roberts is the beads of sweat off satan's ass

for mike, let's note something from democracy now:

O'Reilly: Many Katrina Survivors "Drug-Addicted"
Meanwhile Fox News host Bill O'Reilly has been attempting to downplay the government's failure in helping residents of New Orleans evacuate ahead of the hurricane by claiming that many of those who stayed in the city were addicted to drugs or suffered severe emotional problems. "Many, many, many of the poor in New Orleans are in that condition," O'Reilly said. "They weren't going to leave no matter what you did. They were drug-addicted. They weren't going to get turned off from their source. They were thugs, whatever.

the evacuees are drug addicts? wait!

rush was an evacuee? i had no idea he was in new orleans. rush limbaugh just can't catch a break these days. under investigation for his drug addiction, had to go into rehab, dropped as a football commentator and now it seems he was in new orleans on top of everything else. bill o'reilly can be such a catty, mean girl.

why for mike? i love democracy now as well. but mike's dream world is where democracy now is the most linked to news organization in the world. that's a pretty good dream. so i've done my part this week. (my dream world would contain democracy now heard and/or watched in every home in the country as well as men required to work out to achieve various levels of buff - i'll determine for each - and allowed to wear nothing more than shorts or, in the case of hunky ike on mad tv, tighty-whities non-stop.)

thank you to everyone who's been worried about me. i'm feeling better now that the roberts hearings are over. i feel he'll be confirmed and no 1 really cares enough (politicians) to work to stop it. that was depressing, extremely depressing.

kat saved me today by telling me to get off my butt, get dressed and go buy some music. per kat, i bought some laura nyro. i'm not that familiar with her but i'm loving these cds. christmas and the beads of sweat is what's playing right now.

i'm not sure what the title means but i've thought of john roberts and decided that he is beads of sweat off satan's ass. we're about to be stuck with him for life and i'll shut up before i get more depressed.


feeling a little better

so how is everyone feeling this evening?

i'm feeling much better after i got to sound off in last night's gina & krista round-robin roundtable. i'll be participating again tonight and i will be apologizing to c.i. during that. i've asked members to put a tag at the bottom of the posts (i'll explain why in the round-robin so you can read that tomorrow). that's why the morning posts wouldn't go up at the common ills.

you get an error message sometimes with that and you just check to publish anyway in a little square. if c.i. would have seen the screen, no problem. but with dictating and using some 1 not familiar with the blogger program, there was a problem.

so i'll apologize for that tonight in the round-robin and i'll say i'm sorry to any of my readers who are also common ills community members.

for mike, i'll note this from democracy now:

State of Texas Executes Frances Newton
The state of Texas has executed Frances Newton. She was killed by lethal injection shortly after 6 o'clock last night despite widespread calls for a stay of her execution. She is the first African-American woman to be executed in Texas since Reconstruction. Her supporters included Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, the Austin American Statesman and the head of the American Bar Association. Numerous questions were raised about whether Newton received a fair trial when she was convicted of killing her husband and two children 18 years ago. Her state-appointed attorney, Ron Mock, did not interview a single witness in preparation for her trial. He has since been barred from handling capital cases due to incompetence. Hours before her execution, the Supreme Court denied a petition to stop her execution.

by the way, be sure to check out mike's interview with cedric. i'll be interviewed next week. i'm emerging from my funk so hopefully i'll be semi-amusing.

but i watched democracy now this morning and i wasn't amused. i can't believe they really went through with the execution. on the one hand, i can believe it. on the other hand, it makes perfect sense, in the world we live in, that we're all comfortable with the execution of a woman that was given no real defense (the problem for that falls on the state) and that serious questions of guilt had been raised about.

it was too much for us to say, 'hold on, let's seriously look at the new developments.' in 20 or 30 years, i expect that we'll hear that she's been posthumously pardoned. that it turns out she wasn't guilty. and the media will run with it as an example of 'justice.' they may note that many people voiced her probably innocence before she was executed, but they won't make an effort to put any of the officials on the hot spot, if they're still around.

i know that the issues of devestation are important but i do wonder why we could spend so little time on issues like iraq and frances newton? the john roberts confirmation hearings have taken up a large amount of media space. i wish i could say i've been impressed. i haven't. i've listened to pacifica like ruth's recommended and they've done a good job. democracy now has done an excellent job. but most of the media wants to, as c.i. has noted, just since 'you're a good man, charlie brown' over and over.

