Howard Kurtz: Unreliable Sources
Another Bulletin: Al Gore says, "I'm also Al Gore while I'm asleep." We suspected as much.
A journalist friend (BT) reminds me that many reporters and other media people have died or been seriously wounded in Iraq, and they deserve the same respect as fallen soldiers. However, too few reporters forget to ask WHY journalists and other non-combatants are being targeted by Al Qaeda and the insurgents -- and what the disturbing implications are.
On Sundays, CNN has a 10 a.m. (ET) program called "Reliable Sources." The segment on the liberal cable network features Howard Kurtz, the liberal TV critic at the liberal Washington Post.
Sounds like a major snoozer, huh? Generally, it lives up to that characterization, as a steady stream of left-wing or "moderate" (dull) commentators engage in mild criticism of journalism and various public figures.
The most common observation on the show is, "Well, I can't agree with you more." In short, it's a very agreeable group.
Occasionally, the program will have a video clip of someone like Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, or Rush Limbaugh. Then, Howard Kurtz turns to his left-leaning panel and says, in essence, "Sic 'em."
On Kurtz's program, we're about as likely to see an informed conservative -- except in the role of a human pinata -- as we are to hear from a cloistered nun.
On Sunday, December 3, 2006, Kurtz's topic was NBC's "call" of the Iraq conflict as a "civil war." To his credit, Kurtz did cite the (anonymous) observer who said, "I didn't know TV networks had a foreign policy," but then the program reverted to normal.
The host threw out the criticism that journalists in Iraq mostly reported from the Green Zone or from their heavily guarded hotels. The panelists handed this red meat included Richard Engel of NBC News and Arwa Damon, CBS's sourpuss woman in Baghdad.
Surprise, they thought the criticism was unfair. They did everything but show their war wounds, which they don't have.
Kurtz had two other liberal, anti-war types, perhaps for "balance." One was a media-cuddler with a triple-chin and a very bad beard. The other was the Washington Post's assistant managing editor, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who had written a book about his experience in Baghdad.
A man enamored with the word "irony," Kurtz fails to see its pervasiveness in "Reliable Sources." For instance, in a program about how it's unfair to protray reporters as Green-Zone-Groupies, he features Mr. Chandrasekeran, whose tendentious book is Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone.
Somehow, given the program's subject, he seemed like an odd choice.
In their reporting, Richard Engel and Arwa Damon always have one theme: things are bad in Iraq and, hard as it is to imagine, are getting worse! Granted, they're under no obligation to engage in "happy talk" about a war zone, or to ignore the horrors faced by Iraqis in certain provinces.
However, they do have a duty to show some comprehension of the real situation facing Baghdad, Al Anbar province, and a few other locations. That refers to the presence of mass murderers, who are in most ways no more "insurgents" than Ted Bundy, the BTK Killer, or the 9/11 terrorists.
In other words, Richard, Arwa, and their counterparts miss a key fact: amoral people are killing others, mostly indiscriminately. Car bombs and IEDs don't target Sunnis or Shiites; they kill everybody within range, a form of equal-opportunity destruction.
In fact, that's why America remains there -- to do our best to stop those obsessed with kiling and terrorizing others.
Apparently, Richard and Darwa have somehow come to accept homicidal behavior as the norm. Perhaps their view is that Americans are somehow responsible for suicide bombers and various other killers with, in poet Yeats's words, "a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun."
In any society -- whether it's Iraq or the U.S. -- people sometimes confront the presence of mass murderers. The proper response, whether it's BTK or Al Zarqawi, is not to throw up our hands and "redeploy" (flee).
In fact, the right thing to do is to stop them.
Ironically (sorry Mr. Kurtz), some of the same people who are asking us (and properly so) to help stop the genocide in Darfur are hypocrites. That's because they're saying we shouldn't help stop the genocide in Iraq.
In a practical sense, they're saying it's too dangerous for us to impede the killers. The protestors who occasionally march through American streets chanting "Stop the Killing!" are talking to the wrong people.
As for Mr. Kurtz, his programs regularly tippy-toe around the criticism that the press is "too liberal." His own program illustrates that problem, with its sad parade of the usual suspects.
One of his favorite guests -- and he was on today -- is David Gergen. Supposedly, he's a neutral figure because he serves as an editor at a boring publication (U.S. News) and assumed the obeisance posture in both Republican and Democratic administrations.
If Gergen ever said anything that wouldn't provoke a mild nod of approval in Manhattan or Georgetown, I haven't heard it. His habitual response to any issue is to furrow his brow and mumble bland nostrums.
"Reliable Sources" shows the lack of intellectual and political diversity in "The Mainstream Media" (TMM). It illustrates that people like Engel, Damon, and Chandrasekaran are reporting mainly to and for one another.
If we want to know what's happening in Iraq, we find out by asking the soldiers, most of whom strongly support their mission. In all their combined years in that country, Engel, Damon, and friends never seem to ask why that's so.
Perhaps they fear what answers they'd get.