Daily Archives: June 8, 2005

A tip of the hat to Kevin Roderick for linking Mickey Kaus’ latest conniption fit:

A dramatic 75-mile car chase shuts down a major Southern California freeway for four hours and makes the national NBC Nightly News–but doesn’t make the front page of the L.A. Times. It doesn’t even make the front page of the local (“California”) B-section of the L.A. Times. (There’s a teaser for the story, which is on page B3.) The people who edit this paper have no clue. … Massive layoffs–please! Update: The L.A. Daily News, the LAT’s smaller, Valley-based rival, of course makes the freeway drama its lead story. That’s because the Daily News is a newspaper. [As opposed to?–ed. A giant wet blanket smothering any spark of civic engagement in America’s second-largest city! … Sorry, that just sort of popped out.] 4:02 A.M.

Of course there’s a perfectly good reason why it doesn’t make the front page of the LAT — the damned thing’s all over the tube! Freeway chases are primo television fare. A day (or rather evening when they generally unfold) doesn’t go by without one. And there isn’t a program director alive who wouldn’t be willing to yank anything whatsoever off the air in favor of a freeway chase. In fact not too many months ago a televised address by President Bunnypants was supplemented by an ongoing chase “drama” (as the meat puppets love to say) in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

Anything to alleviate the boredom of his ceaseless cascade of lies, no?

That’s doubtless why its taken so long for The Downing Street Memo to win the attention it deserves. Bush lied about Iraq? That’s not news. But bless Blogistan and the remaining few intrepid “mainstreamers” like Eric for keeping the pressure simmering until, as Mickey would say, “it just sort of popped out” :

A simmering controversy over whether American media have ignored a secret British memo about how President Bush built his case for war with Iraq bubbled over into the White House on Tuesday.

At a late afternoon news conference, Reuters correspondent Steve Holland asked Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair about a memo that’s been widely written about and discussed in Europe but less so in the USA.

It was the most attention paid by the media in the USA so far to the “Downing Street memo,” first reported on May 1 by The Sunday Times of London. The memo is said by some of the president’s sharpest critics, such as Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, to be strong evidence that Bush decided to go to war and then looked for evidence to support his decision.

“Evidence” that hacks like Judy Miller and her pal “Curveball” were only too happy to supply.

The Sunday Times said the memo is the minutes of a meeting that British Prime Minister Tony Blair had with some of his top intelligence and foreign policy aides on July 23, 2002, at 10 Downing Street, the prime minister’s official residence. The story said the memo indicates that Blair was told by the head of Britain’s MI6 intelligence service that in 2002, the Bush administration was selectively choosing evidence that supported its case for going to war and ignoring anything to the contrary. The war began in March 2003.

“Intelligence and facts were being fixed” by the Bush administration “around” a policy that saw military action “as inevitable,” the newspaper quoted from the memo.

“There’s nothing farther from the truth,” Bush told reporters as Blair stood at his side. “Both of us didn’t want to use our military,” Bush said in response to a question about the memo. “It was our last option.”
Blair added, “The facts were not being ‘fixed’ in any shape or form at all.”

“We wuz wit you, Boss, at Rigoletto’s!”

Bush said that at the time the memo was written, no decision had been made about going to war. He pointed out that it was written two months before he went to the United Nations and asked for a Security Council resolution calling on Saddam Hussein to give up his weapons of mass destruction or face “serious consequences.”

Knowing full well that no such weapons existed, and violating the U.N. charter by declaring war regardless.

The Sunday Times’ May 1 memo story, which broke just four days before Britain’s national elections, caused a sensation in Europe. American media reacted more cautiously. The New York Times wrote about the memo May 2, but didn’t mention until its 15th paragraph that the memo stated U.S. officials had “fixed” intelligence and facts.

Knight Ridder Newspapers distributed a story May 6 that said the memo “claims President Bush … was determined to ensure that U.S. intelligence data supported his policy.” The Los Angeles Times wrote about the memo May 12, The Washington Post followed on May 15 and The New York Times revisited the news on May 20.

Such a well-trained steno pool!

None of the stories appeared on the newspapers’ front pages.

(InsertMP3 of Mickey Kaus snoring.)

Several other major media outlets, including the evening news programs on ABC, CBS and NBC, had not said a word about the document before Tuesday. Today marks USA TODAY’s first mention.

Some activists who opposed Bush’s decision to attack Iraq have been peppering editors with letters and e-mails to push the media into more aggressive coverage. Last week, a group known as Democrats.com offered $1,000 to anyone who can get Bush to answer “yes or no” to this question: Did he or his administration “fix the intelligence” about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to terrorism?

“We want what the Michael Jackson, Paris Hilton and Star Wars stories have gotten: endless repetition until people have heard about it,” says David Swanson, one of Democrats.com’s organizers.

But that would mean giving the go-by to all-important missing white girl stories (There’s one every month, you know.) And that’s not to mention raising the hackles of Our Mickey — uneasily scanning the freeway horizon.

Robin Niblett of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, says it would be easy for Americans to misunderstand the reference to intelligence being “fixed around” Iraq policy. ” ‘Fixed around’ in British English means ‘bolted on’ rather than altered to fit the policy,” he says.

Ombudsmen at both The New York Times and The Washington Post have been critical of their newspapers for not covering the story more aggressively.

USA TODAY chose not to publish anything about the memo before today for several reasons, says Jim Cox, the newspaper’s senior assignment editor for foreign news. “We could not obtain the memo or a copy of it from a reliable source,” Cox says. “There was no explicit confirmation of its authenticity from (Blair’s office). And it was disclosed four days before the British elections, raising concerns about the timing.”

And it wasn’t on Drudge either, was it? We’ve got to keep our priorities straight, people! “If it bleeds it leads” only applies to domestic violence you know. Iraq? Well isn’t the insurgency in it’s “final throes”? That’s what Dick Cheney says. And being a Lectroid from Planet 10, I’m sure he knows what he’s talking about.

Right Mickey?