Friday, April 24, 2009

Yesterday's bombing and the press

Afterward, a tattered black abaya stuck to a wall on the first-floor balcony of an adjacent apartment building, singed by the explosion. The sidewalk was littered with bags of macaroni and loose leaf tea that had been part of the giveaway. Flies swarmed on bits of human flesh.
One woman sat on the ground, wailing as she beat the sidewalk with the palms of her hands. She said she had lost her husband, her son, her sister and six grandchildren.

The above is from Timothy Williams' "80 Are Killed in 3 Suicide Bombings in Iraq" in this morning's New York Times (inside the paper but the front page's top and main photo (by Christoph Bangert) is of a women in Baghdad (a child standing far behind her) after the bombing (which the photo caption says "killed 75" -- probably due to the front page being set sooner than inside the paper). Ernesto Londono and Aziz Alwan cover it in "Two Blasts Kill More Than 80 In Iraq" (Washington Post) and they quote a victim of the Diyala Province bombing:

"While the waiter was serving us food, a powerful explosion took place and the restaurant turned black," said Iranian pilgrim Kadhumi Sadiq, 64. "I suffered burns on my head, chest and hands."

In terms of the bombings, the Post has the better story and one of the main reasons is due to the fact that you have two bombers, one allegedly female, one allegedly male. Why is Timothy Williams and the New York Times so obsessed with getting underneath women's clothing? "Once she reached the center of the crowd, she set off the blast, with explosives that the police believe she hid under her flowing clothes." They continue to do that with women. Obviously the male in Diyala Province (or alleged male) wasn't strutting around holding a bomb in his hands. But it's only with women that the paper gets all caught up in fear (it's fear of the vagina -- fear of what's not 'outside' the body, what's hidden and cloaked! -- and it's very childish and needs to stop). If you want to see how people without sexual hangups cover the bombers, look no further than Liz Sly and Usama Redha's "Iraq suicide bombings kill 79" (Los Angeles Times):

Both attacks were carried out by bombers wearing suicide vests, and both seemed aimed at Shiite Muslim civilians. The Baghdad blast, which killed 31 and wounded 51, targeted displaced people lining up for food parcels being distributed by Iraqi police in the mostly Shiite neighborhood of Karada.

This is not a new problem for the Times of New York and we've noted it before -- see "Little boys need their jollies, papers indulge them" so the only real question is when will the editors step in as they already should have?

A visitor e-mails to insist that we should note Tom A. Peter (Christian Science Monitor) more and that yesterday's snapshot "suffers from Mr. Peter's omission." That would be the day, Buddy Holly. The 'tragic' omission was "New bombings in Iraq steal thunder from top insurgent's arrest" and the headline reflects the text which reflects the gullible nature of Peter -- a hallmark of his writing and why we don't rush to him as our must-read. The arrest or 'arrest' is being met with skepticism because no real details are being provided and it appears to be a p.r. distraction on the part of Nouri al-Maliki to minimize the shock over the bombings. It may be a genuine arrest and may have really taken place yesterday (a lot of their for-show arrests turn out to be weeks old before announced when they need to 'combat' negative news in the daily cycle) but the reality is that al-Maliki's government has repeatedly played this card claiming to have arrested this same man over and over. The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf is not a forgotten text or part of the Gnostic Gospels. We're all generally aware of that story and we know what happens when you cry wolf (a lesson Scott Horton may be learning currently). Peter swallows it. The e-mailer sold Peter's article on that and on his "outstanding report on the the Awakening Council." We may work some of the "Awakening" Councils into today's snapshot but it's truly surprising that this is included:

The US had made significant inroads against AQI by building and funding a Sunni paramilitary group known as the Sons of Iraq (also referred to as the Awakening). But members of the group -- which at one point included more than 100,000 members -- have become disgruntled in recent months over the arrests of key leaders and a delay in payment from the Shiite-led Iraqi government, which has been in charge of their activities since late last year.
"If you continue arresting, harassing, and shunning Awakening types -- many of whom were originally derived from the insurgency -- you're really playing with fire," says Wayne White, an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington and the former deputy director of the State Department's office of Near East intelligence.
Earlier this week, a senior AQI leader called on Awakening members to return to the terrorist organization. Other reports indicate that, amid growing neglect from the Iraqi government, AQI is having increasing success unravelling the community-policing organization.

