Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pass the Salt

Why is it that if you are singing the praises of the US government or military (and any of its current or past projects) you get a pass. Ask yourself, when was the last time you heard a reporter on NPR say, "Given the track record should we take what (Rice, Cheney, Bush, Petraeus, Gates, etc.) says with a grain of salt?" You'll be searching your memory for a long time.

But when someone steps out of line and calls into question the US imperial project, then the whole tone is one of doubt and skepticism. Consider Retired Gen. Sanchez and his latest scathing remarks about the Iraq project.

Andrea Seabrook talks to David Cloud of the NYT who heard Sanchez' remarks. Cloud notes that Sanchez lambasted the current administration in no uncertain terms for the catastrophic failure in Iraq. He made clear that Sanchez' comments were withering.

Seabrook's response is utterly predicable. She asks, "David Cloud, how much credibility does General Sanchez have at this point? He was in command himself in Iraq, as we mentioned. He was in charge during the Abu Ghraib scandal and afterwards failed to win a fourth star. Should we be taking what he says with a grain of salt?" Credibility? Grain of salt?

Yes, this is a legitimate reaction to ANY prominent powerholder (or former powerholder) when they make claims about events they've been involved in, and I'm no big fan of Sanchez. BUT I've noticed that the standard only applies when that person is diverging from the standard narrative of the nobility of the US government/military mission in the world.

Of course, another journalistic reaction would be to not even bother with what kind of credibility someone has, but to compare their statements with what factually can be determined and let the evidence speak for itself (i.e. investigative journalism).

It was also telling that Seabrook asked no follow-up question of Cloud when he said that Sanchez had given a "fairly bruising critique of the press' performance in Iraq." Hmmm...that would have been an interesting line of questioning.

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