Jan
01
2007

SoundBites

Bush’s Supportive Opponents

New York Times military correspondent Michael Gordon claimed (12/4/06) that “no military expert was more forthright in opposing the Iraq War than [retired marine Gen.] Anthony C. Zinni”—who now wants more troops sent to Iraq. But Zinni was quoted in the Washington Post (2/2/03) shortly before the invasion as saying, “I don’t object to military action against Saddam; in fact, we should have done it a long time ago.” He characterized his objections to the Bush administration’s strategy as based on timing. Earlier (11/15/06), Gordon wrote a piece headlined “Get Out of Iraq Now? Not So Fast, Experts Say,” which reported that the case for withdrawal was “being challenged by a number of military officers, experts and former generals, including some who have been among the most vehement critics of the Bush administration’s Iraq policies.” The three “experts” quoted, however, included Zinni and Kenneth Pollack, a prominent advocate of the invasion; the third “expert,” Gen. John Batiste, was himself part of the invasion. If these are Bush’s “most vehement critics,” how would you describe those who actually said that the invasion of Iraq was a bad idea?

Mythical Newsweek

Newsweek (12/11/06), in post-election myth-busting mode, informed its readers, “One of the myths that the Bush camp has tried to perpetuate over the years is that the president follows the model, learned as a student at Harvard Business School, of a chief executive who delegates, listens to advice and only then decides.” Where had we heard that myth before? In July 2000 (Newsweek.com, 7/26/00), Newsweek cited the “virtues of delegation” Bush learned at Harvard. A month later (8/7/00), we were told that Bush developed his delegate- and-decide approach to leadership there. In December (12/25/00)—in case we’d

forgotten—Newsweek reminded us that Harvard taught Bush “to delegate—to surround yourself with the best and rise with them.” In March 2002 (3/19/02), Newsweek reported that Bush’s war on terror management had its roots in “the classrooms of the Harvard Business School.” If Bush’s MBA management style was a myth the White House was eager to sell, Newsweek was equally eager to buy it—seven times in all from 2000 to 2002.

Two Kinds of Terror

When a young Muslim convert named Derrick Shareef, also known as Talib Abu Salam Ibn, was charged with plotting to set off hand grenades at a Midwestern shopping mall, the story quickly made the media rounds, even though authorities downplayed his threat—Shareef apparently had no terrorist ties and allegedly tried to barter stereo speakers for grenades. A quick search of the Nexis database found 62 stories in just six days. Compare that to the case of Demetrius “Van” Crocker, a Tennessee white supremacist who was sentenced in November to 30 years for possessing and plotting to use illegal explosives, and attempting to obtain chemical weapons. In the two years since his arrest, Crocker’s plans to bomb Congress and unleash Sarin gas against black neighbors have gotten about half the coverage of Shareef’s case; his sentencing garnered a mere five stories in Nexis, three of them variations of the same AP wire story (11/29/06). Apparently “Crocker” doesn’t fit the media’s terror profile as well as “Talib Abu Salam Ibn” does.

Turkey Reporting

There’s plenty going on in Afghanistan today: a resurgent Taliban, massive NATO aerial bombing, increased suicide bombings, civilian deaths, a booming opium trade. With few news outlets still maintaining bureaus in the country, the American public remains mostly unaware of these developments. So when a major network sends a correspondent to Afghanistan, it would seem a natural opportunity to get a handle on a largely forgotten war. But NBC Nightly News correspondent Jim Maceda’s November 26 dispatch skipped over the ongoing violence in the country—that was quickly summarized by anchor John Seigenthaler—in order to present a warm, upbeat story about American soldiers “winning the battle for local support.” Maceda profiled one soldier who “has never met an Afghan child he hasn’t waved to, smiled at or high-fived.” If that didn’t trivialize the ongoing violence enough, check out Maceda’s other report from Afghanistan (11/23/06)—on “Operation Hot Turkey” providing Thanksgiving dinner for U.S. soldiers.

Humor on the Right

Dear Senator Obama,

I’m a student here at Harvard and my mama tells me there ain’t no way a person of color be treated fair in Amerika even if they go to Harvard and [stuff]. You cool with that?

Franklin

Cambridge, Massachusetts

—a Weekly Standard parody (10/30/06)