May 18, 2006
That al Qaeda Doesn't Believe in Transparency is a Big Reason We Do
On Tony Snow's first briefing: "One of the ways to fight and win (in a global contest of ideas) is to stand at the podium, with those words The White House behind you, and meet your misinformed critics head on." Plus: Snow scoffs at "rollback" on the HH show.
At his first televised press briefing Tony Snow was friendly, telegenic, and in command, except for one very real moment when, overcome at having survived cancer, he could not go on. “He showed more emotion in 60 seconds than Scott McClellan did in three years,” wrote Howard Kurtz.
McClellan’s style—a few posts ago I called it “strategic non-communication”—was the big loser in press accounts of Snow’s debut.
- Financial Times: “Snow, a former Fox News presenter, brought a new, idiosyncratic style to the daily briefing that had regressed to an arid showcase of administration talking points.”
- Dana Milbank in the Washington Post: “Rather than repeating rote refusals to answer questions, Snow had a quick comeback for every occasion.”
- William Triplett, Daily Variety: “Unlike his predecessor, Scott McClellan, who developed a rep as a brusque stonewaller, Snow, his hands casually holding the podium sides, generally engaged questioners with eye contact and a seeming desire to answer.”
- Vaughn Ververs at CBS Public Eye: “Where McClellan often appeared robotic and repetitive, Snow was much more expansive, getting into areas of broad strategy and seeming engaged as much in the debate of the immigration issue as in an explanation of the president’s position.”
- Michael Scherer in Salon: “[Tony Snow] is, in other words, a human being, and that makes him a dramatic departure from his predecessor, Scott McClellan, the doughy master of equivocation and non sequitur who behaved most days like a misfiring automaton, barely betraying any light behind his eyes.”
According to Scherer an initiation test had been passed. “Members of the press corps were thankful for warm blood. As they packed up their notebooks, they were visibly giddy, offering approbations like, ‘That was A-1’ and ‘It’s going to be fun.’” Howard Kurtz was impressed. He said Snow was more “interesting to listen to” because he tried “engaging the press in a conversation” and stayed out of “the defensive crouch.”
“Yes, he split plenty of hairs,” Kurtz wrote. “But he didn’t insult the press by saying, in effect, no matter what questions you ask, I’m going to repeat the same boilerplate phrases.”
Dan Froomkin disagreed. He said Snow “found new ways to insult the press.” Among them: “He misreported poll numbers when it served his purposes — then refused to answer questions about poll numbers he didn’t like.” True. He did exactly that. (Correction: no misreporting; see the top of WHB.)
Snow also said he couldn’t confirm or deny that the National Security Agency was collecting data on domestic telephone calls, but then he did talk about public reaction to those reports. “Something like 64 percent of the polling was not troubled by it,” he said. Under these rules Snow does not defend the NSA program on the merits (can’t confirm its existence) but suggests Americans are sold on the merits.
The beast controls itself
Eric Brewer of BTC News was present: “There were 22 questions about Bush’s immigration speech, 5 on the NSA phone records story, 1 on Karl Rove, and 0 on ABC’s claim that the FBI is using National Security Letters to obtain phone records of journalists without judicial oversight and without informing the journalists (that was the question I tried to ask).”
Brewer’s list shows why the briefing can be such an advantage to the White House. The president gives a big speech on immigration; next day, the press asks 22 questions about immigration. It’s called feeding the beast. Give the reporters something to report and you’ve set their agenda.
It’s true that if Karl Rove were indicted that day there might have been 30 questions on Rove, and four on immigration, speech or no speech. You can’t always control the beast. But on a normal day the beast is docile; it controls itself. The White House is doing immigration week, the press is “on” it. That Porter Goss resigned last week without explanation, calling it “one of those mysteries,” is easily forgotten.
At his first (untelevised) press gaggle, May 12, Snow said that “rumors of the televised briefings demise are greatly exaggerated.” Those weren’t rumors. On April 30, his boss, chief of staff Joshua Bolter, told Fox News that dropping the midday televised briefing should be on the table.
