The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Massing on Iraq and the media

One of the chief elders of the reality-based community, Michael Massing, has spoken once more [1], in a 6,000 word article for the New York Review of Books entitled Iraq, the Press and the Election.

Naturally deserving of proper study, it offers on first reading no grand guignol or gotchas, but a measured treatment of the US media's handling of the Iraq story and its effect on the election.

In particular, it highlights the good, as well as the bad and the ugly, in the Iraq coverage, and gives what looks like a cool and nuanced assessment.

There was enough available in sources (like network TV news) available about the failures of the occupation to put the interested news consumer on notice that deception was in progress [2]: for instance,
When Prime Minister Allawi claimed that fifteen of Iraq's eighteen provinces were fit for elections, Charles Gibson on ABC's World News Tonight asked Pentagon correspondent Martha Raddatz if this was true. "I can give you a two-word answer from a military commander I spoke to today," Raddatz replied. "He said, ‘no way.'

A little dead-panning from Raddatz there...

Massing's tone is a delight, too: calm and sober, largely allowing the facts to speak for themselves.

More on the piece in due course.

  1. Earlier Plawg mentions.

  2. Just as Joseph McCarthy's erratic red-baiting activities were called early on by elements of the US press.

    But what about the average citizen? Coverage calling into question the soundness of the rationale for, and execution of, the invasion and occupation of Iraq tends to be randomly sprinkled amongst the usual stenography.

    What civic obligation does an American have to search out and evaluate such news? Obviously, at the moment, zero. But a liberal top-down Hull House for the ill-informed scarcely seems a workable proposition.

    The assumption that universal education would lead to universal enlightenment is clearly wrong: the penalty on an individual citizen for ignorance is too remote, ill-defined and undirected.

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