so it's not even as if they used all the space they devoted to john roberts junior to seriously explore john roberts. the new york times has filed one fan piece after another, many times each day. frances newton gets one small story in the paper of record today.

bully boy's going to speak tonight. god save us all.

gina and krista have a long essay on children's lit in tomorrow's round-robin. so i'll note my pick from sunday's the third estate sunday review book discussion:

Rebecca: I'm going with a book I hated. It left an impression, but I hated it. Martha Tolles' Katie For President. So here's the basic plot. Katie wants to be president of the class. Her rival is Lynne Colby. They don't like each other. Turns out Lynne envies her just as much as Katie envies Lynne. What that has to do with election, I don't know. But Katie has to deliberate over whether to even vote for herself. That's before she finds out that Lynne's an okay person. The "happy" ending? Katie loses the election to Lynne. Katie's fine with it. Even when a note that destroyed her chances to win was written by Lynne's friend and Lynne knew about it. It was all too much to stomach and another "Empathy, girls!" story. Young girls need more victory stories, not lessons in how to be happy about losing.

lauren asked me in an e-mail if i had a book that i really loved when i was little. like ava, i would pick charlotte's web. here's what ava had to say about that book:

Ava: I asked to go first because when this feature was discussed, I claimed E.B. White's Charlotte's Web which was something that many of us involved would have selected. The illustrations are done by Garth Williams and this is a book that had a huge impact on me. It was read to me before I could read myself and it's one I read repeatedly in elementary school. Confession, it's also a book I still pick up when I'm feeling depressed. Last paragraph of the book:

Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren
dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was
in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true
friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.

charlotte's web was my favorite book growing up. ava called it first and got dibs on it but a number of us would have named it. read gina & krista tomorrow because i've read part of their essay and it's amazing.
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sick still

don't expect much tonight. i'm listening to the george galloway debate with christopher hitchesn that democracy now's amy goodman is moderating. besides having my attention on that, i'm also still sick.

sherry wondered about that. i do think it's psychosomatic, sherry. i think the whole possibility that we might lose roe has just really depressed me. add in that, as readers know, my ex-in-laws nixed me writing in detail about my own abortion here and the whole thing is just making me sick.

you can check out friday's gina & krista round-robin which will have the thing i can't post here because god forbid ex-in-laws be embarrassed. i told my ex-husband i was doing that. he's fine with it and fine with it going up here but his parents will make his life hell if i put it up here so i'll just give it to the round-robin. when gina and krista asked me yesterday if i'd like to participate in their round-robin, i told them i was honestly starting to think i'd somehow pissed them off since they hadn't asked. they said that due to the whole 'you will not put the story of your abortion up at your site' bullshit they didn't want to pressure me since they knew it was a sore subject.

i 1st talked about it at their round-robin so maybe it's karmic that they get the essay?

i'm just glad that it's going out somewhere. not just because i slaved over it but also because i don't like being told to shut up no matter how politely.

Sen. Robert Byrd Calls for Withdrawal From Iraq
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, the Senate's most senior member, Robert Byrd called for the Bush administration to withdraw from Iraq and bring the troops home. Byrd said "We cannot continue to commit billions in Iraq when our own people are so much in need, not only now, in New Orleans, but all across America for everything from education to health care to homeland security to securing our own borders."

i'm glad byrd stood up. i am wondering where the others are. the party better grasp where the people stand and grasp it quick.

i've been listening to the debate and need to stop here pretty abrupt. i'm going to go do the round-table. i know this hasn't been much and hopefully i'll be feeling better soon.

here are some quotes from the george galloway and christopher hitchens debate moderated by amy goodman.

'i didn't interrupt you so maybe you won't slobber over my remarks' - george galloway to christopher hitchens tonight at the debate. best line of the night so far.

'now it will be a little more free wheeling' amy goodman just said to much laughter. she really is the coolest news broadcaster we have. i can't say enough good things about her.