“I haven’t made any decisions,” Snow said Friday. He repeated this Tuesday. The ritual will continue for now. If there are any changes “I will do that in full consultation with you,” he told the press. He also said he didn’t think the televised briefings were “something that you can undo.”
I disagree with that. All it takes is a president with the will to undo and they’re done.
In my view there should be both televised and untelevised briefings. But mainly there should be more briefings: a full schedule every day, and the staff to make it happen since Snow cannot do them all.
A contest for world opinion
Rather than cutting back on the interlocutors’ space, the Bush Administration should be expanding it outward to take in more interlocutors— more Q’s, more A’s, from more people and more interests.
For if there really is a Global War on Terror and it’s being led from the White House, then the people there are engaged in a contest for world opinion. The National Security Strategy Bush proclaimed in 2002 says just that: “We will also wage a war of ideas to win the battle against international terrorism.” You don’t wage a war of ideas with Scott McClellan as one of your big guns. But with Tony Snow…? Maybe.
Last year Donald Rumsfeld offered this assessment of the war in Iraq:
The only way we can lose this is if we lack political will to see it through. The terrorists, the violent terrorists, the enemies of the Iraqi people and the legitimate Iraqi government and the new Iraqi constitution, they know that. They know precisely that their battle is not in Iraq. Their battle is here in the United States. They have media committees, they calculate how they can have the greatest impact on the media in the world, and they are very skillful at it and we’re not.
Well, if our enemies are having greater effect on “the media in the world,” as Mr. Rumsfeld said, that argues for trying something different— really different. Like reverse course different.
My suggestion: the White House should be answering lots of people’s questions— in fact, many more questions from all over the world. One of the ways to fight and win (in a contest of ideas) is to stand at the podium, with those words The White House behind you, and meet your misinformed critics head on, while talking sense to those—in the room, out in the country, around the world—who are fair and open-minded.
Taking Bush’s case to the world
No decision yet on whether to drop the briefings? If he’s a believer, Tony Snow should be taking Bush’s case to the world, and seeking opportunities to make that case. That means more briefings. Not cutting back but building on.
Snow is the head of an operation. That operation includes able assistants. There are extremely competent people across the government, outside of Snow’s office, who in their areas of knowledge can also brief the press, answer critics, and bring policy to life.
I’d go with two-person teams: one briefer pulled from the government itself (someone in the line of duty for the United States) and the other a deputy press secretary working for Snow. Here’s a schedule I drew up:
8:00 AM… Televised Briefing in Arabic (For journalists from the Muslim world and the Arabic speaking press. You make the evening news in Cairo and Baghdad that night, and the newspapers the next day.)
9:00 AM… Press Gaggle (On the record, audio-cast, not televised, transcripts by noon; this event exists now.)
10:00 AM… Bloggers Briefing. (It’s like a gaggle for stand alone and citizen journalists who self-publish. Same rules.)
11:00 AM… Q and A with the International Press (With a daily briefing open to all, more foreign news providers will send a person to Washington. Televised, in English.)
12:30 PM… The White House Daily Briefing (Televised, the way it is now. Mainly the American news media, and major foreign providers.)
3:00 PM… All-Faith Briefing. (For the religious press worldwide, same rules as the gaggle.)
4:00 PM… Today in the Global War on Terror. (On the record, audio-cast. Talks about progress and obstacles.)
5:00 PM… The Closer. (An update to all of the above with revisions, clarifications, corrections.)
During his debut Snow reminded Helen Thomas that there’s a war on terror. “But al Qaeda doesn’t believe in transparency,” he added. “What al Qaeda believes in is mayhem.” There’s two ways to read that. In one, the United States cannot afford its earlier levels of transparency because it has to defeat al Qaeda, which doesn’t have to worry about such things. I believe this logic helped justify the policy of rollback— back ‘em off, starve ‘em down, and drive up their negatives.
The other read cuts an opposite way: al Qaeda doesn’t believe in transparency and that’s a big reason we do. We know al Qaeda can’t answer the questions people have. We know that we can. Never will Qadea’s leaders stand before the cameras and take the heat. But we do that every day, eight times a day, fielding questions from all over the world.
