Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Main Street Ramadi

Take a look at Juan Cole's post today where he writes about Al-Maliki's visit to Ramadi yesterday: "this photo-op visit is bogus and can only take place because the US military is managing it so as to produce an image of pacification." Cole sums up the US press coverage of this event and and past two days(!) in Iraq as follows: "The US press is so busy looking for signs of improvement that they have already forgotten about the slaughter of hundreds of Shiite pilgrims just last week, and are interpreting the relative calm of Sunday and Monday as some sort of turning point. Unlikely."

NPR jumped right in. Jamie Tarabay describes General Petraeus as being in an "upbeat" mood as he take a stroll through "downtown Ramadi." She states that US forces are maintaining "the city’s newfound and fragile stability."

The overall presentation is that Ramadi is now a model city for "counterinsurgency" and that things are going really well there. This kind of glowing coverage is not new on NPR and I'll be really curious if NPR revisits these "Potemkin Village" radio reports when the whole situation there really goes all to hell again after this "lull."


Porter Melmoth said...

Wow, because of the real, genuine soundbyte of a humvee (or equivalent US-built vehicle) at the get-go of Jamie's report, we can only joyously assume that she's been let out of the Green Zone for a few hours to follow Al-Maliki's stroll down placid Ramadi lane! She's even straightened out some of her usual rubbery enunciations that have very little Aussie charm to them, but mostly convey fear. But anyway, this report was a washout. There was no trace of real observation or nuance. Tarabay always gives the bare minimum, because that's all she's capable of, it seems. Isn't it obvious to these journalists that this sort of timid adventurism is a setup? What happened to the old cranky skepticism that newsies are supposed to bring with them? That crusty 'you're guilty until proven innocent' approach? The NPR method now seems to be, especially in Bush's war, to 'report' on what's being force-fed by the propaganda producers, without insightful interpretation. A more skeptical attitude may not be perfect, but it usually helps listeners with their critical thinking processes. But then, NPR would be accused of lefty leanings, and they couldn't allow that, now could they? So, Jamie's minimalism works pretty well after all.

Anonymous said...

For a little dose of how real reporters operate in a war zone, take a look at Michael Herr's Dispatches, from the Vietnam era. He also has a great account in there about the "war tourists" (my term), journalists who came over to Vietnam just to get their ticket punched and who spent their whole tours being led around by the military press officers, saying things like "Wow, I really expected things would be bad here, but it all seems to be pretty well under control". BTW, thanks for all you do, MYTWORDS.