Saturday, October 13, 2007

A parsing of Sanchez's remarks

No surprise here. Three main outlets, CNN, Washington Post, and the New York Times, all decided to cover the general's criticisms in different ways. See if you can guess why.

CNN lays out all the juicy stuff in their report but they include this short rejoinder fairly close to the top:
Still, he said, the U.S. cannot pull out of Iraq without causing chaos that would have global implications.
Yet for some reason they didn't include this criticism, found in the WaPo's version:
Sanchez opened by criticizing the U.S. news media, saying he was unfairly labeled "a liar" and "a torturer" because of the Abu Ghraib scandal, and he alleged that the media have lost their sense of ethics. He said that members of the media blow stories out of proportion and are unwilling to correct mistakes, and that the "media environment is doing a great disservice to the nation."
Bravo, but before we award the WaPo a medal let's remember they buried that comment at the end of page two despite admitting Sanchez "opened" his speech with these remarks. The WaPo also focused a little more on Sanchez's tie-in with Abu Ghraib than did CNN.

The Old Gray Lady jumped on Abu Ghraib early and often, saying,
But his own role as commander in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib scandal leaves him vulnerable to criticism that he is shifting the blame from himself to the administration that ultimately replaced him and declined to nominate him for a fourth star, forcing his retirement.
Actually, their whole piece was fairly critical of the general, offering this editorial comment further down the page:
Asked after his remarks what strategy he favored, General Sanchez ticked off a series of steps—from promoting reconciliation among Iraq’s warring sectarian factions to building effective Iraqi army and police units — that closely paralleled the list of tasks frequently cited by the Bush administration as the pillars of the current strategy.
But notice the Times didn't include Sanchez's opening remarks criticizing the media, either, nor did they mention his remark about the dangers of leaving too soon. The WaPo didn't mention the dangers of leaving remark either, which is why we didn't give them a medal.

They all covered the "nightmare with no end in sight" remark but not all covered his rather incendiary-sounding quip about, "a lust for power". Clearly he was referring to Bushitler and the neocons, right? Well, the Times described it in reference to 'civilian officials' while the Wapo left it out entirely. CNN had a sharper focus:
"Too often, our politicians have been distracted and they have chosen loyalty to their political parties above loyalty to the Constitution because of their lust for power,"
Too close to Reid, Pelosi and company, perhaps?

This critique should in no way be seen as a diminution of the general's comments, which are valid and necessary as we pursue future goals and elect public officials to carry them out. But hindsight is always right--it's impossible to turn back the clock and pretend that leaving the Ba'athists out of government would have made things any better or worse. After all, we'd just defeated the supreme Ba'athist leader, a man who was the epicenter of this whole sordid affair and who was bloviating about the Mother of all Battles right to the bitter end.

MORE 10/13/07

Should have read Powerline and Captain's Quarters this morning, both of whom pegged this media misdirection play.

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