Censorship at Reuters?

An arti­cle at Reuters today reports on Pres­i­dent Obama’s remarks at the U.N. regard­ing the Pales­tin­ian U.N. bid for state­hood. But it’s not the arti­cle that Reuters orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished at this URL. The orig­i­nal arti­cle was removed.

I just post­ed a com­ment there (using the user­name “space­walk”) about the dis­ap­pear­ance of the orig­i­nal arti­cle. My com­ment is repro­duced below because you’ll prob­a­bly nev­er read it in the article’s com­ment-stream at Reuters. Com­ments on the Reuters site are mod­er­at­ed (they do not self-pub­lish auto­mat­i­cal­ly; they must be approved, and I have no argu­ment with that prac­tice), and Reuters notes its right to remove com­ments that “do not meet its stan­dards.”

There are plen­ty of read­er com­ments on the arti­cle that are crit­i­cal of Oba­ma and U.S. pol­i­cy in this region of the world. Inter­est­ing­ly, as of 9 PM EDT, almost all of them seem to have been writ­ten in response to the orig­i­nal arti­cle, not the cur­rent arti­cle, to judge by both their tone and their time­stamps.

Here’s the text of my com­ment, which includes the full text of the orig­i­nal Reuters arti­cle.


The arti­cle at this URL was orig­i­nal­ly enti­tled “Oba­ma tries to derail Pales­tin­ian U.N. state­hood bid” and was filed by Alis­tair Lyon with the date­line: Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:26pm EDT. As you can tell from the head­line alone, the orig­i­nal arti­cle had a tone much more crit­i­cal of Oba­ma and U.S. for­eign pol­i­cy of the last decades; for exam­ple, it con­tained the fol­low­ing para­graph:

How­ev­er, it is the fail­ure of 20 years of U.S.-bro­kered nego­ti­a­tions that has dri­ven Pales­tin­ian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Abbas to take his quest for a state to the Unit­ed Nations — a ploy that could embar­rass the Unit­ed States by forc­ing it to pro­tect its Israeli ally against the tide of world opin­ion.”

Less than 4 hours lat­er, that arti­cle was com­plete­ly replaced by this one, filed by Matt Spetal­nick and Lau­ra MacIn­nis, who were list­ed as con­tribut­ing reporters on the Lyon arti­cle. (Lyon is now list­ed as a con­tribut­ing reporter for this arti­cle.)

I’d like some­one at Reuters to explain why we should not con­clude that the Lyon arti­cle was sup­pressed. 1) The new arti­cle resides at the same URL as the old one; 2) a search of Reuters for the old head­line comes up emp­ty, and 3) the read­er com­ment-stream for the Lyon arti­cle has been retained for the new arti­cle, which of course caus­es most of the ear­ly com­ments to make no sense.

Here’s the full text of the orig­i­nal arti­cle:

Oba­ma tries to derail Pales­tin­ian U.N. state­hood bid

By Alis­tair Lyon
UNITED NATIONS | Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:26pm EDT

(Reuters) — Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma, try­ing to avert a clash over Pales­tin­ian state­hood, told the Unit­ed Nations on Wednes­day there was no sub­sti­tute for Israeli-Pales­tin­ian nego­ti­a­tions or any short cut to peace.

With U.S. cred­i­bil­i­ty and influ­ence in the Mid­dle East at stake, Oba­ma wants to dis­suade the Pales­tini­ans from ask­ing the U.N. Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil for state­hood in the teeth of Israeli anger and a U.S. threat to use its veto if it came to a vote.

But a senior Pales­tin­ian offi­cial, Nabil Shaath, said, “We will cor­dial­ly and respect­ful­ly tell him ‘no’.”

The Pales­tini­ans, how­ev­er, would give the Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil “some time” to mull the state­hood claim before they took it to the U.N. Gen­er­al Assem­bly, he told a news con­fer­ence.

Flag-wav­ing Pales­tini­ans filled the squares of West Bank cities to ral­ly behind the ini­tia­tive at the Unit­ed Nations.