After Matter: Notes, reactions & links…
Here’s the transcript of my live Q and A at washingtonpost.com, May 18. Main topics were the Bush White House and the press, including Tony Snow’s debut. Two highlights:
Scott McClellan was Agnew at the podium.
Okay, too glib. But you get the point.
Or you will if you read the thing. Also there’s…
My very strong impression after watching Snow this week is that to have a potential star in the Administration preaching from the podium would be a new dynamic in the Bush White House, and probably not welcome to all power players in the West Wing. Snow has charisma, and convictions. He’s articulate, quick on his feet. He could become a factor. But what happens when he has to defend the indefensible? Then we’ll see what moxy he has.
Tim Schmoyer (Sisyphus) comments on this post: OldThink at PressThink… He’s not impressed.
Vaughn Ververs at Public Eye:
Rosen’s suggestion sounds good in the abstract, and there’s something to be said from a public relations standpoint about answering critics and bringing a policy “to life.” From a practical point of view, however, message management has a way of breaking down when you add so much to the mix. Rarely is there room on the national news agenda for more than a couple large stories each day, and dispersing the administration’s focus each day seems to risk dispersing the message. If, the day after President Bush delivers a national address on immigration, you have eight different briefings with eight different briefers, that is a certain recipe for confusion.
Let’s put it this way: Has the Bush Administration actually behaved like it’s in a war of ideas? That is the question my suggestion was intended to raise. My answer is: no way.
Terry Mattingly at GetReligion, a blog about the press and religion, considers my suggestions. “The hard part would be deciding who would be left out. Obviously, Richard Ostling of the Associated Press gets in. Ditto for someone from Catholic News Service and Baptist Press. Ditto for the likes of World and Christianity Today. Is the key question whether someone carries a mainstream press card? That would narrow the field too much… I think that a ‘God room’ would ask some very different and, in some ways, very tough questions.
Rollback news flash! “Leftist overthink,” and nothing to worry about, says Snow. On his radio program yesterday, Hugh Hewitt interviewed Tony Snow and asked him about a theory of mine. (Transcript.)
HH:: One of the lead bloggers of the left, Jay Rosen, up at New York University, who writes at PressThink, has argued that this Adminsitration is intent on “rollback,” the delegitimzation of the White House press corps and main stream media generally, and part of that was to deny the spokespeople and including the number one spokesperson, in this case you, the ability to reply effectively, is that just sort of leftist overthink?
TS: I think so, yeah. You know, it has always been the case that there are certain things that a press secretary can’t talk about, such as matters of national security. Jay can go back and look through every White House, and you’re going to find that there are times that even when you want to swing back, and even when you’ve got great facts at hand, you can’t. You know, there are just certain boundaries you can’t cross.
There are also always going to be areas in which the press wants to get involved, whether it be interior deliberations or that sort of stuff, and being legally trained, you know that there are certain things, certain precedents that you don’t want to blow, even from the podium as press secretary. So there are constraints that you operate under. But every press secretary has had to deal with it, and it is nothing unique to this White House.
Well, thanks. That a press secretary can’t tell reporters everything because there are secrets of state that are not to be divulged is true—and obvious—and, yes, it has always has been thus. But this has nothing to do with rollback, as I have discussed it. (Also see Austin Bay’s guest post at PressThink.) So I can’t glean anything from Snow’s reply. It’s a bromide.
Here’s what Hewitt should have asked him:
Vice President Cheney has said that after Watergate and Vietnam the executive branch saw its perogatives trimmed. He thinks it got hemmed in by other institutions and their oversight demands. Do you think the news media is one of those institutions from which the White House has to regain lost powers?
Maybe next interview. Hewitt asked Snow about paying attention to blogs. Snow said:
TS: Well, we’re in the process of designating people to be…to sort of do blog work, because that is one of the things that I’m doing here, at sort of the press office, is to get us up on the new media. And so I still haven’t finished that task, but I’m going to start designating people to keep an eye out on certain blogs, so we can figure out an effective strategy… blogs are useful not only for information, but also for various analysis. You get it into the bloodstream, and boom. People start linking all across the universe, and it’s like one of those pictures of a crack in the ice. It just spiderwebs everywhere.
