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All Signs Point to Miller



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Judith Miller, whose name is now officially followed by

So Anonymous Leaks Are Ok



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Reuters: Osama bin Laden, “Militant”



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Several Media Blog readers brought this to my attention, noting that this story is great news, but that in the accompanying photo Reuters identifies bin Laden as a “militant” instead of a “terrorist”.

I guess that a weasel is a lot of things. It’s an animal. A mammal. A mustela altaica. But if I saw one, I would probably say, “Oh, look at that. It’s a WEASEL!”

CORRECTION: What a hectic day. I misspelled “weasel” in the original post. Oy. Thanks, readers.

Al-Qaeda Just Another “Insurgent Group”



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Media Blog reader W.A. Davis points out the following story on CNN.com:

Please quickly click over to CNN.com and read the story about “Suspected leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq captured.” Then read on a bit to see that al-Qaeda is an “insurgent group”, not “terrorists,” a “terror group,”
“terrorist group” or “terrorist organization.”
Al-Qaeda in Iraq is an Islamic terrorist organization — part of a global jihad against the West and Israel. If we left Iraq today, they have already told us what they would do: follow us. Insurgents, rebels, resistance — these words disguise what we’re fighting in Iraq and around the world.

UPDATE: Al-Qaeda in Iraq now denies it orchestrated the attack that killed 18 kids, three U.S. soldiers and wounded 70 yesterday. And you can trust them, because they’re al-Qaeda. They’re just an “insurgent group”. They would never kill any kids.

Bloomberg: Not Everything Wilson Said Was a Lie



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Intrepid Bloomberg reporters Holly Rosenkrantz* and William Roberts have joined Joseph Wilson’s freelance PR club (“Wilson’s Iraq Assertions Hold Up Under Fire From Rove Backers“). While trying to find instances of truth among the lies, Rosenkrantz and Roberts dig this up:

Bush supporters such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich contend that Wilson lied in claiming that Vice President Dick Cheney dispatched him on the mission to Niger. That echoes a Republican National Committee talking-points memo sent to party officials.

Wilson never said that Cheney sent him, only that the vice president’s office had questions about an intelligence report that referred to the sale of uranium yellowcake to Iraq from Niger. Wilson, in his New York Times article, said CIA officials were informed of Cheney’s questions.

“The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president’s office,” Wilson wrote.

But as Daily Howler’s Bob Somerby pointed out yesterday, Wilson was on CNN’s “American Morning” the day after his column ran, spinning his straw into golden fabrications:

HEMMER: It’s a wonderful day for us here at American Morning! You went to Niger several years ago. You concluded essentially that Iraq could not buy this uranium from that country. Why not?

WILSON: Well, I went in, actually in February of 2002 was my most recent trip there

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So Now You Tell Us



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Of course I

Washington Post Spins Gitmo Report



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Op-eds are not just news stories with occasional lines of commentary thrown in. They are also arrangements of facts, presented to support some sort of thesis that the author is trying to prove. This is opposed to the goal of news reporting that

Editor Sets Off A Firestorm



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St. Paul Pioneer Press editorial page associate editor Mark Yost set off a firestorm on Jim Romesko’s blog after he wrote this column (free reg. req.) about the lack of good news being reported from Iraq. Here’s Yost:

I know the reporting’s bad because I know people in Iraq. A Marine colonel buddy just finished a stint overseeing the power grid. When’s the last time you read a story about the progress being made on the power grid? Or the new desalination plant that just came on-line, or the school that just opened, or the Iraqi policeman who died doing something heroic? No, to judge by the dispatches, all the Iraqis do is stand outside markets and government buildings waiting to be blown up.
The most salient criticism of Yost’s column came from Knight Ridder Baghdad bureau chief (and fellow OU J-school grad) Hannah Allam, who wrote:

I invite Mr. Yost to spend a week in our Baghdad bureau, where he can see our Iraqi staff members’ toothbrushes lined up in the bathroom because they have no running water at home. I frequently find them camping out in the office overnight because electricity is still only sporadic in their sweltering neighborhoods, despite what I’m sure are the best-intentioned efforts of people like his Marine buddy working on the electrical grid.
I’ve written about this issue also and I think a debate about this is long overdue. I think Yost’s column was clumsy, and his critics have raised some good points — however, that doesn’t mean that he was wrong, and some of the reaction to Yost’s criticism has been incredibly thin-skinned. I’m sure this debate will grow larger within the press community as the Rove story dies down (as it surely must, until Fitzgerald makes a move). In the meantime, Jeff Jarvis is trying to convince Yost to debate his critics.

