Thursday, August 10, 2006

NYT: Covering Three Month Old News or "News" as Though It's Fresh

Three American soldiers with the Army's First Brigade, First Armored Division died Wednesday in fighting in Anbar Province, the military said. This week has been particularly brutal for that brigade, which lost another soldier to enemy fire on Sunday.
On Tuesday, a Black Hawk helicopter from the Third Marine Aircraft Wing crashed in Anbar Province with soldiers on board during an "area familiarization" flight, the military said. The cause of the crash, which pitched the helicopter upside down into a body of water, was a mechanical problem, General Caldwell said Wednesday. Divers were still searching for two missing crew members, he said. The remaining four passengers and crew members were in stable condition, the military said.
In Baghdad on Wednesday, gunmen shot dead a fish vendor and four customers in a drive-by shooting near a gas station, an Interior Ministry official said. Six bodies were found on Wednesday in various areas in Baghdad, the official said.
Gunmen shot and killed a police officer in Falluja near his home on Wednesday afternoon, the police said. There was no immediately apparent motive for the killing of the officer, identified by the police as Hazim al-Janabi.

That's all you need to bother reading from Paul von Zielbaur's "Four Arrested in U.S. Journalist's Kidnapping" in this morning's New York Times. Someone e-mailed (a visitor) shocked that I didn't cover "that Jill Carroll's kidnappers have been caught!" I don't usually cover the US military's press releases. There are always lackeys and fools who will run with them. The New York Times always has at least one lackey (at least one) and today it's von Zielbaur.

Now Jill Carroll hasn't said a word. Possibly that's because Sunday (at the website) The Christian Science Monitor begins her eleven-part series. I'm sure that will be worth following. But unless she's trying to save it all for the series, it strikes me as strange that while the US military can't stop trumpeting that (in press release after press release) yesterday, Jill Carroll doesn't appear to have a word to say.

I thought yesterday and I think now that Jill Carroll is being used in a similar way that Jessica Lynch was. As a distraction. What should be the big story yesterday and today?

The US military can't FIND two American soldiers. The helicopter went down. Not yesterday. It went down Tuesday. They didn't announce it until yesterday. Six on board. Four (injured) were rescued. The other two? Search parties can't find them.

That's a story.

Now maybe Carroll's captors or people involved with her capture were captured. I don't know. I know the US military wants everyone to jaw bone about it.

I guess if I were the military and I couldn't account for two soldiers, I'd want everyone to focus on something else to. Thankfully the always useless Paul von is present and accounted for and can reduce the FACT that TWO US soldiers are missing to one sentence in an article that otherwise pulls from the countless press releases and tidbits offered about Jill Carroll's captors or "captors" yesterday.

Two US soldiers are missing.

A journalist might think that was worth more than a single sentence. Paul von's not much of a journalist. And doesn't the heavily pushed "Captors Captured!" story allow the crappy New York Times to ignore the closing statements of the prosecution in the Article 32 hearing of the murder of Abeer and her three family members? Of the alleged rape of Abeer? It all gets to be ignored.

Now you can be like the visitor and get all excited about the latest wave of crap from US military flacks and the New York Times (who appear to be 'serving' together these days) or you can get serious. The terror alert's been raised in this country as well. Do we want to flog that 'story' too?

Josh White and Sonya Geis' "Assault Charge Likely For Marine in Iraq Case" (Washington Post) offer this:

A Marine Corps platoon leader is expected to be charged with assault this week for his alleged role in the slaying of an Iraqi citizen in the village of Hamdaniyah earlier this year, his defense attorney said. That would make him the ninth U.S. serviceman charged in relation to the case.
Officials at Camp Pendleton in California declined to comment on potential charges against Lt. Nathan Phan. But his attorney, David P. Sheldon, said he has been informed that Phan is likely to face assault charges in connection with an April 26 incident involving a squad of Marines with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. Military officials have alleged that the troops grabbed an Iraqi man from his home, bound his arms and legs and shot him in the face.

Do you see it in the Times? No, you don't. They're good at reading their press releases live from the Green Zone but don't kid yourself that it's reporting. And don't kid yourself that the military isn't wanting the story to change and the Times isn't right there helping them take the focus away from real news and put on Happy Talk.

Supposedly four 'captors' have been captured. What's today's date? August 10, 2006. So why is the Times writing about an arrest of three that took place May 19th?

Because the military wants to shift the focus. They've lost two soldiers.

That's the news for today. Not what happened on May 19th.

Are they really the captors of Carroll? I guess Jill Carroll will tell us as her series in The Christian Science Monitor unfolds. But if it's news, if it's real news, this capture, the US military would have been trumpeting it back in May. Three months later? Three months later it's just a distraction from reality the same way the 'rescue' of Jessica Lynch was.

If we had an independent media that was paying attention to Iraq we might be able to see that. But no one is. That's why the New York Times can put out this morning's crap and all the other crap they've offered recently and not be called on it. As though the paper's problem ended (and supposedly began) with Judith Miller.

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