Posted by Jay Rosen at May 18, 2006 1:20 AM
Who's Being Rolled?, or, "Old Media" vs "New Media"
Tony Snow: Well, we’re in the process of designating people to be to sort of do blog work, because that is one of the things that I’m doing here, at sort of the press office, is to get us up on the new media....I’m going to start designating people to keep an eye out on certain blogs, so we can figure out an effective strategy....You get it into the bloodstream, and boom. People start linking all across the universe, and it’s like one of those pictures of a crack in the ice. It just spiderwebs everywhere.
Jay: Rather than cutting back on the interlocutors’ space, the Bush Administration should be expanding it outward to take in more interlocutors— more Q’s, more A’s, from more people and more interests.
It will be interesting to see if the White House implements this sort of outward-expanding strategy on-line, even if they don't go with your suggestion of more press briefings. Last week, Hugh Hewitt was urging Donald Rumsfeld to adopt a similar "new media" strategy at the Pentagon:
Hugh Hewitt: Are the pressers like the sort you just concluded, ten minute interviews and an occasional Sunday show, sufficient for you and the military to get across not only the good news, but the bad news, the challenges, the strategy? Are you using last war techniques in the new war?
Donald Rumsfeld: To a certain extent, we are still using the old 20th century techniques. And we're trying to figure them out and adjust them, and adapt them to the 21st Century. But it's painfully slow. People get set in their ways, and it's a difficult thing to do. We do provide, the Pentagon does, an enormous amount of information. There's someone briefing at the Pentagon, somewhere in the world, every day. And there are people providing information to people in a variety of different ways: through our website, through the Pentagon channel, through radio and television and print media. But it is still basically, I would guess, 80% 20th Century, and maybe 20% 21st Century.
My guess is that Hewitt and Snow would claim that there is no "rollback", just a shifting of emphasis from "old media" to "new media" channels of communication. I suppose there's an element of truth (truthiness?) to that, but it's not the whole story.
OK students, settle down. Our professor, Dr Rosen, is a very clever man, but a little impatient.
What is the motive behind his elaborate proposal for all-day briefings by the White House (besides using it to apply for a job in a Feingold Administration)?
It is, as he says, “mostly addressed to the right side of the blogosphere.”
Conservative critics tend to be exasperated by the commanding heights from which the MSM dominate the national discourse with their apparent anti-Bush bias. If the White House press office were to treat the MSM merely as one outlet among many -- side-by-side with the Arab media, the citizen’s media, the faith-based media, the War on Terrorism media and so on -- their distortions of our President’s policy and achievements would be mitigated.
Yet there is a corollary to having the White House press office address such divergent media types simultaneously. The office would have to respond to the agendas of all those different journalists rather than having the potential to set a centralized agenda itself.
At CBS’ Public Eye, Vaughn Ververs noticed this pitfall: “From a practical point of view, however, message management has a way of breaking down when you add so much to the mix.” Ververs still sees Tony Snow’s job as enforcing message management not responding to a dialogue initiated by a heterogeneous, non-MSM-dominated, gaggle of journalists.
The professor, it seems, was attempting to invite conservatives into a realistic debate of the trade-off…
…Keep the power of the White House to manage the message, a power that, like it or not, is dependent on dissemination through MainStreamMedia…
…Or defang the MainStreamMedia once and for all by diluting the attention you give them, even at the cost of relinquishing any ambition at message management.
But, as I said, the professor is man of little patience. That debate did not start up right away, so within two hours he spilled the beans: “No one has noticed yet that my scheme for all-day briefings dilutes the role of the ‘famous MSM’ from 100 percent of the briefing audiences to 25.”
We notice now.
Bartlett and Steele? Hmmm...The same guys who reported a HUGE increase in income during the 1980s among those with incomes of 1 million dollars or more, compared that with more modest increases in incomes among those with lower incomes, and used that as an indication of how the rich were getting over.
