Sweet smell of success

Washington Post kills a piece criticizing pre-war Iraq coverage, runs a ridiculous piece about how journalists didn’t “fail” on Iraq, they just didn’t succeed.

But “failure” grossly oversimplifies what the media did and didn’t do before the war, and it ignores important reasons the reporting turned out the way it did. As new threats loom, from Iran to North Korea, better understanding these circumstances can help us assess what happened and whether we’re better positioned today.

Here’s how it works with “threats” from Iraq and North Korea: if the right interests want to bomb those countries, “journalists” at the Post will be happy to supply the “evidence” of WMDs.

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181 replies
  1. 1
    Jerzy Russian says:

    I did not know that “did not succeed” is not the same as “failure”. Somehow, saying “I stand before you as someone who did not succeed” does not sound the same as “I stand before you as a failure”.

  2. 2
    Baud says:

    This is the Post’s “depends on what the definition of is is” moment.

  3. 3

    That is some paragraph. Brings to mind this commentary:

    But, listen, let’s review the rules. Here’s how it works. The President makes decisions. He’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put ’em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration? You know, fiction!

    Because, really, what incentive do these people have to answer your questions, after all? I mean, nothing satisfies you. Everybody asks for personnel changes. So, the White House has personnel changes. And then you write, “Oh, they’re just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.” First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring! If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg!

  4. 4
    Anya says:

    As stupid as this John Harwood tweet.

  5. 5
    the Conster says:

    Wow, what a steaming pile of not success. I wonder who they think is buying this steaming pile.

  6. 6
    Baud says:

    To be fair, the press intends to compensate for their shortcomings by overhyping some minor Democratic policy error. So it’s all good.

  7. 7
    Aimai says:

    So: complicity in war crimes and the deaths of hundreds of thousands is not as bad as ” grossly oversimplifying” in assigning blame for specific failures of journalistic practice and moral responsibility? Check.

    By the way on this very topic I saw an unbelievably brilliant four actor performance of shaw’s St. Joan last night in New York. The scene where the most bigoted English inquisitor finally sees what burning someone to death looks like is horrifying and apposite to this discussion as well as one of the if the last lines ” must we crucify Christ in every generation for the sake of people with no imagination?”

  8. 8
    amk says:

    still peddling the “evil axis” meme. unbelievable.

  9. 9
    Davis X. Machina says:

    …if the right interests want to bomb those countries, “journalists” at the Post will be happy to supply the “evidence” of WMDs.

    It’s not their job to supply the “evidence” of WMDs – that would have them fabricate things, and have them inject themselves into the story.

    That’s not passive enough. And it smells like work.

    It’s their job to uncritically retail, and in the retailing, validate, other Very Important People’s “evidence” of WMD’s.

    Look at it this way: ask “Under similar circumstances, what would I.F. Stone have done?”

    And then go do — which usually means not-do — the opposite.

  10. 10
    Mark-NC says:

    “better understanding these circumstances can help us assess what happened and whether we’re better positioned today”

    That is absolutely CORRECT. They have assessed that they lied for the war effort and there are no repercussions at all.

    Next time around – damn the torpedoes, lie with impunity because there is no down side!

    Let the bombing commence – weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  11. 11
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Jerzy Russian:
    This.

    You’d think the Washington Post would at least know enough not to put the excuse-making in the headline itself.

  12. 12
    pamelabrown53 says:

    @the Conster: That “steaming pile of not success” brought to you by Paul Farhi, Friend of Howard Kurtz. Kinda reminds me of the RNC’s “autopsy report”.

  13. 13
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    We put “journalists” to death after WWII for propagandizing for the Nazis.

    Just sayin’.

  14. 14
    Mike in NC says:

    What, no WaPo op-ed by someone like Doug Feith to claim the war was a spectacular success?

    Disappointing.

  15. 15
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    This why I want the draft returned. Let’s face it sportsfans, the writers at Slugline(oops) I mean the WP(and add ther New York Times too) had no skin in the game with their loved ones fighting or dieing, so they can be cavalier about making an oopsie about the war. If one of these vermin, had to bury their child at Arlington, Bush,Cheney Perle, Wolfowitz and the rest of the scum would have been roasted over a spit. All those dead soldiers, sailors, Marines and Airman don’t mean Jack Shit to them, they are lumpen, meant to die for the Empire.

  16. 16
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Amir Khalid: If they had any sense of tradition, they’d put the actual excuse-making in the Walt Pincus Memorial News Hole on page. A23.

  17. 17
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @reflectionephemeral:

    Brilliant.

    Colbert knew he had one shot at these assholes, because if he scored hits below the waterline, he’d never be invited back.

    He was right all around.

  18. 18
    pamelabrown53 says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Once you go “Nazi” you cannot go back.

    Just sayin’.

  19. 19
    Jennifer says:

    Let’s not be overly harsh, here. But “failure” grossly oversimplifies what the media did and didn’t do before the war… is not an inaccurate statement, in that “failure” does not mean “suckled the Bush administration’s dick while tenderly cradling and manipulating its balls.” “Failure” is, indeed, an inadequate descriptor of what the WaPo and other major media did and didn’t do before the war.

  20. 20
    cathyx says:

    Just because I wasn’t right, it doesn’t mean I was wrong. It’s like when your child plays a team sport and no one keeps score and everyone gets a trophy.

  21. 21
    LosGatosCA says:

    The press’s failure was no greater than the public’s failure.

    After 9/11 the people wanted some dogs to kick and Cheney/ Bush gave them Afghanistan and then Iraq. The press just followed along for the ride. American society failed as a whole, the press just did their share.

    I don’t believe for a single minute that the press is owned by the government. Rather both are owned by big business. When they sound the same (daily) it’s not that they (government and press) are colluding, it’s simply that they following orders from the same master.

    Similar circumstances in the future will lead to nearly the exact same outcome / result in the future. Count on it

  22. 22
    maya says:

    You know who else just “didn’t succeed”?

  23. 23
    namekarB says:

    One can only conclude that the Post article on reporting failures was not a success

  24. 24
    kay says:

    “It wasn’t impossible for skeptics of the war to connect the dots”

    That’s the standard? Impossible? Aren’t they aiming sort of low there?

    It’s very simple in real life. When one is dead wrong, one loses credibility. That’s the price of being dead wrong. To regain credibility on Iran or North Korea, they’ll have to earn it. They can’t just demand it back. It doesn’t work like that.

  25. 25
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Full of FAIL NOT SUCCEED.

  26. 26
    ChrisNYC says:

    Wow. One of the examples of a skeptical headline is, “Audacious Mission, Awesome Risks; Bold War Plan Emphasizes Lightning Attacks and Complex Logistics.”

    Sounds like the voiceover for a Die Hard trailer.

  27. 27
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @kay:

    To regain credibility on Iran or North Korea, they’ll have to earn it.

    Way too much work involved in that. Which is why we should just give it to them, because they’re such cool kids!

  28. 28
    PaulW says:

    The problem is that the ones “certified” to determine the “credibility” of the media is the media itself. For some reason, we’re not allowed to charge newspapers that screw up on a regular basis for things like Fraud and Malpractice.

    Without court action, there is no accountability for the media.

  29. 29
  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @cathyx:

    It’s like when your child plays a team sport and no one keeps score and everyone gets a trophy.

    The difference is that those teams are supposed to be teaching the kids how to play the sport and developing their skills so that they can use them in later years when scores are kept. The MSM is supposed to be the major leagues where the score counts.

  31. 31
    Ben Franklin says:

    @LosGatosCA:

    The American people were not asked to sacrifice anything (Civil-defense duty-collecting scrap metal, food-rationing) as they did in the so-called ‘good war’.

    Only the lower-middlle classes, with a sense of traditional military duty, sent their sons and daughters to supply the cannon-fodder, sacrificed in a pyrrhic way.