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p.r. dept goes to work on colin powell

i had another opening. ava wanted to reply to an asshole who wrote the third estate sunday review. she wanted to do it here to reply immediately and not wait for sunday when 3rd publishes. she's already phoned to ask if she can delete the post.

no problem. but i'll leave in my remarks to the asshole:

i helped with that editorial so i know what it says. we don't need someone trying to rescue john roberts junior. jim encourages that crap because he replies to those lunatics.
let me boil it down to you if you're in a hurry. the editorial basically says 'we don't think john roberts junior is qualifed to be an apple.' the idiot writes us 'well other people have been apples in the past!' so what? loser. take it over to your right-wing buddies. no 1 on the left needs to hear from you. what a dumb ass ---- ----- is.

he's a right-winger for john roberts junior and he thinks we're running some mainstream community, that we're the new york times or something.

we're a community for the left.

only a dumb ass comes to any of our sites and expects to find something they'll agree with.

maybe this is how he gets his jollies?

maybe it gets him hot and bothered to write his nonsense?

who knows.


for mike, here's my democracy now link for the day:

72% of African-Americans Say Bush Doesn't Care About Them
A new USA Today Poll has found that 72 percent of African-Americans feel that President Bush does not care about the country's Black population. 67 percent of white respondents said he did.

i don't think it needs a lot of further comment. this is what african-americans are feeling. condi rice says 'that's not true!' well condi, it's what people are feeling. it is valid. and the gop and the bully boy have a history so if people want to make conclusions, especially after what happened in florida in 2000 and in ohio in 2004, they have every right to.

now let's talk about abc. c.i. and ava have both written about this and i'm offended as well.

colin powell put on the spot. he hems, he haws, he sputters. on tv. for the whole world to see.

and yet abc pretties it up.

i represented a pot head, tv actor once. he lit up during an interview. i knew that was going to make it into the story. but he also stumbled the higher he got.

i had to beg to get the starts and stops, the 'uhs' and the 'man's out of the interview. i did that because p.r. was my job.

(and because he was a teeny favorite who's image was that he was thoughtful and well spoken.)

to get the junk removed, i had to arrange an interview with this very minor magazine for a much bigger name. that was the trade off.

there was nothing journalistic about the trade off.

the reporter (and the magazine) wanted the bigger name. so they were willing to go along with me. my job was to make teen cheech not look like a chong.

if colin powell was my client, i would've done the same thing.

but i was in p.r. i wasn't a journalist.

p.r. ethics, such as they are, allowed me to do that. my job was to make a client look better than he or she was. short of committing a crime, anything i did to see that a client came off good was within the ethics of my profession.

but the journalist who not only removed the "uh"s and the "man"s but also added in a literary reference that the kid couldn't have made with a book open in front of him? the journalist wasn't upholding any ethics.

now that happens all the time in entertainment coverage.

'straight' actors and actresses drink too much and proposition the same-sex interviewer.

i'm not talking about flirting or flattery. the smart ones do that and the interview turns into its own seduction.

but they do sometimes do more. and it doesn't make into the published reporting. or when they're doing drugs.

tom cruise is getting his worst publicity ever. that has to do with the fact that pat kingsley is no longer there to protect him. he's no represented by his sister who is probably very loyal but she's in over her head (my opinion). she's also dealing with all the rules that kingsley laid down and all the demands that were made.

the press has wanted to trash tom cruise for years. mainly because of the rules imposed. including, but not limited to:

*10-20 minute interviews for a cover story

*being lied to - such as when tom cruise was about to divorce mimi rogers but reporters were told their marriage was great. when time and rolling stone hit the stands with their cover stories on tom cruise and the wonderful marriage, the daily news papers were already reporting that the marriage was over - and embarrassed.

*being told when it would run and being told that information gathered could only be used for that piece. not for a later piece.

there were many more rules.

tom cruise may or may not have wanted the rules. but the press was pissed for years. now he's got his sister representing him and stuff they would have covered up or ignored they now address.

over and over.

that's the way things go in entertainment reporting.

that's not supposed to be how real news is handled.

so why did abc clean up colin powell's quote?

why did they make him sound calm, smooth and not upset?

if powell comes off in print as he did on tv, what does that say?

does it say that he's not as determined if he's stammering? if he's saying 'uh' over and over?

from a public relations point of view it does.

his statement, from a p.r. point of view, are a nightmare.

he needs to be firm, resolute and the words just rolling off his tongue to reflect that we are at war and we need to be at war.

putting the truth in changes that.

read c.i.'s 'ABC "fixes" Colin Powell' and read ava's 'Note from Ava on ABC's altering Colin Powell's remarks' and realize how the so called 'news' will always suck up to certain individuals even if means altering the public record.

and read ava and c.i.'s "TV Review: Barbara and Colin remake The Way We Were" which will bring you the reality that abc doesn't want to.


democracy now, 'commerical free' newshour, c.i. on reporting from the green zone

never let it be said i didn't help mike. he called and asked me if i would please highlight one item from democracy now each day this week.