Well, that's just not the case. The two fundamentally misunderstand tax law and its incentive effect on income.
For people in high tax brackets (I know, it's hard for journos to wrap their heads around the idea, but there ARE tax brackets higher than yours) the name of the game is NOT to report income - especially in the 1970s and even into the 1980s, because the top marginal tax brackets were so high.
So what you had in the 1980s was billions and billions of dollars from high net worth individuals sitting in limited partnerships, overseas trusts, leveraged passive activity loss generators (leveraged so you could actually lose MORE than you put into the investment, and use the paper losses to offset passive activity gains) and a variety of other tax shelters. The upshot was they WERE getting over, since they didn't have to report this stuff as income - what income they had could be written off against losses, and they really could avoid a lot of tax. The W-2 working stiff, until Reagan, really had almost nothing. Maybe an IRA at 500 bucks a year.
Two things happened:
1.) The birth of the 401(k) as we know it. This enabled working stiffs to defer taxes on a portion of their earnings until retirement. This was a Godsend to workers in many ways - though some on the left say the birth of the 401(k) sounded the death knell for traditional pension plans. Their argument has some merit (though a global economy ensures much the same result), but in either case, the upshot was that reported incomes for the middle class was depressed, in the short run. (This was essentially a long-term loan, natch. The taxes were deferred, not canceled. The government makes up its shortfall when workers take their distributions and pay income tax, plus or minus any changes in their effective tax rate).
2. Most significantly for the purposes of this discussion, Congress passed a HUGE tax reform bill in 1986. One of the deliberate effects of this tax bill was the closing of a variety of loopholes and tax shelters that enabled the very rich to avoid paying income taxes.
As a result, billions and billions of dollars were then either rendered taxable - boosting reported incomes significantly - or pulled out of these investments, and therefore either declared as income or a short-or-long-term capital gain, depending on the structure, whether it's a pass-through entity, whether it was double taxed as a C-corporation, etc.
Either way, the reported incomes of the upper crust would have shot up by a HUGE amount after 1986 - which is exactly what we see in Bartlett and Steele's numbers.
Now, this isn't something I'd expect most news guys would grasp just falling off the turnip truck. But an economics/business editor should have had a clue: "Hey, guys, are we talking reported incomes, or wealth increases here?"
But Bartlett and Steele screwed the pooch on that one. It's not the amount of income that serves as a measure of whether the rich are really getting richer. It's the amount that's NOT income. The rich are fighting tooth and nail NOT to have income. In other words, the Zen-like superior reporter should be digging listening for the dog that doesn't bark.
Because this one threw those guys way off the scent.
Could have used a sharper editor, eh, Steve?
Editors should at least hire reporters who grasp tax policy a little better.
In fairness to them, I might have missed it as a cub Time Inc. reporter. But not now. (Disclosure: Happen to be finishing a course on tax planning at the moment. Maybe I'll hit up Time. I hear there's a vacancy.)
Well, I might have known you wouldn't be able to address factual issues raised on the merits, and hide behind the (irrelevant) Pulitzers.
But a Pulitzer-winning piece ought to be able to stand up to factual scrutiny. Obviously, the Pulitzer committee isn't too reliable - after all, Walter Duranty won a Pulitzer, too. And after all that has happened, and after Duranty has been as discredited and disgraced as any U.S.-based outlet journalist in the history of the profession, the Pulitzer committee still has not found the backbone to revoke the prize, to my knowledge.
Then there's the matter of Janet Cooke.
Dana Priest's Pulitzer-winning story on "secret prisons" is falling apart at the seams. None of her major allegations has been independently confirmed.
Pulitzers do not make holy writ out of a work. If anything, they invite - demand - further scrutiny.
You also hide behind the bestselling status of their book. All well and good, until you consider that Rush Limbaugh had a bestseller, too.
The sales figures are wholly irrelevant to the quality of the research and journalism therein. The fact that you think that they would be is symptomatic of the sloppy critical thinking skills I've pointed out in other threads.
You'd be quick to slam the same muddleheadedness on the part of Tony Snow or Scottie Mac, I'm sure.
