Going Broke Cluelessly

The New York Times has no idea why they are dying.

The New York Times did it again.  Just when we thought they'd lost enough market share to get some sense pounded into their editorial board, their electronic edition of July 4, Independence day, introduced their editorial "Freeing Ingrid Betancourt" by saying:

President Álvaro Uribe of Colombia should offer the FARC rebels, who long ago traded the business of political liberation for drug trafficking, a political settlement. [emphasis added]

The Times knows who these FARC people are; they noted that FARC had "long ago" left its roots in "political liberation" in favor of drug trafficking.  The Times recognizes that FARC, even if they once might have been freedom fighters, are no longer: they've become kidnappers and drug dealers.  In spite of their criminal activities, however, the Times wants the government of Colombia to negotiate a "political settlement" with the FARC bandits.

In commenting on the daring rescue of Ingrid Betancourt by the Colombian military, their article echoes that sentiment:

... the operation by undercover Colombian commandos - who tricked the rebels into handing over the captives without a shot - offered further evidence that the guerrilla group is in disarray.

President Álvaro Uribe should now capitalize on that disarray and offer the rebels, who long ago traded the business of political liberation for drug trafficking, a political settlement.

What on earth is the Times smoking?  The International Herald Tribune reports that FARC makes about $200 million per year in drug trafficking because of our brain-dead War on Drugs.  Despite the liberation of 14 others who were rescued along with Mrs. Betancourt, FARC still holds about 700 other kidnap victims, hoping to trade them for concessions or cash.

FARC kidnappers don't treat their victims very nicely.  The Tribune told us how Mrs. Betancourt looked after her rescue and quoted what she said about her treatment by FARC:

Tropical diseases, long marches through the mountains and a lack of nutritious food shriveled her to a thin post with stringy hair flowing to her waist.  "It was not treatment that you can give to a living being," Betancourt told France 2 television Thursday. She added: "I wouldn't have given the treatment I had to an animal, perhaps not even to a plant."

The later Times follow-up reported that Mrs. Betancourt had been tortured and quoted her as saying that her captors had fallen into "diabolical behavior," adding, "It was so monstrous I think they themselves were disgusted."  And the Times wants a political settlement with these monsters?

The FARC are criminal drug dealers who, by engaging in violence against non-military personnel, meet Scragged's definition of terrorism, but the Times doesn't get it.  The Times calls FARC victims "hostages" instead of "kidnap victims."  These pontificating fools want the Colombian government to negotiate with FARC, which will, in effect, recognize a bandit gang as a legitimate government - don't we already have enough rouge states running loose without creating another one?

A more rational view is found on the opposite side of the pond: the International Herald Tribune understands perfectly well how to deal with terrorists.

The mission could not have taken place without months of painstaking intelligence and counterinsurgency work.

Where the Sigint Meets the Road

Other stories on the rescue praise US capabilities in Signal Intelligence, or "sigint."  By tracking who telephones whom, watching where text messages and emails go, and studying the patterns of terrorist and criminal communications, government forces are able to infiltrate criminal gangs, rescue kidnap victims, and put the bad guys in jail.

It might be worth pointing out that Mr. Obama recently angered his base by voting for a proposal which would permit these intelligence gathering activities to continue, although many of his Democrat colleagues don't want to let our government use this major tool for fighting terrorism.

The Times is correct in noting that the FARC terrorists are in disarray.  Three of their top leaders have either been killed or died of natural causes and their followers are deserting.  That's the time to increase the pressure and put the top leaders in jail where they belong.

Instead of following up their current advantage, however, the Times wants Colombia to negotiate with FARC and "offer amnesty for most guerrillas and the possibility to participate in Colombian politics."  [emphasis added]

Aren't there enough criminals in office already?  Would the Times have recommended that Eliott Ness offer Al Capone amnesty and bring him into the Chicago government?  What about the Unabomber?

They Know They're Dying; They Don't Know Why

The Times knows that their business is dying as readers go elsewhere and revenue drops but they don't seem to know why.  Their blogger blames market forces but Fox is gaining while CNN is losing.

Not all traditional media are going down, just some of the traditional brand names.  The Times blaming their decline on a decline of interest in news would be like GM blaming their decline on Americans losing interest in cars.  Americans haven't lost interest in cars, they've lost interest in GM cars.

