Thursday, June 29, 2006

NYT: Dexy wants to process, everyone in a group circle!

Dexy's, no doubt, sure he's got another 'award winning' piece. Today's New York Times carries his "Iraq War Ends Silently for One American Soldier" which appears to be both an attempt to make it less obvious that he used a dead soldier as a pawn earlier this week and also to show that "Hey, I care." It fails on both levels and just about every other one as well.

For readers, the most obvious problem is that they'll remember we're past the three year mark and this is the first time the paper's elected to highlight a funeral from the battlefield. It's doubtful many will give points for sincerity. (It's equally true that the death of Iraqis, or a single Iraqi, have never prompted such coverage but as he gets in touch with his inner Wally Lamb, possibly Dexy plans that as his next installement?)

Is it prose? Is it poetry? Whatever it hopes to be, his "style" will cause many to spew their morning coffee as they burst out laughing.

It's not the subject matter (though readers will note it's never appeared as such in the paper before). It's the "style." As he goes on, apparently think he's about to become a poetic voice for war, it will leave you laughing. He's not exactly Wilfred Owen, but then he's a cheerleader, not someone serving.

It's superficial with him ticking off details that add up to little -- it reads like a writing excercise from Advanced Comp, a really bad excercise. Translation, Somini Sengupta, you don't need to look over your shoulder just because Dexy's there -- he's no in-house poet.

Dexy ends with: "No one said a word." It's a phrase he works in earlier. Too bad it's not one he absorbed.

Everything that Dexy fails to capture, Joao Silva's photo reveals proving that not only is a picture paints a thousand words, Dexy piling on that number with bad prose won't win the battle for the text. (Silva's photo appears on the front page , above Filkins story.)

While Dexy tries to attone (and fails) for using the death of a solider as a pawn/set up for his own version of the news, don't expect the paper to attone enough to cover the following, noted by Cindy, "Military Mom and Military Wife Visit Senators, Deliver Message: 'This is What Staying the Course Looks Like'" (Common Dreams):

WASHINGTON - June 28 - On Thursday, June 29 at 1:00 p.m. the wife and mother of two U.S. soldiers will visit the offices of Senators, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, Jack Reid, Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin, Trent Lott, Maria Cantwell, Lindsay Graham, Jim Imhofe, Arlen Spector, Ted Stevens, and Jack Warner, to say "This is what staying the course looks like."
"While Senators engage in mock debates about the war, our troops continue to die," says Stacy Bannerman.
Military Families Speak Out members will carry boots that represent U.S. troops who will die if Congress does not take action to bring them home now. Anne Roesler says, "I will ask the Senators 'if my son's name gets added to the growing list of casualties, are you going to be able to look me in the eye and tell me it was worth it?"
Military Families to visit Senators carrying combat boots representing U.S. troop deaths.
Members of
Military Families Speak Out, including: Stacy Bannerman of Kent, WA whose husband serves in the Washington Army National Guard, SFC Mortar Platoon, and served a year's tour of duty in Iraq. He may re-deploy in the future. Stacy is also the author of When the War Came Home: The Inside Story of Reservists And the Families They Leave Behind.
Anne Roesler of Saratoga, CA whose son, a Staff Sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division, based at Ft. Bragg, is facing a fourth deployment to Iraq.
Thursday, June 29 at 1:00 p.m.
Intersection of New Jersey Avenue and Independence Avenue, SE in front of the Cannon House Office Building
Operation House Call is a Summer-long campaign that began on June 22 and will continue until August 7 when Congress recesses for the summer. Members of
MFSO will be holding daily vigils, speaking events, visits with Congress and related activities at Congressional Office Buildings. An on-going display will feature pairs of combat boots representing U.S. troop deaths, and shoes representing the deaths of Iraqi children, women and men. The count begins from June 15, the day of the 2,500th troop death, when the Iraq War was debated in both the Senate and the House and the majority voted to "stay the course." New boots and shoes will be added to the display to correspond with continuing deaths in Iraq, highlighting lives lost due to Congressional inaction. For More Information, go to:

