Monday, March 08, 2010

NPR's Quil Lawrence reports elections rigged

Why are elections for Parliament important?
Unlike the U.S., Iraq has no presidential election. The president has a largely ceremonial role, and the real power lies with the prime minister. Voters will cast votes for political parties as well as individual candidates. The political parties have formed alliances with other groups. The alliance that gets the most votes will choose the prime minister and will have greater say in forming a Cabinet.

That's a basic from the Dallas Morning News and it's apparently far too much for far too many. Memorize it and you too can be smarter than a mainstream media reporter. For example, knowing the above makes you smarter than Quil Lawrence and Steve Inskeep this morning on NPR's Morning Edition. Quil wants listeners to know that he talked to some friends on the phone in some provinces and it looks really good for Nouri al-Maliki.

Really, really good.

Do they want Iraqis to think this election is rigged? Is that the message that Quil, AFP and others are trying to send?

In fact, we'll base the title of this entry on that because that's the message being sent. (Do I think they were rigged? I have no reason to think that. But I'm not going around insisting that ___'s won.)

They're going around calling it for Nouri al-Maliki who, let's be really clear, was not running for Prime Minister in the elections. No voter voted him Prime Minister. He ran for a Parliamentary seat just like every other candidate. If he's elected, it's only by those in his district who voted for him. The Parliament will choose who is prime minister.

Quil Lawrence said this morning that it's "probably" not likely that Nouri's political party got enough votes for him to be prime minister automatically.

What the hell is that?

We don't even have results from the parliamentary elections and Quil's gas bagging on about how this can work as a win for Nouri.

The votes aren't counted. There is no reliable exit-polling in Iraq. Reporters need to act like reporters and deal with what is known. What some friend told you in another province? Doesn't really matter. There is no exit-polling. It's hard to figure out whether they're lying for Iraqis or they're lying for American or for both?

Or if they're so full of it that when an election rolls around they have to immediately start gas bagging?

It will most likely be days before results are known. That's not even counting the issue of contesting votes or filing charges of fraud or something else. Alsumaria TV reports, "Upon the end of Parliamentary elections, Iraqi Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi called on the next Parliament to carry out a full investigation concerning elections and the roles of some officials thereto."

So the smart thing to do is to say, "I just don't know." If an idiot like Steve Inskeep asks you on air who the winners are, you just reply, "I just don't know."

When you gas bag forever -- when no ballot results are known -- about how Nouri's probably going to be the next prime minister you send a message to the world: The Iraq results aren't known, but they were fixed.

I don't care if that's your intent or not, that's the message you're sending and it's why you need to please, please stick to reporting. Stop predicitng. Stop gas bagging. Sticks to the facts or retire. Honestly, nobody needs you. Another gas bag offering predictions is the last thing the MSM needs. But if you feel you're so supremely talented in predicting the future, take your ass to Caeaser's and see how much money you make there.

"Land of snap decision, land of short attention spans," as Joni Mitchell so accurately wrote and sang in "Dog Eat Dog" (title track of her 1985 classic).

Sami Moubayed (Asia Times) also wants to gas bag and, in doing so, about a poll, reveals he's using "a government-mandated poll". Oh wow, so that's an 'independent poll'? Nouri's government sponsors a poll that says he's doing well and that's going to cause all the alleged reporters to run with it? Again, there is no reliable exit-polling in Iraq.

Listen to a reporter actually report: Andrew Lee Butters (Time magazine) explains, "With thousands of polling places using paper ballots, and a ban on vehicle travel and other security measures for election day itself, the exact figures on voter turnout, as well as the results themselves, won't be known for days." Here's another example, from CBS News (link has text and video):

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports that Sunday's parliamentary election was a huge logistics exercise, with 10,000 polling centers across the country, a possible 10 million voters, and more than 2,000 candidates.
The results of the pivotal vote will be released within days, the head of the country's election commission said Monday, just a day after Iraqis defied a wave of insurgent attacks and voted in key balloting that will determine whether they can overcome deep sectarian divides that almost tore the nation apart.

Need another example of actual reporting? Here's Ben Knight (Australia's ABC), "Voting in Iraq's parliamentary election has finished and as the long process of counting the votes begins, Iraqis have celebrated their national elections. Counting of the votes is already underway and it is expected to be some days before official results are announced, but there is still danger that the militants who tried to derail yesterday's vote will attack again." And -- pay attention, NPR -- here's another example of actual reporting, this time from Caroline Alexander and Daniel Williams (Bloomberg News): "Vote-counting is under way in Iraq, where citizens defied bombs and mortar shells to get to the polls in yesterday’s national parliamentary election. They probably will face months of haggling by fractious leaders over the formation of a coalition government." Not only are votes still to be counted, Karen Brown (CBS News -- link has text and video) reports that the UN "says ballots will be counted twice and any polling station with significant discrepancies will be audited immediately."

