Iraq war coverage
Diary of IRAQ COVERAGE
MIXED MESSAGE . . . 4/7, Roma, of Don Wade & Roma on WLS, says, "Get Baghdad Bob [the Iraqi info minister] over here, to say Meigs Field [dug up by Mayor Daley in the dead of night a week ago] has never been closed."
My friend Jake has a theory about Bob, that his strategy is to become a media personality and set off a bidding war for his services. Monica L. did it. Why can't he?
So it transpired, 4/29/03, WorldNetDaily.com
, that Bob gets a job offer from Arab TV channel Al-Arabiya! "'We see no problem in having Mr. Sahhaf [Bob] join us,' Ali Al-Hedeithy, the head of Al-Arabiya told Agence France-Presse. 'First of all, Sahhaf is not on the list of the 55 Iraqis most wanted by the Americans, and he won international fame. We would be happy to have him on our team.'
"Sahhaf's image," the story continued, "is already being used to push budget Irish airline Ryanair and an Australian ski park, and a U.S. dollmaker has added "Baghdad Bob" to its collection of newsmaker figurines."!
DIRE PREDICTIONS BY GREELEY . . . Meanwhile, how about Andrew Greeley, whose playing of the "Big Muddy" (quagmire) Viet Nam card on 4/4 included his rebuttal of what's heard in "nice restaurants" about killing all Iraqis. This is important. We don't get enough coverage of nice restaurants, where "responsible people . . . returning to the theme of 35 years ago [say] 'Let's kill them all all!'"
Greeley had asked, hoping against hope, "What happens when you want to liberate a country that does not want to be liberated? What happens when the 'only superpower' is humiliated by a handful of fanatics in flowing desert robes?" What indeed? Humiliated?
In a column not wholly unified and coherent but full of emphasis, he said the U.S. "will doubtless win the war eventually (unlike the Vietnam conflict) [but] at what price in lost influence, credibility and human lives?"
That was then. Now that we've won -- and note that I do not affect the neutralism of your standard TV anchor -- see how little influence we have (with whom?) and how incredible is our military threat and how many lives have been lost (incredibly few).
Greeley was back at it three days later, on 4/7, answering those who wondered who those alleged suicide bombers are. "Guerrilla warriors who are ready to die," Greeley told us, in a surge of academic euphemism from Arizona and Hyde Park. Get that "warriors."
Sure enough, three days later, on 4/10, we read of four Marines seriously injured in B-dad by one of those guerilla fighters not afraid to die.
WHY WE DID IT . . . 4/7, We better find WMD (guess: 2nd word is mass), or libs will make a big deal of it, a Pentagon official told columnist Robt. Novak. Fact is, says Novak, Iraq was our target either way, WMD or no WMD, as he wrote the day after the U.S. went after Taliban in A-stan. Nothing said then about WMD by his Bush policymaker sources. WMD became an issue to make a case to the frivolous UN, approached at urging of the congenitally conservative C. Powell. Novak himself finds no evidence of WMD in Iraq, except for chemical w's, which don't belong in WMD category and do not work well in close-quarter fighting.
Thus Novak. As much as I respect him as one who reports and argues from data (and therefore can't brush this off from him), it seems irrelevant to me that no WMD's have been found. My guess is, the U.S. govt. had solidly enough based fears; but the big thing was to upset things in the Middle East, knocking off its worst governmental manifestation. This I have considered a prime priority, to begin to dismantle the rat's nest of terrorism.
UNDERTAKERS . . . Don Wade, 4/9: "Sombre tones," gloom and doom from CNN et al. about the war. Tone of voice, inflection, grim looks here. No enthusiasm for victory.
CUTE . . . Are Dems rooting for Sadaamites? If they make us look bad enough, Dems might get the regime change John Kerry wants, the one in the U.S. (Brash, irresponsible man.)
WORKING HARD, HARDLY WORKING . . . 4/7 briefing by Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks: Newsies pepper him about weapons of mass destruction, reminding of Bushies' pretext for war, ignoring their own loaded pre-victory reports of Dangers Ahead (q-mire). They are on to the next thing they can appear noble about. Not all, but TeeVee does bring out the grandstanding tendency.
They press on definition of victory, timeline. Man from BBC (banned from one British ship as pro-Iraqi) wants him to commit, get past generalities. You know, help him get a good story out of the damn briefing.
Brooks is study in remarkably disciplined discourse, as to emotional display (none) and logical coherence (much). Called "city operation" not a univocal term. Haven't heard that adjective since philosophy class. Asked:
1. Does hotel where newsies stay deserve mosque (special) treatment?
2. Some prisoners are tied and in underwear facing wall: what of Geneva convention?
1. Downtown B'dad (BD) still a dangerous place.
2. Coalition forces are doing what's appropriate.
Brooks: "We see a hospital as a hospital. Not the regime."