. . . and a chief bit of news isn't. From yesterday's snapshot:

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing left two people injured and, in Baquba, two homes "belonging to displaced families from Timim tribe were blown up," a Mosul roadside bombing which wounded two people, a Mosul grenade attack which wounded four, and a roadside bombing outside of Baquba which claimed the life of Sahwa leader Mubarak Hammad al Obadi and 3 of his aids while leaving two more aids wounded.

Sahwa, "Sons Of Iraq," "Awakenings" -- all the same thing. Point, if a Sahwa was assassinated on Thursday and I was writing about "Awakenings" for a newspaper, I'd be rather embarrassed that I somehow missed that. We do note Jane and if I know she's got a potential error (it happens to everyone -- but we've noted it for her once), I do point that out in a snapshot. That said, Jane's work is solid and we're happy to highlight her. When Sam Dagher was at the Christian Science Monitor, we noted him frequently. (He's now at the New York Times.) It's not an aversion to that paper, it's an aversion to Tom A. Peter. I've called him out, Ruth's called him out. There are just too many mistakes repeatedly and so he's not our go-to on Iraq. [C.I. note: Jane Arraf is "Jane." Sorry. She was formerly with CNN and now reports on Iraq for the Christian Science Monitor.]

Speaking of CSM, if you watch or listen to Democracy Now! today and feel, "What a waste of time," it is. But that's because people either don't know the story or they're interested in covering for a CBS News-er who was fired and took refuge at CSM and at NPR. He's a 'hero'! Some insisted that in real time. How can you talk about the Church Committee and not mention the Pike Report? Which requires you tell the truth about a 'journalistic hero.' Amy and Juan manage to avoid it and him. He's the one that got the Pike Congressional Committee's report published -- in the Village Voice. Remember? Jogging memories here? And he was fired not for that. CBS News did say it was their property (the report) but he was fired not just for that but for also lying and accusing another CBS reporter of sneaking the report to the Village Voice. The other reporter was Lesley Stahl and she was dating the Voice's Aaron Latham at the time (they are married today). When 'brave' Danny Schorr felt CBS was closing in on who leaked the report, he began a whisper campaign (he admits to telling one superior -- it was much more than that) against Lesley and how she was dating Aaron and Aaron works for the Voice and, golly, you don't think Lesley . . . .

Daniel Schorr passed the report to the Village Voice. He threw away any claim he had to bravery (and that report needed to be published) when he tried to implicate someone else to save his own ass.

Amy Goodman wastes everyone's time quoting a Sy Hersh write up for the New York Times on the Church Committee when she should have been quoting the other report which the Village Voice ran in full. But more and more, it appears she is completely ignorant of the Pike Report. Why should she have been quoting Pike? It's less explored, more damning and she had on Frank Church's widow to discuss the Church report. She needed to round out the discussion, not hit the same note over and over.

And Frank Church's widow embarrasses herself which is all the reason to bring up the Pike report and establish that Frank Church's widow is not the last word on what America did or needs to do.

We've mentioned the Pike Report before -- many times -- and if I'm looking for an e-mail. Found it, JS e-mailed March 19th to insist we were wrong about the Pike Report because Nightprowlkitty, at The Daily Toilet Scrubber, wrote "I Got Hit by a Swinging Pendulum" (March 9, 2009) wrote:

The Church Committee, for all its important investigation, stopped short of a full exposure of CIA activities. The Pike Committee in the House of Representatives went further, called the CIA a rogue, exposed its contacts with the press, and a result there report was suppressed, and remained so to this very day.

Uh, no. They attempted to suppress it and all the known copies were destroyed except for the copy CBS News had. CBS was deciding what to do and looking like it was going to sit on it when Daniel Schorr began exploring publishing it in book form and finally decided on passing it over to the Village Voice. The Voice published it in full so there's really no reason to claim it is "suppressed" "to this very day" and Nightprowlkitty might feel "I'd like to see our civil liberties watchdog types call for the final declassification of the Pike Committee report" but I believe you can still buy reprints from the Village Voice. (You can certainly go to the rolled film at libraries.)

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