A year after telling the Gen­er­al Assem­bly he hoped to see a Pales­tin­ian state born by now, the U.S. pres­i­dent said cre­at­ing such a state along­side Israel remained his goal.

But the ques­tion isn’t the goal we seek — the ques­tion is how to reach it. And I am con­vinced that there is no short cut to the end of a con­flict that has endured for decades,” he said.

Peace will not come through state­ments and res­o­lu­tions at the U.N. – if it were that easy, it would have been accom­plished by now,” Oba­ma said.

Ulti­mate­ly, it is Israelis and Pales­tini­ans who must live side by side. Ulti­mate­ly, it is Israelis and Pales­tini­ans — not us — who must reach agree­ment on the issues that divide them: on bor­ders and secu­ri­ty; on refugees and Jerusalem,” he added.

How­ev­er, it is the fail­ure of 20 years of U.S.-bro­kered nego­ti­a­tions that has dri­ven Pales­tin­ian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Abbas to take his quest for a state to the Unit­ed Nations — a ploy that could embar­rass the Unit­ed States by forc­ing it to pro­tect its Israeli ally against the tide of world opin­ion.

And although Oba­ma said he had set out a new basis for nego­ti­a­tions in May, chances of reviv­ing peace talks look bleak.

The two sides are far apart. The Pales­tini­ans are divid­ed inter­nal­ly and Oba­ma will not want to risk alien­at­ing Israel’s pow­er­ful U.S. sup­port base by press­ing for Israeli con­ces­sions as he enters a tough bat­tle for re-elec­tion next year.

The Pales­tini­ans see state­hood as open­ing the way for nego­ti­a­tions between equals. Israel says the Pales­tin­ian move aims at de-legit­imiz­ing the Jew­ish state.

The dra­ma at the Unit­ed Nations is play­ing out as Arab upris­ings are trans­form­ing the Mid­dle East­ern land­scape.

Oba­ma pledged sup­port for Arab demo­c­ra­t­ic change, called for more U.N. sanc­tions against Syr­i­an leader Bashar al-Assad and urged Iran and North Korea to meet their nuclear oblig­a­tions — twin stand­offs that have elud­ed his efforts at res­o­lu­tion.

There is a future of greater oppor­tu­ni­ty for the peo­ple of these nations if their gov­ern­ments meet their oblig­a­tions. But if they con­tin­ue down a path that is out­side inter­na­tion­al law, they must be met with greater pres­sure and iso­la­tion,” he said.

Iran freed two Amer­i­cans held for spy­ing, a day before Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ahmadine­jad address­es the Unit­ed Nations. The Iran­ian leader has described it as a com­pas­sion­ate release.

Oba­ma lat­er met Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu and assured him of unwa­ver­ing U.S. sup­port. Netanyahu said the Pales­tin­ian action at the Unit­ed Nations was doomed to fail.

Oba­ma was also due to appeal to Abbas in per­son not to present U.N. Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Ban Ki-moon with an appli­ca­tion for full mem­ber­ship of the world body on Fri­day.

In one of sev­er­al fran­tic efforts to avert a diplo­mat­ic. dis­as­ter, French Pres­i­dent Nico­las Sarkozy urged the Unit­ed Nations to grant the Pales­tini­ans the sta­tus of observ­er state, like the Vat­i­can, while out­lin­ing a one-year roadmap to peace.

Each of us knows that Pales­tine can­not imme­di­ate­ly obtain full and com­plete recog­ni­tion of the sta­tus of Unit­ed Nations mem­ber state,” he said, adding that a veto in the Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil could start a new cycle of vio­lence in the Mid­dle East.

The coun­cil could delay action on Abbas’ request, giv­ing the Unit­ed States, Rus­sia, the Euro­pean Union and the Unit­ed Nations — the “Quar­tet” of Mid­dle East medi­a­tors — more time to craft a state­ment that could coax both sides back to the table.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Pales­tin­ian offi­cial, said Obama’s speech was a real dis­ap­point­ment.
“You would think that the Pales­tini­ans are occu­py­ing Israel,” she said in a con­fer­ence call with reporters, accus­ing Oba­ma of show­ing empa­thy with Israelis, but not Pales­tini­ans.

