Commentary and links relating to media coverage of war; both before, during, and after.

William A. Dorman is Professor of Government at California State University, Sacramento, and has taught a course in War, Peace and the Mass Media since 1970.

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War, Peace, and the Mass Media
Saturday, February 19, 2005  
When real news debunks fake news

By Frank Rich
The New York Times
February 19, 2005

(Blog editor's note: For another perspective on this story, see Maureen Dowd's column two items before this one)

NEW YORK The prayers of those hoping that real television news might take its cues from Jon Stewart were finally answered on Feb. 9, 2005. A real newsman borrowed a technique from fake news to deliver real news about fake news in prime time.

Let me explain.
On "Countdown," a nightly news hour on MSNBC, the anchor, Keith Olbermann, led off with a bit in the classic style of Stewart's classic "Daily Show": a rapid-fire montage of sharply edited video bites illustrating the apparent idiocy of those in Washington. In this case, the eight clips stretched over a year in the White House briefing room - from February 2004 to late last month - and all featured a reporter named "Jeff." In most of them, the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, says "Go ahead, Jeff," and "Jeff" responds with a softball question intended not to elicit information but to boost President George W. Bush and smear his political opponents. In the last clip, "Jeff" is quizzing the president himself, in his first post-inaugural press conference of Jan. 26. Referring to Harry Reid and Hillary Rodham Clinton, "Jeff" asks, "How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?"
If we did not live in a time when the news culture itself is divorced from reality, the story might end there: "Jeff," you'd assume, was a lapdog reporter from a legitimate, if right-wing, news organization like Fox, and you'd get some predictable yuks from watching a compressed video anthology of his kissing up to power. But as Olbermann explained, "Jeff Gannon," the star of the montage, was a newsman no more real than a "Senior White House Correspondent" like Stephen Colbert on "The Daily Show." Yet the video broadcast by Olbermann was not fake. "Jeff" was in the real White House, and he did have those exchanges with the real McClellan and the real Bush.

To read the full text, see International HeraldTribune

7:44 AM

Friday, February 18, 2005  
 Negroponte Picked for Intelligence Post

from the
Los Angeles Times
17 February 2005

    Washington - President Bush today named John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq who built a 40-year diplomatic career in some of the world's most troubled corners, to be the first director of national intelligence. The nomination, announced at a news conference, fills the final, major vacancy in the administration's second term national security team.

Blog editor's note: The mainstream news media, so far as my quick survey can discover, has not made much if anything at all of Negroponte's controversial history in U.S. foreign relations. Readers might find of interest a consideration of this background in a 2001 article in The National Catholic Reporter

7:02 AM

Thursday, February 17, 2005  
Bush's Barberini Faun

The New York Times

Blog editor's note: While Ms. Dowd's column doesn't directly bear on the issues with which this blog is usually concerned, indirectly it has everything to do with the relationship of journalism to the state.

I am very impressed with James Guckert, a k a Jeff Gannon.

How often does an enterprising young man, heralded in press reports as both a reporter and a contributor to such sites as,,, and, get to question the president of the United States?

Who knew that a hotmilitarystud wanting to meetlocalmen could so easily get to be face2face with the commander in chief?

It's hard to believe the White House could hit rock bottom on credibility again, but it has, in a bizarre maelstrom that plays like a dark comedy. How does it credential a man with a double life and a secret past?

To read the full text, see The New York Times;

12:20 PM

Monday, February 14, 2005  
Why is everyone mad at the mainstream media?

The New Yorker
Issue of 2005-02-14 and 21

Blog editor's note: While this article does not directly deal with the issues usually linked to this blog, the piece by Lemann, Dean of Columbia's School of Journalism and a staff writer at the New Yorker, is a fascinating study of how decisionmakers in the print media view the disfavor in which contemporary journalism finds itself.

Just before last fall’s Presidential election, Bill Keller, the executive editor of the Times, and Philip Taubman, the paper’s Washington bureau chief, went on the road to inspect the candidates’ campaigns. In Florida, on October 22nd, they arranged to have drinks with Karl Rove, the White House’s chief political strategist, and Dan Bartlett, its head of communications. It was supposed to be a friendly get-together, and that’s how it went for the first few minutes, until Keller asked Rove what he thought of the Times’ coverage. It’s the sort of question that editors often ask important people, in the same spirit that a politician asks, “How’m I doing?,” usually hoping for an answer somewhere in the lower-middle range of politeness and candor. But Rove, Keller told me not long ago, “pounded on us for two cocktails’ worth of conversation.” Saying what? “It was three kinds of things,” Keller explained. “It was Bush accomplishments we had ignored, flaws in the Kerry record that we had put inside the paper, and a number of pieces we had done looking hard at the Bush record. In their view, that all amounted to arming the Kerry campaign.”

Keller and I were talking in his office in the Times newsroom at nine one morning, a moment when most newspaper offices are empty and expectantly quiet, like a theatre a couple of hours before the curtain. Keller took his time describing the conversation, to suggest that he wasn’t dismissing the criticisms out of hand. “Your initial reaction, especially in someone as ferocious as Rove, is to drop into a defensive crouch,” he said. “But I try not to do that. I listened, with a fair measure of skepticism, because a lot of it is calculated. But there was some genuineness to it. He went through a long litany of complaints. I do think he was channelling a feeling about the New York Times that’s out there in the land, that we should be concerned about, or at least aware of.”

To read the full text, see The New Yorker

4:41 PM

Sunday, February 13, 2005  
Memo: Clark Warned Rice on Al Qaeda
The National Security Archives
13 February 2005

Blog editor's note: The National Security Archives specializes in searching out and making public declassified documents regarding foreign and defense policy. You can read the original document, which is a cover memo explaining two attachments, including a detailed plan for dealing with al-Qaeda, by following the link provided by given below

[t r u t h o u t transcript of Richard Clarke memo to Condoleezza Rice]


January 25, 2001




SUBJECT:     Presidential Policy Initiative/Review -- The Al-Qida Network

Steve asked today that we propose major Presidential policy reviews or initiatives. We urgently need such a Principals level review on the al Qida network.

Just some Terrorist Group?

To read the full text, see

4:27 PM

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