March 05, 2007

Another Way to Fight Back

Last week, I offered some practical suggestions about how to try to stop the drive toward an attack on Iran; today, I noted a Washington Post story about the widening Walter Reed scandal that proves once again that government will very rarely take strong, legitimately required action in any area until and unless public outrage becomes too powerful a force to ignore.

Greg Mitchell discusses the recent coverage of administration claims about Iran's purported actions in Iraq, and then notes this development:
This made made me reflect on one night last month, just after the Gordon and Baghdad briefing articles, when an e-mailed memo arrived in my inbox. At least one news editor had seen enough.

That night, the first part of the PBS Frontline series on the media was aired, with distressing reminders of newspapers' complicity in the Iraq invasion. It showed Bob Woodward on Larry King's CNN show back then saying there was "almost zero" chance WMD would not be found in Iraq. In a new interview, Judith Miller said she did nothing wrong in her reporting back then, even if the reporting itself was wrong.

A few minutes after that, the e-mail landed in my "new messages" box.

It came from KSFR, a public radio station in Santa Fe, N.M. I don't know anything about the station, although I have been to Santa Fe a couple of times. It seems that the surge in "unnamed officials" had finally pushed News Director Bill Dupuy to take action. He wrote that "until further notice, it is the policy of KSFR's news department to ignore and not repeat any wire service or nationally published story" about Iran, North Korea, and other sensitive foreign areas if it quotes an "unnamed" U.S. official.

"What we have suspected and talked about at length before is now becoming clear. 'High administration officials speaking on the condition of anonymity,' 'Usually reliable Washington sources,' and others of the like were behind the publicity that added credibility to the need to go to war against Afghanistan and Iraq.

"This is a small news department with a small reach. We cannot research these stories ourselves. But we can take steps not to compromise our integrity. We should not dutifully parrot whatever comes out of Washington, on the wire or by whatever means, no matter how intriguing and urgent it sounds, when the source is unnamed. I am also calling on our colleagues in other local news departments -- broadcast and print -- to take the same professional approach."
Very, very well done, Mr. Dupuy. Exceptionally well done, and please allow me to extend my deep gratitude.

And that, my friends, is how you fight the bastards.