Well, yes and no. I mean, mainly yes but I was working for Kerrang! around this time, and through that found out that the NME had a reputation for ALLEGEDLY taking bungs for promoting bands. The Vines ALEGEDLY being the prime example (hence the significant gulf between their actual quality and how much praise they received).
Kerrang! was actually outselling NME for a good few years and as a result NME were absolutely desperate for something guitar-based that they could use to flog the mag (you might remember they briefly flirted with nu-metal, trying to brand it “sport metal”) without going Full Mosher, which is why The Strokes were hailed as if Jesus had returned, put on a leather jacket, and started a band with some rich kids in new york.
And that cynicism was so blatant to me at at the time it made me reject that entire scene outright which in retrospect I think was really childish and meant I missed out on some really great music.
It’s very telling, though, that every band and journalist interviewed for MMITB is very upfront about the fact that the accepted trajectory at the time was: build a following in New York, get signed, go to London and get massively hyped in NME, and then come back to the USA as ‘that band who are huge in the UK’.