Thursday, March 04, 2010

Michael White & Steve Inskeep toss Gordon Brown's salad

This morning on the first hour of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show (begins airing on most stations and streaming online live at 10:00 a.m. EST), Susan Page (guest hosting) will speak with Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers), Lawrence Korb (Center for American Progress) and former reporter Thomas E. Ricks about Iraq elections.

This morning on NPR, Michael White, of the Labour Party's publication Guardian of Manchester, was brought on Morning Edition and, apparently, booked so that he and host Steve Inskeep could toss Gordon Brown's salad.

Before we go further, this is Sarah Holmes who died October 14, 2007 while serving in Iraq. She was a member of the British military.

LCpl Sarah Holmes [Picture: MOD]

Lance Corporal Sarah Holmes
[Picture: MOD]

And this is Joanna Yorke Dyer who died April 5, 2007 while serving in Iraq with the British military.

Private Eleanor Dlugosz [Picture: MOD]

Private Eleanor Dlugosz
[Picture: MOD]

The three women pictured above are not the only women in the British military who died while serving in Iraq. They are the three most recent and we're noting them for a very important reason: Michael White spat on them.

There is no excuse for any of the garbage he offered but let's start with the most offensive. He dismisses Gordon Brown's Iraq 'problems' to whether or not Gordon properly funded the war and how it put "voters' sons" and "voters' husbands" at risk. There is no excuse for it, not one damn excuse. He's not a reporter, he is a columnist and an editor and he needs to issue an apology for his sexist behavior which is vile at any time but it is especially offensive when he is speaking of the fallen and he is rendering the women of the British military invisible. There's no excuse for it. It's shameful and goes to what a liar he is and how, short of his head exploding when he next lies, he needs to find a lower profile in life. His words were insulting and they diminished the work that the women in the British military do and have done. There is no excuse for it.

And there's no excuse for booking Michael White on Morning Edition to 'talk' about Gordon Brown. For those not in the know, Michael White has spent this year writing columns dismissing the Iraq Inquiry -- an ongoing inquiry that doesn't issue a report until (at the earliest) this summer. And he wants to be seen as rational? As impartial?

Michael White was a war cheerleader -- a fact Steve Inskeep forgot to inform readers of. Many on the editorial staff of the Labour Party organ were supporters of the illegal war. Why is that? Because Tony Blair's Labour Party wanted the war and the Guardian has a real problem trying to be independent of Labour. That's why not only was it the Times of London that broke the story on the Downing St. Memos, the Guardian never touched it. Not the week the news broke, not a few weeks later, not a few months later. The Guardian will always minimize the crimes of the Labour Party. That's reality. On the fifth anniversary of the start of the illegal war, Michael White offered his 'mea culpa' in which he admitted that he and "most commentators" got it wrong about Iraq -- hiding in the crowd as always -- and then went on to argue that " the invasion was the least worst option for the international community." Use the link, read the garbage. The Iraq War hits the 7 year mark this month and even now NPR wants to book the liars, the whores who sold the illegal war.

Reality is not asking "Is it fair to blame Blair and Bush for continued violence in Iraq?" last January and answering "NO!" -- but that's White did. Apparently, in White's world, if I break into your home and shoot you and a half hour after I leave you die, I'm not responsible for your death. Actions have only immediate consequences and no one must be held responsible for anything that happens as 'long' as thirty-seconds after an action.

February 3rd, White was again spewing and this time at those awful, awful people who were opposed to the Iraq War. He huffed and puffed and even showed that Elizabeth's not the only Queen in England as he got all bitchy about Sarah Palin (she, he claimed, didn't know the difference between a test tube and an ironing board -- meow, Catty Girl).

Spewing this morning about those awful, awful peace activists, White never sounded so feeble or so ready to be put out to pasture. Let's repeat, the Iraq War hits the 7 year mark this month and even now NPR wants to book the liars, the whores who sold the illegal war.

Now that wouldn't necessarily be a problem. While we've all heard more than enough from that crowd for a lifetime, if hosts did their jobs, it really wouldn't be a problem.