UPDATE: 10:01 p.m.: I’ve been getting e-mail criticizing me for writing that “Yost’s column was clumsy, and his critics have raised some good points.” I’m sorry, but it was and they have. The word “salient” means “noticeable” or “prominent” — I wasn’t saying I agreed with Allam. You should get a pretty good idea of whose side I’m on from reading this post, which I also linked to above.

I think Yost blundered into a hornets’ nest without making a very good case for his point of view — and because I agree with the broader point he is trying make, I’m interested in what Yost has to say and I’ll be following this debate closely. But when I wrote this post it was too late to call Yost and ask him to elaborate, and I haven’t had time to double-check what his critics are writing about him. I’ll get to it tomorrow. In the meantime, enough with the e-mails.

They Kill Kids. They Do It On Purpose.



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I won’t quibble the coverage. This is too horrible. Today’s terrorism, in which children were the targets, speaks with such clarity about who we are and who they are, the media cannot obfuscate.

They kill children, a crime so horrific its presence in literature almost always accompanies religious doubt — questions of how God could exist in such a world.

They kill kids. They do it on purpose. They do it in the name of God.

Read here, here, and here.

A note of encouragement: Chrenkoff Today, every day on PostWatch, or get the whole biweekly round-up straight from the source.

UPDATE: Mudville Gazette has a must-read on this story (via the Corner).

Circus of Phonies



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Ladies and gentlemen, the New York Times Editorial Board:

In the first ring, the Contortionist!

Far be it for us to denounce leaks.
But prepare to be amazed: The Times will now, for your entertainment, twist their position 180 degrees and denounce 99 percent of them!

But it is something else entirely when officials peddle disinformation for propaganda purposes or to harm a political adversary.
Tah dah!

Now direct your attention to the center ring, where Jo-Jo the Clown will perform his routine,

Washington Post and NY Times Part of GOP Conspiracy



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Washington Post reporter Jim VandeHei has an incredible scoop:

Republicans mounted an aggressive and coordinated defense of Karl Rove yesterday, contending that the White House’s top political adviser did nothing improper or illegal when he discussed a covert CIA official with a reporter.
VandeHei

Reveal Miller’s Source



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Jacob Weisberg argues in Slate that Time and the New York Times should disclose everything they know to their readers. Weisberg provides numerous examples of reporters who decided that their duty to report on the actions of their sources outweighed their duty to keep those sources confidential (Oliver North and Linda Tripp make appearances).

Weisberg saves the best for last:

The argument against ever outing sources is instrumental. Insiders won’t leak to the press if they can’t rely on a reporter’s pledge of confidentiality, the argument goes, and so the public’s interest in discovering wrongdoing ultimately won’t be served. This is mostly humbug. As most modern presidents have discovered, leakers are a hardy breed. They act from various motives, of which unalloyed public-spiritedness is probably the rarest. Outing the Plame leakers wouldn’t undermine the use of confidential sources. It would merely put leakers on notice that their right to lie and manipulate the press is not absolute and not sacred.
This article comes at a key moment in this story. Finding out what Miller is hiding is no longer just a matter of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald

A Matter of Terminology



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Right now I’m watching Rep. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Tucker Carlson scream at each other on “The Situation” about whether Karl Rove should resign over the outing of CIA “agent” Valerie Plame.

CIA “officers” are not the same as CIA “agents”, but surprisingly few in the media get the terminology right.

A CIA “officer” or “analyst” is an American who works for the CIA.

