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October 20, 2005


the WaPo shows that the WH was lying about the involvement of WH officials:

Top Aides Talked Before Plame's Cover Revealed

Rove told grand jury Libby may have been source in CIA leak case, further undermining White House's contention that neither man was involved.

I'm glad they get along so well. Perhaps they'll share a cell.

Wednesday, I had my shoe off and ready to throw at the television while watching Chris Matthews discuss with Tucker Carlson and Margaret Carlson the NYT's failure to properly dig during the run-up to the war with Iraq. All about how the paper of record had failed us.

I try to be respectful, really I do. But how this effing joke manages to hang onto his show is truly beyond reckoning. He can't even overcome his laziness to do some digging into mainstream sources NOW, much less when we were in the run-up to the war, a war he opposed. For instance, his comments a month or so ago about how nobody could have expected the insurgency to go on this long.

Chris, you damned moron. How about the Army War College report put out in February 2003:

The Potential for Terrorism against U.S. Occupation Forces.

The longer a U.S. occupation of Iraq continues, the more danger exists that elements of the Iraqi population will become impatient and take violent measures to hasten the departure of U.S. forces. At the same time, a premature withdrawal from Iraq could lead to instability and perhaps even civil war. By ousting the Saddam Hussein regime, the United States will have placed itself in the position where it will be held responsible by the world should anarchy and civil war develop in a post-Saddam era. Having entered into Iraq, the United States will find itself unable to leave rapidly, despite the many pressures to do so.

If the campaign to eliminate Saddam is short and involves few civilian casualties, it is likely that U.S. troops will be greeted with enthusiasm by Iraqi citizens who have had the burden of Saddam’s tyranny lifted from their shoulders. Nevertheless, the United States should not expect that occupation forces will be protected by a bottomless well of gratitude. Most Iraqis will assume that the United States has intervened in their country for its own political purposes and not to liberate them from oppression, an argument that is not terribly difficult to make. Indeed some sources, such as the London-based Economist, suggest that the Iraqi population already appears to distrust U.S. motives for an invasion, assuming such an act would be initiated primarily to help Israel’s strategic situation and to dominate Iraqi oil.88 Major postwar improvements in the quality of daily life of the population may soften such concerns, but they are unlikely to eliminate them. Although Iraq is one of the most repressive countries in the world, it is not a disarmed society. Unlike a variety of other dictatorships, many Iraqi citizens have access to firearms. One of Saddam’s most common ways of rewarding loyal tribal sheikhs is to allow them to arm their followers.

Here's a guy who opposed the war, yet he doesn't remember the War College report? Geez. Not having the label of "journalist" hanging around my neck these days is truly a blessing.

There are no reporters in America, and have't been for a long time. There are a lot of useless Ivy League "non-creative typists" masquerading as "reporters" - most of whom would do the world a favor were they to be the guest of honor at a single-car fatality. None of whom have the ability to find the zipper on their fly with both hands on a clear day with a 2-hour advance notice.

By "reporter" I think of people like Joe Werschba of 60 Minutes, who I met 34 years ago when I wrote 60 Minutes about their report of the "Tonkin Gulf Incident" - the Great Lie I witnessed that started the worthless crock of shit known as the Vietnam War - andhe responed. There was a man in pursuit of the truth. I only learned this past weekend when I went to see "Good Night and Good Luck" that he was one of "Murrow's Boys," a small fact that explains everything about him in 1971 and how happy he was when the Pentagon Papers finally blew the lid of the DemocratRepublican lifer moron scum responsible for that tits-up crock.

Today newsrooms - whether electronic or print - are "profit centers" and people interested in discovering the truth are soon made to be unwelcome.

One hopes Judith Miller will be among those "guests of honor" mentioned above, but only after her bosses, the creators of "All The News That's Fit To Use As Parakeet Cage Liner and Fishwrap" precede her. Not wishing to die all blue from not breathing, I'm not holding my breath.

And I am damn glad I stopped even trying to be a "reporter" of that kind 30 years ago, though I still work on reporting the truth.


You''ll be glad to know that David Brooks reports that even though everyone hates Bush, Democrats are like beaten dogs and so don't count.

The most interesting tales came from Republicans elected from districts President Bush carried by fewer than 10 points. Those districts were once moderately supportive of the president, but now, as one member of Congress said, the anger at Bush is so deep it's almost indescribable.

It's a generalized feeling of betrayal. At town meetings, big subjects like Iraq and the deficits barely come up. But there is a sense that this guy Bush promised to make us feel safe, and it's clear from the Katrina fiasco and everything else that we are not safe.


And yet Republicans are not panicked. They know that if the election were held today, their base would stay home, but they look over at the Democrats and say: Thank God for Nancy Pelosi. Thank God for Howard Dean. They see that Dean refers to his base as "merlot Democrats," and it confirms their suspicion that the opposition party is really run by imbeciles.

The odd thing is that the Democrats, who have the self-assurance of a beaten dog, feel this way about themselves. Most sense, in their heart of hearts, that they are the Palestinians of American politics: they'll never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The most common word I hear from Democratic partisans to describe their own party is "pathetic."

Fuck you, Brooks. Did you know that John Kerry for all his flaws got more votes than any presidential candidate inhistory save one? You're next to line up against the wall. What the hell have you reported out on what's really happening with all your so-called Repubican contacts??

