Friday, June 17, 2005

NYT: "Antiwar Group Says Leaked British Memo Shows Bush Misled Public on His War Plans" (Scott Shane)

Every now and then, we get a nasty little e-mail about how we play favorites here with regards to the Times reporters. (And some of those nasty little e-mails are from Times' reporters.) We're accused of gushing over Raymond Bonner, Amy Waldman or Scott Shane.

I guess they'll be coming in again because we're going to note Scott Shane. Shane's work has been critiqued negatively here at least once. But it's also true that he's usually handed the mop on Friday and expected to fix some nonsense the paper published that week with an article in the Saturday edition. This week, Saturday comes early.

In this morning's paper, Scott Shane's "Antiwar Group Says Leaked British Memo Shows Bush Misled Public on His War Plans" is worth reading. Shane's been handed the mop again and he writes a straight forward piece. Is it perfect? I'm sure it's not and believe it or not, speaking for myself, I'm not really looking for perfection in a daily paper. I'm looking for solid.

This ranks with Douglas Jehl's article in May in terms of straight forward reporting.

From the article:

Opponents of the war in Iraq held an unofficial hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday to draw attention to a leaked British government document that they say proves their case that President Bush misled the public about his war plans in 2002 and distorted intelligence to support his policy.
In a jammed room in the basement of the Capitol, Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, presided as witnesses asserted that the "Downing Street memo" - minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top security officials - vindicated their view that Mr. Bush made the decision to topple Saddam Hussein long before he has admitted.
"Thanks to the Downing Street minutes, we now know the truth," said Ray McGovern, a C.I.A. analyst for 27 years who helped organize a group of other retired intelligence officers to oppose the war.
The memo said Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of British intelligence, had said in the meeting that Mr. Bush had already decided on war, "but the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Cindy Sheehan, mother of a 24-year-old soldier killed in Iraq last year, said the memo "confirms what I already suspected: the leadership of this country rushed us into an illegal invasion of another sovereign country on prefabricated and cherry-picked intelligence."

It's solid. Were there things I would've wished had made the article? Yes. Were there points I would have liked to have seen clarified? Yes. But for a news article in a daily paper, I think this is the best we've seen yet. (Best in the Times or the Washington Post or the LA Times. Although, hopefully the other two weighed in with strong reporting today.) Shane attempts to lay the facts out.

My opinion, it belongs on the front page. But being handed the mop means your articles rarely get the front page. There's a reason members hunt out his Saturday articles. Overall, they're solid reporting.

If it appears we play favorites here, any favoritism we have results from people trying to do their job. And to the two at the Times who e-mail to harp on the issue of "favoritism," try to do your job and you too can be a "favorite."

All of this morning's e-mails are about Shane's article. I've read 72 and there's not a complaint among them. When Amy Waldman and others at the Times did outstanding work on the tsunami, the Times had this community firmly behind them. It was the paper's decision not to run reporting from a solid reporter like Waldman regularly since.

If Waldman had done an equivalent job on TV, she'd be on a news program regularly. At the Times, they seem to delight in taking the reporters that earn trust and hiding them. So we'll just note Scott Shane's article today and note Erika's comment.

Erika: Of course now I don't have a reason to open the Saturday paper.

That'll be it for the Times today.

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