Saturday, March 11, 2006

Two Sides of the Mouth

On Thursday, military officials told the press: "The prison will be turned over to the Iraqi government after the 4,500-odd prisoners being held there are moved, probably within about three months, to another prison now being built in Baghdad."

On the same day, the Department of Defense posted on its website: "News reports that the U.S. military intends to close Abu Ghraib within the next few months and to transfer its prisoners to other jails are inaccurate."

Under other circumstances, I might be inclined to believe there was simply a significant miscommunication and that perhaps Gen. Pace the military spokesman in Baghdad merely had inaccurate information, but this administration has regularly adopted this tactic in dealing with the press. You say one thing, which is popular, loudly and publicy and then quietly retract it later. All anyone, of course, is the first announcement. I've already commented on the Administration's first linking Iraq and 9/11 and then later quietly disavowing those statements; we saw how that turned out. Also, remember Bush's denial that he ever knew Abramoff, followed later by the admission that he did (though even his forced admission obscured the truth - .pdf).

The worst part, however, is that the press seems to allow itself to play into this strategy of deliberate manipulation. Sure, in the White House Press Briefings reporters will ask pointed questions, but the Adminstration has mastered the art of deflection. Where are the hard-hitting questions? Where are the journalistic ambushes? Where is the damned Fourth Estate?

1 comment:

Alex Kim said...

I'm surprised that I haven't commented on this earlier, but I can't really believe that the Administration thinks it's a viable rhetorical tactic to say a popular lie loudly and then speak the truth softly afterwards. Wouldn't you say that this is why Bush is so lowly approved of lately?

Either way, of course, you're right that the "Fourth Estate" is really slacking off. Mike Wallace has retired from 60 Minutes... Tom Brokaw is gone... Peter Jennigs has died... Dan Rather retired... I'm really worried that the last great journalists are dying or retiring from the increasing pile of shit stinking up their profession.