Actually, the reason for the Times' decline is pretty simple.  The Tribune reported on the political fallout from the well-planned rescue:

Hugo Chávez, the leftist leader of Venezuela who negotiated previous releases of FARC hostages but failed to free Betancourt or three American contractors who also were rescued Wednesday, has lost some of the regional spotlight to the president of Colombia, Álvaro Uribe, his top rival and a staunch ally of the Bush administration. [emphasis added]

There we have it - Mr. Uribe, who inspired the rescue, is a "staunch ally of the Bush administration."

We've noted that the Times seems to dislike Mr. Bush so strongly that they'll recommended policies which will help the Islamic militants in Pakistan get their hands on the Pakistani nuclear bombs.  The last thing the Times wants is for Mr. Uribe, who opposes Mr. Chavez, an avowed enemy of Mr. Bush, to look good.

They don't want Mr. Uribe to defeat the FARC; they're giving aid and comfort to our enemies by urging Mr. Uribe to bring a gang of sadistic, murderous criminals into the Columbian government.  Would the Times suggest that Israel bring Hamas into the Israeli government?  Dare we even ask?

When Not To Negotiate

In recommending that Colombia negotiate with FARC, the Times documented the best reason not to negotiate, saying, "President Álvaro Uribe should now capitalize on that disarray ... and offer the rebels [sic - the Times says they're criminals, not rebels] a political settlement."  How can anyone negotiate with a group that's "in disarray?"  The FARC hierarchy is in flux, nobody knows who's in charge, there's nobody to negotiate with who has the power to enforce a peace agreement.

History shows that negotiating with terrorists tends to be futile until they've been weakened to the point that the rank-and-file know they have no hope of victory; the "negotiation" is more in the nature "Take it or leave it."  Failing that, it's hard for terrorist leaders to stop the violence no matter what commitments they may make because one man with a gun can start the terror all over again.

Past experiences show that the only effective way to deal with terrorists is to demonstrate their criminality to the world so that nobody supports them willingly.  Mrs. Betancourt's eloquent accounts of years of sadistic mistreatment by FARC kidnappers may have that effect; opening negotiations would move in the opposite direction by legitimizing them.

The Times' attitude toward Mrs. Betancourt's rescue is repugnant; despite the best efforts over many years of the Times and their multifarious liberal media allies, most Americans instinctively recognize this.  The liberal - dare we say unpatriotic? - mainstream news media, captained by the Times, will probably continue to lose revenue, as well they should.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for Scragged.com and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Politics.
Reader Comments
The NYT shows yet ANOTHER example here of the "win them over with kindness" argument. God, how I hate that kind of stupidity! They'll be saying that when the Muslim boots step on their head, marching through Times Square.
July 7, 2008 9:21 AM
While I agree that seeking a political settlement is not a good idea, and never is when dealing with criminals in general nor terrorists specifically I do believe that amnesty can be a useful tool.

If a government lacks the means to destroy a group with force or at least would find it very difficult to do so, offering amnesty gives the people in that group an out. Otherwise their backs are to the wall and they can either fight to the death or live their lives out in jail. Neither is a very attractive option and most of them will likely choose death.
July 7, 2008 6:40 PM
NOTE: any offer of amnesty could (and should in my opinion) forbade their running for office or holding a government position. Also, any significant criminal activities (ie running a stop sign wouldn't count) would revoke the amnesty and they would again be help for all of their past criminal behavior.
July 7, 2008 6:47 PM
Throw in a hefty fee and I might agree with that. Getting American citizenship should have a serious weight to it. I've never liked the idea of giving it away for free. If we ARE going to give it away, why not give tests and only take the brightest. Basic math and science would do. We NEED engineers
July 7, 2008 7:09 PM
Hey, even Castro says FARC should release their hostages, or kidnap victims as Scragged would prefer.



Cuba's former President Fidel Castro has called on the Colombian Farc rebel movement to release all of its remaining hostages.

He said he had energetically criticised the "cruel methods of kidnapping and holding prisoners in the jungle".

"I have openly and energetically criticised the objectively cruel methods of kidnapping and holding prisoners in the jungle," he wrote in an internet article posted on Sunday.

"If I may dare to suggest something to the Farc guerrillas, it is that they simply, by whatever means at their disposal, declare that they have unconditionally freed all the hostages and prisoners still under their control."

Fidel Castro's revolution in Cuba served as an inspiration to the Farc when it formed in the 1960s.
July 8, 2008 7:24 AM
So they're losing market share because of their political positions on Bush and FARC?