  32. 32
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @ChrisNYC:

    Well, the actual invasion plan wasn’t the problem.

    I mean, the invasion of Poland was well executed as well.

    This of course ignores the entire issue of whether the invasion was justified on any level at all. Another thing that is ignored (and the deserting coward malassministration knew it would be) was the aftermath. Our media, being entertainment oriented above all things, was totally into the “shock and awe” portion and totally oblivious to the boring occupation portion, which GEN Eric Shinseki pointed out would require a lot more warm bodies to properly perform than were available to deploy. For which he was shown the door as Army Chief of Staff.

    Just so much fail non-success to go all around with this. You could spend weeks documenting all the non-success.

  33. 33
    maya says:

    They were all suffering from that dreaded disease Journalism Jaundice.

  34. 34
    Jennifer says:

    @LosGatosCA: Disagree.

    The press’ failure was in large part the reason for the public’s failure.

    And just to remind everyone of a statistic that is generally ignored: on the eve of the invasion, well over half of the American public disapproved of going to war absent a coalition of the type that backed Desert Storm. That coalition was never assembled (but what about POLAND? you ask) and the war started anyway. Once it got underway, of course the majority swung to support it. Otherwise, they would have been labelled “unAmerican” “unpatriotic” and “traitors.”

  35. 35
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    The theorizing and rending of some garments over the decline of newspapers failed to mention one possible cause; they got it wrong on Iraq. Not only did they get it wrong, they did so cheerfully, willingly, and they carefully ignored any evidence contrary to the administration’s assertion that Iraq posed an existential threat to the U.S.

    The WaPo piece will do much to rebuild confidence.

  36. 36
    kay says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    “Give it back to us!”

    “No.”

    For ten years. They could have earned it back by now.

  37. 37
    pamelabrown53 says:

    @Anya: I clicked on your John Harwood tweet and I must say the responses were terrific.

  38. 38
    Jay in Oregon says:

    @maya:

    They were all suffering from that dreaded disease Journalism Jaundice.

    *clap*clap*clap* I see what you did there.

  39. 39

    @PaulW:
    I’m not sure about that. Aren’t television news and newspapers bleeding customers and dying a slow and horrible death? That is what happens when they lose credibility among actual Americans. It’s a cycle that’s likely to make them even more extreme and useless, and they may never understand what they’re doing wrong, but it is consequences.

  40. 40
    Suffern ACE says:

    The field was tilted. Administration officials hogged media attention with scary, on-the-record statements. On the other side, there were few authoritative sources countering them. Even Al Gore believed that Iraq had WMDs, said Doyle McManus, who covered the period for the Los Angeles Times.“The consensus was universal,” he says.

    Look, media, we aren’t saying th

  41. 41
    RareSanity says:

    As new threats loom, from Iran to North Korea, better understanding these circumstances can help us assess what happened and whether we’re better positioned today.

    I look forward to the Post’s in-depth analysis of the circumstances leading to them “not succeeding” in such a spectacularly disastrous manner.

    Surely the Post will deliver, we just have to be patient.

  42. 42
    VOR says:

    @Villigo
    Oh, they had a plan. Knock off Saddam, turn the country over to our good friend Ahmed Chalabi, and all American troops are out by Christmas. Chalabi then recognizes Israel and the entire Muslim world, swayed by his credibility, falls into line and also recognizes Israel thus ending the Palestinean problem. Chalabi also invites all the US oil companies in to flood the market with Iraqi oil.

    Yes, they had a plan. It was complete nonsense with no grounding in reality, but it was a plan.

  43. 43
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @kay:

    Like I said, too much work involved in earning it back. They’d have to skip a Georgetown party or two in the process, and those cocktail weenies aren’t going to eat themselves, you know…

  44. 44
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Jennifer: but in the heartland the war must have been popular in the runup. Or in New York with their two by four vigilantes. What happens when you eliminate those enclaves of drag queen leftists on the coasts?

  45. 45
    ChrisNYC says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Exactly. The invasion plan was not the issue of the failure but he uses that headline as an example of “that doesn’t sound like failure.” Plus, bold, audacious, risky and complex — particularly in our political press — are ALWAYS complimentary, not critical words. The whole article is mushy, heavily modified assertion supported by not-on-point example.

    I particularly like when he says that Leslie Gelb analyzed 574 stories on Iraq, and you’re thinking, “Ok, here he’s going to say, 35% were critical, x% were not, y% were about peanut butter.” But no, Gelb comes out with this Zen koan of a conclusion: “The elite press did not embarrass itself to the degree widely assumed — nor did it distinguish itself. Only episodically did our best news outlets provide the necessary alternative information . . . ask the needed questions . . . or present insightful analysis about Iraq itself.” That conclusion has no meaning at all, but it’s offered as proof. Ironic, really.

  46. 46
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    I was living in the USA at that time. It was obvious to me; and I bet, to most foreigners living in the country that there was no case for a war. It was also obvious that the media was lying to the American public, and spinning furiously.
    Most people outside the USA were not discussing Iraq’s WMD AT ALL. They were all wondering whether the war for oil would be sold and be successful.
    If you had any questions about Iraq’s WMD, all that you would have to do was ask a foreigner. The “debate” about the WMDs never existed around the world.
    The next time such a question comes up, you are better off listening to the international news, news in such places as *gasp* Africa or South Asia or East Asia or Latin America or even beloved Europe than the American media.

  47. 47
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: Not only did they get it wrong, they did so cheerfully, willingly, and they carefully ignored any evidence contrary to the administration’s assertion that Iraq posed an existential threat to the U.S.

    and with very few exceptions, have learned nothing. Charlie Pierce, in a typically Piercian flourish, told Bush’s henchmen, in government and the media, to shut the fuck up and go away. Jonathan Chait, in one of his more Villagey moments, extended Pierce’s target to all war supporters, and with prim Broderism suggested this is not the way to have a dialogue. Leaving that sleight of hand aside, I don’t want to have a “dialogue” with people who have not only learned nothing, but who show not a trace of humility in the lethal wake of their stupidity. Tom Friedman is the most obvious example, but more galling is Bob Schieffer and whoever makes decisions at CBS actually fucking hiring fucking Condoleeza fucking Rice as a fucking commentator. I don’t think she’s quite as unhinged as the sociopath Rumsfeld or the psychopath Cheney, she’s simply as dumb and arrogant as her circumstances and the trajectory of failing up in the age George W Bush– and apparently Walter Cronkite’s old news department– demand.

  48. 48
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @ChrisNYC:

    Plus, bold, audacious, risky and complex — particularly in our political press — are ALWAYS complimentary, not critical words.

    Two state religions in DC, the Cult of the Gut and the First Church of Savvy.

  49. 49
    sparrow says:

    @Aimai: where at? been needing an excuse to get out B’more for a while…

  50. 50
    Ben Franklin says:

    From outside the bubble.

    This is not good….http://www.independent.co.uk/n.....43224.html

    “Nasa chief Charles Bolden was somewhat less reassuring, however, when asked this week for advice on how to handle a large asteroid headed toward New York City.

    His suggestion: Pray.

    Mr Bolden gave his stark advice to lawmakers at a US House of Representatives Science Committee hearing on Tuesday, telling them that all that anyone in the US, or indeed anywhere, could do about unknown asteroids or meteors on a collision course with earth is offer up a prayer.”

  51. 51
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    I am reminded of the moron NYT guy who wrote the article “Should the media be Truth Vigilantes?”. His point was that they were “just” reporting. But their “reporting” somehow always favored their government’s version, just magically. And the moron was pretending that was just an accident.
    Remember the “radical cleric al-Sadr”? Almost every article on Iraq during the insurgency called him the same way “radical cleric al-Sadr”. Who decide to put that “radical” in front of his name? I have no idea, but there it was, in most news articles.
    If you were just “reporting” you should call him “Mr. al-Sadr” – no?

