Saturday, March 05, 2005

Edward Wong, Jason Horowitz and the New York Times are either glossing or working for "The Clampdown"

So the New York Times covers the release (and shooting at) of "a kidnapped Italian journalist."
They put two reporters on it (Edward Wong & Jason Horowitz's front page "Italian Hostage Released In Iraq, Is Shot By G.I.'s"). In paragraph two, we get "Italian journalist"'s name: Giuliana Sgrena.

Ah yes, Sgrena. Let's hop in the time machine and dart back to February 17th for "The Gatekeeper of Record can't find Giuliana Sgrenea's full remarks, Beale tells us "US Gloss Masks Nerves over Iraq," and bungling the PBS story." Remember that? Where Giuliana Sgrenea's taped statements were severely reduced by the Gatekeeper of Record?

Here's a reminder:

"People are dying every day, thousands of people are in prison, children, the elderly, women are raped, people die because they have nothing to eat, no electricity, no water," she said. "I beg everyone, all those who have voted with me against the war, against the occupation, please help me, these people should not suffer any more . . . Please help me, nobody should come to Iraq any more . . . not even journalists."

If you read that, you weren't reading the Times Feb. 17th since the reporters (James Glanz & Dexter Filkins) 'glossed' over that part. The gloss goes on.

There's outrage being expressed over this but you won't find it in the Times. You won't find reference to Reporters Without Borders eithers. But you will get this gem of bad reporting:

Political analysts doubted that the shooting would strain the relationship between Italy and the United States, or threaten the mission of Italy's roughly 3,000 troops in Iraq.

Political analysts? Robert Novak's in the Green Zone? What the hell?

You've got Wong reporting largely from the Green Zone, Horowitz from Rome, James Glanz tossing in from Baghdad, Kirk Semple from London and Steven R. Weisman and Thom Shanker from D.C. Who spoke to "political analysts?" Who are these political analysts?

They serve the purpose to allay concerns and tell the reader "Nothing to see here, move along." That may be the reason they are included. But what political analysts from what countries? There's no need for anony-mice to sneak into this story to provide that irrelevant bit of info.

Ben: I thought the NYT was supposed to have struck these anonymous sources? I also find it very interesting that the reporters tell us that these check points shootings "of innocent vehicles . . . have taken place in recent months, and have been documented by reporters and photographers." Exactly where in NYT have these photos been shown? I'm not remembering any "Photographs . . . showed the surviving children covered in their parents' blood" in NYT. I am remembering tons of unnamed sources rushing in to tell us "everything's cool, everything's fine, stay the course! stay the course!" repeatedly. I'll assume these anonymous sources are from the State Department and that they and the paper are attempting to minimize the ugly truth before it can break out.

Considering the way the story of Giuliana Sgrena's kidnapping has played out in Italy, who indeed are these 'wise' political analysts that say there will be no impact from this? Who are these big smarties, these anony-mice, so quick to rush in with words the Bully Boy administration no doubt finds reassuring? The coverage of the kidnapping has been strong in the Italian press but our 'wise analysts' shake their Magic 8 Ball and deliver instant 'wisdom' to us via the Times.

Look Giuliana Sgrena is already speaking and the reaction, as reported elsewhere, suggests anony-mice need to scurry for cover right about now.

Robin Pomeroy reporting for Reuters:

The incident could rekindle anti-war sentiment in Italy, where public opinion opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

From the BBC:

Her left-wing newspaper Il Manifesto says a peace rally will be held in Rome later on Saturday.
The death of one of Italy's most senior intelligence officers in the shooting cast a pall of gloom over what should have been a joyous occasion, says our Rome correspondent.
Mr Calipari is being portrayed as a national hero in Saturday's Italian press for his courage in saving Ms Sgrena's life.

The BBC has an audio & video report (no transcript) "Italy demands US take responsibility ."

From Rory Carroll, John Hooper and and Sam Jones in The Guardian, we learn that:

"This news, which should have be a moment of celebration, has been ruined by this fire fight," Mr [Gabriele] Polo told Italian television. "An Italian agent has been killed by an American bullet. A tragic demonstration which we never wanted that everything that's happening in Iraq is completely senseless and mad."

[Note, the Times today reduces Polo's statement to "everything that's happening in Iraq is completely senseless and mad." Apparently Polo's remarks must have gone through Bill Keller's beloved "filter" before making it into print. Remember the "filter" that Bill Keller was whining about last week -- the one that those darn bloggers refuse to respect!]

