Media overpessimism on Iraq--Exhibit A.

A mostly political Weblog.
June 20 2005 12:17 AM

Mr. Pecker in a Pickle!

Plus--the LAT's wacky wikiness.

(Continued from Page 1)

[S]eeing how Susan Estrich has cancelled her LAT subscription, can someone call her and tell her about the wikitorial? Here's her chance finally to write for the editorial page!

A gratuitously nasty crack. The best kind! In this case, anyway. ... 11:08 P.M.

Kf''s editor and the WSJ's James Taranto were on Kudlow this afternoon-- transcript here. I came unhinged and called Sen. Durbin an "idiot" for his violation of the Hitler Rule,** which holds that a politician must never, ever, compare anything or anyone to Hitler or the Nazis, no matter how apt the comparison. Durbin's comparison was not apt, however. ... Mainly I was worried I'd call him Sen. Durkin. ...

**See also, "Godwin's Law." [Thanks to readers B.T. and J.G.] 10:59 P.M.

NYT's Raymond Hernandez breathlessly reveals that "Republican and conservative activists are behind a vigorous campaign to promote a controversial new biography about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton." Apparently it's advertised on a Web site that once got some money from Richard Mellon Scaife! The real story--too subtle for a paper that has to  dispatch a correspondent to cover conservatives the way they'd send a foreign correspondent to India--is that the right-wing reception of the new Hillary book has been wary and remarkably hostile. (The New York Post'sDeborah Orin picked up on this yesterday.) See, for example, these Web sites-- Polipundit, Captain's Quarter's, Ankle-Biting Pundits--some of which may have gotten some money from someone who once got money from someone who knows Tom DeLay! ... P.S.: Lucianne Goldberg, who knows about anti-Clinton conspiracies, hasn't been too friendly to the book either. ... P.P.S.: This is a classic Pinch-era NYT story in that it unabashedly assumes its readers are near-cliched New York City liberals. If you weren't ready to be scared and shocked by the latest right-wing outrage, this story would simply make no sense to you: People who are against Hillary are behind a book against Hillary! ... Except in this case maybe they're not ... P.P.P.S.: Printing the predictable story your readers expect to read instead of the intriguing story that's really out there is more or less the definition of "hack," no? ... [But the NYT actively ignored the previous day's Orin piece, which said the opposite and had some GOP quotes to back it up--ed  Good point. That makes the NYT  piece less "hack" and more ... something worse. The GOP congressional delegation could ceremoniously burn the book in the middle of McPherson Square and the NYT would ignore it and write a piece describing the book's insidious promotion by "Republican activists."] 3:07 A.M.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Arnold vs. the Unions: Gov. Schwarzenegger is not dead yet. His three reform initiatives are off to an inauspicious start, but L.A. Weekly's Bill Bradley has a mole who leaked him "a private Democratic poll"  showing that a fourth "paycheck protection" initiative, which could scare public employee unions into cutting a deal, might pass. ... Bradley would apparently like it to be known that his mole was not Paul Maslin. ... He also reports that "Schwarzenegger has said privately for the first time that he will run for re-election." ... P.S.: Is there any distinction between public employee unions and the Democratic Party in California anymore? Just asking! ... Compare and contrast: At the LAT, George Skelton calls for statesmanlike compromise and Michael Hiltzik works himself into the same paroxysm of anti-Arnold rage he worked himself into three weeks ago. Meanwhile, at the alt-Weekly, Bradley delivers the inside goods about what is actually happening. ... Without the MSM, we'd be left with ... the news! ... Update: Is this why the LAT can replace its writers--not with robots, but with something cheaper, namely its customers!  [Maybe it's just that Kinsley's sections are experimenting like mad to counter the tedium of the rest of the paper--ed I agree the wikitorial is impressively seat-of-pantsy and un-Timesian. If only I could rewrite Hiltzik.]   9:11 P.M.

I came across the Iraq article discussed below while noodling around on the impressive new Truth Laid Bear site. I'm not sure there's anything else like it on the Web--it groups blog entries by popularity and by topic ("Iran," "North Korea," "Linda Foley"). All the new MSM "blogwatch" columnists should now have easy jobs. Or else they've just been replaced by a robot. Maybe their editors left a memo on the Xerox machine! ... P.S.:  Is Defamer really this huge? Update: Apparently. ... 4:12 P.M.

The Growing Number of Growing Numbers Comes At a Time When ... : Here's a good example of seemingly overpessimistic media coverage from Iraq. On Sunday, in a story carried on front pages around the country (including in Houston, Philadelphia and Miami),  Knight-Ridder'sTom Lasseter portentously reported:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A growing number of senior American military officers in Iraq have concluded that there is no long-term military solution to an insurgency that has killed thousands of Iraqis and more than 1,300 U.S. troops during the past two years.

Instead, officers say, the only way to end the guerilla war is through Iraqi politics ...

But hasn't it been a staple of Pentagon policy for a long time that the eventual solution in Iraq will not be a military solution but a political one? I remember hearing various American military people saying that a year ago. For a random example I picked up off of NEXIS, here's NPR reporter Eric Westervelt last September:

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