A CIA “agent” is a foreign citizen who is spying for the CIA.

Former CIA counterintelligence chief Jim Olson, when I took his class, told me that CIA officials hate it when media people get this wrong, so I thought I’d pass it on.

America’s Worst Columnist



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I

Why Rich is the Worst



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Rich represents everything that

Required Reading



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Read Byron York’s interview with Rove attorney Robert Luskin. Check out how Time twisted Rove’s “double super secret background can’t triple stamp a double stamp” attempts to keep Time from buying Wilson’s lies into a White House smear campaign:

According to Luskin, Cooper originally called Rove

Britain’s Ministry of Truth II



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Media Blog reader Steven J. Scibelli catches the BBC in a double standard:

First, the BBC calls the terrorists who bombed London “misguided criminals.” Then, courtesy of Drudge, we see that the BBC edited the word “terrorist” out of its recent coverage of the London bombings:

The BBC’s guidelines state that its credibility is undermined by the “careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgments”.
Consequently, “the word ‘terrorist’ itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding” and its use should be “avoided”, the guidelines say.
But, apparently the BBC has no qualms about using words which carry “emotional or value judgments” in other contexts. Here are two examples:

Football hooligans who terrorised Cardiff city centre on the opening day of the season used the Internet to organise the violent clashes.
and:

Hooligans who terrorise local residents could be more likely to face action as Humberside Police review the use of new powers to crack down on yobs.
So, according to the BBC, soccer hooligans are terrorists, but Islamic jihadists are “misguided criminals.”
Well, you know what they say. One man’s hooligan is another man’s freedom fighter.

Hold the Triumphalism



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The Washington Post, Jim Romenesko and Kevin Drum can’t conceal their glee at the fact that so far, the two ombudsman hired at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting haven’t reported on bias at NPR or PBS. Here’s the Post’s Paul Farhi:

[W]hat kind of slanted reporting have Ken Bode and William Schulz uncovered since they began work three months ago? As it turns out, not much. Actually, as it turns out, none at all.
Don’t you think it’s a little early for gloating? The ombudsman have written a grand total of five reports so far. One of these merely outlined an ombudsman’s philosophy. The others have addressed specific programs, not the overall balance of PBS and NPR coverage. And of the programs addressed — a documentary about the Appalachians, the trial of a white supremecist, and NPR coverage of the security situation in Mosul, Iraq — only the Iraq story even carries the potential for complaints of bias, unless you count complaints from the Klan. After decades of biased reporting from PBS and NPR, I think we need to give the ombudsmen a little more than three months to evaluate things.

Consulting Project Obviously Another of Tomlinson’s Evil Schemes



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So says CJR Daily, anyway (

Britain’s Ministry of Truth



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Andrew Sullivan, Mediacrity, and HonestReporting among others have remarked on the BBC’s cowardly decision to remove the word “terrorist” from its early coverage of the London attacks. Sullivan links to this article by Tom Gross:

The world’s premier broadcast network appeared to throw away its own ridiculous “BBC Producer’s Guidelines.” BBC online reports, for example, had headlines such as “Terror of passengers stuck on tube” and “London Rocked by Terror Attacks.”
But then the BBC came to its senses and realized that these bombings were not terrorist attacks at all:

Presumably hoping that no one would notice, the BBC subtly and retroactively altered its initial texts about the bombs on both its British and international Web sites. Unfortunately for the BBC, however, previous versions of its webpages remained easily accessible to all on Google, and enterprising British bloggers, long-fed up with the BBC’s bias, recorded the changes.
If not terrorism, then what?

Early on Friday morning another BBC webpage headlined “Testing the underground mood,” spoke of “the worst terrorist atrocity Britain has seen.” But at 12:08 GMT, while the rest of the article was left untouched, those words were replaced by “the worst peacetime bomb attacks Britain has seen.”
From “terrorist atrocity” to “peacetime bomb attacks”: Is removing the stigma from terrorism morally different from glorifying it? C’mon BBC: It’s time to come right out and call them “martyrdom operations.”

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