June 21, 2000
The Narco News
on the Fortunes of
NY Times in Mexico
and 25 other
dailies on June 21, 2000
Accustomed to being able
to close the spaces of reference about its work, and prone to bargain over the
publication of corrections about its own reports, the New
York Times has begun to worry itself over the debate on the
reporting by its Mexican correspondent Sam Dillon.
Before the imminent exit
of the North American journalist, here in México the exit
dates are not discussed but, instead, the reasons for that exit
and above all the vacuum of information in many of the reports
by the Mexican bureau of the New York daily.
In a letter published
yesterday, Tuesday, in El Universal, the international
editor of the New York Times, Andrew Rosenthal, accepted that
the work of his foreign correspondents "is subject to the
legitimate scrutiny of the media in countries where they work."
But the editor is angered
when that happens and complains that the Indicador Político
column of Wednesday June 7 wrote "accusations that are particularly
extravagant" and that the author "absolutely did not
offer any proof to document them."
If the source of Rosenthal's
information is his correspondent Dillon, then the disinformation
that the international editor receives is of the same size as
what the readers of the legendary NY Times read about
what happens in México.
To begin with, Rosenthal
says that the account of Indicador Político about
the NY Times office in México "continúes
being repeated, more frequently by you (the author of Indicador
Político), and sometimes by others."
Yet it's a matter of record
in these columns that, here, the matter of Dillon has not been
repeated. The worry of Rosenthal is based on false information
that they gave him.
On the other hand, at
least the Dillon case has opened a journalistic debate in New
Rosenthal signals that
Indicador Político "absolutely does not offer
any evidence to document them." That's a strange choice
of language for a journalist and editor in his use of the term
"absolutely," because the margin of error in informational
coverage is high.
But in the text of Indicador Político of
Wednesday June 7th
at least two proofs of the first level were offered. First, the
two columns of the North American journalist Cynthia Cotts published
in her "Press Clips" space in the very prestigious
weekly Village Voice. The texts can be found on the internet
at www.villagevoice.com in Cotts' column.
And the column published
in El Universal also cited direct testimony from the North
American journalist Al Giordano, who writes for the weekly Boston
Phoenix about México, edited in the capital of Massachussets,
and that has a weekly readership of 300,000. Giordano is editor
of an internet publication that specializes in information about
drug trafficking, The Narco News Bulletin: www.narconews.com.
The information about
the threats by Dillon
against Giordano over the facts that involved Roberto Hernández,
owner of Banamex, in drug trafficking have been corroborated
by Giordano, who authorized the publication of this information.
Still, there are more
facts that Rosenthal doesn't seem to know. On May 12, 1999, Giordano
sent a 4-page letter to columnist Anthony Lewis, who works in
the Boston office of the New York Times. He complained
about the threats by Dillon. The incident occured in the wake
of the Zedillo-Clinton meeting in Merida, in a hacienda owned
by Roberto Hernández.
Giordano had reported
information that already had been made public by the daily Por Esto! of Yucatán, Campeche and
Quintana Roo, with respect to the evidences that the Hernández
properties were used for drug trafficking.
Dillon threatened Giordano
that he would discredit him if he published that information.
Obviously, in spite of the fact that Dillon had the same information,
he did not include it in his reports sent to the central office
of the New York Times.
These are the facts that
should be debated. But very much in the style of the arrogance
of US journalism, Rosenthal doesn't want to argue the facts,
but rather he wants these "ridiculous declarations"
about Dillon to stop being repeated.
Still, in New York the
debate has already begun about the style of some NYT correspondents
in managing information about México. Justly, the columnist
on February 23rd
of this year in the Village Voice the way in which Dillon
had hidden, in spite of it being a journalistic fact, the evidences
of Roberto Hernández with the narco.
And Dillon had excluded
from his reports that the meeting between Zedillo and Clinton
to speak about drug trafficking happened precisely in the hacienda
owned by Hernández.
"In México, untouchables
are people who are protected by the power they wield. Such is the case of Sam Dillon,
bureau chief of the New York Times in México, and
Roberto Hernández, owner of Banamex," the Cotts column
said from the get-go in its first paragraph.
At the same time, Cotts
reported in her column the declaration by Mario Menéndez
Rodríguez, editor and publisher of Por Esto!, the
daily that published and followed the presence of drug trafficking
on the properties of Hernández - and for this was criminally
charged - that he had delivered the information about Hernández
Cotts also quoted Dillon
apologizing for Hernández and what happened on his properties.
Without delay, the charges by Hernández against Por
Esto! Were thrown out of court with the finding that the
reports "were based on the facts."
The complaints by Rosenthal
are a classic example of journalistic disinformation. The Indicador
Político column of June 7th also cited the
May 24th column
of Cynthia Cotts where it was revealed for the first time the
change for Dillon and his wife Julia Preston, also a NY Times
The Rosenthal letter,
thus, is no more than another example of the authoritarian conclusions
of the journalists of the NYT when their own styles are
revealed as irregular and far from the rules of journalistic
The debate over the presence
of The New York Times in México is not about the
exit date of the correspondents, as Rosenthal cleverly wants
to make believe.
The very same Rosenthal
violated the rules, as a NYT correspondent is limited
to a period of no more than three years in any country and Dillon
already has spent five in México.
The root problem is something
else: the political motives of a correspondent to discriminate
against information about what happens in México.
Neither Rosenthal's anger
over the column about Dillon - nor the rigourous journalistic
ethics that he claims -- were applied when Dillon won the Pulitzer
in journalism for a report that he could not prove over two Mexican
governors involved in drug trafficking.
In spite of the letters
of correction by one of the governors in the story, Manlio Fabio
Beltrones, and the conclusión of the Attorney General's
investigation in México, the NYT never had the
dignity to publish a correction.
The prize stayed in place
for a report without proofs and based only upon what the correspondent
Dillon said and on the credibility of the daily. The Attorney
General's office, on October 1, 1997, ruled that the report of
Dillon and Craig Pyes, for which they received the Pulitzer,
In spite of this official
ruling, the New York Times has found it acceptable that
they published an unsubstantiated report without the facts that
Rosenthal and others claim to demand.
The debate about the New
York Times in México is not irrelevant, above all
because at present the US media is already meddling in the power
plays of this election campaign. But Cotts already said it about
Dillon: "Untouchables are those who are protected by the
power they wield."
June 21, 2000
"I didn't really understand what
you were biting off when you launched Narconews. I wish I had more time each day to
follow every single story you're blasting out. (At the same time,
I would be tempted to buy a large life insurance policy on you,
if I could! As your friend, I of course am worried about the
methods of the people you are taking on, even though I would
not for a second wish you to be any less aggressive. There's
more energy in one page of your web site that you can get from
months of surfing.)"
Letter to Narco News from prominent Washington insider,
June 21, 2000