On Oct. 11, the Washington Post's David Brown filed Study Claims Iraq's 'Excess' Death Toll Has Reached 655,000, reporting this year's Lancet pre-election broadside against the war. While Brown noted the earlier study claiming 100,000 deaths was "controversial" and said this one would be too, he failed to cite a single critic attacking it. He did quote outside experts who support the study, and of course one of its co-authors, Gilbert Burnham. Since then the paper's only mention of the study has been in passing, again without any mention of its critics.
This blinkered view of the world was exposed today in a live chat with Post congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman:
I happened to catch Chris Wallace on the Sean Hannity radio show, and heard something new: Two weeks ago DNC chief Howard Dean told Wallace he was "tough but fair." This is an entertaining contrast to Dean's current statement characterizing Fox News as part of the right-wing propaganda machine.
I don't have a recording, but I took brief notes.
Wallace said that two weeks ago, he got lots of emails from conservatives raging about how harsh he was in his questioning of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. Dean followed Rice in a separate appearance, and according to Wallace, Dean told him "I can't believe you questioned her that tough." After his segment, Dean signed the guestbook with the comment Tough but fair.
Associated Press chief executiveTom Curley writes a laughable defense of Bilal Hussein, the AP photographer being held by military authorities in Iraq after being nabbed with an alleged al Qaeda operative and an arms cache. The rigor of this column is indicated thus:
Bilal Hussein, an Iraqi photographer who helped the Associated Press
win a Pulitzer Prize last year, is now in his sixth month in a U.S.
Army prison in Iraq. He doesn't understand why he's there, and neither
do his AP colleagues.
This from one of the pinnacles of American journalism. Curley then adds that the The Army says it thinks Bilal has too many contacts among insurgents. Oh that's an honest assessement. Eventually he manages to discover a sliver of the information that seconds ago he was wholly ignorant of:
He has taken pictures the Army thinks could have been made only with
the connivance of insurgents. So Bilal himself must be one, too, or at
least a sympathizer.
But if you rely only on this Op-Ed, or publications including the Washington Post, you'd never know about Hussein's allged al Qaeda connection and the little matter of being nabbed alongside an arms cache. Neither this Op-Ed nor this squib in the Post on Sept. 18 say anything about the circumstances surrounding his capture.
In the Saturday Washington Post, Rick Weiss skips over his own misreporting of embryonic stem-cell research by Robert Lanza and Advanced Cell Technology. The technique involves removing one cell from an early eight-celled embyro, cultivating the single cell into a new self-replicating line and, in theory, allowing the seven-celled embryo to survive and grow. But despite early reports, including Weiss's, all the embryos were destroyed. Weiss says Nature, which published the Lanza/ACT study, has now "corrected wording in a lay-language news release it had distributed in advance," but he doesn't acknowledge the errors in his own original account.
Many writers covering the launch of a new magazine would mention that its inaugural issue had been boycotted and removed from thousands of chain-store racks because of a copyright infringement case that continues to rage.
Not Peter Carlson, though. That would be too...obvious.
In the prophetically titled Avert Your Eyes! And Your Brain! in today's Style section, Carlson appears not to have gotten the memo on war correspondent Michael Yon, whose heart-rending photo of an American soldier cradling a bloodied Iraqi child was used without Yon's permission in the inaugural issue of Shock. In fact, one of the photos illustrating Carlson's story reproduces that cover, but rather than even a hint about this debacle Carlson cracks wise about Jessica Simpson photos.
Of course the folks doing the un-singing are the Washington Post, The New York Times, all the usual suspects. Apart from whatever the facts of Finer's latest case are, if you're a soldier pining to be on the front page the best thing to do is commit a crime. Our standard-issue modern reporter isn't interested in lavishing anywhere near the same amount of loving detailed attention on soldiers rescuing their comrades from hell and defeating the human monsters who want to murder you. That's just the same ol' same ol', or maybe they read about it in an old magazine--wasn't that a different war where Americans did that?
A train wreck of reporting and editing is displayed in Study Casts Doubt On the 'Boy Crisis' by the Washington Post's Jay Mathews on the front page. It's based on a report by a think tank called Education Sector, and tries to refute years of research showing boys' collective disadvantage in education. The logic of this report is illustrated in the following quote from the report itself, written by Sarah Mead:
The real story is not bad news about boys doing worse; it's good news about girls doing better.
fact, with a few exceptions, American boys are scoring higher and
achieving more than they ever have before. But girls have just improved
their performance on some measures even faster. As a result, girls
have narrowed or even closed some academic gaps that previously favored
boys, while other long-standing gaps that favored girls have widened,
leading to the belief that boys are falling behind.