She also com­plained that his approval of prin­ci­ples of free­dom and self-deter­mi­na­tion appeared to be selec­tive.

They apply to every Arab indi­vid­ual, but when it comes to Pales­tini­ans suf­fer­ing from an oppres­sive for­eign mil­i­tary occu­pa­tion, some­how … these prin­ci­ples do not apply. They only apply when Arabs rebel against their own oppres­sive régime.”

What­ev­er hap­pens at the Unit­ed Nations, Pales­tini­ans will remain under Israeli occu­pa­tion and any nom­i­nal state would lack rec­og­nized bor­ders or real inde­pen­dence and sov­er­eign­ty.

It is a mea­sure of their des­per­a­tion that they seem deter­mined to press on with an ini­tia­tive that could incur finan­cial ret­ri­bu­tion from Israel and the Unit­ed States.

In his speech to the annu­al U.N. Gen­er­al Assem­bly, Ban asked gov­ern­ments to show sol­i­dar­i­ty in meet­ing “extra­or­di­nary chal­lenges” for the world body, rang­ing from devel­op­ment and cli­mate change to peace­keep­ing and human­i­tar­i­an relief.

With­out resources, we can­not deliv­er. Today, I ask gov­ern­ments that have tra­di­tion­al­ly borne the lion’s share of the costs to not flag in their gen­eros­i­ty,” he declared, pledg­ing to stream­line U.N. bud­gets to “do more with less.”

(Addi­tion­al report­ing by Ali Sawaf­ta, Andrew Quinn, Lou Char­bon­neau, Matt Spetal­nick, Lau­ra MacIn­nis, John Irish, Emmanuel Jar­ry, Daniel Bases and Patrick Worsnip at Unit­ed Nations, Tom Per­ry in Ramal­lah; Edit­ing by Doina Chi­acu)


Comments 9

  1. Reuters cen­sors any­thing that is deemed anti-Amer­i­can, even if it is just mild crit­i­cism of US for­eign or domes­tic pol­i­cy. It is just a pro­pa­gan­da machine.

  2. Reuters does not only mod­er­ate the com­ments sec­tion by not pub­lish­ing com­ments until they are reviewed. They also wide­ly block peo­ple from reg­is­ter­ing with their com­ments func­tion if the per­son has pre­vi­ous­ly chal­lenged the polit­i­cal slant of a Reuters sto­ry. And ‘sto­ry’ is a good word to describe some­thing put out by Reuters.

    1. I’ve heard this alleged before. I was allowed to reg­is­ter to post com­ments, then had my com­ment cen­sored; I can’t remem­ber if I attempt­ed to post anoth­er com­ment on Reuters and was denied. Has this actu­al­ly hap­pened to you?

  3. it seems Reuters has no inter­est to post my com­ments, respond­ing to the knee jerk gun con­trol sug­ges­tions fol­low­ing the tragedy in Con­necti­cut..

    attempt­ed post:
    While you’re at it, let’s ban reli­gion because so many child moles­ters are men of the cloth… let’s ban cars because so many die each year in vehic­u­lar acci­dents… how ’bout this, let’s ban oxy­gen, because I’m fair­ly cer­tain every thug and né’er-do-well was breath­ing oxy­gen when they com­mit­ed their crimes… grow a brain peo­ple. guns are not the prob­lem, peo­ple are the prob­lem, that sim­ple. I pro­pose the fol­low­ing two thoughts for you to pon­der:

    1. You’re my next door neigh­bor and hate guns… I place a sign in my yard point­ing at your home, stat­ing ‘my house is armed and I am ready, but my neigh­bor next door hates guns.’ which one is get­ting robbed?