  52. 52
    Suffern ACE says:

    @VOR: you left out the mop up operations if the last vestiges of Islamic Fascism in Iran and Syria and Sudan. Five wars-five years.

  53. 53
    Anya says:

    @pamelabrown53: I know. They didn’t go for the insult instead they reasonably schooled him on the role of journalists. How depressing is it thought that Mr. Harwood doesn’t know that.

  54. 54
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Ben Franklin:

    Prayers are inexpensive. Actually doing something costs money.

  55. 55
    Pooh says:

    Torches. Pitchforks.

  56. 56
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    His point was that they were “just” reporting.

    Yes. The Myth of Objectivism. It is impossible to be objective. Everyone, especially journos, have selective perception. What they mean is ‘he said, she said’, IOW their idea of objectivism is to merrily report what some politico said today, without the context of past statements and behavior. It would be too subjective to do that.

  57. 57
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @Ben Franklin: But I thought the dudes at NASA, think shit up to deal with these crisis, and have other dudes think shit up to back them up? I mean can we really afford to have the planet saved by bunch of roughnecks we wouldn’t trust with a potato gun?

  58. 58
    jamick6000 says:

    @Anya: good find. what a straw man!

  59. 59
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    More John Harwood:

    John Harwood ‏@ JohnJHarwood 11m
    Yes @theonlyadult: @ JohnJHarwood @ LauraChapin Are you denying that the press cheered for going to a war and painted any dissent as treason?

    I don’t remember Harwood’s own reporting on Iraq, but I will say that he strikes me as one the better High Villagers, and someone who hews to reporting rather than opinion, but he’s pretending that that line is clear in his profession and in the broader culture. What was Richard Cohen’s “only a fool, or a Frenchman, could doubt” Colin Powell but cheerleading and a smarmy, incongruously juvenile accusation of treason? And that’s from one of the Post’s “liberal” columnists, I don’t even want to dig back in the swamp of Charles Lane, Krauthammer and the rest of the Marty Peretz trained goons who infect the WaPo op-ed pages. And if I had shared a lunchroom with Judy Fuckin’ Miller, I’d be a lot more humble defending my profession and my institution.

  60. 60
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    I cringe at complex.

    There’s an old principle in the Army…KISS

    Keep It Simple, Stupid.

    The more elaborate a plan is, the more likely it is to fail not-succeed.

    The military’s invasion plans were pretty simple, really. The logistics of supporting such a plan are quite complex, but logistics is boring, so little chance of the Villagers taking a look at that. Like I said before, “shock and awe” was as much for the cretins of the Village as it was for Saddam and his loyalists.

    The dumbasses fall for it every fucking time nowadays. Totally unlike Uncle Walter seeing things on the ground and realizing that he’d been fed a banquet of bullshit.

  61. 61
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee:

    I am concerned because NASA overlooked a funding opportunity. They’v never passed up a buck before.

  62. 62
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee: you know, with enough potato guns aimed with moderate precision, we could launch a number of potatoes in a quantanty significant enough to create a gravitational pull that would divert the asteroid. The Idaho solution.

  63. 63
    jamick6000 says:

    while we’re talking about the washington post, check this out:

    David Ignatius: John McCain brings back the maverick

    lmao talk about becoming a caricature of yourself.

  64. 64
    Chris says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    Dumb, arrogant, and a yes-woman. Articles I read about her in the latter years reported several of her old bosses, all with varying ideologies, who had all thought she agreed with their worldview.

  65. 65
    Jennifer says:

    They can get by with selling this shit to people who only occasionally pay attention to their rag of a paper – casual news consumers. It’s only among folks who really pay attention that the depth of their culpability becomes glaring. For us, it’s impossible to forget how each week, they assiduously pimped a different lie…until it was debunked. The debunking would get passing mention on page 10E, while they moved on to pimping the next lie on the front page. Let’s recount them, shall we? WMD’s – Hans Blix and his team raised the flag on that – kept saying, “we’re going to where they tell us they are, and there’s just nothing there.” Scott Ritter said the same, but how can you believe a pervy child molestor who may or may not have been the victim of trumped up charges designed solely to discredit him? The aluminum tubes – the director of Oak Ridge Laboratories stated publicly that tubes of the type found could not have been used for uranium enrichment. WMD manufacturing sites which turned out to be concrete factories. Anthrax drones of death – one would have thought the media would have been embarrassed to pimp something so Dr. Evilish. One would have been wrong. Mobile bioweapons labs – yes, canvas-sided transport trucks provide exactly the type of sterile environment needed for bioweapons engineering. Stats cribbed from grad thesis papers written 10 years previously, presented to the UN as new information.

    I could see it, because I pay attention. But to your average Joe flipping through channels in the evening, he would have seen the claim but never the debunking, because the media spent approximately 2000% more time and effort in pimping the claims than in educating their audiences about the evidence of their untruth. For fuck’s sake, the day we had the anti-war protests – in which tens of millions, worldwide, all turned out on a blustery February day to show their opposition to the war…something literally UNPRECEDENTED in the entirety of human history…CNN devoted about 12 seconds to covering it, and predictably, focused on the less than 1/4 of 1/10th of 1 percent of protestors who were not 100% peaceable. Instead, CNN’s covereage that day was focused on “what reporters are doing to get in shape for covering the war.” In newspapers, it landed not on the front page but buried within, sometimes deeply within, depending on the editorial slant of the paper in question.

    Keep fucking that chicken, major media. It’s why you won’t be around much longer. Because the people who do give a shit and do pay attention know better than to believe you, and the ones who don’t can just as easily get their “news” delivered via Twitchy, Fox, and Jim Hoft.

  66. 66
    Johnnybuck says:

    @LosGatosCA:

    After 9/11 the people wanted some dogs to kick and Cheney/ Bush gave them Afghanistan and then Iraq. The press just followed along for the ride. American society failed as a whole, the press just did their share.

    Give the people what they want.

  67. 67
    Cacti says:

    It’s not that the media failed…

    It’s that most of them didn’t even care if they succeeded. Being popular was far more important than being right.

    And the smarmy fuck that penned that article needs a punch in the d*ck.

  68. 68
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @VOR: Then they were going to turn Iraq into an Ayn Rand showcase, of Free Market Xanadu! Of course by firing every native Iraqi who had the bad taste of being in the Ba’ath Party, and replacing them with foreigners at sub-Wal-mart wages. Including American truck drivers who thought they make some good coin driving trucks of stuff, on those roads from Baghdad to Mosul. Plus don’t forget the new design for the Flag of Iraq and a new constitution written by a professor at New York University What could possibly could go wrong?

  69. 69
    👽 Martin says:

    @Jerzy Russian:

    I did not know that “did not succeed” is not the same as “failure”.

    I would argue that they’re different. ‘Did not succeed’ suggests that the failure was out of your control:

    My effort to mow the lawn did not succeed because it rained unexpectedly.
    My effort to mow the lawn failed because I watched TV all day.

    Of course Iraq was entirely in our control. The decision to go or not go was ours alone to make. So, obvious failure. There’s no rational way to paint the outcome as not in our control.

  70. 70
    scav says:

    @Suffern ACE: And the heat from the encounter would mean their remnants fall back to the earth as fries. Brilliant!

  71. 71
    👽 Martin says:

    @Cacti:

    It’s that most of them didn’t even care if they succeeded.

    They succeeded. They got headlines. They got on Fox News. They got promoted and raises. That’s what matters in the free market.

  72. 72
    Cacti says:

    @👽 Martin:

    I would argue that they’re different.

    Failure suggests that you gave an honest effort, but it wasn’t enough.

    It’s pitiful that the whore media now tries to glom onto the efforts of the few journos with integrity, who actually did that.