Q: When will you investigate civilian deaths? A: Not all have been investigated, there are so many. We do all we can to protect citizens. We do not investigate regime-inflicted deaths.
WHAT ABOUT US? . . . There are many qq about journalists killed. Understandably, but where's the non-involvement, the super-detachment, as Bob Steele (Dr. Robert S., Senior Faculty & Ethics Group Leader) of Poynter Institute wants for the TV-reporter doc who operated on a civilian? (He had no business doing this if a reporter -- conflict of interest, you know. Thank you, Dr. Bob.) Why newsies' special interest here, vs. neutrality claimed by some? Are they involved? Is their news judgment affected?
Newsies cheer the NY Mag media-news reporter for asking about the (Al Doha) follies (cost so much, tell us so little); another case of over-involvement? Is Steele against this too? Or is it legitimate special attention given to members of the club?
POLL . . . Gallup in Sun-Times 4/7: 71% Americans for GW, up 13% from before the war.
FAST . . . It took 20 days to put the Republican Guard out of action. Such a quagmire.
HELLO! . . . Meanwhile, once Sadaamite cops are gone from BD streets, it's "Bush, Bush, Bush!" Three weeks to the day since stepping into quagmire, regime's power is ended.
FLAG-STICKING . . . 4/10: U.S. flag on Sadaam's face, put there by Cpl Chin of Brooklyn, son of Cambodian holocaust survivors. "Unfortunate," says ABC's Resident Jennings from Canada. One of glum news people. Good news from BD is bad news for Dem presidential candidates, except for Gephardt and Leiberman.
Most glum: Peter Jennings rated highest for glum in right-wing (-leaning?) Media Research Center poll of its readers w/78%, next was Peter Arnett (Baghdad Peter) with a mere 17%. To Canuck Jennings goes the prize. Best to see him as citizen of the world, as he describes himself, that arch patrician.
Chi Trib TV writer Steve Johnson is preparing a long Tempo article on this glum factor -- just kidding: What interests Steve (bothers him, that is), is the roaring success of Fox News, where being glum is not an option. (Actually, later he did a glowing piece about the funereal Aaron Brown, whom he found so intellectual-looking.)
LEADERSHIP. . . 4/11: Rep. Pelosi still vs. war, no regrets. Says we could have toppled that statue for less (money? effort?). Such a dear. At rally for troops, said success in large measure is owed to Clinton. I'll bet she just saying that because she's a Democrat. Roma on WLS says in a pic of her on Drudge Report she looks like BD Bob. I didn't dare look.
TRUTH TO TELL . . . Sadaamite minders gone, media are free to report. LA Times tells of hotel worker who says now he can talk. BD-based journalists, CNN et al., have been useless or worse, going along with minders. Better they were kicked out of Iraq, at loss of access and audience, than to mouth Sadaam line with hardly a wink to clue us in.
We the CNN audience paid a price for that, in our being badly informed. CNN man in NY Times told of news they kept to themselves. He defends himself solely in terms of protecting Iraqis, not a word about deceiving viewers. Betraying us.
When all is said and done, is CNN really the most trusted name in news, as it says on its screen logo?
Would you buy a used car from that news operation?
GREAT MEN . . . 4/10: Arabs were shocked at fall of statue, etc., as they were shocked at end of the Six Day War, when Nasser of Egypt caught his lunch. Their hero. They are geared to the Great Man experience far more than Euros and North American cousins, apparently.
Theirs is a more primitive approach. It's a question of degree, but degrees matter. We dote on great or supposed great men too. Consider the JFK and MLK cults, to name two that endure despite post-mortem revelations of rampant (raging?) infidelity and other kinks in armor. (They kinky?)
. . . Horrible Udai (Uday), son of Sadaam, recruited soccer players from playgrounds, made them Olympic team members and national heroes, then killed them to show his face of terror to the people. A sucker play for sports fans. See Sports Illustrated
story by Don Yaeger.
.IT'S CARY GRANT WITH "JUDY, JUDY, JUDY" . . . 4/11 at CNN, undertakers Judy Woodruff and Aaron Brown in charge. Brown shows Rumsfeld vociferous about "mood swing" coverage, headline after headline with bad news: "You'd think we were losing the war." Then Brown turns funereally to his commentators, just before this viewer hits remote. Editorializing with a look.
.GRRRRR . . . 4/10, tendentious headline of the day in Chi Trib is "War Hawks: Top-level aides bare their teeth at Syria" for Newsday story which has "aggressive stance" toward Syria in lede graf, "menacing public remarks" in 2nd, Rumsfeld speaking "ominously" in 3rd (not "sternly," as a non-teeth-baring leader would be described). Newsday story is quite good anyhow, but "bare teeth" does call feral creatures to mind and constitutes undisciplined Trib-speak. (5/1/03)