So, for example, when White attacks the Iraq Inquiry and says there's no interest in it, it's Steve Inskeep's job -- if he wants to be considered a journalist -- to follow that with, "Really, there was huge ticket demand to hear Tony Blair testify. There were huge protests taking place while he testified." Or he could point out that the twice weekly revelations coming out about Blair and his guilt and how he thought about quitting and his little meltdowns and spacing out in front of Parliament and all the rest. He could ask White, "If no one's interested, why is the media reporting all of this in England?" He could ask about Alastair Campbell's cry baby performance on the BBC.

He could ask about any number of things.

But Steve didn't want to do journalism, he just wanted to help White toss Gordon Brown's salad.

Michael White insisted that only a small number of people in England even care about the Iraq Inquiry or about Tony Blair or Gordon Brown and only the small number of fanatics who want to see Blair and Bush before the Hague on War Crimes.

If Steve Inskeep had been a real reporter, he would have offered, "Well Andrew Sparrow wrote the following at your paper last month" and then referenced this:

John Rentoul's campaign to defend Tony Blair's reputation doesn't seem to be going to well. According to a ComRes poll out today, 37% of voters think he should be put on trial for going to war with Iraq.

He would have noted that was an increase of 14% from the poll the previous month. Or Steve could have raised another part of that poll taken right after Blair testified to the Inquiry. Glen Owen (Daily Mail) reported on that aspect noting that, "Eight out of ten people believe that the former Prime Minister lied in his evidence. They feel he made a 'blood pact' with George Bush to invade the country as he wanted to impress him -- not because he believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs)."

If doing his pre-interview work is too damn hard for Steve, then Steve needs to find another job. When NPR begs for your dollars, begs for the tax dollars, it's supposed to be working for those dollars. "Working" is not bringing on a guest and allowing him to pontificate in any manner he wants without fact checking his assertions. White was allowed to lie because Steve Inskeep didn't want to do the work required to be called a journalist.

It should also be noted that no real work would have been required for Steve to have stopped White during his sexism and said, "Excuse me, but women also serve in the British military, correct? How many of them have died in Iraq?" He couldn't even do that. If NPR thinks that professional behavior, then times really are tough. I was asked to do a plug for NPR and was considering it and I was going to note how, considering the state of many newspapers, for many NPR is better and something to that effect. But I'm not doing one now. I find this offensive and there's no excuse for it and, as friends at NPR point out, you can't count on their ombudsperson because she see her role as being the buffer zone protecting NPR from accountability when listeners rightly complain.

Gordon Brown appears before the Inquiry tomorrow. We last covered it February 8th, at its last public hearing. At the conclusion of that hearing, John Chilcot, the Chair of the Inquiry, offered some thoughts.