  73. 73
    Mike G says:

    Shorter Washington Pest:
    Personal responsibility is only for the little people.

  74. 74
    Todd says:

    @VOR:

    Chalabi also invites all the US oil companies in to flood the market with Iraqi oil.

    Goddammit, I’m kinda tired of seeing this “steal their oil” nonsense.

    Oil manipulation in geopolitical strategy involves imposing instability and a potential lockdown of big producers so as to create instabilities which can justify futures increases on the basis of “investor fears”.

    This won’t get solved until you regulate and drive hedge funds from energy futures markets.

  75. 75
    Violet says:

    Don’t forget David Gregory saying he believed “the right questions were asked” about the Iraq War. Perhaps he meants those questions asked by people who weren’t journalists and asked to people who weren’t involved in decision making about the Iraq War. Because I sure didn’t see very many actual journalists with any platform asking tough questions of those in power.

  76. 76
    gene108 says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee:

    This why I want the draft returned.

    Had a co-worker, who got drafted and did a tour in Vietnam.

    There was another guy, who he had set up a meeting with, who also got drafted during the Vietnam era. The other guy spent a year in Germany.

    Even with the draft, there’s no guarantee, who goes into the danger zone.

    Both of these gentlemen had middle-class backgrounds.

    I’d think, if there was a draft, you’d see the kids and grandkids of the well connected doing tours in Germany or Japan, so like Bush, Jr. a generation later, they could safely say they discharged their duty to the country.

    I don’t think there’s any way for the well-to-do to have any skin in the game, when we go to war. Their patriotism ends, when their lives or the lives of their next of kin are involved and I don’t see a draft changing that.

  77. 77
    JPL says:

    @Ramiah Ariya: It depends on the meaning of the word reporting. The Republicans send out talking points every day and the media obliges them by reporting the talking points.

  78. 78
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Cacti: yep. Cite Murrow, pretend it was everywhere. Somerby has been funny this week, with writers remembering their opposition, that was either private or made semi-publicly in places like a conference forum in key west where they knew no one would much notice.

  79. 79
    scav says:

    Might very well be nearing the platonic ideal of (certain) white man’s problems: Wine fraud lawsuit is a test of bottle for billionaire Bill Koch

    It is a lawsuit with a heady body: nuclear scientists, dodgy wine labs and allegations of a culture of fraud all feature in the civil action brought by a man whose single-minded trail of those he deems responsible for flooding the wine market with fakes has seen him likened to Captain Ahab, the pursuer of Moby Dick.

    Certainly the money pumped into the case is of whale-like proportions. Greenberg’s lawyers say Koch – who is worth an estimated $4bn – has ploughed “seven or eight million” dollars into the case. The total worth of the wines in question runs into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  80. 80
    Mandalay says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    But their “reporting” somehow always favored their government’s version, just magically.

    Exactly. Here is a great example of such government “reporting”. Christiane Amanpour carefully crafts bullshit questions to smear French President Jacques Chirac in an interview:

    People feel…they are asking, ‘what happened to our friendship? Does France remember who liberated them? Why is France betraying us?’

    You profess to love the United States. As I said, many Americans feel betrayed.

    The fact is, Mr. President, that in America many people think it’s just because you are a friend, a pal of Saddam Hussein.

    Can I ask you again about the nuclear reactor at Ossirac? You know, a lot of people called it “Os-Chirac”, as you know.

    Of course, in America, in Britain, they call you an appeaser, that you are appeasing this terrible dictator who may have weapons of mass destruction.

    The words she uses to smear Chirac are very carefully crafted:
    – “Why is France betraying us” (because France did not agree about invading Iraq).
    – “you profess” (implying Chirac is a liar).
    – “a pal” (implying Chirac and Saddam Hussein were personal friends).
    – “a lot of people called it “Os-Chirac” (just a blatant lie)
    – “they call you an appeaser” (using a variation of the old “some say” trick)

    It’s one thing to be confrontational and ask tough questions when interviewing political figures, but Amanpour just used the opportunity to attack Chirac personally. Amanpour is a spineless government lapdog hack.

    Still Chirac has had the last laugh. No major politician was more astute and accurate about the flimsy evidence for invading Iraq, and the clusterfuck that would arise from invading Iraq.

    And Amanpour is still a hack.

  81. 81
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Violet: When Gregory says “right questions”, he means the type of questions that earn a Sunday morning hosting gig.

  82. 82
    I am not a kook says:

    @Ramiah Ariya: What, you’re telling me the Shia don’t have a hierarchy of titles like assistant radical cleric, junior radical cleric, radical cleric, senior radical cleric… I thought it must have been his official title given how the media used it.

  83. 83
    Comrade Jake says:

    EPIC NOT SUCCESS

  84. 84
    raven says:

    @gene108: There’s no guarantee of anything. During Vietnam the draft was rigged from jump street, google “Project 100,000”. If you were in college you would get a deferment so they took 100,000 a year that didn’t meet basic military requirements. So yea, there’s is always a way to game the system but I’m all for universal, and I mean universal, service. I don’t care if it is military or something oriented to other forms of public service.

  85. 85
    Pooh says:

    @scav: This is the “Billionaire’s Vinegar” shit, right?

  86. 86

    It was some Bush Administration flak named, I think, Fran Townsend who once started talking on the TV about how successful Bush had been as president, and listing one of Bush’s successes as his capture of Osama Bin Laden — when the interviewer called her on it, she said “its a success that hasn’t happened yet.”
    I always thought that was an amazingly convenient point of view — taking credit for something you haven’t actually accomplished is just “a success that hasn’t happened yet.”
    So crediting the US media for being opposed the Iraq War? Just another success that hasn’t happened yet.

  87. 87
    the Conster says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    The word “insurgent” drove me crazy with every use because the underlying assumption was that Iraqis should have just quietly submitted to an invading and occupying army that obliviously demolished every one of their social institutions – an occupying force from a country whose denizens have more than a passing familiarity with the expression “WOLVERINES!”

  88. 88
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    7 military helicopters just flew low over my house. Red Dawn has begun people.

  89. 89
    👽 Martin says:

    @gene108:

    I don’t think there’s any way for the well-to-do to have any skin in the game, when we go to war. Their patriotism ends, when their lives or the lives of their next of kin are involved and I don’t see a draft changing that.

    Yeah, but a lot of the public support for Iraq would have dried up and blown away as soon as the middle class started imagining their family members getting yanked out of their jobs/college and away from their families and sent off. And I don’t think they could do college deferrals any longer – we send too many students to college now to pull that off.

    The well-to-do still would have been able to avoid it, but the war never would have happened if public support had collapsed.

  90. 90
    sharl says:

    @Jennifer:

    While I was awaiting evidence from GWB’s folks for WMDs – yes, I was far more naive than the critics who saw through the BS from the get-go – I DID notice that the government’s campaign to go to war looked suspiciously similar to their (then) recently successful campaign to pass what came to be known as “the Bush tax cuts”. Basically, it was throw-a-bunch-of-shit-at-the-wall-and-hope-enough-of-it-sticks.

    I had read enough to see through the bogus tax cut claims, so when I saw Dubya’s folks going to that same bag of tricks again, it was enough to set off alarm bells.

    For the Millionaire Media Corp$, apparently that was an acceptable feature, not a bug.

  91. 91
    Jennifer says:

    Hey, remember Bill Moyers interviewing Tim Russert on his reporting failures re: the war? Russert, with a look of utter surprise: “Well, no one ever CALLED ME and said ‘this isn’t accurate’.”

    A few years later, Russert dies and all his colleagues rush to gush over what a great “journalist” he was – and promote his even-more-of-an-idiot son to the media major leagues.

