WSJ’s "Best of the Web" led me to a website I hadn’t yet encountered. The site of the Democracy Project includes numerous posts by Wilfred M. McClay, a very smart and thoughtful guy who happens to live in Chattanooga, which happens to be the hometown of the reporter who orchestrated the now infamous question posed by the soldier in Kuwait.
Here’s a sample of McClay’s prose (you’ll have to scroll down the page to find the whole entry, which he posted on December 10th; he posted again, also interestingly, on the 11th):
It happens that I have some younger friends in that same unit, and I’m aware of the fact, since this unit does not yet have direct experience of Iraqi conditions, the questioner could not possibly have based his question on firsthand knowledge. Nor could the embedded reporter. That there would be widespread anxiety prior to a deployment, on a variety of matters, is entirely understandable. There always is. For a reporter to gin up the anxiety level with one guy, and then manipulate the results into "news" is precisely the kind of MSM behavior that bloggers have rightly been complaining about. Also misreported is the fact that Rumsfeld gave an excellent answer to this ambushing question. Even if you grant that it was a good question, why not also report that it got a reasonable answer, from a SecDef who was not afraid to field such questions?
Read both entries. And bookmark the site. Bill McClay is always worth reading. And his colleagues, mostly alumni of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, are no slouches either.
This is also a good time to think in a larger way about the role of press. A good beginning for such a consideration is Robert D. Kaplan’s latest offering, "The Media and Medievalism." Here’s a sample:
If what used to be known as the Communist International has any rough contemporary equivalent, it is the global media. The global media’s demand for peace and justice, which flows subliminally like an intravenous solution through its reporting, is — much like the Communist International’s rousing demand for workers’ rights — moralistic rather than moral. Peace and justice are such general and self-evident principles that it is enough merely to invoke them. Any and all toxic substances can flourish within them, or manipulate them, provided that the proper rhetoric is adopted. For moralizers these principles are a question of manners, not of substance. To wit, Kofi Annan can never be wrong.
Read the whole long thing.