Chair John Chilcot: Today we are almost at the end of the Iraq Inquiry's first round of public hearings. We will hear from the current Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary and International Development Secretary in a few weeks' time, but given the considerable interest in the Inquiry and its approach, and to prevent any unnecessary misunderstandings, my colleagues and I have decided to set out the current position as the Inquiry sees it. We are here to establish a reliable account of the United Kingdom's involvement in Iraq, based on all the evidence, and identify lessons for governments facing similar circumstances in future. Now, we are committed to being open and transparent about how we are approaching our task and the information we are receiving. This is the first Inquiry of its kind in this country to have hearings broadcast on television and streamed on the internet, and tens of thousands of people have been watching the evidence sessions on our website. So far there have been nearly three quarters of a million hits on the website and people have access to more than 150 hours of video recordings, as well as thousands of pages of transcripts of the evidence, as well as the documents that have been declassified during the hearings. The initial hearings served two purposes. The first phase, largely before Christmas, set out to establish the narrative account of the United Kingdom's involvement in Iraq. In the last four weeks we have focused much more on the major decision-makers, politicians and senior officials, military and civilian, to examine why and how they made their decisions. Conducting the Inquiry in this way has allowed us to hear a range of different perspectives about the same events. The evidence we have been given so far has provided a much more detailed account of the United Kingdom's military action against Iraq and subsequent commitments than has previously been brought together in public. But these public hearings are only the most perhaps obvious aspect of our work; they are only one element of our Inquiry, though they are an essential one, and the great bulk of our evidence is in tens of thousands of government documents, many of them highly classified. They allow us to shine a bright light into seldom-seen corners of the government maching, revealing what really went on behind the scenes before, during and after the Iraq conflict, and they form the central core of this Inquiry's work. The Inquiry is still receiving more documents every week and we have no reason to believe that any material is being deliberately withheld. We have published a small number of those documents during the hearings but I should emphasise, and I want to emphasise: our access to the documents is unrestricted. Publishing a limited number of them is a separate matter. Over the next few months we shall examine all the evidence we have received, including those documents. They will enable us to see where the evidence joins together and where there are gaps, if there are, and only then can we decide what further evidence we need, the issues and points which need to be clarified and the identity of witnesses we may wish to question in the next round of public hearings in the summer. In the meantime, we will be holding a number of meetings and seminars with a range of individuals, British and non-British, who, we believe, will be able to provide relevant information and insights, and these could include, for exmaple, veterans from Iraq, the campaign, officials from the former American administration. We also hope to visit Iraq later in the year. Now, we cannot take formal evidence as such from foreign nationals but we can, of course, and will have discussions with them. We shall also need a limited number of private hearings, to get to the heart of some very sensitive issues which are essential for our understanding, and the terms under which we shall hold hearings in private have been published on our website, and we will in due course publish as much of that evidence as we can. Now, the Inquiry has broken new ground and a great deal has been achieved since the launch at the end of July. We aim to complete our report, if at all possible, by the end of the year. I would like to thank all those members of the public who have taken the time to be present at the hearings and I would also like to thank the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre for hosting us so well, to Bowtie for ensuring that our proceedings are filmed and transmitted, and lastly but by no means least to our tireless stenographer and editor from Merrill Legal Solutions. You have worked so hard to keep up with the witnesses and the committee each day and provide complete transcriptions for publication each evening. And with those words of thanks, most sincerely meant, I would like to draw this hearing to an end. Thank you all very much.

In that statement above, Chilcot told you more about the Inquiry then Michael White and Steve Inskeep did in nearly five minutes of air time.

In the meantime, someone let the Telegraph of London and the families of the fallen they're reporting on know that White doesn't think anyone is following the Inquiry or needs to, ditto the Times of London which editorializes on the topic the Telegraph's reporting on and Vikram Dodd, does Michael White know you're reporting for the Guardian over the families of the fallen pressing the Inquiry to ask questions? Deborah Haynes (Times of London) covers the same topic:

The families of troops who were killed in poorly protected Land Rovers have urged the Iraq inquiry to challenge Gordon Brown tomorrow on his funding of frontline forces.
They want answers because no one in Government has ever explained why the Snatch Land Rover was not replaced in Iraq and Afghanistan once it became clear that it was vulnerable to roadside bombs.

All those people, writing about a topic no one -- according to Michael White -- cares about. It's the fourth inquiry, he said dismissively. As always, the go-to for the Iraq Inquiry remains Chris Ames of Iraq Inquiry Digest.

Sunday, February 21st a US helicopter crashed in Iraq killing Chief Warrant Officer 2 Billie Jean Grinder and Captain Marcus Ray Alford. WSMV reports Bille Jean Grinder's funeral was yesterday in her hometown of Gallatin, Tennessee. Jennifer Easton (Tennessean) reports:

In Wednesday's service, six military pallbearers placed Billie Jean Grinder's casket upon a caisson outside at Alexander Funeral Home in Gallatin. An estimated 200 mourners gathered to pay their respects.
After a rifle volley and taps, Maj. Gen. Terry Haston with the Tennessee Army National Guard presented four folded American flags to Billie Jean’s Grinder’s husband, mother and two stepdaughters.
Three helicopters -- an HH-60 Blackhawk, OH-58 Kiowa Warrior, and AH-64 Apache -- flew over the service in a missing man formation to symbolize the soldier's sacrifice.

In another article, Easton notes, "Grinder's family has set up a scholarship fund in memory of Marcus Ray Alford at the Village Green Branch of Regions Bank in Gallatin." This article also has a photo by Easton of Sam Grinder, Jennifer's husband, being presented with a folded flag by Maj Gen Terry Haston.

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