    Good times, good times…

  92. 92
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    It is very clear that the media was spewing propaganda. It is also clear from examples such as Christiane Amanpour (@Mandalay above) that it is IMPOSSIBLE that this was NOT a conscious propaganda. If we spend a couple of minutes thinking about it, all that we don’t know is the media’s motivations. We don’t know why they did what they did.
    Thus the question has never been about whether the media accidentally ended up enabling the war. Of course they did this consciously. Interviews such as Christiane’s does not happen by accident.
    The question has always been about the exact nature of their motivation. The “smoking gun” if you will.
    It is because there is no clear line of incentives between their propaganda, and their motivations that we are all forced to act as if the reporting was accidental. It is because of this, that the media continues to paint their critics as conspiracy theorists.
    Therefore their “inquiries” into their own reporting is laughable.

  93. 93
    Hungry Joe says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    You’d think the Washington Post would at least know enough

    You see where you went wrong there?

  94. 94
    the Conster says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    Careerism. Access is more important than truth.

  95. 95
    scav says:

    @Pooh: Wouldn’t have a clue. An accidental read where the titans of awesomeness seem to be misled by a guy with rubber stamps and stencils. Bottles might very well be filled with mixes of two-buck chuck and chateau thames plonk. Is that their vinegar? Poor dears.

  96. 96
    BethanyAnne says:

    I’m in the middle of Chris Hedges’ “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning”, and it’s terrific. and terrible. The way the journalists behaved is par for the course in the leadup to a war – they were awful, and they will be awful next time. Personally, I’ll treat them as credible next time they put a peace advocate next to the general on their shows.

  97. 97
    different-church-lady says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    Thus the question has never been about whether the media accidentally ended up enabling the war.

    You’re conflating two different things. The media did not enable the war; that war was going forward no matter what anyone said or did. The media could have objected or questioned, but it would not have made a scrap of difference.

    What the media could have done was investigated and reported, rather than go all-in on the thrill ride. But in the end, they only enabled the cover story, not the war itself.

  98. 98
    lumpkin says:

    Read this nice piece by Brad Delong.

    The D-Squared Digest One Minute MBA – Avoiding Projects Pursued By Morons 101

  99. 99
    Chris says:

    @the Conster:

    I thought it was legit. “Insurgent” accurately describes a group of militants in a state of rebellion against the authorities controlling their country. It says nothing about whether those authorities are native or foreign, legitimate or illegitimate, or whether the cause of the insurgents is worthwhile or not; you could apply it to groups ranging from the Ku Klux Klan to the French resistance.

    Certainly better than “terrorists.” It infuriated me when some reporters would breathlessly report every attack on an American convoy as “a terrorist attack;” not to put too fine a point on it, but attacking soldiers instead of civilians is the fucking definition of not being a terrorist.

  100. 100
    Chris says:

    @👽 Martin:

    This.

    It’s not the upper class that would be impacted, it’s the middle class. And that would have political repercussions that the AVF situation simply doesn’t.

  101. 101
    Jennifer says:

    @sharl: Well, good on you for viewing with the skeptic’s eye. As I was fond of saying back in the day, to people who were sold, sold SOLD on the “need” to go to war: “if your local prosecuting attorney tried to drag a case this weak into court, he’d be laughed out of the room by the judge, if not sanctioned for wasting the court’s time.” THAT was my litmus test – the fact that we know what people do when trying to win an argument, debate, or case: they bring the best they’ve got. So when all they had was corroded aluminum tubes, model airplanes, and concrete factories, the logical conclusion in my reasoning was “they don’t have any case…at all.”

    Our local paper is a MOTU conservative rag which of course furiously pimped the “case” for war. I wrote several letters in the runup to war and would be roundly admonished by the local bufords for my naivete. So a couple of months in, when the reality that there were no WMDs was sinking in, I wrote another letter. In this one, I roundly ridiculed the “case for war” as above, and concluded by saying, “although we’ve found no WMDs in Iraq, thank heavens we’ve also found no blue dresses. Otherwise, we might have an impeachable offense on our hands.” When the paper called to verify the letter and obtain permission to print, and noted they might do some editing for length, I told them they had permission to run it ONLY if they left the last sentences in. It ran, to the delight of the like-minded in the state, but just as the others drew the ire of the bufords, they once again wrote in to bemoan my pitiful naivete. Even when the con was staring them in the face.

    Sigh.

  102. 102
    Chris says:

    @sharl:

    While I was awaiting evidence from GWB’s folks for WMDs – yes, I was far more naive than the critics who saw through the BS from the get-go – I DID notice that the government’s campaign to go to war looked suspiciously similar to their (then) recently successful campaign to pass what came to be known as “the Bush tax cuts”. Basically, it was throw-a-bunch-of-shit-at-the-wall-and-hope-enough-of-it-sticks.

    Krugman said almost the exact same thing years ago.

    I’ll see if I can find the article (read it in a book-format collection of a bunch of his articles, hope it’s available online somewhere…)

  103. 103
    Petorado says:

    Honesty is the best policy not part of the Washington Post business model.

    Face it, the “news media” sees its mission as less about chronicling recent events for posterity and more about being an actor in determining how the future plays out. Of course the Washington Post cannot admit failure. The war happened just like they wanted it to.

  104. 104
    Mandalay says:

    Richard Perle was interviewed by NPR last week about the invasion of Iraq ten years ago:

    Montagne: Ten years later, nearly 5,000 American troops dead, thousands more with wounds, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead or wounded. When you think about this, was it worth it?

    Perle: I’ve got to say, I think that is not a reasonable question. What we did at the time was done in the belief that it was necessary to protect this nation. You can’t, a decade later, go back and say, ‘Well, we shouldn’t have done that.’

    So there you have it from the draft dodging Prince of Darkness: it is a not a “reasonable question” to ask whether invading Iraq was worth it.

    Why? Because shut up. That’s why.

    p.s. As the Nation points out, after Perle uttered that bullshit the NPR interviewer didn’t even follow up. How surprising.

  105. 105
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Chris:

    Note that the tied turned on Vietnam when suddenly the deferments that kept the sons of the middle class out of the shit went away.

  106. 106
    the Conster says:

    @Chris:

    Every attack was reported as an insurgent attack, and the press did as good a job reporting on the nature and reason for “insurgent” attacks as they did on the lead-up. No report I ever heard happened to mention that maybe Iraqis were doing to us what we would do to an occupying force in this country, if we didn’t have an army, police or civil service, jobs which we had just completely “liberated” the Iraqis from. There was, and still is, just a willfully blind set of assumptions about our rightness and the duty of our adversaries to just submit in the face of our awesome righteousness.

  107. 107
    geg6 says:

    @the Conster:

    Yup, that drove me crazy, too. I remember thinking “insurgents? Really. When Americans were invaded by what they considered to be a foreign army back in 1776, we called them patriots”. Hell, we didn’t even call the Viet Cong that. We at least gave them the respect to call them what they were whereas we made any Iraqis who objected to American aggression out to be criminals.

  108. 108
    Ben Franklin says:

    @different-church-lady:

    they only enabled the cover story, not the war itself.

    I’m not sure how you separate. The only reason for the dog-and-pony shows about aluminum tubes and mushroom clouds was to get the public on board. You think they would have ploughed forward with a significant public opposition?

  109. 109
    raven says:

    @geg6: Yea, the NVA were the insurgents.

  110. 110

    Only hippies can be wrong.

  111. 111
    different-church-lady says:

    @Ben Franklin: No, the dog and pony show was to try to get the coalition on board.

    There was significant public opposition. It was dismissed as hippie focus groups. War on. In the end they gave up on yellowcake and tubes and WMDs and all the other excuses and just went with “liberation”, which was something you couldn’t up-prove. They went through the motions, and when the motions didn’t add up they went through with the war anyway. There was no magic point where polls said they were allowed or not allowed.

