Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Yet Another Washington Post Edition)
Howard Kurtz writes, defensively, about his downward-spiraling newspaper, The Washington Post:
Thunder on the Left: [T]he issue of GOP responsibility was not exactly ignored. Maybe the piece could have been sharper. My only point is that it's our job to give readers the facts, not take sides in partisan warfare...
I take this to be an admission by Kurtz that the Post underplayed the extent to which the current bitterly-partisan political climate is something desire and triggered by the Republican leadership, and that admission is welcome. But if Kurtz thinks that the Post is doing "it's... job to give readers the facts," perhaps he should take a close look at his own newspaper.
The funniest thing I've been able to find in it--and the thing that is least consistent with the idea that the Post is taking the task of informing its readers as job #1--is Michael Abramowitz's sentence:
Conservative Anger Grows Over Bush's Foreign Policy: It has not helped the neoconservative case, perhaps, that the occupation of Iraq has not gone as smoothly as some had predicted...
That sentence sent the Whiskey Bar--and many others--into howls of laughter as they rolled on the floor. In Abromowitz's sentence are unmistakable echoes of Emperor Hirohito's surrender broadcast at the end of World War II:
Whiskey Bar: The Hirohito Effect: "Despite the best that has been done by everyone... the war situation has developed not necessarily to our advantage."
Abramowitz's sentence reads as the sentence of somebody who is pathetically, incompetently, weak: somebody who doesn't dare do more than hint at the truth--that the occupation of Iraq has been a huge, horrible disappointment because of the incompetence, disconnection from reality, malevolence, and mendacity of the Bush administration--because he might be yelled at by somebody from White House media affairs. Somebody who regards avoiding being yelled at by the White House media staff as much more important than informing his readers. Abramowitz will not say that the occupation of Iraq has been a disaster. The most he will say is that the occupation has not gone "smoothly." No, Abramowitz will not even say that: all he'll say it that it has not gone as "smoothly" as "some had predicted." No, Abramowitz will not even say that: he has to add a "perhaps."
That "perhaps" is the true kicker that carries Abramowitz way over the top and well beyond the land of self-parody. "Perhaps" the occupation of Iraq has not gone as "smoothly" as "some had predicted."
But, you may say, surely the echoes of Hirohito are deliberate? Surely Abramowitz intended this as a joke? Surely he is having fun by snarkily poking at Republicans who cannot call a spade a spade? Surely what Abramowitz means by this sentence is that everybody knows the occupation of Iraq has been a total disaster--but that the Republicans who are his subject cannot admit this, even to themselves? Surely nobody writing for the Post today can be as craven and evasive as Hirohito was at the end of World War II?
So I called around. Current Post employees are divided: Six think that the humor was totally unintentional--that Abramowitz had no clue how ridiculous he was when he wrote: "It has not helped the neoconservative case, perhaps, that the occupation of Iraq has not gone as smoothly as some had predicted." Two think that the echoes of Hirohito's surrender broadcast are deliberate, and that Abramowitz is being snarky.
So I wrote Michael Abramowitz and asked him what his intentions were. So far no reply.