New topic, Danny Schechter slams Kathryn Bigelow. What a proud moment for him, right? And he goes on to note International Women's Day. What a proud, proud moment. It's about time that women in the US said, "F**K International Women's Day." It's the day that allows all the Sexists on the Left to pretend they did something 'for women' when they didn't do s**t as usual.

They never do a damn thing. This is Women's History Month and they don't do a damn thing on that, now do they? Women's History, in the US, doesn't matter. Just as to Danny, Kathryn doesn't matter because she's Anglo White. There's a hierarchy for women in the US, a caste system, imposed by Lefty males who are sexists. This attitude does come through, you're not keeping any secrets. He pits Kathyrn against Mo'Nique and I was going to be kind but now Mo'Nique's on her own. Mo'Nique better enjoy that award because she's not likely to get another. The Academy embraced her Sunday and she gave a speech that spat on them. You need to listen to what she says about and to the Academy that has just given her one of the most prestigious awards in the business. She spat on them. Bad manners? Danny cheers them on. But in the real world, all the talk, at the parties last night and all the gossip this morning, is how the only way she'll be hired for anything prominent and prestigious is if the person wants to fire her. (Marlon Brando's movie with Johnny Depp and Debra Winger in the 90s largely existed just so a Marlon fan could brag he fired Brando. That's not a joke. Non-creative people need their kicks too apparently.) Or take the one-time movie star now doing TV second banana roles whom the industry never forgave for his show of disrespect. But Danny rates Mo'Nique as more 'real' and 'authentic' than Kathryn because Mo'Nique's African-American and/or plus-size. That trumps all for Danny's simplistic 'mind' just as he can only have interest in women if it's International Women's Day as opposed to the US Women's History Month. Women on the left and men on the left who are not sexist need to be calling this crap out.

And we better start grasping how 'anti-war' suddenly matters to Danny. Danny who's applauded Barack non-stop and can't really cover Iraq anymore because he's made a movie or two on the economy since his documentary on Iraq. Among the nonsense he offers:

Kathryn Bigelow did a great job but her 'thank you for your service' pandering in her speech to the military afterwards -- with no statement on the need to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was a disappointment. You can do a film honoring the courage of soldiers and still speak out against war if you have the consciousness to do so.

Has ant-war sentiment become so uncool in Hollywood? Is it because Obama is in office?

I don't think it was pandering and no one I spoke to at any of the post-parties referred to it as pandering. But apparently thanking the military for their service is too much for Danny who wants to return to a different mind-set -- where you refer to all the enlisted as "killers"? Is that it, Danny? I'm not sure because you so very rarely write about Iraq these days and then when you do you're having a fit that Kathryn thanked people for their service. That she wished that they would all come home safely. It was all too much for you. She spoke off the top of her head and was truly surprised with both wins.

She really was surprised. She thought the non-stop attacks on The Hurt Locker as voting wound down meant she wouldn't win Best Director and she never thought The Hurt Locker would get Best Picture. Fortunately, those attacks came from outside the industry. In fact, Danny Schechter, at least some of those attacks were organized by the US military. But you haven't covered that, now have you? Elaine and Mike covered it [see "Los Angeles Times takes dictation from military" and "US military brass organizes attack on The Hurt Locker"] but you didn't, did you? The US military brass calls up the Los Angeles Times and says, "We've got some guys serving in Iraq that you need to talk to about this movie. They don't like it." And the paper runs with it. And where were you, brave News Dissector, where were you?

[Deleted before posting this entry because I'll be kind and bite my tongue.]

I'm so sick of this crap and this attitude that you can spit on women and be cool. One more thing, ABC cameras cutting away? Good. You don't bring banners onstage, I don't care what they say. If the guy had tried to say, "Text . . ." and been cut off, I'd be the first to call it out. But you don't bring banners on stage with you, that's just tacky. (As a nominee or winner, that's tacky. Had a non-industry person interrupted the ceremonies with a banner, I'd probably have laughed and applauded. But there are guidelines for how you behave at an industry event. Taking a banner on stage disgraces the award you've just won and embarrasses everyone in the category.)

Last thought on the Awards (Ava and I may write something at Third on them this Sunday). It's "And the award goes to . . ." Apparently no one had a rehearsal. "The winner is . . ." is, and always has been, frowned upon by the Academy.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "War Hawk Youth Mentor" went up last night.

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