Saturday, May 13


Jerome Doolittle has the best, most succinct post on the blogger wars that I've read lately:

From today’s Thomas L. Friedman column in The New York Times (no free link):

"To this day, whenever I hear a reporter say, “I don’t do reporting — I just do opinion and analysis,” I always think of the reporting basics that Leon [Daniel] pounded into me and want to say, “I doubt that your analysis is very good, because the best analysis always comes from spotting trends that can usually only be spotted by reporting a story day in and day out,”
I like blogs, but the only bloggers that appeal to me are those who do reporting and aren’t just sitting at home in their pajamas firing off mortars."

From Warp Speed: America in the Age of Mixed Media, by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel:

"While the press may not tell people what to think, it gives them a list of things to think about."

Friedman misses the point that Kovach and Rosenstiel so economically make. The Times, to take the example at hand, provided in advance all the information necessary to realize that Bush was marching us to war up a mountain of lies. I realized it, and wrote about it at the time, and so did scores of other bloggers.

Not in hindsight, but contemporaneously, we warned that the unmanned aircraft was a phony, that the aluminum tubes were rocket parts, that Chalabi was a lying con man, that the yellowcake was based on a clumsy forgery, that the neocons were pressuring the CIA to cook the books, that Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN was a fake. It’s all there, in our archives.

And we didn’t even have to go out and report these things. The Times, God bless it, did that job for us. All we had to do was read the inside pages down to the last paragraphs — where, as careful students of the press know, the real lead is often to be found.

Then we did our unsuccessful best to to put these poor, orphaned facts on the country’s list of things to think about. But Judith Miller, embedded with Rumsfeld’s propagandists in Iraq, was much more successful at the job than we were. And America’s list, unhappily, is drawn up by TV "newsmen" who may do little more than glance at the headlines on page one.

We guys in our pajamas typically lack the time and the money to do leg work (although Sulzberger can make me an offer if he’s looking to replace his old pal Judith). But we can always spare a few minutes from our morning coffee to help out with the editing of The Times, a job at which Howell Raines and his boss failed so shamefully in the run-up to this murderous miscarriage of a war.


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