Hugo Lindgren, the new New York Times Magazine editor-in-chief, has already left his mark on the paper’s reputation by choosing an embarrassingly sympathetic portrait of convicted terrorist helper Lori Berenson as the cover story for the relaunch of the Sunday magazine. He compounds the error by hailing writer Jennifer Egan’s embrace of radical chic as “in every way a classic Times Magazine story,” in his self-congratulatory “Editor’s Letter” that will also appear in Sunday’s upcoming issue.
With even less excuse than Egan (the novelist who penned the 8,300-word cover story love letter to Berenson) Lindgren reveals his own lack of basic understanding of the case, showing the convinted collaborator as engaging in naive, youthful political hijinks, rather than knowingly and deceptively helping murderous left-wing terror group Tupac Amaru (abbreviated in Spanish as M.R.T.A.)
The New York Times Magazine is based on long-form narrative journalism, and this week’s cover article, by Jennifer Egan, is a prime example. It is about Lori Berenson, a New Yorker who moved to Latin America as a young adult, got mixed up in revolutionary politics in Peru and was promptly thrown in prison, where she spent the next 15 years before being paroled last year. Egan traveled to Lima, where Berenson must remain until 2015, and tells the story of a wounded but resilient woman struggling to sort out a place for herself in the world. It is in every way a classic Times Magazine story.
John Podhoretz laid out the actual facts of the case in Friday’s New York Post, who accuses the paper of “carrying water for a terrorist.”
Berenson was arrested and charged with treason in 1995, based on one unambiguous fact: She was the co-signer of the lease to a house in Lima that was a hideout and ammo dump for the Tupac Amaru.
She'd been posing as a credentialed journalist for far-left American publications, and had been reporting inside the Peruvian assembly with a photographer -- a photographer who, it turned out, was married to a leading figure in the terrorist group. Peruvian officials claim they were staking out the parliament building to help the MRTA design a plan for its takeover.
Berenson defenders scoff at the claim, but offer no countervailing evidence. Nor can they explain why, if she had been a railroaded innocent, the Tupac Amaru would have included Berenson's name prominently on a list of prisoners it demanded the government free after it seized the Japanese Embassy in Lima a year after her arrest and held 70 people hostage for four months.