In  The New York Times‘ week in review published April 25,  William Broad long-time science writer for the paper, discusses the debate over the effectiveness of the North Korean missile launch April 5. The article purports to represent the state of debate on North Korea missile developments. The analysis ignores basic facts known about the test.

In a recent public address, Lieutenant General Patrick O Reilly, director of the Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency stated that the most recent analysis of the North Korean flight indicates that the first and second stage of the missile worked and the second and third stage functioned separation also occurred. This means that the failure was either in the third stage or the malfunction occurred between the third stage and the payload. While the flight was not successful, it did demonstrate a remarkable advance in demonstrating the progress of the North Korean long-range ballistic missile program. In contrast, the 2006 test of the same missile flew for only 42 seconds. This launch flew for 15 minutes and achieved a range over 2,500 miles. The article does not mention these facts.

In addition, the editorial tone of the article is biased against missile defense favoring the view of those who disparage advances in the North Korean program. “The advocates want to scare people, so they hype the threat,” states Philip Coyle who is identified as a “former director of weapons testing at the Pentagon and a senior advisor to the Center of Defense Information. Broad did not note Coyle is also a prominent critic of missile defense programs. Broad also extended Coyle’s remarks writing, “Such portrayals take bravado since the failed launching was North Korea’s third unsuccessful bid to loft a satellite in a decade, the splashdown made all the more humiliating by Pyongyang’s weeks of drumrolls and world defiance.”

Rather than unbiased accounting of the debate, the article makes every effort to diminish assessments of the country’s ballistic missile program.

Cross posted at Media Malpractice.