John Roberts Nomination Hearing Begins Today
The nomination hearing of John Roberts to be Chief Justice of the United States begins today. The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin meeting at noon in Washington. Democrats plan to question Roberts on another of issues including his attacks on affirmative action and school busing; his criticism of a proposal to equalize pay between men and women; and his narrow interpretation of the Voting Rights Act and other civil rights laws. Several national groups, including People for the American Way, have already called on the Senate to reject Roberts' nomination in part because so little is known about his judicial views. He has only served as a judge for three years. If confirmed to this lifetime post, the 50-year-old Roberts will become the youngest chief justice in over 200 years. President Bush has yet to announce whom he will nominate to fill the other open seat on the Supreme Court.

john roberts. i left on vacation and the democrats didn't have a plan. i listened to hearings today on pacifica and they still don't have a plan. and since the democrats, elected 1s, won't do anything, the press won't either. that's how the mainstream press works. 'balance' means they'll grab a quote here and then one from the opposing side.

they wouldn't really report on it regardless. but if senate dems were making noises, the press would report on it. instead the new york times run sheryl gay stolbergs' "Roberts Spotlight Falls on Senators, Too" which seems amazed that no one's talking about roberts. as though the press didn't play a strong role in that.

i've had the tv on and i want to note something about the newshour on pbs, they do commercials. quit pretending otherwise. yes, they just did a title card for pacific lite and c.i.t.
but they showed actual commericals for smith barney and adm.

eddie e-mailed me asking me to please note c.i.'s editorial from saturday. i really don't feel well today (i'm sneezy and a snot factory) and probably would have forgotten it if eddie hadn't e-mailed so i appreciate eddie reminding me of it because this is an important editorial. hopefully, you've already seen it but if you haven't, read it. take my word, take eddie's, this is important and needs to be said.

how important was it to c.i. to say it? c.i. got no sleep friday. woke up and mid-day discovered there was a last minute trip out of time. c.i. had to dictate the entries that made it up friday night. then when it could have been sleep after a late night strategy meeting, c.i. was back on the phone (check the times on those entries) dictating the editorial.

no sleep friday night and the next day is saturday which means an all nighter. c.i. was up from friday morning until sunday after the morning posts were done at the common ills because saturdays, we all assist at the third estate sunday review. 'no sleep till brooklyn' cried the beasties boys. for c.i., i'll say 'and then some.'

when i say c.i. needs to take time off, i always get a few e-mails ragging me on that. but that's why i say it. no sleep from friday morning until sunday morning after the chat and chews were off the air.

so while c.i. could have been grabbing a few hours sleep, instead the time was spent dictating this editorial. it was important to c.i. and it's important to eddie and it's important to me. i hope it's important to you too.

"Editorial Reading press releases, live from the Green Zone"
[Note: This is an editorial.]

