Thursday, July 23, 2009

How is it journalism?

"We still have over 130,000 troops in Iraq," explained independent journalist Dahr Jamail yesterday on KPFA's Flashpoints. "Troops are not being withdrawn from Iraq. They are being relocated to different bases, some of the bases still within cities, but they are not being withdrawn thus far." Dahr's latest book The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan has just been released this month.


Yesterday, Barack Obama and Nouri al-Maliki staged a dog and pony show at the White House and, no, we didn't get the reality offered in Dahr's statements, we really didn't get any awareness at all. Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) offers this:

In a brief news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki after the two met for more than an hour at the White House, Obama acknowledged that there will be "some tough days ahead. There will be attacks on Iraqi security forces and the American troops supporting them. . . . There are still those who want to foment sectarian conflict."

Perspective would be: "My, Barack sounds so much like Bush." That's because he does. That's because he is the third term of George W. Bush.

DeYoung also reports:

A senior administration official described Maliki's trip as a "working visit," and the White House has not scheduled any formal social events for the Iraqi leader. Instead, Maliki will spend four days in meetings with U.S. economic, trade, defense and diplomatic officials. He will meet with Cabinet members in those areas, as well as with senior members of Congress and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and will deliver a speech Thursday morning at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Uh, what about Saturday? I actually have an invitation to that event. I wasn't planning on attending but if it's some 'secret' moment, maybe I will. As we noted here Tuesday morning, "July 25th, three provinces in Iraq hold their provincial elections and to steal attention (what little's been given) for the KRG, Nouri plans to announce an education plan that would put 10,000 Iraqis in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US for college study. Of course, that 10,000 wouldn't come anytime soon. He plans to do 500." That's supposedly a major event. (I didn't think so which is why I wasn't planning on halting my return home to attend.) After the White House yesterday, Saturday's event is billed as the big Nouri event in this country. They're trying to get a humanitarian ground swell going on the event (lots of luck).

Jeff Zeleny (New York Times) quotes a tone-deaf Barack stating, "The United States and Iraq have known difficult times together." What? The US invaded Iraq. What a stupid statement to make. But so in keeping for continuing the illegal war.

Karen DeYoung's article isn't rah-rah, that would be Zeleny's. But, with both, you can find strong moments worth reading -- however fleeting. The same can't be said for Mark Silva's article (Los Angeles Times for the link but appearing at all the Tribune properties). Not only is it dead on arrival (I'm fine with basics, no frills reporting -- I'm not fine with plodding pieces), it's got nothing to offer but a bunch of false claims that Silva can't back up.

And none of the articles include anything of real importance or timeliness. Check yesterday's snapshot and then read the articles again. A poll was released yesterday. It addressed Iraq. Where's any citation of the results? From yesterday's snapshot:

A new AP-GfK Roper poll finds a decrease in the number of respondents who believe Barack will remove troops from Iraq -- 15% lower than the last poll. [PDF format warning, click here for the data breakdown.] 62% of respondents ranked "The Situation in Iraq" as either "Extremely important" or "Very important." The poll found an increase of five percent on the number of respondents who disapprove of Barack's handling of the Iraq War. Is this increase a result of angry right-wingers upset over Barack's so-called plan? Maybe. But the respondents were asked if they believed Barack would "remove most troops from Iraq?" In January, 83% of respondents said it was likely and 15% said it was unlikely. The 83% who thought it was coming has fallen to 68%. The number who believe it is not happening has risen to 26%.

We were on our way out of the House Veterans Subcommittee hearing yesterday and I was speaking to a friend (press) who brought up the poll. Clearly some in the press knew about it. Nouri and Barack meet up at the White House yesterday as a poll is released which finds the number of people who believe Barack will "remove most troops from Iraq" has fallen from 83% in January to 68% presently -- a 15% drop. Where's that in any of the articles?

They repeatedly (and falsely) claim the US will be out of Iraq in 2011. That's not what's happening. It's not even claimed to be happening. Does no one listen to Adm Mike Mullen, Gen Ray Odierno or even Secretary of Defense Robert Gates?

Reading the articles today, it doesn't appear that anyone does.

