And that's because we all understand that the NYT is the NYT, and the US government is the US government, and the opinions of the NYT are not the opinions of the US government.
Similarly if the BBC published a report criticising some aspect of Singapore, the Singapore government may get upset - with the BBC. But the Singapore government would not get upset with the UK government.
And that's because we all understand that the BBC is the BBC, and the UK government is the UK government, and the opinions of the BBC are not the opinions of the UK government.
However, in our own backyard, things seem to be somewhat different. Here's an example.
ST July 5, 2008Basically, TODAY published an article. The Malaysian government was unhappy with it. To appease the Malaysians, PM Lee Hsien Loong's office had to make it clear publicly that it didn't approve of TODAY's article.
S'pore media should not take sides: PM Lee's press secretary
THE press secretary to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has written to the Today tabloid newspaper, taking issue with recent articles on the wife of Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak.
'Although developments in Malaysia affect Singapore, we must be disinterested external observers, not partisan participants in their domestic politics,' Mr Chen Hwai Liang said in a letter addressed to the paper's editorial director, Mr P.N. Balji.
He was referring to a report headlined 'Under fire - the 'First Lady-in-waiting'', which appeared in Today on June 27.
This quoted various Malaysians describing Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor as 'arrogant' and 'ambitious'.
Also criticised by Mr Chen was a subsequent note from Mr Balji, headlined 'Leave it to our readers to judge', which was published on July 3.
The latter was in reply to a letter from the Malaysian High Commissioner to Singapore, Datuk N. Parameswaran, taking issue with the June 27 report.
Both of Today's articles 'took a slant which cast doubt on your newspaper's objectivity', said Mr Chen.
'Singapore media reports on events and developments from around the world in order to keep Singaporeans well-informed and aware of what is happening around us. But it is important for the Singapore media's reporting of political developments in other countries to be objective and factual,' he said.
'In particular, it is unwise for Singapore media to take sides, especially when it involves our immediate neighbours,' he added.
As I had earlier said, if the New York Times publishes an article, we expect that it's really a New York Times article - not a US government press release. But in Singapore's case, such expectations shrink drastically.
Thus if a Singapore newspaper publishes an article which a foreign government finds somewhat "out of line", the Singapore government may well choose to intervene directly and publicly (as shown in this case). Otherwise the foreign government might assume that the newspaper had published the offending article with the Singapore government's implicit or explicit approval.
No one really believes that the Singapore press has its own independent opinions. Certainly not the Malaysian government.