Can you address the criticism of the series on the merits? Or are Pulitzer-prize winning pieces, despite words of the CJR itself calling Duranty's into question, now beyond scrutiny?
Quoting Jude Wanniski:
But I am afraid President Bush still does not understand that he has become a marionette in Richard Perle's continuing puppet show in the Middle East.
Heheheheh. It's that cabal of Jewish banking interests pulling strings. Where's the Der Sturmer artist when you need him?
I was surprised to see you on television last night making arguments I associate with the world’s No. 1 hawk, Richard Perle, who has been the chief architect of our policy toward the Arab/Islamic world. There is no single American more responsible for inciting outrage among Muslims globally than Richard, whose maniacal prescriptions led inexorably to last week’s cataclysm.
Hahahahahahahaha!!! I get it. Richard Perle, the Jew, caused 9/11. Nice. This is the kind of nutball you guys think is "intellectually honest."
How could Karl Rove, the President's closest political advisor, permit Kristol's gang to take over the ranch, sub rosa? Well, to tell you the truth, Mr. Milbank, I never, ever believed Kristol and The Weekly Standard supported John McCain, except to pull the wool over his eyes. From the very start, as long as Governor Bush was willing to make Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz his closest foreign-policy advisors, with Condaleezza Rice allowed to sit in the corner and watch, Kristol was doing everything he could to get Dubya elected. There is of course a "Kristol Network," and you have listed a flock of them in your excellent report, but you have to realize Kristol is part of a larger network that is run by Richard Perle, chairman of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board,
Ho ho ho! There it is! A "Kristol Network!" Of course, we just call it "The Elders of Zion." I swear, reading their protocols must have changed Wannisky's life!
Do you have any doubt that he is now in constant communication with Ariel Sharon and Binjamin Netanyahu, the leaders of the coo-coo wing of the Likud Party in Israel?
Of course. After all, they all drink the blood of gentile children. After all, it's so much more than just a breakfast drink!
Now I see you practically in lockstep with Perle, who we have always known as the Prince of Darkness, a master of disinformation who helped us win the Cold War, and who now wants to bring the Muslim world to its knees.
HAHAHAHAHA!!! The f***ing "Prince of Darkness!!!!" This guy parodies himself!
You must remember that Wolfowitz, junior grade Lucifer, is not telling the truth.
Oooooh! Of course! Junior Grade Lucifer. That's like an Navy O-2 among the demonic. He's like, the lance corporal of demons.
Why not cut to the chase? Just call him "Anti-christ."
Bill Kristol has a very high IQ, which he likes to remind his friends about, but he defers to Perle on matters of great intelligence, national security, foreign policy and such. For the most part, Bill gets all his big ideas from his own kitchen cabinet, and conducts the chorus, but it is Perle who ultimately writes the words and music. The Kristol Chorus consists of communicators, journalists, and speechwriters, but he does not control the brass. Perle does, including Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Condi Rice, and Scooter Libby – Vice President Cheney's chief of staff. Perle also manages many of the generals and admirals who have been promoted from the ranks on his say-so.
The Jews! They control everything!!!
Say - has anybody seen where I put my tin-foil hat?
As for Colin Powell, he has been so humiliated by Perle's ability to control the agenda through his hold on Rumsfeld and Condi Rice that I would not doubt he has considered resigning.
Wow. Perl must be a very busy man. Of course, it helps to have been granted supernatural powers by the devil himself. Did you know that Jews bear the mark of Satan? It's right between the eyes that grow in the back of their heads. That reminds me. I have to call my friend Bobby Fischer. It's amazing how close we've become over the years.
In their hearts, Richard Perle and his bombers do not work for the American taxpayers, Trent. They work for the Likud Party, which has always pretended to want peace, but has been even more interested in having all of the Promised Land for Israeli Jews
The Jooooos! It's all about the JOOOOOOOOS!!!!
Geez, village idiot - don't you see what kind of a numbskull you're quoting approvingly? Wanniski shares your disapproval of the Administration, so you'll excuse his demented-antisemitic code-speak, or even worse, you're so steeped that nonsense you don't even realize it for what it is.