Worth covering, just don't expect to read about it in the Times. On the attempts to silence the press (most of whom silenced themselves some time ago), Nick notes Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Right Pejoratives, Wrong Targets" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

A free press is the cornerstone of a vibrant democracy – our system of checks and balances – holding accountable those who would abuse power at the expense of citizens and the public interest. If ever we've witnessed Executive Power run amok, now is that time. And since this Republican Congress has abdicated its oversight responsibilities it's up to the media to fill that void. As Matt Rothschild wrote in his blog for The Progressive, "What King, Cheney, Bush, Gonzales, and many rightwing pundits don't seem to appreciate is that we, the American people, need to have a free press to check the excesses of government."
Stories on money tracking also appeared in the Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times last week. But King's ire is focused on the New York Times. Why?
When I debated him on MSNBC's Scarborough Country Monday night, he called the paper "a recidivist" because of its previous important (and Pulitzer-prize winning) report exposing domestic surveillance.

Laura Flanders has covered this topic in detail while filling in for Mike Malloy thisl week on The Mike Malloy Show (which airs live on Air America Radio from ten p.m. to one a.m. EST) -- Dave Zirin is her guest tonight, by the way. Elaine's also tackeld it her site with "When does the spying stop?." Scott Sherman takes a look at any legal grounds in Heath's highlight, "Chilling the Press" (The Nation):

Is the Times vulnerable to prosecution? On May 21 US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales declared that there is "a possibility" that journalists can be prosecuted for publishing classified information. Most experts doubt that the government would attempt such a maneuver. Says Geoffrey Stone, professor of law at the University of Chicago and author of Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime, "The fact is that the US government, in 215 years, has never once prosecuted the press for publishing government secrets." In Stone's view the 1950 law is "clearly unconstitutional. It includes no reference whatever to clear and present danger or any other level of harm to the national security."
Others agree. "While in theory the Times might be vulnerable," notes Boston defense attorney Harvey Silverglate, "there are arguable defenses. And besides, where is the Department of Justice going to get a twelve-citizen jury to unanimously buy the government's view that the Times is a criminal but the Bush Administration is not?" Schoenfeld says he cannot imagine a government prosecution: "Before my essay came out, I would say the chance was zero percent. After the article came out, the odds have risen to .05 percent." Then what did he achieve with the essay? "I hope," he says, "that I set in motion a 'chilling effect,' however slight, when it comes to the publication of sensitive and highly classified counterterrorism programs, the illegal disclosure of which may make it easier for radical Islamists to strike us again."
In recent months Schoenfeld's essay certainly appears to have provided intellectual ammunition for those who would censor and punish the press. His arguments have already been reproduced in the Wall Street Journal, National Review and The New Criterion; by Accuracy in Media; and by pundits like Michael Barone. Fortunately, some top newspaper editors seem to be waking up to the dangers. "I'm not sure journalists fully appreciate the threat confronting us," Times executive editor Bill Keller recently told National Journal, citing "the Times in the eavesdropping case, the Post for its CIA prison stories and everyone else who has tried to look behind the 'war on terror.'"

Remember to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today and Amy Goodman has an event Friday (as does Danny Schechter and Jeff Cohen -- three people worth hearing):

* Amy Goodman in Stony Ridge, NY:
Fri, June 30
*TIME: 7:30 PM
Sounding the Alarm for Freedom: Media Responsibility in Time of War
Tickets are $5 (students free)
For more information: (845) 876 7535
Panel Discussion featuring:
Congressman Maurice Hinchey: leader in media reform legislation
Amy Goodman: award winning investigative journalist for "
Democracy Now"
Jeff Cohen: founder of
FAIR, panelist on "News Watch" (Fox) and"Crossfire" (CNN)
Danny Schechter: media critic and filmmaker ("Weapons of MassDeception")
Dr. Alan Chartock, President and CEO of WAMC, will host the panel,which will be broadcast by member stations of

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