Tuesday, July 10, 2012

NYT tries to get some wiggle room on Moqtada

Violence continues in Iraq.  Alsumaria notes that 1 person was shot dead in Kirkuk Province today.  In addition, IANS reports a Baquba roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left two people injured, a Muqdadiyah truck bombing injured four people, two sticky bombings "outside Baquba" left five people injured, a Baghdad attack on a mmilitary officer left his driver dead and a Mosul roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left two people injured.

Tim Arango has an article on page four of the main section of today's New York Times.  It's entitled "U.S. Antagonist in Iraq Takes a Political Gamble." And I don't have all morning but I'm trying to figure out how to address it.

For a free press, it's a bad article.  If you're going to write about Moqtada al-Sadr -- the focus of the article -- for a Tuesday paper you need to include that he made a major speech on Friday night, carried by Iraqi television, in which he presented his ten-point plan.

That's not in Arango's article.

For a New York Times article, it meets their standards.

The Times, historically, is not about accuracy of events.  Foreign coverage is a megaphone of the US State Dept and always has been.  This article doesn't 'redeem' Moqtada.  It does lay the groundwork for the paper to pivot if it -- or, more likely, the US State Dept -- feels the need to a later date.  That's the only reason it appears in the paper.

Moqtada's been villified by the New York Times more than any other outlet.  Whether he's as awful as some fear or not, the paper's portrayal of Moqtada has been the  most harsh.  Tim Arango's article offers the paper the ability to walk that back at a later date.

'A new Moqtada may be emerging' is the best tagline for the article. 

On Moqtada, a few thoughts -- nothing to do with Arango's article other than we've noted for months now that the main beneficiary of the political crisis has been Moqtada because it has allowed him to present himself as a leader.  He's seems far more mature than Nouri.  He seems far more aware than the bulk of the members of the National Alliance.

There are e-mails where people get very upset when I make these observations. 

I'm not saying Moqtada is the new Hugable Moqtada.  I'm not even sure that it's sincere.  I'm referring to how he presents himself in 2012 and how the political crisis has improved his standing.  A number of American readers (not community members) are convinced that I am trying to rehabilitate Moqtada's image.  Ironically, the same member of his bloc that has e-mailed since 2009 believes that I have not given Moqtada credit for what he's done this year.   I can count on the same group of readers and the MP to e-mail about the exact same post and one group is offended that I'm supposedly slanting to Moqtada while the MP is convinced that Moqtada does not get credit (and at least he will go into all the things that Moqtada has done -- with links when he has them).

The fact that both groups are seeing something different is not my saying, "Which proves I'm being impartial."  It doesn't prove anything.  (It may suggest I am a very bad writer.)  But we've gone into that in roundtables in community newsletters so I'm tossing it out here.

I am not saying, "Moqtada should rule Iraq!"  That's not my decision, I don't live in Iraq, I don't vote in their elections.  Of course, as 2010 demonstrated, Iraqis votes don't count, it's what the US government wants that matters.  If that weren't the case, Ayad Allawi or some other member of Iraqiya would be prime minister today.

I don't have an allegience to any of the politicians or any of the blocs.

Nouri's a thug, he's a known thug and I have no problem calling him out.  He shouldn't be prime minister because his political slate came in second and he did a lousy job in his first term.  He's paranoid and he's a liar.  His pattern is to promise something in the future and then not deliver and pretend like he never made a promise.  Nouri is known and has a track record -- a bad track record.

I'm also accused frequently of slanting coverage to Ammar al-Hakim.    The Fars News Agency reports on the praise Iran's head of National Security Saeed Jalili conveyed in a meeting with the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq's Ammar al-Hakim. The two met on Monday. Press TV notes this quote by al-Hakim, "The experience of Iraq's various tribes in constructive interaction for establishing stability and security in the country over the past several years has created a bright outlook of progress and well-being for the Iraqi nation." More laughable than the spin from the two is the photo Press TV runs -- Ammar al-Hakim never looks less like a leader than when paired off with an older person in a photo -- in the photo, Ammar looks like he should be in short pants.   He really should think about his image. 

And that's all I'm wasting time on this morning.  Again, I spent way too long trying to figure out what to say about Tim Arango's article.  For the paper, it's perfect.  It's the perfect New York Times piece.  But as John Hess so long ago noted, the New York Times is not and has not been about reporting what's actually happening.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.