Got it? Girls narrowed or obliterated gaps that favored boys. They also widened gaps that favored girls. It's time to face facts. Girls are the uber-race. Bow down and accept your fate before girls!
Dan Balz's outlook on life may be too sunny and stable to regularly read Markos Moulitsas's Daily Kos. That would explain why Balz fails to describe the far-left venom that powers the Kossacks in his account of their Las Vegas conference, Bloggers' Convention Draws Democrats. If Balz had provided some excerpts from Moulitsas's website, it would help explain why every one of the 20-odd candidates they've backed for national office office has lost. But he doesn't mention that either.
It's not necessary for reporters to agree that the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a major victory. But they should let their readers know such people, outside the Bush Administration, exist.
In After Zarqawi, No Clear Path In Weary Iraq by the Washington Post's Ellen Knickmeyer, every independent expert downplays the significance of Zarqawi's death. Even a mysteriously identified "longtime participant in the U.S. military hunt for Zarqawi" sees it as upside for the bad guys. Yet at least one of Knickmeyer's named sources is more upbeat in a different outlet, and she omits the passionate political convictions of another.
It's old news now: In the election to replace Randy Cunningham, Democrat congressional candidate Francine Busby appears to have told a crowd of supporters that illegal aliens could vote and otherwise aid her campaign against Republican Brian Bilbray.("You don't need papers for voting," she said. "You don't need to be a registered voter to help.") The Washington Post apparently found this too boring to mention in Sunday's Election in California a Cliffhanger by Chris Cillizza on A4.
Busby's comments, circulated in San Diego by radio talk show host Roger Hedgecock, have been widely reported around the blogosphere. Expose the Left posted the news and an audio file on Friday, June 2, as did Michelle Malkin. Many righty blogs linked and commented thereafter, including Wizbang, Powerline,Stop the ACLU and others June 3. The San Diego Union Leader reported the story June 3, including Busby's entertaining explanation that she intended only to say that the under-18 set could work in her campaign. But the Post? Nada. Its story used some of that room instead to falsely describe the Minutemen, in the classic Post Style, as "anti-immigrant." As the old Hertz rent-a-car ads used to say, Not exactly:
I've been as riveted as any
self-respecting blogger by this week's revelations about the CIA's Mary
McCarthy, whose leak to the Washington Post's Dana Priest about foreign terrorist
detention centers earned the former a pink slip plus possible criminal
charges but the latter a Pulitzer. It now appears that McCarthy was a
fairly enthusiastic contributor to Democratic causes including some guy
named John Kerry (start with Tom Maguire for details). (Update: An attorney for Cobb says McCarthy denies being the source for the story, or leaking any classified information. This contradicts what the CIA said. As Drudge says, Developing.)
The subhed of that story is closer to its spirit, Recruits' Job Worries Outweigh War Fears; basically the military is exploiting poor rural youth by disproportionately recruiting them. This is the spin you'd expect from the National Priorities Project, which has been campaigning against the war for a long time and is anything but how Tyson described it: "a nonpartisan research group that analyzed 2004 recruiting data by Zip code." In fact, it analyzed data in a joint project with Peacework Magazine, which filed a FOIA request for the data and handed over analysis and distribution to NPP, whose Cost of War Clock ticks merrily along. Oddly enough, Tyson did not include these and many other items about the nonpartisan National Priorites Project. I blogged about it on Nov. 4 when Tyson's story came out, and on Dec. 5 when Howell agreed, in a column, that NPP could have been described as "liberal leaning."
washingtonpost.com is its own kingdom in many ways, with more content, more readers and at least as many issues that beg for accountability as the newspaper. So bravo to Post ombudsman Deborah Howell for writing about the website in her Sunday column. Most visitors to the site have no idea how separate the operations are, but its reporters sure do:
Political reporters at The Post don't like WPNI columnist Dan Froomkin's "White House Briefing," which is highly opinionated and liberal. They're afraid that some readers think that Froomkin is a Post White House reporter.
John Harris, national political editor at the print Post, said, "The title invites confusion. It dilutes our only asset -- our credibility" as objective news reporters. Froomkin writes the kind of column "that we would never allow a White House reporter to write. I wish it could be done with a different title and display."
The Justice Department has criticized as misleading and inaccurate a Washington Post report about the FBI's expanded power to collect the private records of ordinary Americans while conducting terrorism and espionage investigations.
