Saturday, May 25, 2013

I Hate The War

Earlier this week, I said we'd pick up a topic.  We were noting Attorney General Eric Holder and I was explaining that I would hold him accountable for any wrong doing -- I know and like Eric going back to his days in the Clinton White House -- but I would not allow someone to rip him apart with lies.  There was a radio interview that a number of people e-mailed about.  The guest told a story that, as one e-mail insisted, "reveals just how crazy Holder is."

It was a crazy story.  It just wasn't a true story.

We're not highlighting that interview.  When I listened to him (the guest) speak, I thought, surely he knows that this is incorrect.  Then I went -- as noted in the snapshot -- and found that he had 'reported' on a hearing we'd been at the week before (House Judiciary Committee) and his 'report' was full of lies. 

I am known offline for backing up what I say.  To the point of overkill.  I know that.  It's a fault.  But I never want anyone to have to say, "Well it must be true because you say so."  (My undergrad research papers never had less than 100 citations.)  (This attention to detail/excess was appreciated in grad school.) And from time to time, when we include a passage in full on a hearing I'm reporting on, someone will e-mail and say, "You could have just summed that up."

No, I couldn't.  Because if I did, the people stuck working the public e-mail would be overwhelmed with "prove it!" e-mails.  Please note, in 2012, a Democratic Congressional candidate's campaign contacted this site about an exchange in Congress.  And they wanted us to tell them where in the archives it took place.  This was not a renegade campaign.  It was a heavily funded campaign.  They wanted us, because I reported on a hearing I attended, to go to the archived hearings, stream it and find that exchange quoted in full.  Because the campaign was too lazy to do it themselves.  (We didn't do that.  When Martha told me about that e-mail, I told her she could tell them it was from the second exchange so they could skip opening remarks and the first round of questioning.  And to tell them that anything else they needed to do themselves.)

In addition, there are moments we highlight that are so I-can't-believe-it (the 2008 hearing where a member of Congress stood up, after savaging a witness, stormed out of the hearing and slammed the door behind him, for example) that you need to provide more detail.  In addition, I would rather the people speak for themselves and let the reader decide.

But this reporter who was a guest on a radio program this week, he covered the House Judiciary Committee hearing.  And it was wrong repeatedly.  He didn't care for the Chair, for example, so he stuck up for a Democrat.  That Democrat is not anyone you stick up for in a hearing.  That Democrat kept making procedural objections that weren't.  In the end, it was obvious that Democrat was attempting to eat up the time of the other member of Congress -- who had the floor.

The issue was a recording.  A message had been left on an answering machine.  It did not reflect well on the Justice Dept.  The Democrat began screaming that this was unfair and ambush and a hundred other things.  No, it wasn't any of those.  In fact, what it was was actual evidence that the Justice Dept had earlier entered.  And the fool on the Committee didn't know that -- but rarely knows what's going on in a hearing. 

We avoided that here in our report.  We had serious issues to cover and ____ playing the fool is no longer news after seven or so years here reporting on Congressional hearings. 

____ wasn't even the biggest fool at that hearing.

But this 'reporter' chose to emphasize it in the 'report' that he did for a website.  And the fool didn't come off like a fool.  And he didn't note that the fool not only came off like a fool but knew there was egg on the face at the end.

It wasn't about reporting the hearing.  It was about something else.

And that's what the Holder nonsense was about.

Again, I like and know Eric. I personally hope he's not guilty of any wrong doing in any way.  But we will hold him accountable here if he is.  And we've already called him out for his behavior in front of the House Judiciary Committee.  And I will add we shouldn't have had to.  He knows better.  I'm not only saying he has manners, I'm also saying he has the political skills and insight to grasp that behaving the way he did makes him look bad.  I have no idea why he acted that way.  It was shocking and I felt out of character.  I had not seen him testify to Congress in this administration but had heard
he was being rude to Congress.  I didn't believe it, honestly.  Well, I was wrong.  When we attended the hearing last week, I saw what so many had told me was true.

I have no idea where he learned to act that way.  It appeared to me he was playing to MSNBC.  I think Democrats make a huge mistake if they think that what wins applause on MSNBC reaches the bulk of the country.  In addition, Eric Holder is not an elected official.  He goes into a Congressional hearing as someone lucky to be appointed.  So for him to behave rudely looks much worse than it would if he were a Democrat on a Committee.

When we cover the hearings, we try to emphasize different things if we're all going to be covering them.  So before I dictate the snapshot, I'll ask, "Do you want this?  Who wants this?"  Kat always has Senator Richard Burr.  She's carved that out long ago.  He's her favorite member of the Senate for any hearing we attend, as she's noted at her site.  But we did include Allison Hickey and Burr's exchange here and did so because Kat said that was key to the other points I was going to be covering.  She said she had other Burr moments to grab (and did). 

So to read the garbage the 'reporter' (who is heavily applauded in The World of the Online Circle Jerk) put up and to realize that it wasn't accurate and it wasn't honest?

We can't highlight him anymore, I don't trust him.

And that's too bad because he covers Bradley Manning.

I've been as kind as I can by not naming him but I think we all know who I'm referring to.

And he lied about the House Judiciary hearing.  I was there.  Reading his 'coverage' is to enter a bizarro world where, if he's not lying, he is mentally unbalanced and seeing things that did not happen.   Which ever it is, I can't trust him.

We are not citing him ever again.

That's one of the reasons that, at the end of the week, we didn't cover Bradley.  The other is I'm getting tired of what is basically one sentence of news -- a headline crawl -- being churned into a report. 

That court-martial should have happened a long time ago if it was going to happen.  (I don't think he should be court-martialed.)  As someone who speaks to groups about the war repeatedly every week, I am seeing what churning these reports are doing.  Wally's been grabbing Bradley when we do our speaking.  And in the last weeks, the attitude is, "Wait, wasn't he court-martialed already?"

People are confused.  That's not their fault.  There has never been a court-martial with so much pre-court-martial ground work required.

There is a way to present the information (the one sentence reports) to those who are interested and to get that out there.  However, if it's not done correctly, what we're left with is a growing number of people who -- hearing that this has been allowed or disallowed and hearing about it for months and months -- are starting to think the court-martial has taken place.

And maybe that's the government's intent. 

I have no idea. 

Procedural points go to appeals.  They're really not needed for breathless reporting.  And there's getting the word out and there's overwhelming people with information that they don't need. 

So that's the balance I'm currently pondering.  Too much information for too long can quickly translate into lethargy or boredom on the part of the news consumer.  It's something that people who care about what happens to Bradley should be worrying about.  News cycles tend to trend.  Even if they're trash topics. A model dies after a little while after her bad reality TV show and it seems the country will never stop talking about it.  Then, thankfully, they are done with the topic.

Bradley's difficult to cover because who has access to him?  No one.  But there's got to be other ways then this steady drip of single sentence items that are repeatedly turned into breathless moments of "Did you hear! School's cancelled today because Kurt and Ram killed themselves in a repressed-homosexual-suicide-pact!" (Quote from Winona Ryder's Heathers, written by Daniel Waters.)

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4488.

The e-mail address for this site is