Mid Morning Quick Hits
Yes, it should be good for journalism that a quality journalistic outfit like Knight Ridder was purchased by a quality journalistic outfit like McClatchy Newspapers. But already McClatchy is saying they will sell quality papers like the San Jose Mercury News and both Philadelphia papers to pay for this deal because those papers don't operate in growing markets. I don't know about Philly, but the Bay Area needs a quality paper like the Merc. But I remain hopeful over this deal. Marry McClatchy's good business sense and solid smaller papers with a superstar team of papers and investigative reporters at Knight Ridder, and you will have a damn good media empire, surely much better than if KR had been bought and then butchered by the hacks at Gannett. Look for the new company to move smartly into the web. This is good for all of us, especially at a time when actual reporting is in decline, as Howard Kurtz reminds us.
The Post reports this morning that the White House staff appears to be burning out. They were overrated to begin with, and only the fawning kneelers like Russert and Tweety seem to think these guys are much better than they really are. But this is the start of the “poor babies, they are not screw-ups, they are just tired” defense for the errors by this team.
It is a sign of how far CBS News has fallen when the same outfit that once had Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and Fred Friendly now want the air headed right wing hack Katie Couric to read news for them each night. Peter Jennings is turning over in his grave, knowing that a rival network is giving one of the three key spots to someone who has never done a hard day’s work in a war zone, or even today understands a thing about the world, except what her corporate bosses and her image consultants tell her.
A week after both Peter Pace and Rummy told us that things are going “very well” in Iraq, Juan Cole describes yesterday as “Black Sunday”, after a spate of terrible bombings. The Iraqi government admits that they have been infiltrated by the militias. Sectarian violence appears to have the country in a civil war, as new bombings have gripped the country in the last two days. Read this piece in today’s NYT about how badly Rummy and Tommy Franks underestimated the strength of the possible insurgency and what their field commanders were trying to tell them about the need to suppress the Fedayeen rather than make a splash by rushing for Baghdad. This piece, among many others, should once and for all dispel any notion that Franks is a good general or that Rummy ever listens to his field commanders.
But fear not, the neocons are ready to build upon this success by preparing a disinformation campaign aimed at undermining Iran, instead of talking to them directly and finding a way to deal effectively with their nuclear ambitions, as even Russia expresses its frustrations now. Exactly how effective will a disinformation campaign be against the theocracy in Iran, if our own actions next door have convinced many Iranians on the street that it is a matter of national pride and self-defense for the country to have its own nuclear program? Not very effective.
The New York Times editorial page says the obvious today: how can the GOP slash domestic programs while pressing for more tax cuts? In fact, the fresh gripe by fiscal conservatives for the midterm election is that this administration is derelict in restraining and cutting spending, and that this fiscal recklessness will eventually result in a rollback of the Bush tax cuts. The GOP is in a big whole here, thanks to Bush. Their fiscal purists want to steer the party back to its small is better ways, and yet the only places left to find significant budget savings are in areas that would be lethal for the GOP to cut: Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, as well as defense.
Fifty-nine percent of the public feels that the Bush Administration is too secretive.