I have not invested a lot of time or energy in the whole Jamil Hussein/AP/”rightwing bloggers” story . So if I’m missing something important, my apologies. But I find something a little off-putting about Garance Franke-Ruta’s tut-tutting of bloggers who questioned the AP. Her argument seems to boil down to the fact that the rightwing bloggers have put Hussein’s life in danger (see here and here as well as quite a few emails in my inbox). That may indeed have happened and it would be unfortunate if he were harmed as a result of all this. But I don’t recall a lot of concern from Progressive circles when conservatives noted that any number of press revelations about clandestine or otherwise classified measures might put American troops in danger.
I don’t think Garance doesn’t care about such things. But how is the argument substantially different? Why is it wrong or “troubling” for bloggers or other journalists to question the veracity of the mainstream media because it might put journalists or their sources in danger while at the same time it’s the height of patriotism to expose the government’s efforts when waging a war? Ever since the horrific murder of Danny Pearl there’s been a tendency in the press to treat journalists’ lives as vastly more worthwhile than those of soldiers or contractors. There are understandable and human motivations behind this disparity, but that doesn’t erase all of the problems with it.
Perhaps there’s a case to be made that bloggers should have showed more care in questioning the AP, though frankly I don’t see it. If it was so dangerous for Hussein to talk to them countless times, the AP might have taken greater care to protect his identity by, among other things, making their articles ring more true to a skeptical readership or responding in a way that didn’t invite ever greater scrutiny. But even if that case is as strong as Garance is suggesting, surely the same care and concern should apply to troops in uniform and others fighting on the frontlines of the war on terror.
Or, maybe I’m missing something.
Update: An early verdict, from a reader:
You’re not missing anything. The whole “bloggers put him in danger” line
is a load of BS — the AP cited him BY NAME AND TITLE 61 times.