Wanniski is two-days medication shy of pushing his worldly belongings from bus stop to bus stop in a shopping cart.
And you think that's "intellectual honesty."
No. It's rank bigotry, thinly veiled.
While we're getting all a-flutter over Barlett & Steele's Pulitzer, let's review what the Pulitzer judges said about their 1989 National Reporting prize (it's on the Pulitzer website. You can look it up.)
For their 15-month investigation of "rifle shot" provisions in the Tax Reform Act of 1986, a series that aroused such widespread public indignation that Congress subsequently rejected proposals giving special tax breaks to many politically connected individuals and businesses.
What Neuro, Sisyphus and others don't know or ignore is that there is no set criteria forthe judging. The definitions of each reporting category are the only guidelines. The nominating juries and Pulitzer prize board - and only them - decide exactly what makes a work "distinguished."
The prize was given for a certain and specific set of cause and effect. Which doesn't mean, Sisyphus, that style trumps substance. What it means is that the reporting doesn't have to pass review by approved scientists. Or economists. It means that Barlett & Steele's reporting was, in the eyes of the judges, powerful and effective enough to change minds and policy.
Were the economic facts B&S reported wrong? You, along with Neutro and Brad Delong (talk about strange bedfellows) think so. Others with an economic bent think not. But the reporting was apparently good enough - and the facts correct enough - to force Congress to change the tax breaks for the politically connected.
And, Neutro, I frankly don't give a rat's ass if you approve of the Pulitzer's methods or results.
The prizes to B&S were raised in defense of their journalistic value and it was Jason, I believe, who made the silly claim that anyone had argued that the Pulitzer 'exempts exempts an article from all further scrutiny.'
Horseshit. The prize exempts no one from debate or scrutiny. You don't have to agree with the judge's findings. I don't always myself. But if you believe that a Pulitzer is denied to stop discussion and debate, then you're the one missing points. By a mile.
So true Jason, but let's take a stroll down memory lane and visit all the Democrat foreign policy triumphs.
A weakened FDR appeased Joe Stalin, exacerbating the Cold War, which we fought until the Republican Reagan defeated it.
Thanks to Truman's fecklessness, we're still fighting Korea. Thanks Harry!
JFK's brilliant Bay of Pigs sortie will live on as the benchmark for future dealings with Cuba---or anywhere. and lest those ill-informed proles who think that only Republicans wiretap the locals, let it be known that JFK and RFK bugged black civil rights leaders (MLK jr., for those who don't know). So the lesson here is the Democrats only bug black civil rights leaders, but not terrorists. I feel so secure.
And LBJ! such a warrior! What with the Agent Orange and high altitude bombings and massive VietNam civilian deaths---what's not to love? At least he didn't bomb Cambodia! Of course, civilian deaths are only cause for hysteria if a Republican is waging war. And trust me, I could go on with what LBJ did that would not meet current "liberal" guidelines for a "humane" war. But it gets better.
And thank Gaia for Jimmy Carter! Thanks to his feckless leadership during the Iranian hostage crises and the balls-out stupid Desert One mission, we are still dealing with Iran, but they're more dangerous than ever.
And don't forget how Bill Clinton conveniently ignored Al Qaeda by treating it as a "law enforcement problem". Sure, horndog Bill had a chance to nuke OBL, but he was, uh, sort of distracted by blow jobs in the Oval Office. Don't forget Maddy Albright, who sucked up to "Dear Leader" even as he was developing nukes, and remember the charming episode, where Maddy chased after the terrorist Arafat, begging him to come back to the bargaining table. So sophisticated. Yeah, we need Maddy back as Secretary of State.
So yeah, if you're looking for punters in foreign policy, you'll want a Democrat in charge. When there is a foreign policy crises-----Democrats would rather talk about the economy.
It seems that there is a new meaning to "secret".
If everybody knows about it, is it secret? If everybody knows about it, but the government denies it, is it secret?
