Wednesday, August 05, 2009

All Things Media Big and Small goes insane

All the crazies are out today. Maureen Dowd (New York Times) insultingly refers to journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling as "damsels in distress." It's insulting, it's offensive and she owes them an apology if she considers herself to be a journalist. The New York Times owes the country an apology for continuing to run Dowd's dysfunctional writing. Today's 'column' is a low blow even for Dowd. It's all her usual Clinton Derangement running wild and, just for giggles, she insults two journalists imprisoned in a country for attempting to report.

Does the New York Times want us to laugh at their reporters when they next get imprisoned in China?

The New York Times owes Ling and Lee an apology. (If you're late to the story, Bloomberg's Indira A.R. Lakshmanan reports it without snark. It's not impossible to do so but many an outlet would rather die than give Bill Clinton some well deserved applause.)

i am not a pretty girl
that is not what i do
i ain't no damsel in distress
and i don't need to be rescued
so put me down punk
maybe you'd prefer a maiden fair
isn't there a kitten stuck up a tree somewhere
-- "Not a Pretty Girl," music and lyrics by Ani DiFranco, appears on her album of the same name.

Congratulations to Maureen Dowd for proving women can be punks too. Put the reporters down, punk.

All the crazies. Remember?

We're not highlight Jeremy Scahill's 'report.'

Yes, he breathlessly pimps it today on Democracy Now!

He only embarrasses himself. A friend at The Nation asked yesterday that we include it in the snapshot and I asked for an overview. I passed and offered to highlight anything else at which point I was asked to highlight Robert Dreyfuss and did.

What Scahill's done is not 'breaking news'.

Two people allege murder in a lawsuit.

Scahill doesn't know who the two people are.

And the murder charges are vague.

But, most importantly, murder cases are criminal law. If you believe someone's been murdered, unless you want to be charged with taking part in a cover up -- with being an accessory, you better come forward. They didn't. They didn't go to authorities. They toss out the charge in a civil lawsuit.

They're suing Erik Prince (whom I don't care for, to put it mildly) for money. And they haven't been named. They're John Does. So someone with a monetary beef alleges murder but doesn't do so to authorities? Does so in a civil lawsuit?

It's questionable. It may be true but nothing's been proven at this point and their comments in those documents (I've now read the filings) are very creative. Could they be true? They could be.

They certainly write a crowd pleasing yarn.

So pleasing that people should probably be skeptical until the two step forward and speak. And/or provide evidence and not just charges.

If true, we'll cover it then. If true, Prince might go to prison and that would be a wonderful ending to the story of Blackwater (my opinion). If true.

Nothing at present demonstrates that it's true and people file civil law suits all the time and make false claims in their filings. Wife swapping? They're suing over wife swapping? A functioning press would be holding their sides and laughing right now.

Tip to Jeremy, if you want to be taken seriously when you recount this story, drop the Foaming-at-the-mouth-I-hate-Christians and the Muslims-are-the-heroes-of-the-earth presentation. That is how you come off and it only goes to how you could fall for the yarn and fail to provide journalistic skepticism in the first place.

Again, it's a crowd pleasing tale. They rarely turn out to be true, but they do make for a good bedtime story.

Crazy from All Things Media Big and Small. Whatever happened to standards? Did they ever exist.

Standards? You expect better from Liz Sly and Saif Hameed (Los Angeles Times). Maybe if Ned Parker wrote the article, it would be worth reading (it's actually a blog post at the paper). We know Iraqi journalist Atwar Bahjat was murdered. By whom? The Iraqi government has a confession which they aired -- it's really appalling how US outlets have failed to report on the aired confessions, on how often they air, how they are Iraq's 'reality' television. The Iraqi government has a confession. 'Confession.' They lie about everything. Even a shoe tosser suddenly has a 'confession' only, when he's allowed to speak, he doesn't. Torture. Torture doesn't bother Sly or Hameed. They run with the 'confession.' All that's known is that Atwar Bahjat was murdered in 2006 and that the Iraqi government claim to have her killer (and rapist) and that they are airing a 'confession' which, if pattern holds, was obtained via torture. Such a confession couldn't be admitted in a US court. But the reporters are happy to run with it.

So are Timothy Williams and Rod Nordland (New York Times) who add the lurid details that Sly and Hameed may have had the good sense to leave out. Let's note how the confession doesn't add up (which doesn't mean it's not true but it does make it all the more suspect):

The man, Yasser Mohammed Hamad al-Takhi, 25, was shown on Iraqi television in a videotaped confession describing how he and three other men, including one of his brothers, had set up a checkpoint on a road outside the city of Samarra to stop a car carrying the journalist, Atwar Bahjat, and two members of her crew.
Mr. Takhi said he had been working for a Sunni armed group with ties to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown insurgent group that American intelligence agencies say has some foreign leadership.
Ms. Bahjat, a journalist working for Al Arabiya, a satellite television station based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, had been returning to Baghdad after having covered the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra, an event that pushed Iraq into sectarian warfare.

So you blow up a Shi'ite shrine and you do that . . . in public. Meaning, you do that to send a message. To send a message you need . . . the media. So you blow up a shrine and you also kill a reporter covering the bombing? Doesn't make sense. You might kill a reporter not covering it. But why kill a reporter whose amplifying your deed?

Here's another thing to think about. When Nouri's toppled, and he will be at some point, and there's a truth commission in Iraq, it's going to be really interesting to find out how many Sunnis were wrongfully convicted, tortured into confessions and blamed. Remember last Tuesday's big bank robbery and how it was Sunnis and it was al Qaeda in Iraq and it was . . . Oh, it was Shi'ites. Working for the government.

Yara Bayoumy and Tim Pearce (Reuters) explain what the Times of LA and NY forget to. Suspects were arrested days ago. A key detail. Arrested days ago and yesterday a confession begins airing? When someone confesses, the first thing you want to look at is the timeframe of the confession. You want to consider whether or not it's logical that a torture free confession took place based on the timeline. Based on the timeline, this would appear to be a forced confession. And the key detail: "Iraq previously accused a different man of murdering Bahjat."

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oh boy it never ends