ coverage will be like when some prominent foe of jihad violence and Sharia oppression, rather than their foremost global proponent, dies. The tropes are dispiritingly predictable: “Far-right”…“Stoked anger”…“Courted controversy”…even “Incited violence.” Even worse, what will the Times’ coverage be like when Donald Trump dies? I could say that it would be akin to the coverage of the death of Hitler himself, except that the Times liked Hitler more than it ever liked the 45th president.
But for Osama bin Laden, the sympathy and admiration come easy for the Times. After all, at least in terms of the evils of the United States and the Judeo-Christian tradition, his world view and that of the New York Times are simpatico.