While it is difficult to separate what I knew in, say, 1970, from what I knew in, say, 1975, I think I'm safe in saying that everybody knew about the secret bombing in Cambodia as it was happening. Now, of course, it could be that talking to guys running the RVN-Cambodia border isn't exactly "everybody", but when I was on leave, people were complaining about it, and the usual suspects were howling about "genocide", which they would hardly be doing if they didn't know about it.
I've encountered the same thing regarding other geo-political-military issues. We would be told by hyperventilating activists of something "secret" which we already knew about, "we" in this case being other activists, and which, while generally (but not solely) not important enough to be front-page news, was widely known.
I came to the conclusion that the left added "secret" to stuff everybody knew about in order to punch up the ominousity quotient.
Thirty years later, people think the stuff really was secret.
However, there was another corpus of info which followed the identical course: Rumor in the military, later disguised in a novel, then documentary on television.
That was the real secret stuff. More interesting, too.
There is one posssibility which may be causing me to think I knew something long before it came out.
That is, the casual thought that "they'd better be doing [whatever]", or "logically, they'd be doing [whatever]" And then believing it, somewhat in front of the news cycle, and finding out later, that, for heaven's sake, it really did happen. Well, of course it did. Silly to think it wouldn't, given the circumstances.
All of which is to say that the term "secret" as referring to government operations is probably a useless term unless defined quite closely.
first off, you have to take "Coalition forces" word for it that the people at the school were actually Taliban fighters, rather than students studying under Taliban tutelage.
No, you don't. The Times itself quotes an eyewitness who describes dozens of dead as Taliban fighters who had taken shelter there while trying to flee.
You can hate the Taliban all you want, but the fact that the bomb was aimed at a religious school raises serious questions in and of itself
No, it doesn't. Taliban fighters are as likely to occupy a religious school building as anywhere else.
for instance, his site says that "over 80 Taliban were killed" -- a number not substantiated by any "mainstream" news outlet
Headline from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:
Air Strike Kills 80 Rebels in Southern Afghanistan. 16 Civilians Also Die
See also the following news outlets, each of which reporting "up to 80."
Ah, yes. The Guardian is an extreme right wing rag. So is The Peoples' Daily, which also reports up to 80 Taliban dead.
Kind of an embarrassing flub for someone who claims to have checked my facts, eh?
You need to retract.
In such surveys it is important to count journalistic sources not outlets.
Andrew - It was plukasiak who set the parameters of the argument, not me. And plukasiak specified "outlets."
At any rate, his assertion was falsified by the very first outlet. The rest were just icing on the cake.
Quoting an unconfirmed Military estimate is not substantiating.
Only if you think substantiating is the same as confirming. More precisely, the other outlets corroborate the military estimate, in that they accept the military authority on the estimate.
If the military confirmed it, the media would report it as 'confirmed.'
In the real world, getting a body count isn't all that easy when you deal with high explosives, because it's not always easy to tell where one body ends and the other begins. Do you count right arms? Left legs? Heads?
You also don't have much time. Muslim law dictates that the bodies be buried within 24 hours. Whoever is on the scene first is going to have the best estimate. If a news outlet wasn't there at the very beginning to provide an independent count, it isn't going to get there in time at all.
I suspect 80-100 people, minus 16 villagers whom you can account for just by polling the village, is going to be as close as anyone can come. When the dead are buried by bulldozer, the numbers get a little fuzzy.
Nevertheless, the Times did not have that paragraph in the first online version I linked to on the 22nd. If someone has a hard copy, though, I'm satisfied with that version. Stuff happens.
Sorry if you think I'm a troll. I can't help it if the topics I'm interested in and write about are more interesting to the community than whether Tony Snow forgot to floss that morning.
My usual writing areas are finance and the military. I've covered both as a journo. But you guys can't substantiate your arguments either way. I can change the beat we're talking about, but it won't change the weakness in your argument or the slovenliness and undisciplined nature of much of the thinking and commentary here.
Nevertheless, I think if the journalistic profession hired smarter, tightened up its critical thinking skills, and diversified its workforce (to include more veterans, of course, but that's not the only thing that needs to happen) we'd all be better served.
lukasiak should still retract.