"Palpable anger?" "Betrayal?" it's also directed to assholes like you who did nothing to honestly report the truth. When I ran through the R talking points yesterday, I forgot the one about R's are comforted because Howard Dean is chairman. That must be why Rahm Emmanuel is having such trouble recruiting candidates and morale is down.

I am a bit bothered by Andrew Heyword's recommendations. "Truth is a plural" sounds all cool, PoMo, and Rashomon-esque in principle, but in practice it just gives us the same she said / he said that we already get.

"Authenticity problem" - gee, ya think so, Andrew? I'm a lot less annoyed by "pontiff" for "pope" than by all the Missing White Woman stories.

As an aside, does CNN seem to be changing its format practically day by day in a frantic effort to hit the sweet spot that will goose its ratings?

-- Rick

Truth as plural? Recall from Outfoxed: "Murdoch doesn't believe in objectivity, he has contempt for journalism, he wants all news to be a matter of opinion because opinion can't be proven false."

Today's news is affected by a dangerous pluralism, one which renders a civil meeting of minds unattainable. Balkanized Truth is no basis for a sustainable democratic system.

The Dickey piece makes a lot of good points, as do the previous commenters. Heywood is right that truth and life are complex, but it is also true that everything is not "opinion." There are SOME facts that can be checked empirically and some opinions that can be reality-checked against history and facts-on-the-ground, and reporters have an obligation to do some of that.

Mike Scheuer made a good point in his book "Imperial Hubris" about the need for what he called "checking the checkables"--that is, checking those factual things that CAN be checked, not just assuming that what everyone who came before thought is worthless or even worse, assuming that if information is in the public domain, in books and libraries, for example, it is less credible or important than "secret intelligence" (or leaks from high places). He is scathing in how Rumsfeld & Co ignored so much of what was known about Afghanistan, and, of course, then they repeated the same mistake in Iraq.

Part of it (going back to Weber's famous essay which I discussed two weeks ago is understanding what "objectivity" is. It is not, as many in journalism seem to think, being without a point of view. It is understanding WHAT ones point of view is and watching scrupulously to see that it does not prevent one from seeing the world clearly, that is, acknowledging opposing points of view as at least potentially valid, and acknowledging uncomfortable facts that do not favor ones side or argument.

It also means adopting a healthy skepticism about the information one receives from others--being alert to how the press is being used, for example, something Ken Auletta set out years ago in the "New Yorker." As Dem said in the original post, "Any discussion that loses sight of the motives of the anonymous sources, especially in this case, loses sight of the whole ball of wax."

The question WHY Libby and Rove wanted to expose Valerie P/Flame is more interesting and relevant in a democracy than the mere fact that she works at the CIA or that she may have had some connection to her husband's trip. In missing (or failing to inform us of) that aspect of the story, every single one of the vaunted journos and pundits fell down on the fundamental obligation of journalism in a democracy--informing the public what its leaders and their henchmen are up to so that those leaders can be held accoutable.

The journalsitic conspiracy to keep the public from understanding how BushCo manipulated information and silenced critics of the war both before and after the invasion until after the election is something that has not been discussed nearly enough and something they will have to live with as the country slides down the tubes because of Bush's incompetence.

They could do all of us a service by telling what they know now, at least. For example, many are sitting on the knowledge of who the original leaker is. Now that everyone has ferretted out the truth about Libby and Rove and how Bush knew from the outset, maybe we can proceed to that bit of info. Maybe we can have a little more candid discussion of BushCo's manipulations.

I'm not holding my breath because I think too many especially "celebrity" journos like the current system because it is comfortable and easy for them and ensures their social status (another point well laid out in Dickey's article). No one wants to go first and suffer social and professional ostracism. For this reason I think Watergate was ultimately the beginning of the end for the Washington press corps.

It is not, as many in journalism seem to think, being without a point of view. It is understanding WHAT ones point of view is and watching scrupulously to see that it does not prevent one from seeing the world clearly, that is, acknowledging opposing points of view as at least potentially valid, and acknowledging uncomfortable facts that do not favor ones side or argument.

This is a message I tried to pound into every rookie reporter I ever hired and every student I taught journalism to for four years.

We all bring our biases with us. We have no choice. Our gender, ethnicity, class, cultural preferences, regional affinities, education and religion or lack of it combine to shape the filter through which we observe the world. Any reporter who thinks s/he is a clear lens viewing the world and therefore objective already has failed as a useful observer.

Objectivity as discussed by Weber is also stepping back from oneself and making sure that what one does is not self-serving. In other words, putting the desire to be as fair, accurate and complete as possible above the desire for fame, fortune and power.

What I meant about Watergate is that journos today forget how much hard work Woodrward and Bernstein engaged in. Mark Felt/Deep Throat didn't hand it to them; he let Woodward know when they were on the right track in their digging and suggested some avenues to pursue, and then they dug out the facts. The takeaway for too many since is that all you need is a good leaker and you are on the way to celebrity status. They forget about the digging that Woodstein did.

more journalist crap:

-- The start of the Saddam Hussein trial -- even if it did last only one day -- will provide a subtle boost to the Bush administration by reminding people that for all that's gone wrong in Iraq, we did get rid of a monster.

Yeah? Well, I say it'll remind everyone this incompetent moron got us stuck in Iraq and I say it will hurt him. Who the hell allows Kurtz to make up this shit? Where are his editors?

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