By ISABELLA MESQUITA
This week’s New York Times Magazine caused quite a stir among renown contemporary journalists. Jonathan Mahler’s cover “What do we really know about Osama Bin Laden” raised many questions about the circumstances involved in bin Laden’s death and the veracity of the “stories” told at that time by the CIA and the American Government.
In Mahler’s story, not only did he retell the story of bin Laden’s death from a different perspective, he also added Seymour Hersh’s point of view on what truly happened.
Mahler begins his article by narrating the series of events that took place at the The White House the day Obama announced bin Laden’s death. Within the first few paragraphs of his article, Mahler boldly contradicted the story told by the CIA regarding bin Laden’s whereabouts and addressed the story told by the White House as “another example of American mythmaking.”
“It’s not that the truth about bin Laden’s death is unknowable,” stated Mahler. “It’s that we don’t know it. We don’t know what happened more than a half-century ago, much less in 2011.”
According to Mahler, the CIA’s years of painstaking intelligence-gathering to find bin Laden’s hideaway was only a polished and flattering version of the truth. Based on Hersh’s previous publications mentioned in Mahler’s article, bin Laden’s location was revealed by a retired member of the Pakistani intelligence who received a $25 million reward for the information. Thus, in Mahler’s view, bin Laden was never actually “hiding,” and the false story told by the media successfully fooled the majority of not only Americans but anyone around the world who followed this noteworthy “event.”
Minutes after the article’s publication, journalists from The Washington Post, The Times and other newspapers fired up social media with criticism and their opinion about this controversial cover story.
While The Times‘ national security reporter Eric Schmitt believed the article “struck a nerve among national security and foreign policy reporters like a few he saw in his three-plus decades at the paper,” others like Jim O’Donnell of Tempe stated that “its the strangest article (he) has ever read in The Times; an extreme case of the story that asserts a wholly indefensible proposition by covering the heck out of a marginalized figure.”
Whether factually, morally or socially accurate, The New York Times must have had substantial reason and motive to bring back to life such delicate issue and to approach it with a rather radical and “conspiracy-based” theory that would naturally cause controversy.
As a matter of fact I believe The Times boldly refuted conformities and proved independence from any sort of institutional and/or governmental control through this article – an aspect of journalism that has been greatly questioned and debated in the 20th century.