  112. 112
    Mandalay says:

    @Chris:

    I thought it was legit. “Insurgent” accurately describes a group of militants in a state of rebellion against the authorities controlling their country.

    Your point would be valid only if the media had also referred to British and American troops as “invaders”. Then it would be a level playing field: insurgents vs. invaders.

    The term “insurgent” was clearly chosen to brand and smear all Iraqi opposition to the invasion (repeat: “INVASION”) as trouble making bad guys.

    I am amazed that you are defending the use of the term “insurgent” in US media propaganda.

  113. 113
    Maude says:

    The MSM wanted a war. It would be exciting. They would play hero reporter, even here at home. They had no intention of looking at any evidence that this was one big fat lie by Bu$hco.
    I’m playing Red Queen. Off with their heads.

  114. 114
    Jennifer says:

    @Maude: Yep. As noted, the protests didn’t get covered by CNN in favor of airing a “special report” about “what journalists are doing to get in shape for covering the war.”

    What disgusted me more than their cheerleading though, was their active suppression of reasonable opposing voices. They just took great pains to make sure they never made it on the air, or onto the Op-Ed page.

  115. 115
    Pooh says:

    @scav: Would recommend Billionaire’s Vinegar as a read then

  116. 116
    Ben Franklin says:

    @different-church-lady:

    There was significant public opposition.

    Winning hearts and minds in the US was key, they wanted the Coalition for the same reason as the UN….American Polls.

    Before the invasion in March 2003, polls showed 47-60% of the US public supported an invasion, dependent on U.N. approval.[1] According to the same poll retaken in April 2007, 58% of the participants stated that the initial attack was a mistake

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.....on_of_Iraq

  117. 117
    the Conster says:

    @Mandalay:

    Exactly. Think about how perception changes if it was consistently reported that our army was fighting the Iraqi Resistance, instead of an “insurgency”. Then I imagine unicorns and rainbows flying out of my butt and hundred dollar bills growing outside my windows, because the likelihood of either ever happening is zero.

  118. 118
    Haydnseek says:

    @Ben Franklin: NASA didn’t overlook a funding opportunity. They’ve been working on this for a long time. The funding was axed as a result of the sequester cuts.

  119. 119
    Ruckus says:

    @gene108:
    It isn’t necessarily the actual risk taken, it is the possibility of having to pay the maximum price. Take that out of the equation and you are correct a draft doesn’t accomplish much. Ask the person who was sent to Germany or my friend who spent 2 yrs in Colorado teaching language, if when they were drafted they wanted to go and to risk their lives for an illegal war. Lots of people never were called, like my two best friends, their numbers were too high while mine was 15. I joined jut before the lottery, I couldn’t take the stress of not knowing but I was sent to the east coast/europe. No reason why I didn’t get sent to Vietnam, just luck of the draw.

  120. 120
    Maude says:

    @Jennifer:
    That used to be called propaganda. Your comment, well said.

  121. 121
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Mandalay: what are some of the candidate words that would be more neutral than “insurgents”? Rebels? Opposition? Resistance? Uprising?

  122. 122
    raven says:

    @Ruckus: “just luck of the draw. ”

    Yup

  123. 123
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @FlipYrWhig: irregulars? Partisans? Guerrillas?

  124. 124
    jake the snake says:

    I’m in the middle of Chris Hedges’ “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning”, and it’s terrific. and terrible. The way the journalists behaved is par for the course in the leadup to a war – they were awful, and they will be awful next time. Personally, I’ll treat them as credible next time they put a peace advocate next to the general on their shows

    As long as the peace advocate is coherent. I remember some guy on Fox who was couldn’t put a intelligible sentence together as their fair and balanced anti-war advocate.

  125. 125
    Maude says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:
    #51 And report that he was providing social services and help to local people. He wanted foreign troops out of Iraq. Well, gee, I wonder why.

  126. 126
    raven says:

    @FlipYrWhig: the bad guys

  127. 127
    Mandalay says:

    @Jennifer:

    What disgusted me more than their cheerleading though, was their active suppression of reasonable opposing voices. They just took great pains to make sure they never made it on the air, or onto the Op-Ed page.

    Right. And those that did make it on air (Banfield, Donahue) got axed.

    And a corollary of that is the lack of hard questioning now of those who did support the invasion ten years ago.

    Perle’s astounding “don’t ask, won’t tell” comment last week (post 104 above) was not reported by any major news source.

    And Hilary Clinton still has some very serious explaining to do as far as I’m concerned.

  128. 128
  129. 129
    different-church-lady says:

    @Ben Franklin: And yet said UN approval was never clearly granted. The administration tried to spin it that way, but there was never a green light. War was going to happen with or without UN approval, and with or without popular approval. That doesn’t mean they weren’t working the refs, the media, the UN, NATO, and everyone else in sight. But none of that shit was going to stop them.

    The press could have done their jobs. Instead they decided the thrill ride meant more to them. The war would have happened either way. The difference would have been that it wouldn’t have taken 10 years for the condemnation to be universal.

  130. 130
    different-church-lady says:

    @Haydnseek:

    The funding was axed as a result of the sequester cuts.

    So… it’s Obama’s fault that all of humanity is going to get wiped out by a huge rock from the sky. I knew he was going to betray us, but I had no idea how big.

  131. 131
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @the Conster: from a quick googling, it looks like there are a fair number of Iraqis who use the term “Iraqi Resistance” themselves.

  132. 132
    I am not a kook says:

    “Insurgent”, hell, I’d be glad if any American over the age of four was laughed out of the room for using “bad guys” to describe opposition/enemy of the day.

  133. 133
    Mandalay says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    what are some of the candidate words that would be more neutral than “insurgents”? Rebels? Opposition? Resistance? Uprising?

    I think “resistance” is perfect. Neutral, unambiguous, and accurate.

    The BBC also frequently uses the neutral term “the authorities” to describe those in control. They may or may not be a government, and they may or may not be legal, but they have the upper hand. That said, there is generally something rotten about those in control when they resort to using that term.

  134. 134
    geg6 says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Resistance. That’s what they were, for the most part. During WWII, when France was occupied, that’s what those who fought against the Germans were called. The Iraqis who fought the occupation of Iraq weren’t insurgents, with all the bad connotations that mentally calls up in people’s minds. They were a resistence, fighting against the illegal occupation of their country. Personally, I don’t blame them. Were there some bad apples who got mixed in with that group? Yes, but that again is no different from the French situation sixty years earlier.

  135. 135
    the Conster says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Makes sense, but let me know when that term is used by our media to describe the Iraqis during our tenure there.

  136. 136
    Mark S. says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Evil doers.

  137. 137
    the Conster says:

    @Mark S.:

    I’d laugh at how ridiculous, simplistic and juvenile it would be to use those words – oh, wait….

  138. 138
    Mandalay says:

    @different-church-lady:

    The press could have done their jobs. Instead they decided the thrill ride meant more to them.

    Unfortunately, they couldn’t do their jobs, because if they did they would have lost their jobs.

    Chomsky pointed this out a long time ago; Roger Ailes doesn’t tell Sean Hannity what to say because he doesn’t need to. But if Hannity wasn’t saying what Ailes wanted to hear he’d be gone in a New York minute.

    Anytime you hear a talk show host bragging that nobody tells them what to say they are probably telling the literal truth, but the boundaries on what they can say are clearly understood, and do not get violated very often. (Limbaugh’s comments about Sandra Fluke is an exception that proves the rule.)

  139. 139
    Haydnseek says:

    @different-church-lady: His perfidy is such that it can be felt from light-years away. You do realize that he’s not from Kenya, but planet X-666 in an obscure system in the crab nebula……..