What the hell goes on in the Green Zone? Forget the rumors that led to a guild becoming involved (rumors of wild behavior on the part of Times reporters, rumors that someone was fired for telling truths to wives back in the United States, rumors, rumors, rumors), exactly what do they do?
Not a whole hell of a lot.
The big Iraq news of the week was Tal Afar. The Times front paged Kirk Semple's " Baseball in Iraq: As Pastimes Go, It's Anything But." Apparently the jock fumes reach the Green Zone as well. (Though I'll refrain from pinning this one on Todd S. Purdum.)
This is a front page story. Why? Not because it's a big story in Iraq. It's not. It's a piece of disgraceful fluff. It's Operation Happy Talk. And while it goes on, while we're bored with a non-story passing for front page news, the Times can't even report on Tal Afar.
What do they do in the Green Zone?
Yes, Friday, finally, a story ran in the Times on Tel Afar: "U.S.-Iraqi Sweep Arrests 200 in Rebel Staging Area" but the Times receives no credit for that article, it's an Associated Press article. Whatever it's positives or minuses, all the Times did was run a report by another news organization.So what do they do in the Green Zone?
And what the hell is Robert F. Worth? Is he a reporter? Is he an op-ed writer? Read"Basra Bombs Kill 16 Iraqis and 4 U.S. Contractors" and try to answer that question.
I'm unable to grasp how, in a story on bombings, this opening qualifies for a news report:
There was also a piece of good news: American military officials said [. . .]
What did "American military officials" say? It doesn't matter for this discussion. (A contractor was released.) What is that judgement call ("good news") doing in the paper? Is Worth channeling Matt Lauer? Tip to Worth: "In other news . . ." You're supposed to be reporting. You're not there to editorialize. The sentence, the part noted above, reveals all that is wrong with the Times reporting on Iraq.
"American military officials said . . ." That's the basis for every damn thing. (Yes, I'm tossing around "damn." Call me Bumiller. But "damn" is much more mild than the word I'm saying outloud as I dictate this.) Reporters are supposed to serve as the eyes and ears of the public. That's why they're called the "watch dogs." That's not happening when every "report" is a press release. "American military officials said . . ." And what did you see Robert F. Worth? What did you hear? Not what were you told. What did you observe all by yourself?
Or does that require leaving the Green Zone? From all accounts, it's Delta House there so who would want to leave -- other than someone with a modicum of taste?
Look they can Boys Gone Wild it or not all they want in the Green Zone, I don't care. I do care what makes into print but I wonder if anyone reporting from the Green Zone does?
I did a conference call with three friends (reporters) on this asking them to play devil's advocate so I could anticipate the responses. (The Times would call the phone call "reporting.")
So here's the big argument. "It's not safe. I could lose my life."You know what, cover cook-offs. If that's your excuse, cover cook-offs. No one's forcing you to be there. The paper certainly isn't forcing anyone. Reporters are choosing to be there. If you're a reporter and you're there, you need to be reporting.
It's not safe, doesn't cut it. It wasn't safe for Daniel Pearl. He went after the story. Others have before him and will after. The attitude of "Oh it's tough here so you have to cut me slack" doesn't wash. You get off your asses or the Times needs to appoint J-school graduates who are ready to dig in and find stories. (Which the Times, being the Times, will water down. But a diluted news report is still more powerful than any of the diluted press releases that regularly get filed.)
There is nothing, I repeat nothing, that reporters can point to with pride coming out of Iraq for the paper. You're not making a name for yourself. The t-shirt you should be furnished with when you depart can only proclaim: "I SURVIVED THE GREEN ZONE." That's all that's being done. Reporting isn't being done. (And the Times is becoming a joke to other print organizations over their "reporting" from Iraq.)
Want a blast from the past? Try this ("More Iraqi Army Dead Found in Mosul; 2 Clerics Slain," November 23, 2004):
Basic services are still unavailable in Falluja, and the valves in the city's main water-treatment plant are still not working. But troops will provide bottled water until the plant and the city's heavily damaged water and sewer pipes can be fixed, the general said.
The general said it, did he? Well Richard A. Oppel. Jr. and James Glanz, did you follow up on that? Or did you just print what you were told? (Rhetorical question.)
Does anyone working for the Times in Iraq do anything more than play telephone chain? Does anyone not buckle immediately?
From Molly Bingham's "Home From Iraq" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution):
The intimidation to not work on this story was evident. Dexter Filkins, who writes for The New York Times, related a conversation he had in Iraq with an American military commander... Towards the end of one of their conversations, Dexter declined an invitation for the next day by explaining that he'd lined up a meeting with a "resistance guy." The commander's face went stony cold and he said, "We have a position on that." For Dexter the message was clear. He cancelled the appointment.
If you're going to discuss Iraq, you have to discuss Filkins at some point. I'm aware it's more pleasing to discuss Judith Miller. But if she had a part in getting us over into Iraq, it's the "reporters" like Filkins who keep us there. For the record, Filkins has denied Bingham's version of the events. People will have to make up their own minds as to whom to take the word of.
