Looks like apologies are in vogue
bq. While the major media, from The New York Times on down, has largely remained silent about their own failings in [reporting on the war], a young columnist for a small paper in Fredericksburg, Va., has stepped forward.
For a second, my heart stops. A reporter is going to apologize for the media's one-sided, bad news only coverage of the war? I just may faint.
Well, that was too good to be true.
"The media are finished with their big blowouts on the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and there is one thing they forgot to say: We're sorry," Rick Mercier wrote, in a column published Sunday in The Free Lance-Star.
"Sorry we let unsubstantiated claims drive our coverage. Sorry we were dismissive of experts who disputed White House charges against Iraq. Sorry we let a band of self-serving Iraqi defectors make fools of us. Sorry we fell for Colin Powell's performance at the United Nations. Sorry we couldn't bring ourselves to hold the administration's feet to the fire before the war, when it really mattered.
"Maybe we'll do a better job next war."
Mercier admitted that it was "absurd to receive this apology from a person so low in the media hierarchy. You really ought to be getting it from the editors and reporters at the agenda-setting publications, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post."
I must respond to Mr. Mercier:
Perhaps because you are young, you still have that tiny shred of idealism that usually disappears by age 30 or so. Or perhaps you have been swayed by too many readings of Noam Chomsky columns.
Or perhaps you were swayed by Mr. Apology himself, Richard Clarke. Following a trend, maybe? Insincere mea culpas
are the new black, I suppose.
But here's the main thing that bothers me: your list of reasons to be sorry seem borne out of some alternate reality; perhaps a bizzaro world where the media doesn't question the administration, write negative articles or dig for dirt when they are standing on cement.
I've just spent some time looking back at news articles from the past year, and it seems to me that most of the media concentrated on the bad things going on; the lack of WMDs, the slow hunt for Osama, the death toll, the despair of the Iraqi people and so on.
Judging from the hundreds upon hundreds of news stories spanning the last twelve months, what the media needs to apologize for is misleading the public into the thinking this war reached quagmire status about twelve hours in.
Even when good things did happen - for instance, the day that Baghdad fell and the statue was toppled - the media put a negative slant on every report. They tried to tell us that the statue toppling was set up. They tried to tell us that Iraqis hated us, yet there were Iraqi bloggers popping up all over the place telling us the opposite.
I could go on with many examples, the most glaring of which are the exagerrated body counts and the comparisons to Vietnam, but I think I've made my point.
The media should be sorry. They should apologize to the coalition soldiers from other countries who are made to feel insignificant when the media calls this war unilateral. They should apologize for the swarming coverage of anti-war protests and the complete lack of coverage of rallies for the troops. They should apologize for going out of their way to find negative statistics when good things like rebuilt schools and hospitals were staring them in the face. They should apologize for pretending as if the freedom of the Iraqi people was inconsequential given that no WMDs have yet to be found.
I really like that snide little comment about the "next war" that you managed to insert in there. That lets me know what side of this war you are on, giving your credibility on this issue a zero balance.
So, Mr. Mercier, your apology is worthless. I will, however, forward it to a bunch of Iraqi soldiers I know to see how they feel about it. In fact, I'll forward it to all the Iraqi bloggers who have spent quite a bit of time thanking the American troops and President Bush. I'm sure the soldiers in particular will be thrilled to know that in Fredricksburg, Va., there is a small time reporter who thinks the media should have done even more to turn this country against them and make their job even more difficult than it is.
Speaking strictly for myself, I would like you to take the paper your apology was written on and stick it up your ass.