  140. 140
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Mandalay: of course because of the examples geg6 gives, “resistance” isn’t really a neutral term, it’s a glamorous one. (The Wikipedia entries on all these terms are surprisingly compelling–you can see how scholars and officials struggle to distinguish one from the other.) An interesting parallel of sorts from the 80s: “guerrillas” basically came to imply leftists in the 70s, so the Nicaraguan opposition got called the “contras.” And doesn’t it seem like “paramilitaries” always implies right-wing sympathies?

  141. 141
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @the Conster: oh, no, I get that — “resistance” has positive connotations, so that’ll never happen. The opposition groups in Libya or Syria or Iran can be called “the resistance,” because they’re opposed to _bad_ governments and militaries, not like us (cough).

  142. 142
    Ruckus says:

    So what do we do about the failed media?
    We know that it failed miserably and fully, with only a few voices in the wilderness crying out.
    What do we do to change that? Anything?

    I like BJ and many other blogs but what do we actually accomplish? We keep having these discussions about how crappy the media is but it hasn’t changed in years. Are we just the pointy end of the stick and not really a voice at all? And if so how do we change that?
    How do we get back to what we think our country should be and what does that even mean? Elections, sure that helps but we elected a grand sounding Dem and we still have at least in theory, unlimited executive power. Where are the better politicians? Could they get elected if we find them? What would they really do in office?
    I’m dismayed that what we see now is really no different that what has gone before, we just know about it a lot sooner. How did anyone know that Walter Cronkite was a good reporter? That we liked what he said or how he said it?

    I have no idea what to actually do next. I have asked OFA what I could do to help and have not gotten any answer. I rarely post on my blog because it seems pointless. A sense of community is nice, like we have here but is that all there is because it seems like that is not enough.

  143. 143
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    In case anyone felt that we weren’t being watched enough:

    The U.S. government is expanding a cybersecurity program that scans Internet traffic headed into and out of defense contractors to include far more of the country’s private, civilian-run infrastructure.

  144. 144
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Ruckus: if your motivating issue is executive power and how to limit it, I don’t see a lot of hope in the near future for that, alas.

  145. 145
    Heliopause says:

    As new threats loom, from Iran to North Korea,

    As long as laughably idiotic statements like this can be printed in the “serious” press none of the rest of it matters. You can’t succeed at journalism or anything else if your premises are absurd.

  146. 146
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Jennifer: Oy, Russert.

    TIM RUSSERT: I– look, I’m a blue-collar guy from Buffalo. I know who my sources are. I work ’em very hard. It’s the mid-level people that tell you the truth. Now-

    I’m sure there’s some kind of diagnosis for people, like Russert, McCain and Paul Ryan, who spend so much time constructing a phony persona that they come to believe in it themselves, what’s amazing is that they have found so many people, in positions of influence and even power, who bought and continue to buy into those automythologies.

  147. 147
    dance around in your bones says:

    I’d like to state, for the record, that I am not nor have I ever been a Republican.

    I was living in Baja at the time of the run-up to the Iraq war and with spotty access to news (neighbors would give me their old NYT’s and one could purchase the LA Times + San Diego UT; watching “news” on neighbors TV’s etc) and even from there I smelled a big fat skunk.

    The whole thing stunk. I knew they were going to go ahead with it no matter what. Colin Powell’s presentation gave me pause for about a minute, then I thought “Naw”.

    How come I, as a DFH living in Baja, could figure this out and the VSP/MSM could not? And these ass-covering reflections on the part of those mentioned above make me just want to puke.

    I also remember the news coverage of the beginning of the war (watched at a neighbor’s house, natch) as being as breathless and excited as a gorilla scenting a female in heat.

    Sickening.

  148. 148
    Violet says:

    Watched “Argo” last night. Lots of clips from actual news reports from the coverage of the Iran hostages. It’s shocking just how many of the people on those news clips then are still doing news today. Tom Brokaw. Diane Sawyer, Ted Koppel. Those people were at the top of their profession then–in 1979–and they’re still there. GO AWAY YOU MEDIA WHORES.

  149. 149
    geg6 says:

    @Ruckus:

    Well, I have kept in touch with the people who I worked with in OFA during ’08 and ’12. We’re not waiting around for anyone in the national organization to tell us what to do. We’re working our butts off trying to keep the PA GOP from rigging the electoral college here in PA. We’re fighting to get rid of the criminal piece of crap we have for a governor. We are screaming about that piece of shit’s decision to turn down the Medicaid expansion from Obamacare. We’re looking into how to tighten up the lax regulation of fracking here. We are looking to local issues and organizing around them.

    As for what to do about the media, I have come to the conclusion that I will not be giving them my eyeballs or eardrums. I don’t watch news on CNN any more and I’ve done the same with the WaPo, the NYT, ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR…and I’ve never once clapped my eyeballs on FOXNews. If I am in a place of business that has one of them on a tv in a waiting room or a bar area, I request that they change the channel or turn it off. If they balk, I tell them I will no longer be patronizing their business and tell everyone I know to do the same. I also tell them why and, for some reason, it generally works. I have cancelled subscriptions to news magazines and newspapers and told them why. I can’t change it all by myself, but if I learned anything from the Bush presidential disaster and runup to the war, it’s that if you keep your mouth shut and disapprove quietly, no one really knows about your objections and they can pretend that nothing is wrong. If you are loud and proud about your resistance to their stenography and propaganda, they can’t pretend nothing is wrong and that no one objects. I can’t change the world, but I can make my own a little bit better.

  150. 150
    Chris says:

    @Ruckus:

    Well, the population’s solution seems to have been to tune out. How many people actually read the papers or watch the major news channels anymore?

  151. 151
    Ruckus says:

    @FlipYrWhig:
    That’s certainly part of it but it is not the entire ballgame. I can imagine issues coming up that a president would have to just make extra-judicial decisions that effect all of us in some way. I think that is somewhat the nature of governments and leaders.
    The gist though was, do you like the media you have? Do you like the politicians that we have? Do you like the direction the government is going? Do you like that you have no real private life? Do you like that many have no jobs or prospects? Do you like that so many “religious” people are trying to legislate your body, well at least if you are female?
    And the list goes on and on.
    But we keep talking about it but I see/hear no rational ideas on how to change anything. And no I don’t have any either.

  152. 152
    Ruckus says:

    @geg6:
    Yeah I do the same. Maybe that’s all any of us can do. But I’d like to do more but need ideas.

  153. 153
    Fred says:

    But WAR is a good story so WAR is good for the bottom line.

  154. 154
    Mandalay says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    of course because of the examples geg6 gives, “resistance” isn’t really a neutral term, it’s a glamorous one.

    No, “resistance” is a neutral term, just like “authorities”. You are choosing to term it “glamorous” (???), but I don’t think it has the same “glamorous” feel to it as does (say) “freedom fighters”.

    The problem is that those opposing an invasion of their own country usually (though not always) have the moral high ground. The best way to muddy those waters is to give them a pejorative troublemaker tag such as “insurgents” or “rebels”.

    It’s interesting to note that the opposition to its Cambodia’s communist government was called
    the Cambodian Freedom Fighters, and our media was more than happy to use that name. One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s insurgent.

    I’m fine with “resistance” for all invasion scenarios, but if you don’t like it then what do you suggest?

  155. 155
    Mark S. says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    Reviewing the career of Mr Russert, I don’t see any time when he was some shoe leather reporter. I also found it weird that he was a 30 year source for Robert Novack. What the fuck kind of “journalist” is a source for another journalist?

  156. 156
    geg6 says:

    @geg6:

    I would also add that I support media that tells the truth and actually commits acts of journalism. Our local paper, the Beaver County Times, and the metro paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are two that I still subscribe to because they do that. Plus I love reading the letters to the editor from wingnuts screaming about their “liberal” slant and airing their crazy ideas about the president, the economy, climate, and war for all the world to see.