From AFP:

Meanwhile, about 100 anti-globalization protesters gathered outside the US embassy here and called for a withdrawal of the 3,000 Italian troops from Iraq, Berlusconi's resignation and support for Calipari's family.
They carried a banner reading: "Bush has changed: now he even kills Italians".

From the BBC (again):

This is a serious diplomatic incident between the US and Italy, says the BBC's David Willey in Rome.

From (Robin Pomeroy) Reuters:

"I don't believe a word of the American version," said Oliviero Diliberto, head of the Italian Communist party, part of the main left-wing block led by former premier Romano Prodi.
"The Americans deliberately fired on Italians. This is huge. All of the center-left must vote in parliament for the withdrawal of our troops."

From AFP, we learn:

A tempest was brewing over the tragic mishap on the road to the Baghdad airport late Friday when US soldiers opened fire on Sgrena's speeding convoy, leaving an Italian secret service agent dead who shielded the female journalist from the bullets.
Italian newspapers warned the government against a cover-up given Berlusconi's cozy relationship with Washington. The US ambassador to Rome was summoned to the PM's office to explain the friendly fire incident.

Adhering to their lust for "official sources" (nameless), the Times rushes in to assure readers in this country that there's nothing to worry about, nothing to be concerned about, "political analysts" who are unnamed and apparently country-less "doubted that the shooting would strain the relationship between Italy and the United States," the New York Timid rushes to tell us.

And did you catch that? "Convoy." It's not a part of the story in the Times.

From Reporters Without Borders:

In yesterday's incident, the convoy of cars taking Sgrena back to Baghdad following her release from captivity was fired on by US military at a checkpoint near the airport. One of the Italian military officers protecting her was killed and at least one other was wounded. Sgrena was wounded in the shoulder.

The Times doesn't tell you word one about a "convoy of cars," so let's fill in some of the pieces that can't get past this morning's gloss.

Reuters (Robin Pomeroy):

But in comments reported by ANSA news agency, Sgrena told Rome investigating magistrates during a debriefing that the car was not going fast and there was no real checkpoint.
"The firing was not justified by the speed of our car," she reportedly said, adding it was traveling at a "regular" speed.
"It wasn't a checkpoint, but a patrol which shot as soon as it had lit us up with a spotlight. We had no idea where the shots were coming from."

Over at Daily Kos, gilgamesh is covering details emerging from other reports:

The Americans shut down the cell phones of our agents who were with Giuliana. They shut them off while they [the agents] were speaking with Silvio Berlusconi, they prevented the emergency medical technicians from approaching the wounded," Scolari recounts, basing himself on the eyewitness testimony of the Italian secret service agents at the scene. But how is it possible that all this was allowed to happen?" In that moment I shouted at the premier [Berlusconi] that your war is to blame for this. This war is madness and these are the results that it produces.

From AFP:

Her companion, who traveled with her from Baghdad, leveled serious accusations at the US troops involved in the incident, saying the shooting had been deliberate. "The Americans and Italians knew about (her) car coming," Pier Scolari said on leaving Celio hospital.
"They were 700 meters (yards) from the airport, which means that they had passed all checkpoints."
Friday's shooting was heard by Berlusconi's aides who were on the phone with one of the intelligence officers, said Scolari. "Then the US military silenced the cellphones," he charged.
"Giuliana had information, and the US military did not want her to survive," he added.

At another time, one where reporting was valued, the Times might be making noises about the potential of this international incident for tremendous fallout across the board. Instead, Keller's beloved filter drains the story of any sense of tragedy and any sense of repurcussions.

You grow up and you calm down
You're working for the clampdown
You start wearing the blue and brown
You're working for the clampdown
So you got someone to boss around
It makes you feel big now
You drift until you brutalize
You made your first kill now
In these days of evil presidentes
Working for the clampdown
But lately one or two has fully paid their due
For working for the clampdown

-- "The Clampdown" by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones (a song by The Clash which can be found on The Clash on Broadway). Susan e-mailed that in regarding this morning's story. "It pretty much says it all," she notes. We'll be doing an entry on members comments regarding the way this story is playing out tonight. If you'd like to weigh in, the e-mail address is

[Note: Five members have e-mailed that Jack Shafer -- please let me have spelled thatlast name correctly -- of Slate used the term anonymice on Friday. I wasn't aware of that. Friday I was more concerned with the treatment of someone and wasn't online except to blog. If Shafer used it Friday, he's probably used it before. So give him credit for coining the term unless he directs people to someone else being responsible for the term. I first heard the term from a community member who's with the working press, first heard it in an e-mail back in January. Whomever coined it, and it wasn't me, it's a clever word and should be used freely. Praise to Jack Shafer for popularizing it and, presumbably, for coining it as well.]