Last night's broadcast of the PBS NewsHour (11/29/10) offered a discussion of the WikiLeaks documents. Who were the guests? As Judy Woodruff announced: "We turn to two former national security advisers with extensive experience in making and carrying out U.S. foreign policy. " That would be Carter's Zbigniew Brzezinski and George W. Bush's Stephen Hadley. The discussion was about as illuminating as one might expect. Hours later on the Charlie Rose show, guest host Jon Meacham featured a typical Charlie Rose discussion: two reporters from the New York Times and former Clinton State Department aide Jamie Rubin. The Times reporters […]
Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen uses WikiLeaks as a jumping off point to talk about George W. Bush's new book and the run-up to the Iraq War (11/30/10): As my colleague, the indefatigably indefatigable Walter Pincus, has pointed out, Bush manages to bollix up both the chronology and the importance of the various inspections of Iraq's weapons systems so as to suggest that any other president given the same set of facts would have gone to war. "I had tried to address the threat from Saddam Hussein without war," he writes. On that score, he is simply not credible. The […]
Today's New York Times piece (11/29/10) on the re-election of a governor of Okinawa who opposes the U.S. military base there seems to treat the views of the People Who Live There as one thing to maybe think about, and an annoying, in-the-way thing at that, with residents' resistance described, variously, as a "wrench," a "thorn" and a "headache". (Overall, the piece reads a bit like the reaction of the Japanese national government to Hirokazu Nakaima's re-election as "one manifestation of public opinion." Yes, elections are that.) Majority local opposition to the base is noted second, after the Japanese prime […]
WikiLeaks document dumps are largely what media want to make of them. There's one conventional response, which goes something like this: "There's nothing new here, but WikiLeaks is dangerous!" But there's another option: "There's nothing here, except for the part that confirms a storyline we've been pushing." In those cases, WikiLeaks is deemed very, very useful. That was the case with the last batch of WikiLeaks documents, when the New York Times wrote a long piece about what the documents alleged about Iran's involvement in the Iraq War. Journalist Ali Gharib wrote about that issue (and talked to CounterSpin about […]
Right here on November 12, we asked what the New York Times means when it talks about "centrism"– specifically when it comes to Beltway deficit reduction plans. The Times framed the proposal from deficit commission co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson as offering the Obama White House an opening to move to the center. That piece, written by Jackie Calmes, was updated by the very same Jackie Calmes today (11/29/10), as she reported on two pending deficit reduction plans from the liberal/progressive side. As she wrote: Liberal organizations will unveil debt-reduction proposals of their own in the next two days, […]
From Sunday's Washington Post (11/28/10): FBI Foils Elaborate Bomb Plot in Oregon Given the circumstances of this particular case (covered in great detail by Glenn Greenwald), I think the Post meant either "FBI Concocts Elaborate Bomb Plot in Oregon" or"FBI Foils Its Own Elaborate Bomb Plot in Oregon."Even the Post's own account explained in the lead thatthis was "a sting in which the FBI worked extensively with the man and assembled the fake bomb that he twice tried to detonate Friday night."
From one of the Washington Post's stories about WikiLeaks: A senior U.S. intelligence officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be identified, said: "No one should think of American diplomats as spies. But our diplomats do, in fact, help add to our country's body of knowledge on a wide range of important issues. That's logical and entirely appropriate, and they do so in strict accord with American law." The source is anonymous because he must remain…anonymous. Got it.
New York Times reporter Matt Bai apparently really, really cares about the budget deficit– so much so that he's done reporting suggesting that the rest of us care about it as much as he does. He's also demonstrated his concern by writing an outrageously misleading article about Social Security and the deficit (the Times had to correct one of the article's more misleading assertions; Bai falsely claimed that a Democratic congressmember called the Social Security trust fund "make-believe money"). Today (11/24/10) Bai is tackling the furor over TSA airport screening, which is apparently proof that Americans in the age of […]
Yesterday (11/22/10) Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post wrote a column headlined "Obama's Foreign Policy Needs an Update," where he worried that the White House suffers from a"lack of grand strategy — or strategists. Its top foreign-policy makers are a former senator, a Washington lawyer and a former Senate staffer. There is no Henry Kissinger, no Zbigniew Brzezinski, no Condoleezza Rice; no foreign policy scholar." The irony inherit in complaining that Obama's foreign policy is too old-fashioned and in need of some of the old Kissinger magic should be obvious enough. Less clear is why anyone would single out Condoleezza […]
Patrick Cockburn has a wonderful piece in the Independent (11/23/10) on the hazards of embedded journalism that is a must-read. He points out: "Embedding" also puts limitations on location and movement. Iraq and Afghanistan are essentially guerrilla wars, and the successful guerrilla commander will avoid fighting the enemy main force and instead attack where his opponent is weak or has no troops at all. This means that the correspondent embedded with the American or British military units is liable to miss or misinterpret crucial stages in the conflict. Much of the British and American media reporting in Afghanistan since 2006 […]
If you had concluded that the Afghan War was in disarray, the front page of the New York Times today probably didn't do much to change your mind: Taliban Leader in Secret Talks Was an Impostor By DEXTER FILKINS and CARLOTTA GALL KABUL, Afghanistan – For months, the secret talks unfolding between Taliban and Afghan leaders to end the war appeared to be showing promise, if only because of the appearance of a certain insurgent leader at one end of the table: Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, one of the most senior commanders in the Taliban movement. But now, it turns […]
The Irish economy is in need of a $100 billion bailout, thanks in large part to the bursting of its housing bubble. But for years the Irish model was lionized by U.S. pundits. ThinkProgress blogger Matthew Yglesias digs up a 2005 piece by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman that said: There is a huge debate roiling in Europe today over which economic model to follow: the Franco-German shorter-workweek-six-weeks'-vacation-never-fire-anyone-but-high-unemployment social model or the less protected but more innovative, high-employment Anglo-Saxon model preferred by Britain, Ireland and Eastern Europe. It is obvious to me that the Irish-British model is the way […]
In today's New York Times (11/22/10), Kim Severson covers the annual protest at the U.S. military training facility formerly known as the School of Americas. The point of the story, though, is that the protests aren't such a big deal anymore (the headline: "Fort Benning Protest Dwindles, if Not Its Passion.") The dismissive tone was evident in the very first sentence: The annual November protest here at the gates of Fort Benning used to really be something. The "smallest crowd ever" turned out this weekend for the Fort Benning protests–leading the Times to kid that "the times, they are a […]