I thought newspapers were losing market share because people were turning to the Internet and because advertising revenues are dropping dramatically.

So I suppose those newspapers that have taken a more reasonable position are faring well.
July 11, 2008 5:26 PM
Actually, I would say - yes, that pretty much sums it up. Take FoxNews, for instance. Everyone on the left hates them, but they ARE making money hand over fist. Their nightly ratings are higher than CNN, CNBC and MSNBC. That's COMBINED, I mean. And I think they do a take reasonably position on the news. They recognize that everything and everyone has bias so the only way to be "fair and balanced" is to give a few minutes to each side on every issue instead of pretending that your nest of hens can crow the straight and narrow every time.
July 11, 2008 8:19 PM
Fox News is not a newspaper.

Can you site a newspaper with more reasonable views that is growing?
July 18, 2008 12:17 AM
"Reasonable" in whose eyes? A vast number of Americans find Fox to be generally reasonable; I'd imagine most Scragged readers would be among them. What do you consider "reasonable"? The New York Times? You need to reexamine your premises and biases.
July 18, 2008 7:36 AM
"Fox News" is synonymous for Murdoch's News Corp which DOES have many newspapers - many of which are growing like the London Times and the NY Post. The Washington Post Company's media outlets and the NYT media outlets and all the broadcast stations are not. Newspaper, TV station, whatever - they're all the same thing; just different in terms of distribution.

Patience says it well though. That's the main point. What is "reasonable"? Is there no better indicator than the free market?
July 18, 2008 8:17 AM
I can't speak to the success of Murdoch's papers but your suggestion that newspaper, television and the Internet are all the same thing tells me that you're over 40 or just not acknowledging reality.

A free market can only determine what's reasonable if it has an educated market. A free market is going to have difficulty with reasonableness if we have a population that believes Obama is a Muslim, there were weapons of mass destruction found, and that Hussein had links to al Qaeda.
July 19, 2008 4:13 PM
They ARE all the same thing. What, materially, is the difference between the bias that CNN showed in covering up the Iraq/Al Qaeda connections and the same one found at the NYT? Obviously, you bought it. The evidence, going back 20 years, is clear in black and white. They found Al Qaeda veterans in Hussein's palace complex. They found Al Samoud missiles (banned by the UN) during the 2003 invasion. The same day, the NYT's lead story was an art show that was going out of business. The BBC covered an elephant problem in India.

You can find whatever bias you prefer in the media somewhere. If you're conservative, you can find Fox News or the NY Post or the WSJ. If you're liberal you can find-- well, everything else.

The free market has *never* required any sort "educated populace". That is purposefully-distorted drivel by people that seek evidence to support their regulation-heavy agendas. The inherent nature of self interest allows human beings to trade well regardless of their background. Certainly, there are specific trades that require specific experiences. For example, I am not ready to negotiate with OPEC for lower rates on behalf of the Gulf Coast Refiners League. But, in keeping with self interest, I can recognize that shortcoming and not attempt such a thing in the first place.

The vast majority of conservatives do not believe Obama is Muslim. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to think he's a horrible candidate.

PS. (I'm 27)
July 19, 2008 8:42 PM
Actually, that's a pretty funny post from Pete. Of the three lies he says many people believe, the first is actually believes by relatively few, and the other two... are true, but as he illustrates, many believe them to be lies. Reality is exactly opposite.

Couldn't agree more that an educated populace is essential for democracy. Why, then, do Obama and the Democrats continue to pander to the teachers' unions who have destroyed public education for the last half-century? Even CNN has commentators admitting that McCain is right to support school vouchers - but never, never will the NYT say so.
July 20, 2008 6:30 AM
Patience makes a good point, but one correction. Pete did not say education is requisite for democracy; he said for *free trade*. Free trade is certainly part of democracy, but I make the distinction because humans will GO OUT AND GET the education that they need (or think they need) to GAIN what free trade offers. There is no need to regulate any of it.
July 20, 2008 4:24 PM
Heh, looks like maybe MSNBC is catching on. After a sharp turn to the foaming left with Olbermann and Matthews, they have sacked them as political anchormen and returned to a somewhat more balanced David Gregory.


Of course, the fact that MSNBC's O&M-anchored convention coverage ratings were execrable certainly helped.

Is this good, though? It seems nice that MSNBC might be learning that going TOO far to the looney left is bad for profits - but even at their best, they're so leftist that I'd just as soon they go bankrupt and disappear.
September 8, 2008 11:33 AM
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