Thursday, August 16, 2007

In absentia

My fine local daily, the LA Times, was criticized yesterday by many bloggers for burying the lede in a story on the progress of “the surge” in Iraq.

28 paragraphs into the article, which suggests that Petraeus will recommend repositioning troops rather than decreasing their numbers, this little nugget can be found:

Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.


The White House will definitely be getting inputs from the military. Definitely inputs from the military.

It’s no surprise that the LA Times, or the “Los Angeles Dog Trainer,” as political satirist Harry Shearer frequently calls it, might bumble a story. After all, this is the paper whose corrections page is frequently so unintentionally hilarious that Shearer devotes a feature of his radio show to it.

And if I can digress for just a moment on that point, take a look at these two items from the August 8th LAT online corrections posting:

Immigration legislation: An article in Friday's Section A about new immigration legislation introduced in Congress identified Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. as an Ohio Republican. He is from Wisconsin.

Um, how do you get that wrong, exactly? If you’re a political reporter, you have to know where Sensenbrenner is from. He’s been in the House since 1979, and was, until recently, the Chairman of a little thing called the House Judiciary Committee. And jeez, if you didn’t know what state he’s from, wouldn’t you look it up? Wouldn’t your fact checker look it up? Cripes, even Wikipedia got it right.

Anyhoo, error number 2:

Spy agency operations: An article in Saturday's Section A on the scramble to pass legislation before Congress' summer recess referred to the Foreign Intelligence Services Act. It should have said the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Okay, I know it was the Saturday paper. NOBODY reads any Saturday edition of any paper, anywhere, let alone the Saturday LA Times, but c’mon! FISA is all about surveillance! That’s why it was controversial, because it was concerning the surveillance of Americans. How can you be writing about FISA, and not know that the word “surveillance” is in the freakin’ name of the stupid freakin’ thing? Jeezy Creezy, you ask my cat, she could tell you what FISA stands for, for fuck’s sake.*

But I digress.

My point, I believe, was that the LAT is no stranger to journalistic lapses.

But they’re hardly alone in that. Even today’s Washington Post article on the September report of the surge, while acknowledging that it is a HUGE DEAL that the surge report will be coming from the same chefs that cooked the intelligence that got us into the war in the first place, and while reporting in-depth on BushCo’s machinations to keep the “on the ground” people from speaking in public on their findings, still managed to hide this morsel of choice towards the very end (emphasis mine):

Petraeus and Crocker have said repeatedly that they plan to testify after delivering private assessments to Bush. U.S. military and diplomatic officials in Baghdad appeared puzzled yesterday when told that the White House had indicated that the two may not be appearing in public. They said they will continue to prepare for the testimony in the absence of instructions from Washington. "If anything, we just don't know the dates/times/or the committees that the assessment will be presented to," a senior military official in Baghdad said in an e-mail yesterday.


Words fail me.

I guess I’m not the only one.

*Okay, I’m talking about my more intelligent and politically aware cat, Violet. The Banana only reads the real estate listings.


Bubs said...

This actually makes me feel a little better about Petraeus. Evidently he's not willing to do a Colin Powell for the W.H. and so the Bush admin is planning ahead to just make up lies on their own and present them without the benefit a military spokesman.

I've followed Petraeus' career for a while, and read a lot of the stuff he's written about counterinsurgency, and I'd become increasingly unhappy at the idea that he's just the latest in a shamefully long line of military careerists who have been willing to carry Bush's weight.

vikkitikkitavi said...

I'm not so sure your assessment of Petraeus is wrong. I don't think BushCo is worried so much about him toeing the line, as that he might be accidentally candid.

Skylers Dad said...

Did you catch the quote by Gaskin?

""It takes time to gain experience," he said. "I see that experience happening every day, but I don't see it happening overnight. I believe it's another couple of years in order to get them to do that -- and that's not a political answer, that's a military answer."

Breath easy troops, it's only another couple of years!

Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck

RandyLuvsPaiste said...

"Okay, I’m talking about my more intelligent and politically aware cat, Violet. The Banana only reads the real estate listings."

Comet is still the bigger wonk.

GETkristiLOVE said...

..and Buster doesn't read.

Off topic: I had no idea that lede was a word, and a synonym for lead.

deadspot said...

First, Pollyanna Petraeus is a douchebag.

Second, I have no second. This is so depressing I don't even know where to begin. It was bad enough that Petraeus, with his tenuous grasp of reality, was going to write this report. Having the White House write it? Damn.

Spooney said...

"*Okay, I’m talking about my more intelligent and politically aware cat, Violet."

All Violet ever says to me is "mackerel, mackerel!"

vikkitikkitavi said...

SkyDad: I think that guy is talking out of his ass. There are PLENTY OF PEOPLE in Iraq who have military and police experience. Holy fucking shit, that was our whole problem with them, remember? Saddam was a brutal dictator who oppressed his people? All of a sudden the Iraqis don't know how to protect themselves? Bullshit. I think the problem is not knowledge, it's resources and motivation.

GKL: "Lede" is one of those semantic fad words. In 5 years everyone will have gone back to "lead" again.
And Buster can so read, but he prefers books on tape.

DSpot: You've summed it up perfectly. Petraeus is all too willing to pull a Colin Powell. All they have to do is ask. But perhaps the WH feels he is not clever enough to lie effectively.

Spooney: You're her bitch. What do you expect her to talk to you about, the Nikkei?

Anonymous said...

Let me guess, your cat's favorite novel... "A Tail of Two Kitties?"

vikkitikkitavi said...

Actually, Violet only reads non-fiction.

gh said...

"Budweiser-swillin’, McDonald’s-snarfin’, Croc-wearin’, monster truck-drivin’ asses"

Is too easy. There's a lot besides our own apathy that keep us from being a meaningful threat to our government. The military/industrial complex is lightyears too effective and vast to worry about a peoples' uprising. The people have no way of putting down that kind of money, organization, and technology. A bloodless coup has already gone down, as Jello Biafra would say, and it's not our sedentary attachment to television and ease that keeps us there. If there was a mass organization and mobilization tomorrow of the rank and file American, it would do absolutely no good and would be put down by the weekend.