While you're attempting to sort that out, let's again note this:
Christian Parenti mentioned Filkins last night on The Laura Flanders Show: "Dexter Filkins politics are very different from the Dexter Filkins politics we know in the New York Times. [In person, he's saying] 'Oh it's awful, the situation is totally out of control.'" That's a paraphrase (I've left out a "Dude" among other things).
Oh, it's awful, the situation is totally out of control?Didn't seem that way when Filkins reported "In Faulluja, Young Marines Saw the Savagery of an Urban War" -- his rah-rah-rah piece of "award winning" journalism. Six days after the battle (Nov. 15), Filkins' story makes it into print. Exactly how slowly does he type? Exactly whom edited that copy?
From Dahr Jamail's "Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation" (pdf format, you can find the quote below at this site here):
Burhan Fasa'a, a cameramn with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC), witnessed the first eight days of the fighting. "I entered Falljuah near the Julan Quarter, which is near the General Hospital," he said during an interview in Baghdad. "There were American snipers on top of the hospital," who, he testified, "were shooting everyone in sight." The Iraqi Red Crescent would have to wait a full week before being permitted to dispatch three ambulances into the city.
Not quite the way Filkins reported it. For that matter, not quite the way Richard A. Oppel, Jr. and James Glanz report it. (They report that the Iraqi Red Crescent found no one when they entered Falluja. They just fail to seriously address why that is.) It goes beyond Filkins but Filkins has the prize and he contributed the go-go boy gone wild story that portrays a massacre as a video game. Reality: Preceding the blood bath, males of "fighting age" were prevented from leaving that city. The destruction was severe and has not been "fixed." (Does the United States military still provide bottled water? Did they ever? Not what they told you, but what you could verify, please.)
Press releases continue to pass for reporting ("Hussein Confessed to Massacre Order, Iraqi President Says") and they should all be worried. They're the upcoming Judy Millers. They're the laughingstock of many of their peers. (Filkins epecially whose appearance on Terry Gross's Fresh Air is legendary -- and the tales repeated of it are far more interesting than what he actually said on air.)
Let's note this:
On this 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Amy Goodman, host of the national radio and TV show "Democracy Now!" is submitting a formal request to the board of the Pulitzer Prize, calling for The New York Times and its reporter William Laurence to be stripped of the 1946 Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the atomic bomb. Laurence was also on the payroll of the US War Department. Goodman recently wrote an Op-Ed in The Baltimore Sun (written with journalist David Goodman, her brother) called "The Hiroshima Coverup" (see http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0805-20.htm ).Goodman said, "William Laurence and the New York Times won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the atomic bomb, and his faithful parroting of the government line was crucial in launching a half-century of silence about the deadly lingering effects of the bomb. It is time for the Pulitzer board to strip the atomic bomb apologist and his newspaper of this undeserved prize."
This is Filkins future. I used to assume that it would take place long after he was gone. (And long after I was gone.) But he's the one reporters bring up to me. They're friends and they know I consider his reporting proganda. (Had the election gone differently, would his story have been more realistic?) So maybe they're just saying what they say to please me? I don't think so. (I could, as always, be wrong.)
But away from them, when you walk someone through Filkins reporting, someone who has no idea who he is, they grasp that its people like Filkins that keep us in Iraq.
By failing to report accurately what Operation Enduring Falsehood did (and what they do) they allow a number of otherwise well meaning people to think "fine tuning" is an answer. (Filkins is also a laughing stock for a TV appearance I missed. He supposedly minimized a trial for the abuses of Abu Ghraib -- with regard to instructions from above.) Fine tuning isn't an answer. As Filkins allegedy told Parenti, "It's totally out of control." Until that truth makes it into the reports, I'm saddened by those who argue fine tuning and aren't war hawks but I don't blame them for the failures of the press to report reality. They're being short changed. (Hawks aren't. They don't need excuses to continue war. They thrive on it the way some in the Green Zone thrive on the chaos.)
But here's the reason Filkins may feel the bite while he's still alive. Some domestic reporters in the United States aren't speaking fondly of the embeds. They're pointing fingers right now as the clampdowns that reporters have gone along with in Iraq come home to the United States.
The Boys Gone Wild are also a joke to people who've served in the area. And those first hand accounts will continue to come out. A Worth or Glanz will be embarrassed for being so quick to print press releases, but Filkins was in Falluja. He saw with his own eyes and he didn't report.
The bodies, the limbs piled up in the streets, Filkins somehow missed. And he was there. A friend at one of the top ten (circulation) dailies has gone from lukewarm support of Filkins' infamous "reporting" to outright disgust with it. The opinion is there is no "comeback" from it. That Filkins could do a mea culpa and return his prize and he'd still be damaged goods.
