By: Jim White Tuesday October 26, 2010 6:34 am
In a report released today, Transparency International ranks world governments on a corruption scale from least to most corrupt. For the first time, the United States is no longer among the twenty least corrupt nations, dropping to number twenty-two on the list. Despite this important news, the New York Times appears to be ignoring the report entirely, while the Washington Post is reporting on it primarily to point out how far Russia has fallen.
Update: During the time that this post was being written, the Washington Post article changed. It now notes the US decline in ranking in the headline and moves that note higher in the article. Yet, despite the chance to contemplate and adjust their coverage, the Post did not choose to point out how corrupt Iraq and Afghanistan have become due to US “nation building”.
For preparing the report, Transparency International provided this description of corruption and the analysis employed:
Transparency International(TI) defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. This definition encompasses corrupt practices in both the public and private sectors. The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks countries according to the perception of corruption in the public sector. The CPI is an aggregate indicator that combines different sources of information about corruption, making it possible to compare countries.
From the report, (pdf can be downloaded from here), we have more on how some countries declined in the corruption index:
With governments committing huge sums to tackle the world’s most pressing problems, from the instability of financial markets to climate change and poverty, corruption remains an obstacle to achieving much needed progress.
Notable among decliners over the past year are some of the countries most affected by a financial crisis precipitated by transparency and integrity deficits.
So, despite Reuters pointing out that the US has fallen out of the twenty least corrupt nations for the first time, why is it that the New York Times would ignore the story entirely, and the Washington Post would primarily note the report to point out how far Russia has fallen? [The Post article does finally, in its next to last paragraph, note the US decline out of the top twenty as being due to "financial scandals", which it doesn't describe further.] Would it be because these “papers of record” have been enablers for the process of abusing entrusted power for private gain? Reporting on mortgage fraud and the favoritism to Wall Street and large banks during the financial crisis at both of these newspapers tended to gloss over the enrichment of high level executives even when they had taken the country to the brink of financial ruin.
There is one other reason why these major newspapers should be covering Transparency International’s report. If we go to the bottom of the list, for the most corrupt nations, we see that Afghanistan is tied with Myanmar for the second most corrupt nation on the list. Iraq is next, at fourth most corrupt. By destroying the governments of these two countries and completely botching any “redevelopment” efforts, the United States has been solely responsible for dramatically increasing corruption on the global scale. Don’t look for any coverage of that point in the New York Times or Washington Post, because I guarantee it won’t happen.