Monday, January 10, 2005

Today's New York Times fluffs for Murdoch and attempts to address US 'strategies' for Iraq

David E. Sanger & Eric Schmitt's Hot Topic: How U.S. Might Disengage in Iraq deals predominately with "what's the plan?" re: Iraq.

Will we pull out? Will doing so cause a civil war? Did the Bully Boy tangle with Brent Scowcroft who feels we're already seeing a civil war?

A senior administration official said in an interview this weekend that Mr. Bush still intended to stick to his plan, refining his strategy of training Iraqis to take over security duties from Americans, but not wavering from his promise to stay until the job is done. "We are not in the business of trying to float timetables," the official insisted. "The only metric we have is when we can turn more and more over to local forces."

What plan? Does anyone, outside of the Bully Boy's immediate circle see anything resembling a plan?

But all over Washington, there is talk about new ways to define when the mission is accomplished - not to cut and run, but not to linger, either. Several administration officials acknowledge that Mr. Bush will face crucial decisions soon after Jan. 30, when it should become clearer whether the election has resulted in more stability or more insurgency.

And all over the country there are other conversations going on. That's not a slap at Sanger & Schmitt. There article is labeled "Washington Memo."

But you can quote beltway insiders on the "the Philippine option" (maybe if we're really lucky, after the election Iraq will ask to leave!) or Rumsfeld's public statement on a radio station that he doesn't want more American troops sent over "because then we'd look more and more like an occupying force." (Then?) Or quote Tommy Franks (from an appearence on Today last month) speculating that we will continue to be in Iraq "for, perhaps, 3, 5, perhaps 10 years." But the reality is that there is no plan.

Excuse me, there is no reality based plan. From the start, the guiding force has been false hopes resulting from the lack of dissenting voice engaging the Bully Boy and from the lack of any ability on his part to deal with reality. (His response to Scowcroft's concerns over a civil war -- "I think elections will be such an incredibly hopeful experience for the Iraqi people." -- is a non-response unless the person making the statement is holding a pair of pom-poms. Truly, this is
the head cheerleader of a team facing defeat promising that this Friday night or next Friday night, or a Friday night real soon, we're going to score that winning touchdown. This non-response, this 'sloganeering,' reveals the level of engagement -- or lack of -- with reality.)

And I'm not sure that an article devoted to Republican conventional wisdom on the war from inside the beltway really makes much difference to the reader or the nation. There are voices in the Congress with other views. They are in the area that "Washington Memo" covers. Entitling a piece "Hot Topic: How U.S. Might Disengage in Iraq" (Sanger & Schmitt do not write the headlines for the paper) when the voices and concerns cited are so severely limited (calling it "one sided" would actually make it seem more inclusive than it is, call it "one sliver of one side")
does little to address the situation or to engage in the public in any sort of serious dialogue.

Murdoch Will Buy Rest of Fox Shares in $7 Billion Deal is a front page story by Andrew Ross Sorkin and Geraldine Fabrikant. This is a business story from business journalists and usually that results in some of the strongest pieces in the paper. This isn't one of them. In the first paragraph we're told that Murdoch intends to attempt to "buy out the shareholders of his Fox properties for about $7 billion." That's the extent of what we're told.

Rumblings about the ever increasing debt being racked up by Murdoch isn't in this article. There's no attempt to note the various banks already lending to him. There's no attempt to do anything other than note the statement quoted and then go on with what is basically a p.r. release for Fox.

A business article should inform the reader of the status of the company which includes projections for future quarters, liabilities (such as loans) that the company has, etc.

Instead we get this piece that I'm sure pleases Murdoch & Fox (though I'm not suggesting that was the intent of the article) but doesn't inform any reader (or current or potential stock holder) of the status/health of the company. This is a "brief," not an article. There's not enough here to flesh it out as an article.

Eric Lipton's More Help Arrives in Indonesian City: $3.30-a-Day Jobs covers relief efforts in Indonesia.

And Pam Belluck's To Try to Net Killer, Police Ask a Small Town's Men for DNA which I'll shorthand as (rightly or wrongly) "No leads to a three year old murder? Get out the swabs and round up the town's people!" (Or the males of the town.) (No, I'm not impressed with the 'strategy.' Yes, I do think Belluck's written a story worthy of the front page.)