Friday, October 22, 2010

Media bites dog

Herbert suggested the current failure to protect our troops and end the war could be directly linked to the detachment most Americans feel toward the conflict.
Unlike wars of America’s past, no taxes have been raised to fund the wars in the Middle East, no rationing has taken place, and no one is required to fight in the conflict, Herbert said, adding most Americans tend to ignore the conflict exists.
Herbert said he approved of a draft during wartime, but said the ease with which the United States now enters conflicts eliminated the possibility of a draft. War, he said, should only be undertaken if no other options exist, and the American people deserve to know all other possible options had been eliminated.
"If we're going to send our young people into that kind of hell, there better be a damn good reason for it," Herbert said.

Oh look, media bites dog again. It's trashy Bob Herbert, as reported by Matt Huppert (Badger Herald), and he's something like three months sober, swearing he's off the Kool-Aid (at least while not in NYC) and wanting to talk about the wars. And that is a much safer topic than whatever the hell's happened to his forehead of late. It isn't, however, anything that passes for journalism or for accuracy.

The public has forgotten Iraq or is not effected by Iraq? The American people consume news. They do it in a variety of forms. They cannot know about that which is not covered. The media has walked away from Iraq. That includes the New York Times which no longer prints half their important Iraq stories -- instead they just toss them up on the website's blog. Some really important reporting, some really strong reporting. And it's largely unread (including by the editorial board -- or did everyone miss that this week?).

Bob says Americans have forgotten the war and that the answer is a draft. Really, Bob, because I'd argue the answer is coverage.

And then I'd ask, do we need to draft your sorry ass to get you to cover it?

Seems to me if you're going to a campus and hector people about their allegedly forgetting the Iraq War, you damn well better have been covering it recently. I'm looking at Bob's last ten columns. That takes up back to September 18th. Where's Iraq? He hasn't even written of Afghanistan.

But he wants to grand stand in front of college students and pontificate as though he's doing anything?

When did Bob Herbert last write about either war? August 31st (fifteen columns ago). The same day Barack gave his laughable speech (that did not end the Iraq War). That's not exactly shining a light on the wars, Bob.

His failure -- and that of his colleagues -- are why Americans have a difficult time following the wars. He should have been booed and I think I'm going to stress when we're speaking on campus for the rest of the month. I'm going to stress that when these journalists come to your campus and start finger pointing at the American people for not knowing what the journalists refuse to cover, you boo them. Even heckle them. I'm sick of it. I'm sick of a paid profession shirking their responsibilities and then blaming the results of their refusal to do their job on the American people.

Thank you to Bob Herbert for his arrogance. All week long I've been speaking on campuses about this media bites dog trend (the press blaming the people for not knowing about subjects the press refuses to cover) but we were lacking one element that really drove the point home. Bob Herbert having the nerve to say this to students' faces? That's the element we needed. Thank you, Bob, you'll the be the face of smug indifference and its lack of accountability.

The Peninsula reports that the US State Dept plans to hire another 7,000 security contractors/merenaries for Iraq. Mike Blount (Army Times) reports on members of the "Montana, Idaho and Oregon" National Guard members training at Camp Shelby as they prepare to to deploy to Iraq.

Meanwhile Gulf Daily News reports that Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa met with Iraq's Sunni vice president and member of the Iraqiya slate Tareq al-Hashemi. The meeting took place yesterday, as Nouri concluded his regional tour. Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reports:

Little news emerged from Maliki's closed meetings in neighboring countries, making it hard to gauge whether his trip bolstered his standing among Sunni Arab leaders, who have long viewed him warily.
"How strengthened Maliki emerges from his tour will depend on whether he received the overt or tacit endorsement of his candidacy," said Joost Hiltermann, an Iraq expert with the International Crisis Group.

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and fifteen days and counting.

The Toledo Blade editorial board weighs in: "Perhaps most troubling is the fact that, seven months after national elections were held, a government is still not in place. Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's party finished first and incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's finished second, neither with a majority of seats in parliament. Mr. al-Maliki has declined to leave office and is still seeking support among other parties and abroad, including in Iran, to remain in power in spite of his electoral defeat. He added the party of anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr to his tentative coalition, but that still didn't give him enough seats in the 325-member parliament to form a government."

TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Charles Babington (AP), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times), Karen tumulty (Washington Post) and Kate Zernike (New York Times) join Gwen around the table. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "Never Let Them See You Sweat: Notes from the Florida Campaign Trail."
This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Karen Czarnecki, Melinda Henneberger, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Tara Setmayer to discuss the week's news on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary. And this week's To The Contrary online extra is on sexual exploits. this week's To The Contrary online is extra is on cyber bullying. Need To Know is PBS' new program covering current events. This week's hour long broadcast airs Fridays on most PBS stations: "The business of third-party administrators who help employers process and challenge unemployment claims; the minerals that help fund the rebels in Congo. Also: journalist Michael Hudson ("The Monster") on the home-foreclosure fraud scandal." Turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

The 99ers
Even after an extension of unemployment benefits to 99 weeks, many of those about to go off the program are in a quandary. Scott Pelley talks to some of them in California's Silicon Valley. | Watch Video

Jane Goodall
Jane Goodall brings Lara Logan and "60 Minutes" cameras back to the forests of Tanzania, where she began her love affair with chimpanzees 50 years ago, to remind the public that chimps are endangered. | Watch Video

Top Gear
A quirky British television show about cars has become a hit almost everywhere but the U.S. Steve Kroft reports on "Top Gear," whose witty humor, outrageous speed, destructive vehicle stunts and car reviews attract an estimated weekly worldwide audience of 350 million according to the BBC. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Radio note. The Diane Rehm Show begins airing on most NPR stations (and streaming online) this morning at 10:00 a.m. EST. For the first hour (domestic), Diane is joined by panelists Naftali Bendavid (Wall St. Journal), John Dickerson (CBS News, Slate) and Susan Page (USA Today) while, for the second hour (international), Diane's joined by panelists Tom Gjelten (NPR), James Kitfield (National Journal) and Elise Labott (CNN).

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