  157. 157
    Ruckus says:

    @Chris:
    Must be enough of them to allow the rich fuckers who own them to get richer, they sure aren’t going to nor have been throwing money at losing propositions year after year. One doesn’t get richer that way.
    How many years have we been hearing that old media is dying? Who is keeping it on life support and why? Or are we really kidding ourselves that we are anything more than fodder for the rich and powerful’s whims?

  158. 158
    Amir Khalid says:

    @dance around in your bones:
    Colin Powell’s UNSC presentation was what convinced me that the Bush 43 administration had no case whatsoever for invading Iraq. If that was all the evidence they had, then they had jack. It was never anything but a pro forma effort by the US; nobody was going to vote with them for military action, but a few too-close-for-their-own-good allies.

    It was truly sad to see Powell reduced to presenting inconclusive (at best) snippets of evidence one after the other, then bleating “But what else can it be?”.

  159. 159
    Violet says:

    @Ruckus:

    I have no idea what to actually do next. I have asked OFA what I could do to help and have not gotten any answer. I rarely post on my blog because it seems pointless. A sense of community is nice, like we have here but is that all there is because it seems like that is not enough.

    When Tim F. organized phoning in about the Obamacare then-bill, we did it and have heard from representatives that it made a difference. I know it’s not changing the media, but honestly, it’s not the media that will end up making policy. Change what happens for the actual representatives and they’ll tell the idiot media “they’re hearing a lot from their constituents about X” and it will turn into a talking point for the media.

    We had, what, one organized Call Your Congressperson push for gun regulations. It fell off the radar and here we are with almost nothing. Balloon-Juice folks are good at doing stuff when they’re encouraged to do so. How about a regular weekly “Call Your Congressional representatives” series. Pick a topic for a week or two or three. Or a new one every week. I don’t know.

    What I do know is bitching about it on a blog doesn’t change things. Doing things changes things. One easy thing we can all do it contact our representatives.

  160. 160
    Mandalay says:

    @Jennifer:

    A few years later, Russert dies and all his colleagues rush to gush over what a great “journalist” he was – and promote his even-more-of-an-idiot son to the media major leagues.

    That was his tribe, but history is (correctly) not being kind to Russert. His reputation was falling even before he died, and it continues to drop.

    Having almost everything you ever said in public recorded for analysis is harsh on your “legacy”.

    Maybe Cronkite would have suffered the same fate if teh internets tubes had been around back in his day.

  161. 161
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Mandalay: I was asking the question myself. Note the list of similar terms.

    IMHO, if “insurgent” has a negative spin, then “resistance” has a positive spin of similar intensity. “Insurgent” is like a slightly limp version of “rebel,” and “resistance” is a slightly more dignified version of “freedom fighter.”

    (I think “insurgent” is supposed to be neutral bureaucrat-speak, but like a lot of military terms, it starts to sound like a euphemism for The Enemy rather rapidly. Like how cops say “perpetrator” instead of “criminal,” but in about two seconds everyone knows what it really means.)

    “Opposition” or “opposition forces” is probably the most neutral. Also the least descriptive and the most circular, so not that useful.

  162. 162
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Mandalay: re: your example of Cambodia, I offered a similar example regarding Nicaragua above. Obviously the terms are steeped in spin and politics. My point is merely that “resistance” is too, chiefly because of the French Resistance and other instances of “resistance” being used to mean “fighters against fascism.”

  163. 163
    Mark S. says:

    @Mandalay:

    Conkite had the advantage of not being nearly as stupid as Russert. Also, no Luke Conkites popped up with plum network jobs right after Walter retired.

  164. 164
    dance around in your bones says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    I remember thinking at first “Well, it’s Colin Powell!” but as the presentation went on, I just started snickering. Really? This is what you’ve got? His stature in my eyes shrunk down to about one inch.

    One thing that really made me disbelieve the whole thing was Joe Wilson’s op-ed in the NYT. That affected my view most profoundly. Then, of course, what the Bushies did to his wife. The whole thing was a cock-up from the get-go.

    (see how I put two odd phrases from the English language together there? AND both with hyphens!)

  165. 165
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @dance around in your bones: Truly a comment worthy of the old heave-ho in the lean-to.

  166. 166
    Mandalay says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    It was truly sad to see Powell reduced to presenting inconclusive (at best) snippets of evidence

    Why? I see it as karma for past misdeeds.

    Besides, nobody made him spew those lies. He chose to do it.

  167. 167
    Ruckus says:

    @Mark S.:
    Good point about Cronkite.

  168. 168
    scav says:

    I’m just savoring Peter Mair saying to Boris Johnson: “You are a nasty bit of work, aren’t you?”
    Not necessarily the most deeply meaningful of interviews but toothsome. Video and Guard-take writeup.

  169. 169
    dance around in your bones says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Well, I am a devil-may-care kinda commenter.

    I raise you three hyphens.

  170. 170
    Mandalay says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Well I think you are overstating the connotations of La Résistance for Joe Sixpack, but “opposition” is also fine by me.

    I’ll alert the authorities that we have reached consensus on the term they must use in future.

  171. 171
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @dance around in your bones: I can do it vis-à-vis Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord.

  172. 172
    Mandalay says:

    @Mark S.:

    Conkite had the advantage of not being nearly as stupid as Russert.

    Probably not, but my larger point was that once you have a readily accessible corpus of everything a public figure has ever uttered you can make anyone look anyone look stupid. Cronkite dodged that bullet because he preceded teh tubes and modern technology.

    It’s pretty easy to play gotcha on Noam Chomsky and make him look like a real dumbass if you sift through everything he ever said, and select a handful of dumb/incorrect statements. But you have to ignore his other eleventy gazillion statements where he was right, and way ahead of the media.

    Of course the process for selecting dumb statements is a lot easier with Russert than Chomsky.

  173. 173
    Violet says:

    @scav: Oh, that’s delicious! Thanks for the link.

  174. 174
    dance around in your bones says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Curses, foiled again!

  175. 175
    sharl says:

    The bit with Tim Russert complaining to Bill Moyers that AND-TO-THIS-DAY-I-WISH-MY-PHONE-HAD-RUNG is in the transcript for Moyers’ “Buying the War” (about half-way down, or do a few Ctrl-Fs on Russert).

    Video from WGBH/PBS for Buying The War is also available. The same bit cited above is in Part-III, a bit beyond the 8m35s time stamp.

  176. 176
    Mark S. says:

    @Mandalay:

    Well that true. You could make any NBA player look like a shitty player by making a highlight reel of his worst shots and turnovers.

  177. 177
    sharl says:

    @sharl:

    The Russert-Moyers exchange IS on Youtube – video is crappy but adequate, audio is fairly good.

    Quite a trip down memory lane. I recommend the entire Moyers’ Buying The War program for folks who didn’t witness it in real time. But be careful to not trip over all the corpses along that path! Your health insurance (if you have any) probably doesn’t cover repair of any injuries that might result.

  178. 178
    Rev. Rick says:

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer described this as “cheap grace.”

  179. 179
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    You know where the term guerrillas comes from, don’t you?

    Spanish irregulars who harassed Napoleon’s army during the Peninsular campaign.

    They were “good guys” back then, because Boney was BAD!

  180. 180
    sharl says:

    DougJ (assuming you see this):
    Greg Mitchell posted the piece killed by WaPo on his own site, along with some background information.

    Submitted for your consideration for adding to the O.P.

  181. 181
    liberal says:

    @gene108:

    Even with the draft, there’s no guarantee, who goes into the danger zone.

    On a page discussing conscription somewhere on the Tubes, it was pointed out that a majority of those serving in ‘Nam were not conscripted. One reason it was the opposite in WWII was that they basically needed every warm body then. Another reason is that there was an idea that those who volunteered were put (on avg) in somewhat less dangerous places. The casualty stats appear to bear that out.

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