Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pass the Popcorn

Judith Weiss at Kesher Talk takes a dim view of the new New York Times documentary, Meeting Resistance

Well, to be precise, twelve self-identified Baghdadi insurgents explain what they want Bingham and Conners to tell America about what said insurgents want the roots of the insurgency to be, to justify themselves. After you enter the website, and are greeted by a breathless quote from Sidney Blumenthal and a list of all the awards the film has won, you can pass to the Director's Statement which explains that they filmed in one neighborhood of Baghdad and cherry-picked interviewees, yet in the same column they claim that their agenda-driven experience in one tiny corner of an extremely complex country tells important "truths" about the entire war and its aftermath.

The video footage was apparently taken before May, 2004.

One LGF commenter is upset the NYT is providing sympathetic treatment to people who kill journalists, possibly including their own stringers. But I'm sure the exercise will be defended as an exercise of Freedom of Speech, as part of the Search for the Truth. We will be reminded yet again that "dissent is the highest form of patriotism", and in this case means taking the viewpoint of the enemy. The argument springs to the ear ready-made. 'This courageous documentary tries to answer the toughest of questions: why do they hate us so?'. Who do you mean "us", kemo sabe?

I think that seventy years from now, if the NYT still exists, this period in its editorial history will be studied in comparison with Walter Duranty's coverage of Stalin in the 1930s, a coverage that is today widely acknowledged as providing a cover-up for the worst mass murderer in history. The NYT is not only "documenting" the Iraqi insurgency, it is documenting itself. It's laying down its bets before the roulette wheel of history.


Blogger Adolf Fiinkensein said...

The declining share/stock price will be the key historical research document.

10/18/2007 06:29:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

LGF commenters, much like the folks from the Kos, find reasons to get upset. They're usually upset about something. And if LGF and Kos can't find anybody else to get upset at, they can get upset at each other.

From my point of view, the New York Times has been steadily declining in its credibility for the past generation. What's more important than the declining standards and defeatism of the New York Times is whether there is any publication that can, through its sheer brilliance and journalistic excellence, replace the Gray Lady's status as America's newspaper of record.

If the principal alternative to the Gray Lady is significantly better, authoritative, and openly seeks the mantle of America's newpaper of record, there's a good chance the coffin of the New York Times will get a few more nails hammered into it. In contrast, although glorified whinefests are some of the most popular blogs on the internet, they are unlikely to dislodge the Gray Lady.

10/18/2007 09:57:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Well, of COURSE the NYT is on the side of terrorists killing Americans.

How could they NOT be? They NYT and journalists everywhere are (with a few exceptions) post-American, post-Nationalist, anti-Western, anti-Democracy, anti-freedom and and pro-terror, authoritarian, and murder.

NYT staffers hate America as much as bin Laden does. Is anyone shocked to see them on the same side openly?

10/18/2007 10:03:00 PM  
Blogger clazy said...

Molly Bingham's claims for this film are pretty extraordinary, considering what a limited document it is, as Weiss points out. Twelve people three years ago?

Check out this essay by her from 2005, in which her prejudices are out in the open. Here's a sample:

I could go into a long litany of the ways in which the American military has treated journalists in Iraq. Recent actions indicate that the U.S. military will detain and/or kill any journalist who happens to be caught covering the Iraqi side of the militant resistance, and indeed a number of journalists have been killed by U.S. troops while working in Iraq. This behavior at the moment seems to be limited to journalists who also happen to be Arabs, or Arab-looking, but that is only a tangential story to what I’m telling you about here.

Persecution complex, anybody?

It gets even better. She's convinced that what she's done is tremendous work, the kind of thing every brave journalist should do. She realizes she's in a special position, being the daughter of a billionaire newspaper publisher and well established in her career, but:

How many other American journalists, perhaps not as secure in their position as I, have thought to do a story and decided that it’s too close to the bone, too questioning of the American government or its actions? How many times was the risk that our own government might come in and rifle through our apartment, our homes or take us away for questioning in front of our children a factor in our decision not to do a story?

I can taste my dinner. Maybe she spends too much time abroad.

This is after she's "had to acquire the discipline of overriding my emotional attachment to my country, and remember my sense of human values that transcend frontiers and ethnicity."

Uh huh. I'm sure it was real hard.

Do you recall that she was taken prisoner by the Iraqis during the early days of the war, and held at Abu Ghraib or some place like it? No one knew what had happened to her and several colleagues for a week or so. The Newsday guys she was working with were definitely in Abu Ghraib, where they could hear people being tortured, and they were in constant fear for their life. What the hell is this woman on, that she could have come so close to the real thing, and then say something like this:

At the time that we were working, the American military was the law, and it seemed to me that they were pretty much making it up as they went along. I was pretty sure that if they wanted to “disappear” us, rough us up or even send us for an all expenses paid vacation in Guantánamo for suspected al-Qaida connections, they could do so with very little, or even no recourse on our part.

Which makes it hard for me to take her seriously when she says, "our soldiers have been sent with insufficient resources to protect themselves. In my mind, that is all inexcusable." Would these be the same soldiers who would kill you if they knew you were "covering the Iraqi side," or send you away to Gitmo? I'm sure she really feels for them.

The film is a historical artifact at best. The attempt to turn it into a contemporary opinion piece is a fraud.

10/18/2007 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger deepinjuncountry said...

Pinch—the ultimate spoiled, sissified, rich-boy Boomer. It's hard to believe there's no one left in that family able to smack that boy's wrist and send him on a fact-finding jaunt to the Patrice Lumumba business school in Moscow. My bro-in-law worked over 40 years at the Times and I could detail the nitwit's follies but it's all very, very boring—and predictable. And I'm referring to the actual operation of running a newspaper, not the content.

10/18/2007 10:09:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

whiskey 199:

The staff of the United Nations is an important market. If the New York Times doesn't serve that market, who will?

10/18/2007 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

The collapse in credibility of the NYT is tragic in the sense that it may be indicative of the collapse of the principles of honor and integrity in the culture as a whole.

The NYT editors do not even try to mask their manipulation in the reporting (or ignoring) of events anymore. Either they figure we're all too stupid to know better or they have come to actually believe that reality is whatever the self-anointed elites say it is.

Morgan Stanley pulled out. I hope the whole organization goes down the tubes.

10/19/2007 05:42:00 AM  
Blogger section9 said...

I don't want the New York Times to fail, I want to recover its old standards.

Those were the ones that gave us James "Scotty" Reston, John Noble Wilford, the great Drew Middleton, and of course, William C. Laurence, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning report of the Nagasaki mission from the deck of The Great Artiste.

What ails the Times is that it tried to be hip, trendy, and aware instead of sticking to reporting the News better than anyone else, and its opinion page became a screaming sheet.

I want it to have a sense of standards.

10/19/2007 07:53:00 AM  
Blogger Marzouq the Redneck Muslim said...

Why isn't NYT walking around the triangle like Katie and ABC today?

Why is NYT using outdated video and misleading terminology? There is a big difference between liberation and occupation.

10/19/2007 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Yehudit said...

LGF commenters, much like the folks from the Kos, find reasons to get upset. They're usually upset about something. And if LGF and Kos can't find anybody else to get upset at, they can get upset at each other.

I agree. I scrolled thru 900 comments to find the ones which I thought actually said something useful. I did that because there are always a few gems in LGF comments if you want to take the time. I thought in this case it would be worth my time. I think that commenter makes a very good point I wouldn't have thought of.

Another one: Steven Vincent was in Iraq the same time these guys were. The difference in their journalism is like night and day.

10/20/2007 12:00:00 PM  

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