Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Just the facts, ma'am.

Or at least that's what I'd always believed were the mantras of news services like AP and UPI. But I seem to have been way off base. Check out this concluding paragraph in a piece regarding the CIA leak case:

The marketing is over but the war goes on. The press is baying and the law closes in. The team of Bush loyalists in the White House is demoralized and braced for disaster.

When did UPI start editorializing? Did I not get the memo? Is this all in the name of "analysis," "adding value," "entertaining" and "sexing up" the news?

Then again, I suppose I always considered UPI a notch above this kind of reportage:

At a meeting of CIA and other officials, a CIA officer working under cover in the office that dealt with nuclear proliferation, Valerie Plame, suggested her husband, James Wilson, a former ambassador to several African states, enjoyed good contacts in Niger and could make a preliminary inquiry.

And could this "timeline" of events relating to the case be anymore misleading? The forged documents appeared long before Joe Wilson's NYT op-ed. In fact, they appeared in the press prior to the war.

He did so, and returned concluding that the claims were untrue. In July 2003, he wrote an article for The New York Times making his mission -- and his disbelief -- public. But by then Elisabetta Burba, a journalist for the Italian magazine Panorama (owned by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi) had been contacted by a "security consultant" named Rocco Martoni, offering to sell documents that "proved" Iraq was obtaining uranium in Niger for $10,000. Rather than pay the money, Burba's editor passed photocopies of the documents to the U.S. Embassy, which forwarded them to Washington, where the forgery was later detected. Signatures were false, and the government ministers and officials who had signed them were no longer in office on the dates on which the documents were supposedly written. Nonetheless, the forged documents appeared, on the face of it, to shore up the case for war, and to discredit Wilson. The origin of the forgeries is therefore of real importance, and any link between the forgeries and Bush administration aides would be highly damaging and almost certainly criminal.

And to the extent that no one, not even Fitzgerald, seems to be arguing that members of the Administration forged the documents, are we a bit far afield here?

There is also an uncomfortable sense that the press had given the Bush administration too easy a ride after 9/11. And the Bush team is now on the ropes and its internal discipline breaking down, making it an easier target.

Of course you hear this all the time, but people really believe this? Has there been one moment since 9/11 when anyone believes Bush wasn't in hot water with the press? Using the word "crusade?" "Wanted: Dead or Alive?" Not bombing Afghanistan heavily enough? Letting Osama escape Tora Bora? "You're either with us or you're with the terrorists?" The Axis of Evil? Shifting the focus to Iraq? Hussein isn't a threat? Bush is unilateral? There are no WMD. Aluminum tubes? etc. Like the ongoing ruse about the supposedly pervasive questioning of patriotism by Republicans, the supposed "pass" that the media had given Bush in the wake of 9/11 seems like another fairytale that liberals tell themselves to go to sleep at night.

And then there's this old favorite that has more lives than Rasputin:

and Card revealingly explained why he chose September, saying "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August."

As if any political initiative that required a persuasive communications effort weren't basically "marketing." But I suppose we should be outraged that anyone in the Administration would admit that reality. And it's more than that. It's that the word 'marketing' itself implies deceit.

No, really, my esteem for UPI is growing.

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