Barack made silly, uninformed and embarrassing statements like this:

Violence continues to be down, and Iraqis are taking responsibility for their future. This progress has been made possible by the resilence of the Iraqi people and security forces and also because of the extraordinary service of American troops and civilians in Iraq. Now we're in the midst of a full transition to Iraqi responsibility and to a comprehensive partnership between the United States and Iraq based on mutual interests and mutual respect.

But, as we explained yesterday, the trend in lower violence ended with the month of January. Starting with February, you see an uptick in violence. That trend has held each passing month. We also cited Al Jazeera which was explaining, "An estimated 437 Iraqis were killed in June, the highest death toll in 11 months, and the near daily attacks have continued in July."

And the press is just going to run with Barack's false claims? It's not going to call them out? Why do we have a press? Why? If it's job is not to provide oversight and be a watchdog, we don't need it. Just print up the press releases issued each day, it'd be a lot cheaper.


They don't provide a fact check on the claims made in the Rose Garden, they don't cite the poll findings so Americans are rendered invisible as a group, and they don't cite any voices of dissent. How is any of that reporting? How is anything that's been written up actual journalism?

IPA provides this quote from Global Policy Forum's James Paul: "For all the talk of 'U.S. withdrawal' from Iraq, the reality on the ground is starkly different. U.S. troops still patrol the cities, in flagrant violation of the U.S.-Iraqi security agreement, while Washington remains hugely influential in the politics of the country. The gigantic U.S. embassy looms large in Baghdad, U.S. forces still hold thousands of Iraqi prisoners in the vast U.S. prison camp in the southern desert, dozens of U.S. military bases remain in place including the sprawling 'Camp Victory' complex in Baghdad and Washington continues to press towards its ultimate goal -- the de facto privatization of Iraq's vast oil resources."

The peace movement has its own problems (most damaging, allowing itself to be hijacked by a political party) but it is rebuilding. Nothing in the reports indicates that the reporters are aware of the existence of the peace movement or indicates that there is any opposition to the ongoing Iraq War. At the top of her show, Cindy's Soapbox, Cindy Sheehan declared Sunday, "I was at the National Assembly Conference to End the Occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan in Pittsburgh this past weekend and we really reconnected with a lot of peace groups and individuals who know that true change comes from a bottom up revolution -- not a trickle down effect like crumbs dropping on us from the robber class." Note that Cindy's guest this coming Sunday will be Gore Vidal.

There are no voices of peace presented, there are no voices of dissent presented, Barack claims violence is down when violence is up and there's no correcting him, the military keeps insisting that the US may well remain past 2011 and that's not in the articles this morning, a poll founds 15% -- 15%! -- of Americans no longer trust Barack will remove troops and that's not in the articles. Does anything printed this morning qualify as journalism and, if so, how?

FYI, first photo in this entry taken by Pete Souza, second by Chuck Kennedy. We'll close with this from Cindy Sheehan's "George W. Bush, Part III" (Cindy's Soapbox).

Okay, so the United States of America has had a new puppet regime for six months now. I was never so much into giving Obama a “chance” and I think it’s way past time to call Obama and his supporters out, like we called Bush and his supporters out. Our Presidents are merely puppets for the Robber Class and Obama is no exception.
I am observing very little “change” in actual policy, or even rhetoric from an Obama regime. Granted, his style and delivery are more polished than the last puppet, but especially in foreign policy, little has changed. Evidently we elect Presidents based on empty rhetoric and if we can find someone who can say as little as possible with using as many words as he can, that’s better. I knew a year ago when Obama and his ilk were blathering on about “change” that they didn’t mean positive “change” for us, but it’s a shame Obama’s voters didn’t ask him to be a little more specific or demand some good “change.”
Besides foreign policy where he is a complete disaster, it appears Obama’s jobs program is little more than adding tens of thousands of troops to an already bloated military, instead of bringing troops home from anywhere. Billions will go to the money trap of the Pentagon to invest in recruiting our innocent, young, jobless and hopeless youth, when the budgets of peace groups who do counter recruitment are tanking. This is the 3rd week in July and already it’s the deadliest month for US and coalition troops deaths in Af/Pak. Who would ever have thought when violence is surged that deaths would surge, also? I think I’ve seen this movie before.

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