Monday, July 17, 2006

NYT: Dexy has five but, like a good xenophobe, extrapolates to 'all'

Dexy's back to selling the war, what else can he do?, and he takes Edward Wong (and readers) along for a ride in this morning's New York Times with "In an About-Face, Sunnis Want U.S. to Remain in Iraq."

Wow, you think, the Sunnis wants the US to stay.

Then you read the article.

Your first clue to the fact that you're being lied to (or is Dexy the "delusional" one?) is the fact that after several paragraphs (with no attribution) you come across this tell-tale sign:

. . . a senior American diplomat said.

Then you come across these statements on the still unnamed Sunnis:

Many now ask for little more than a timetable. A few Sunni leaders even say they want more American soldiers on the ground to help contain the widening chaos.

In the midst of another effort to sell the war from the "delusional" Dexy Filkins, the best he can do (after many paragraphs) is tell you "a few" unnamed Sunni "leaders" want more American troops and tell you that "many" want a timetable for withdrawal. Many want a timetable for withdrawal is hardly "Sunnis want America to stay!" -- but it's hard for even Dexy to peddle his wares these days.

Sheik Abdul Wahab al-Adhami finally pops up (a name) and he talks about the out of control Shi'ite militias. Then Dexy tosses out Tariq al-Hashemi, Abbas al-Bayati, Omar al-Jubouri and Sheik Akrim al-Dulaimi. Tariq al-Hashemi is the only "powerful" name on the list. So after selling us hard on the fact that 'things have changed' the reality is nothing has.

This is another article that supposedly tells you about Iraq (and in the case What Sunnis Want -- quick somebody get Mel Gibson on the line -- it's his sequel to What Women Want!) but it's not really interested in Iraqis, Sunnis or otherwise.

It's interested in "senior American diplomat," in "Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV" and in America's ambassador to the region -- Zalmay Khalilzad.

But the headline and the article is bound and determined to tell you that things have changed and "Sunnis" are embracing Americans and saying, "Hey, stop renting, buy! It's cheaper in the long run!"

That's not reality. That's "delusional." Dexy's familiar with the word. On his recent campus stops stateside, he used the term to describe the administration's plans for Iraq. The same ones he sells day after day in the paper of record. Put him in front of an informed American audience and on a panel with two other reporters from Iraq and suddenly, Dexy's almost a fountain of truth. But when it's time to go to print, he's still the US go-to-Go Go Boy for selling the war. As Christian Parenti long ago pointed out the Dexy in print and the Dexy in real are two different people.

Meanwhile, stringers working for the Times are starting to grumble about the way their work is being distorted in print by Dexy. A whisper's becoming a rumble.

Do readers of the Times have a right to know from the paper of record the stringers' problems with Dexy? Do they have a right to know that when he speaks to US colleges, he declares the administration's plans for and actions in Iraq "delusional"? I think they do. But they won't find out about it in the paper.

Wong's got enough problems of his own, he'd be wise not to hitch a ride in print with Filkins again. The Times would do well to address the issues of a Dexy who says one thing in print, says another thing on the NewsHour and now goes even further when speaking to college audiences.
But they won't. In many ways, it's not all that different from Gail Collins going to Editor & Publisher to voice a 'regret' -- that she didn't listen to dissenting voices on the paper's editorial board 'more' before the editorials backing up the administration's (false) claims of WMD in Iraq.
They all want credit, for airing their dissent and dirty linen outside the paper. (Collins is addressed at length in last night's entry.) At some point, the paper's going to have to address these issues with the readers. Attempts to take heat off themselves from the industry or college audiences, isn't going to cut it. The paper needs to address the problems with the paper inside the paper, on the printed page. Anything else is just sop tossed out to take the heat off.

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