Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai has gone public with his distaste for the New York Times, calling on the Afghan media to "defame The New York Times just as they have defamed us. And to clarify, by us I mean me."
The Afghan media, primarily the state-owned Bakhtar News Agency, promise to get right on it just as soon as they can find a copy of the Times in Pashto or Dari.
"It would be imprudent to do otherwise," said Ministry of Information and Culture Sayed Makdoom Raheen. "We do not wish to defame the powerful New York Times without first reading the vicious slander which President Karzai has assures us they have slimed him with. My first instinct would be to write that the Times is not worthy of wrapping the dung of a jackal. There is, however, the ever present possibility that our leader was deeply under the spell of our excellent Afghan opiates, so I do not wish to defame simply for the sake of defaming."
The egregious statements to which Karzai was alluding came from a report filed this weekend in which the Times detailed his habit of soliciting large plastic bags full of euros from Iran which he uses to pay bribes. These bags of moolah were alleged to have contained one to two million dollars and were paid out every other month, Allah willing.
The allegations became moot today after Karzai admitted that they were true, while sternly criticizing the erroneous impression given by the Times that this was some sort of gift. Not at all, he insisted, intriguingly leaving the details for a future report, "they have asked for good relations in return, and for lots of other things in return." And furthermore, so what, the United States give him bribery bucks as well.
"They do give us bags of money," he continued in that endearing little way of his. "Yes, yes they do. It's all the same. So let’s not make this an issue."
"Ah, well, if he says let's not make this an issue, then let's not make this an issue," said a relieved Minister Raheen. "I would still very much enjoy defaming the New York Times, and fully intend to do so if they ever say anything about Karzai that isn't true."
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