Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?

The Horse's Mouth wonders why the New York Times cannot get the most basic thing about the news right:

The Horse's Mouth: NEW YORK TIMES DOWNPLAYS GENERAL'S AGREEMENT WITH GRIM ASSESSMENT OF IRAQ. You're gonna love this one. Yesterday Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer, the senior marine commander in Iraq, gave an interview to reporters about the confidential assessment leaked to the Washington Post which said that the likelihood of securing Iraq's western Anbar province is dim and there's little to nothing the U.S. military can do to salvage the situation.

So what did Zilmer say about this report? That depends on which newspaper you read.

Here's the headine in today's Washington Post:

General Affirms Anbar Analysis

But here's the headline in today's New York Times:

Grim Report Out of Anbar Is Disputed By General

So which is it? The Post quotes Zilmer as follows:

"I have seen that report and I do concur with that [intelligence] assessment," said Marine Maj. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer, speaking to reporters yesterday by telephone from his headquarters near Fallujah, Iraq. He said he found "frank and candid" the analysis by Col. Pete Devlin, the Marine intelligence chief in Iraq, who concluded that prospects for securing Anbar province are dim.... If the Post quoted him accurately, he said outright that he agreed. Either the Post misquoted him, or the Times headline clearly botched this one in a big way....


Here are excerpts from the Times's story:

Grim Report Out of Anbar Is Disputed by General By MICHAEL R. GORDON: WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 — The senior Marine commander in Iraq said Tuesday that he had sufficient forces to carry out his mission but that the mission did not include defeating the insurgency.... The Marine general commands a force of 30,000 troops who are charged with securing Anbar Province, a vast region in western Iraq that borders Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. He spoke to reporters in a telephone interview from his headquarters at Camp Falluja.

The Pentagon arranged the interview after articles in The Washington Post and The New York Times reported that General Zilmer’s senior intelligence officer had submitted a grim assessment about the political and security situation in Iraq.... The classified intelligence assessment, according to military officials familiar with it, also said that the region would continue to deteriorate unless there was an infusion of aid and a division was sent to reinforce General Zilmer’s command, known as MNF-W, for Multinational Force-West.

In his telephone discussion with reporters, General Zilmer declined to discuss the specifics of the report but indicated that he agreed with the intelligence assessment...

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