Saturday, June 03, 2006

NYT: Two press release readers from the Green Zone outed (outed by Eric Schmitt & David S. Cloud)

If you're starting late this morning, the joint entry did go up. You can read it via any of the following:

"roundtable with cedric, betty, c.i. and myself participating"
"news via Democracy Now and a conversation in three parts"
"A conversation in three parts"
"Focusing on the paper to avoid my husband"

We finished it late and it went up this morning. Participating were Cedric, Betty, Rebecca and myself. I considered doing the entry on the New York Times later, I think the joint entry's better than anything I could do on the Times, but I'll do it and get it over with.

Richard A. Oppel Jr. contributes "Military Clears Commander In Raid That Killed 9 Iraqis." The headline (not written by Oppel) is one I would expect from the AP but the Times continues it's long slide by tossing it out today. That's the talking point for the weekend, "Military Clears!" That's hardly reality -- there are three investigations and that headline applies to only one -- but, hey, way to defocus. Oppel's article notes that the BBC uncovered new evidence and that after the BBC began broadcasting it, "The Military disclosed the finding [of the investigation] in a statement issued at 2 a.m. in Baghdad." Got to get on top of the news cycle, apparently. The big news in the article is probably that Tony Snow (Scott McClellan's replacement as White House spokesperson) is disputing Iraqi prime minister (and puppet of the occupation) Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's reported statements. Which ones? As Oppel notes, Snow "said he had not determined what was reported inaccurately." And a month from now, he'll deny raising the issue, no doubt, but the "It's inaccurate!" will be out there long enough to quiet down al-Maliki's statements. We'll note Democracy Now! covering it yesterday:

Iraqi PM: US Killings of Iraqis "Daily Phenomenon"
Meanwhile, Iraq's Prime Minister has lashed out at the US military over what he has called the "daily phenomenon" of US attacks on Iraqi civilians. In an interview with the New York Times, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki said many troops "do not respect the Iraqi people." Maliki went on to say: "They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion. This is completely unacceptable."

The only thing a review, by the paper, of the translation, has found is that "daily" was actually "regular." They offer a correction to yesterday's report for that.

Lawrence K. Altman and Elisabeth Rosenthal cover Laura Bush weighing in on AIDS at the United Nations. (She's seated next to John Bolton in Spencer Platt's photo and both clutch their ears.) In her speech, according to the paper's "U.N. Strengthens Call for a Global Battle Against AIDS," she "noted that her husband had put forth a plan in 2003 that contributes $15 billion over five years to fight AIDS internationally." A plan? How much money? She doesn't want to touch that nor the fact that the little monies that did win approval are shared with the groups providing lectures on "don't have sex!" as opposed to treating and confronting a medical disease.
Hilary Benn is quoted by the paper (he's England's secretary of state for international development) stating the obvious to all but the thick headed, "Abstinence is fine for those who are able to abstain, but human beings like to have sex and they should not die because they do have sex."

David S. Cloud and Eric Schmitt do a run down on the Haditha investigation with "Initial Response to Marine Raid Draws Scrutiny." Read the article, many points worth reading. We're going to focus on this:

He ["officer, who served with the Second Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq"] acknowledged that the initial verbal reports from the field indicated inaccurately that noncombatants were killed in the bomb explosion. The Marines also issued a press release the day [that would be November 20th, pay attention to that] after the killings that said 15 Iraqi civilians had died in the bomb blast and 8 insurgents had been killed in the ensuing fight.

Why are we focusing on that?

Read the following:

* The Marine Corps said Sunday that 15 Iraqi civilians and a marine were killed Saturday when a roadside bomb exploded in Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad.
*The bombing on Saturday in Haditha, on the Euphrates in the Sunni-dominated province of Anbar, was aimed at a convoy of American marines and Iraqi Army soldiers, said Capt. Jeffrey S. Pool, a Marine spokesman. After the explosion, gunmen opened fire on the convoy. At least eight insurgents were killed in the firefight, the captain said.

That's the New York Times on November 21st, one day after the press release was issued (and rushed into the paper), specifically, Edward Wong and Hassan M. Fattah's "Road Bomb Aimed at Convoy Kills 15 Civilians and a Marine in Restive Iraqi Province." Did they speak to "Jefferey S. Pool" whom they write "said"? They may have but not for that statement. It appears in the press release (the one Schmitt and Cloud are writing of) that bears the dateline location of "Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi." (My thanks to a friend who faxed that to me yesterday afternoon.) They know it, Wong and Fattah, it's just the readers of the paper that don't know it.

They grabbed a press release and ran with it as truth. Printed it as such. And they didn't tell the readers that Pool "said" in a press release. Is it a crime? No. Is it good journalism? No.
Is it "Reading press releases live from the Green Zone"? Yes, it is. Schmitt and Cloud just outed two press release readers.

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