Sunday, July 30, 2006

The French make our journalists suck

Yep, we're on to excuse number God-knows-how-many why American journalists failed to do their job before the Iraq War. In one of those columns you see all the time from guys like Sebastian Mallaby, he praises the Bushies repeatedly, attacks their enemies in an off-hand manner and then pretends he's giving them a "talkin'-to." Aw shucks, he seems to say, they don't mean no harm.

I expect this kind of crap from Mallaby. He kisses ass. It's what he does and he's good at it, so why make him change, right?

But, in one of his toss away, unsupportable and utter bullshit remarks, he gives us yet another reason why he and other members of the fourth estate didn't do their jobs prior to the beginning of the Iraq War:
...just because European diplomats inhabit a fantasyland, it does not follow that the opposite to European policy is sound. This truth was ignored in the run-up to the Iraq war, when the French and others called for diplomatic containment of Saddam Hussein even though they themselves had undermined the sanctions option. This infuriating hypocrisy, and its obvious uselessness in dealing with a threat that Western intelligence agencies believed real, allowed the alternative policy offered by the Bush administration to escape scrutiny. U.S. officials spent their time explaining why the French option was unworkable -- an easy case to make. But they were not forced to answer enough questions about whether the intelligence on Iraq's weapons program was solid or whether they were prepared for the challenges of democratic reconstruction.
Ah, yes. How could journalists think to ask if Bush's information was true? It's not like some of what the administration was saying couldn't be proven by readily available information to be (at least) an obvious exaggeration. (Even the supposedly even-handed hawk Fareed Zakaria repeated that exaggeration, writing that, "The United Nations and the United States have accumulated powerful evidence of this over the past decade, including testimony from Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, Hussein Kamal, about Iraq's biological weapons." Of course, like Bush, he didn't mention that same son-in-law said they'd all been destroyed.) Then there are the directions we gave UN inspectors to what we said were weapons sites and how did they respond? They said we were giving them "garbage after garbage after garbage." All that garbage and not one journalist thought to ask, "What stinks?"

And, for God's sake: Aluminum tubes? That was proven to be controversial--at best--a week after it was tossed onto the pile of other crap. Yet, that wasn't enough to make any of you think, "Hey, I wonder what else might be wrong"?

Nope. Journalists were just too infuriated by French hypocrisy to ask meaningful questions, right? Congratulations on an ingenious dodge, Mr. Mallaby. It hurts my head so much I just have to gape in awe at God's sense of humor at making sure your intials were S and M.

I'm going to stick your excuse for press failure up on the WALL OF BULLSHIT, sir. Don't worry, it's got some illustrious company.

Remember Judith Miller's excuse that security clearances determine the level of truth and it wasn't her job to wonder if they might be full of shit?
My job was not to collect information and analyze it independently as an intelligence agency; my job was to tell readers of the New York Times as best as I could figure out, what people inside the governments who had very high security clearances, who were not supposed to talk to me, were saying to one another about what they thought Iraq had and did not have in the area of weapons of mass destruction.
You know Judy's got a permanent spot on THE WALL.

Remember your colleague David Ignatius' argument that journalists were just too darn professional to question our glorious leaders?
In a sense, the media were victims of their own professionalism. Because there was little criticism of the war from prominent Democrats and foreign policy analysts, journalistic rules meant we shouldn't create a debate on our own. And because major news organizations knew the war was coming, we spent a lot of energy in the last three months before the war preparing to cover it -- arranging for reporters to be embedded with military units, purchasing chemical and biological weapons gear and setting up forward command posts in Kuwait that mirrored those of the U.S. military.
Yeah, it's hard to bother with journamalism when you're packing your bags and, sure, I'll bet those plane tickets to Kuwait were nonrefundable, too. And, hell, asking questions might have screwed up the pool, too, since, according to Newsweek International's Dec. 16, 2002, issue the "smart money (was) on war beginning in February."

Hell, even the old lib'rul Debbil himself, Dan Rather, said it's impolite to doubt the President.
Look, when a President of the United States, any President, Republican or Democrat, says these are the facts, there is heavy prejudice, including my own, to give him the benefit of any doubt, and for that I do not apologize.
Yeah, I remember all the benefit of the doubt Clinton got.

The excuses go on and on, but the truth is, corporate media just sucks and the French had nothing to do with it. What are needed are better journalists, skeptical people who think that, just perhaps, evidenced should be marshaled and tested before we declare something "true." In fact, I know just the guy. His name's Sam P. and he wrote the following, which was published January 17, 2003:
I think the U.S. should wait until we get the final report from the U.N. inspectors before going to war with Iraq. We might be wrong about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. If we take the time and wait for the U.N. inspectors, we may save many lives.
Sure, that was just a letter to the editor, but he was way out in front of the rest of you. Sam wasn't part of the "mainstream media...cloaking the news in decorum" and then laughing along with Jonah Goldberg as he recycled old Simpsons jokes about the French. No, Sam was worried about the important things. He wanted to make sure we were right because lives were going to be lost.

There is one downside with hiring Sam, though. He can't drive himself to work. He wrote that letter to the editor to Time For Kids when he was 11*.


* Source Citation: "Dear TFK..." Time for Kids 8.13 (Jan 17, 2003): 7. InfoTrac OneFile. Thomson Gale. Apollo Group. 31 July 2006

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