The Nov. 6 article detailed the dramatic increase in the use of "national security letters," a three-decade-old investigative tool that was given new life with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in 2001. The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, a hundredfold increase over historic norms, the article said....
The hed isn't snappy, but I'm trying to come up with new slogans for a paper
that can't bring itself to accurately describe Rep. John Murtha.
There's a slim ray of hope from congressional reporter Shailagh Murray, who in a live chat today acknowledged there was more to his background than what we've been reading in her paper:
Why won't the Post tell its readers about Murtha's mixed record on the
Iraq War? For example, he said two years ago that he'd been misled
about WMD and joined with Rep. Pelosi in calling for high-level
administration resignations; he accused Bush of delaying a major
military callup until after the presidential election (a callup that
never happened); he joined a small minority in voting against a
resolution declaring the world safer for having been rid of Saddam; and
voted in favor of Rep. Rangel's (in my view, bogus) resolution to
reinstate the draft. He's entitled to these views -- but aren't the
Post's readers entitled to know about them, as opposed to the simple
"hawkish Democrat" narrative you and your colleagues are presenting?
Rep. John Murtha is no Cindy Sheehan, but the Washington Post's inability to do some simple reporting on Murtha's Iraq war record is reminiscent of its limited Lexis-Nexis skills last summer. As I documented at the time, the Post simply ignored Sheehan's wild ravings about President Bush being the biggest war criminal and a lying bastard, about liberal bloggers being the only thing preventing the U.S. from becoming a fascist state, about insurgents being freedom fighters and Iraq having held a sham election, etc., etc.
Now I see a story slated in the Post for Saturday's front page about an excitable evening in the House, which voted 400 million to 3 against an immediate withdrawal from Iraq: House GOP Calls For Vote On Iraq Pullout, by Charles Babington. And here's the nut graf on Murtha:
Washington Post reporter Dana Priest is casting herself as some kind of detached third party, as expressed in Howard Kurtz's column on Monday about her Nov. 2 story exposing a secret CIA prisoner detention program:
Says Priest: "My overall goal is to describe how the government is
fighting the war on terror, and that gets you right to the CIA. This is
a tactic. People can read it and decide whether that's good or bad."
Priest is a citizen of the United States, not a neutral observer from the planet Zorac. She has taken sides in a policy dispute, having decided either that this classified program isn't generating valuable intelligence or that protecting our country from terrorist attack is less important than human rights violations that may be attached to it. There might be something admirable about her actions if she owned up to them.
Lawyers for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) tried unsuccessfully in
late September to head off felony criminal indictments against the
then-majority leader on charges of violating Texas campaign law by
signaling that DeLay might plead guilty to a misdemeanor, according to
four sources familiar with the events.
principal aim was to try to preserve DeLay's leadership position under
House Republican rules that bar lawmakers accused of felonies from
holding such posts. DeLay was forced to step down as leader on Sept. 28
after the first of two grand jury indictments....
No, I don't mean the Bush Administration, whose unwillingness to apologize for itself drives mainstream media into perpetual indignation.
Michelle Malkin got a response from a reporter--not the Washington Post's--after she asked about issuing some kind of correction following reports about war atrocity claims by Jimmy Massey, which have since been debunked by St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Ron Harris. The reply, from USA Today's Rick Hampson, is a depressing example of indifference to the truth. Malkin quotes him:
I personally have no plans for a follow up. Our story was not so much
about the veracity of Massey's claims -- few if any of those mentioned
in the Post-Dispatch piece were in our story -- as the reaction in a
small, patriotic town to its former Marine recruiter coming back as a
war protester. (We also went into Massey's psychological history.)
Certainly, he had a lot of critics/opponents/skeptics in town even back
then. So I don't expect we'll revisit the subject.
When earlier stories began bringing up the topic, it was to knock down the idea that there was a connection between the more extreme variety of Muslim identity and the riots. In today's story (I'm quoting from the dead-tree version), Moore approaches it from a different angle--fearful non-Muslim French:
Wild guess: Be a conservative partisan. Campaign against the war? Not a problem; welcome to Nonpartisanville.
In today's front-page story Youths in Rural U.S. Are Drawn To Military by Ann Scott Tyson, we learn, as the subhed tells us, Recruits' Job Worries Outweigh War Fears. The story appears to be inspired by a Nov. 1 press release
from the National Priorities Project. What's that? Let's find out and
give the Post's sense of neutrality its proper place. Tyson writes:
Nearly two-thirds of Army recruits in 2004 came from counties in which median household income is below the U.S. median.