Thomas Sowell

The front page of the New York Times has increasingly become the home of editorials disguised as "news" stories. Too often it has become the home of hoaxes.

Going back some years, it was the Tawana Brawley hoax that she had been gang-raped by a bunch of white men. Just a couple of years ago, it was the Duke University "rape" hoax that they fell for.

In between there were the various hoaxes of New York Times reporter Jayson Blair, who was kept on and promoted until too many people found out what he had been doing and the paper had to let him go.

Last month the New York Times created its own hoax with a long front page article about how war veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were killing people back in the United States because of the stress they had gone through in combat.

That hoax was shot down two days later by the New York Post, which showed that the murder rate among returning war veterans was only one-fifth the murder rate among civilians in the same age brackets.

Undaunted, the New York Times has come up with its latest front-page sensation, the claim that some anonymous people either suspected an affair between Senator John McCain and a female lobbyist or tried to forestall an affair.

But apparently no one actually claimed that they knew there was an affair.

This did not even rise to the level of "he said, she said." Instead it was anonymous sources reporting their suspicions.

People who share the New York Times' political views are treated as "innocent until proven guilty." People with different views are condemned for "the appearance of impropriety," even if there is no hard evidence that they did anything wrong.

In this latest "news" story about Senator McCain, the standard seems to be that anonymous sources suspected him of "the appearance of impropriety."

Nothing is easier than to have suspicions. In my younger years, I was suspected of having an affair with more than one attractive woman when -- alas -- there was nothing happening.

At the time, however, I felt flattered by the insinuations.

In 1976, when President Ford nominated me to the Federal Trade Commission, someone anonymously told an FBI investigator that I was a Communist.

Not even the people opposed to my nomination believed it and it was not reported in the New York Times.

This was back in the days when the Times still had a reputation for integrity, before the Jayson Blair hoaxes, the gang-rape hoaxes and the general prostitution of the front page to politics masquerading as news.

Over the years, the New York Times has increasingly discredited itself.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate