New York Times Censorship?

By now almost everyone has heard about the bizarre saga of renowned reporter Kurt Eichenwald and his New York Times front page rescue of teenage porn huckster Justin Berry. Oddly, over two years after it’s debut, the story keeps circulating on the web and in the national news.

What isn’t known about the Eichenwald-Berry saga is the curious juxtaposition with the Masha Allen story:

Consider the following statement:

“Viewing images of child porn is not essential when researching the issue,” Eichenwald says. He described his research on Masha Allen, who he said at age 8 was adopted from a Russian orphanage by a pedophile, and whose repeated rapes were caught on film for four years. “Now, I haven’t seen any of them because they’re illegal. What I have seen are cropped versions, what I have seen are images where they have the images removed but you can see what’s happened,” he said.”

These “cropped versions” are rare and hard to find – there are maybe two or three on the internet. And it is far from obvious about “what’s happened” in the images. Even as Masha’s lawyer, I have not seen these images, other than those few which are publicly available online.

The time line surrounding Masha and Justin’s story raises many questions. Masha’s “cropped images” first appeared in the media on February 2, 2005 (in Canada only). Her story broke in the United States in late April 2005. After a brief but intense media frenzy the LA Times, in a major scoop engineered by Masha’s mother, interviewed “the Disney World Girl” and featured her story on June 18, 2005.

The LA Times reporter, Maggie Farley, immediately moved to option Masha’s life rights. The Masha “story” – she is a much more compelling figure than Justin – quickly evaporated. Any of Eichenwald’s research into her life, including his careful consideration of her “cropped pictures,” became worthless. Not conicidentially, according to Eichenwald, Justin goes from “personal” interest to “major story” weeks later in early July 2005.

The next appearance of Masha on the media scene was December 2, 2005 when ABC Primetime aired a major interview of Masha. A worldwide media frenzy started within minutes of that show, including an eventual appearance on Oprah. Not surprisingly, Justin’s story was rushed into production in the NY Times less than two weeks later.

Is it no coincidence that the NYTimes carries no mention of Masha Allen? Not one word. Was the Masha story suppressed in order to promote Justin? Masha testified in Congress, just like Justin. In Masha’s case a major new federal law resulted. Not so for Justin. Still no word of Masha in the NYTimes even though Eichenwald himself admits that he was researching her story. Clearly they knew about her.

Is this all just a coincidence or perhaps more media favoritism (ie., suppressing the “real news” for sensationalist pseudo-news?) Many more questions, even fewer answers.

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