That kind of talk may not make it into the Green Zone but Filkins should worry. And so should the paper.
In an early November piece on Falluja (this one co-written with James Glanz), a military officer told Filkins that "it ought to go down in history." Filkins accepted the gung-hu attitude, too bad he didn't consider the words themselves. This will go down in history. This will haunt the Times and it will haunt Filkins.
Amy and David Goodman may not get the Times stripped of a Pulitizer (though I hope they do) but just addressing the issue accomplishes something. And when the issue of Dexter Filkins is seriously addressed it will further tarnish the paper's name.
With Judith Miller, the paper waited far too late to address the situation. (Both her reporting itself and the legal argument they attempt to make -- they not Millers' attornies.) If they hem and haw with regards to what passes for "reporting" from Iraq currently, they'll further hurt their already badly damaged reputation. In the meantime, by not revisiting the press releases they published, they do real reporting, democracy and the people of the United States a huge disservice because they're not reporting. It took Cindy Sheehan to act as the spark to wake up a nation. The Times could have done that long ago with some strong reporting. It shouldn't be the job of the editorials to try to later straighten out the reporting.
And as the press in the United States feels they're under attack, they're making some rather rude comments about those in the Green Zone that they feel have condoned this sort of behavior.
Democracy Now! noted the following Friday:
The journalists who have been covering Hurricane Katrina have literally been risking their lives for the last week. Reporters have been stationed in and around New Orleans since the Hurricane hit and have tirelessly reported on the devastation to the city. Some journalists have expressed enormous outrage at government officials for their slow response. A few television reporters openly broke down on air as they report the horrific conditions and the desperation of victims. Reporters have witnessed the militarization of the city and are starting to feel the effects of the government crack-down on information gathering. FEMA is now rejecting requests by journalists to accompany rescue boats searching for storm victims. In addition, journalists are being asked not to photograph any dead bodies in the region. NBC News Anchor Brian Williams reported on his blog, that police officers had been seen aiming their weapons at members of the media. And a blogger named Bob Brigham wrote a widely read dispatch that the National Guard in Jefferson County are under orders to turn all journalists away. Brigham writes: "Bush is now censoring all reporting from New Orleans, Louisiana. The First Amendment sank with the city."Earlier this week, Reporters Without Borders issued a warning about police violence against journalists working in New Orleans. They highlighted two cases – in one case police detained a Times-Picayune photographer and smashed his equipment to the ground after he was seen covering a shoot-out with police. In the second case, a photographer from the Toronto Star was detained by police and his photos taken from him when police realized that he had snapped photos of a clash between them and citizens who the police claimed were looters.
Those in the Green Zone may have kidded themselves, if they were non-Arabic, that they weren't being controlled. It was just the Arabic reporters suffering, right?
A Dexter Filkins could cancel the meeting with the resistance and kid himself that he made the choice. (Like Madonna' s ludicrous claim in the nineties that the difference was she chained herself.) The "choices" that have been made are now impacting reporters outside the Green Zone and they aren't amused. That's why the Times should be concerned. The rumblings and grumblings are coming from their competitors. Not from independent media, which the Times would easily dismiss (as it so often does). I don't know that other dailies are doing a better job than the Times (the daily I read is the New York Times). They seem to think to think they are. Three reporters in particular (two at one organization, one at another) are mentioned repeatedly (by press not affiliated with the two organizations).
The Times is aware that Judith Miller has become the fall guy for every reporter that gave breathless (and non questioning) coverage to WMD claims. So they're familiar with the concept of a fall guy. (They've also created a few over the years.) They should be really concerned right now because although Filkins isn't the "name" that Miller is (even people who didn't read her reporting in real time can now list the problems with it), he'll quickly become that. One reporter trying to cover New Orleans has already used Filkins as an adjective to express dismay over conditions that authorities attempted to impose. ("They thought I'd do a Filkins!")
Whereas the derision of Miller began with the independent press, Filkins' is starting at the top. Again, he wrote a first person account of what happened in Falluja. That's hard to come back from as details continue to emerge about what didn't get reported in that piece of melodrama.
The paper should be very worried. It took years for the criticism of Miller to go beyond independent media. If Filkins gets burned by the mainstream press, it will be a much harder hit than any criticism the Times faces over Miller.
The fact that they've continued to offer press releases won't help them either. They should have dealt with this long ago. They need a new chief in Baghdad and they need it right away.
What Americans need is some honest reporting.