    2. so, I hope you’ve heard the line ‘when you out­law guns, only the out­laws will have guns.’ don’t believe this is true? I liked Nan­cy Rea­gan and her war on drugs, but where has it got­ten us??? heavy drugs are avail­able in almost every major city, but they’re ille­gal right? and we have a ‘sup­posed’ war on drugs, right? hrm­mm… think about it. I’m keep­ing my guns and if you’re so bent against them, don’t wor­ry, I won’t use mine to pro­tect you when need­ed, but I will pro­tect my fam­i­ly.

    peo­ple are the prob­lem, reg­u­la­tions are the prob­lem, sup­port­ing the weak is the prob­lem, and uninformed/disinterested deci­sion mak­ers are the prob­lem. Grow a brain. sur­vival is a func­tion of one’s abil­i­ty to sus­tain them­selves, which includes defend­ing them­selves. The ding dong in Con­necti­cut may be a func­tion of a priv­i­leged nation (e.g. afford­ed the right to be armed,) as car crash­es and deaths are a functin of our right to dri­ve. stuff hap­pens, but the notion of deny­ing a cit­i­zen their right to defend them­selves because anoth­er doesn’t man­age that right effec­tive­ly is redicu­lous. there was a time when this coun­try was strong, regretably this seems to be a brief his­to­ry of a nation that pos­sessed sig­nif­i­cant poten­tial.

    1. You’ll nev­er hear me defend cen­sor­ship as appar­ent­ly prac­ticed by Reuters.

      How­ev­er, I don’t under­stand why the right to own guns is incom­pat­i­ble with gun con­trol. We have the right to own cars, too, but every sin­gle one is “con­trolled” by the gov­ern­ment — with licens­es and reg­is­tra­tions. Are you in favor of that kind of gun con­trol? And what about the many dif­fer­ent types of “guns”? Are you in favor of cit­i­zens own­ing rapid-fire assault weapons designed for war­fare? If so, are you also in favor of cit­i­zen-owned shoul­der-launched anti-air­craft mis­siles?

      I don’t remem­ber hear­ing about so many pub­lic mas­sacres (like school shoot­ings) decades ago. It seems there’s been a notable increase in these things. Do you agree? If so, why do you think that is? Is that, too, a result of liv­ing a “priv­i­leged soci­ety”?

  4. I too was cen­sored by reuters for this com­ment regard­ing the fol­low­ing arti­cle.

    My com­ment:
    “This is news wor­thy? With every­thing going on in this world, this moron is news­wor­thy? And it took 3 peo­ple to bring this amaz­ing piece of jour­nal­is­tic, hard hit­ting fact to the world? (Report­ing by Bren­dan O’Brien; Edit­ing by David Bai­ley and Peter Bohan) Can I get a job at Reuters? This nugget showed up 2nd on Google world news! You’ve made the big time there Bren­dan! Tomor­row, head anchor at NBC!”
    Was it the use of the word Moron? Or did they not like that I crit­i­cized their lame sto­ry?

  5. I was also banned from com­ment­ing on Reuters. My com­ment was about how disin­gen­u­ous both the US & Israel have been about want­i­ng peace with the Pales­tini­ans. It is clear­ly evi­dent that if ones com­ments are crit­i­cal of the US gov­ern­ment or Israel then Reuters will SILENCE your voice.

  6. Reuters has been edi­to­ri­al­iz­ing by cen­sor­ing read­er com­ments for quite some time. In gen­er­al, it removes com­ments crit­i­cal of Israel or of AIPAC and leaves those defend­ing them.

    In many cas­es they have sim­ply delet­ed all com­ments. The pub­lic has appar­ent­ly been a bunch of wask­i­ly wab­bits, as far as they are con­cerned.

  7. UPDATE: Who­ev­er delet­ed the Alis­tair Lyon arti­cle at Reuters did not ful­ly under­stand the con­tent man­age­ment sys­tem that they use. If you go to Alis­tair Lyon’s “blog” page at Reuters, the orig­i­nal head­line appears as a sum­ma­rized post, with an abstract. The head­line is linked to a slight­ly dif­fer­ent URL where you will find Lyon’s arti­cle (date­lined *after* the replace­ment arti­cle by Spetal­nick and MacIn­nis) — revised slight­ly, but still pret­ty close to the orig­i­nal. It’s here.

    Even so, when you’re on the very page for this arti­cle enti­tled “Oba­ma tries to derail Pales­tin­ian U.N. bid,” a Reuters site search for that head­line will come up emp­ty.

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