Michael Calderone's testicular short-comings
working on a piece about ISIS and Obama's coming flip from Nobel Peace
Prize laureate to war crimes criminal, but the research keeps sinking
deeper in mud and the so article's publication keeps getting pushed
back. That's the way it is when writing without deadlines --
publishing dates are more sporadic but the end product is more polished
and reliable. Hopefully. In the mean time, here are some
thoughts I had when reading today's HuffPo
piece by Michael Calderone regarding the New York Time's
reporting on ISIS.
You know how a lot of these
blogosphere writers are . . . they don't have that much to say about the
world but they always have plenty to say about the NYT. It just
amazes me how much digital ink is spilled blathering on about the NYT as
if the medium is the message . . . Oh, wait. Has somebody already
And usually, as in Calderon'e article, it's like the NYT is not just the
medium and the message, it's the messenger, too. I mean to read Calderone's piece you
wouldn't know there were any reporters involved -- the paper writes
itself. He drones on and on
-- not about what is happening in the world but about what he reads in the
NYT, minus any mention of or attribution to those who wrote what he reads.
Mostly Calderone is talking
about how in the run-up to the Iraq invasion in 2002-2003, the NYT just
really fucked it. The NYT executive editor at the time was Howell
Raines, and the neocon NYT reporter who took most of the heat for
incompetent or dishonest reporting about weapons of mass destruction,
mobile bioweapons labs, etc. was the now infamous Judith Miller.
But nowhere in his retrospective does Calderone mention either of
them. Instead of naming names himself, this journalistic coward
links to Michael Massing's 2004 classic article in the New
York Review of Books that pretty much tore Miller to shreds, which is
how she should have been torn.
Here are five clips from
Calderone's anemic verbiage to support my criticism:
- Calderone: "In 2002
and 2003, Times editors gave prominent space to now-discredited
reporting bolstering the Bush administration's case for war, while
downplaying reporting that questioned it."
Calderone fails to mention who the guilty parties were: Executive
Editor Howell Raines, who was forced out a few months after the Iraq
and reporter Judith Miller, who was severely criticized by her own paper for her reporting failures,
jailed for contempt of court,
"retired" from the NYT, and went to work for FOX, where she
really belonged all the time.
- Calderone: "On
Wednesday night, the Times challenged
the perceived severity of the threat in an article that also
ran on the front page of Thursday’s paper."
Calderone does not name the authors – Mark Mazzetti, Eric
Schmitt, Mark Landler.
- Calderone: "Friday’s
Times led with a
report on regional allies offering only
"tepid" support for Obama's plan. The story included
contributions from seven reporters in the region, including one in
Raqqa, Syria, the de facto capital of the Islamic State."
Calderone does not name the authors – Anne Barnard & David
- Calderone: "Also
on Friday, the Times ran a front-page
story questioning the military readiness
of the Syrian opposition in a fight against the Islamic State."
Calderone does not name the authors -- Ben Hubbard, Eric Schmitt,
Post, in a story leading Friday’s front page,
wrote that the U.S. has not managed to eradicate al Qaeda or related
terrorist groups since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and yet Obama now
has pledged to "destroy" the Islamic State."
Calderone does not name the authors -- Greg
Miller & Craig Whitlock.
My point is a simple one:
newspapers don't write themselves, not even the omniscient ones like NYT. The good stuff, the lousy
stuff, and the dishonest stuff are all written by humans with names, and those
humans ought to be acknowledged for writing good stuff, and they ought to
be criticized for writing lousy stuff, and they ought to be excoriated for
writing dishonest stuff. By name. And that 3-part rule is
what this post is about.
I doubt that Calderone will ever write
a powerful, classic piece like Michael Massing's because Calderone just doesn't
have the journalistic mettle to write the truth -- all of it, including
the names. IOW, Huffington
Post is a good place for him.
-- Denis O'Brien, Sep12.2014