September 16, 2004

The Sky is Not Falling

The Financial Times has an article on Green Zone security and both Andrew Sullivan and Dan Drezner are needlessly panicking over a slick bit of journalistic manipulation. Here's why things are not as bad as they appear.

You've got a 2nd hand report of an anonymous briefer. Well, he's not really anonymous because you know that he's in charge of perimeter security and he's a major. That's likely to narrow down to one man which the FT reporters cannot name because, by the rules of their game, they would then have to go with him to get comment and he'd then likely clarify things in a way that would not be conducive to their article thesis.

It would take ten minutes to go find a press officer and ask for the chain of command in terms of who is in charge of perimeter security and note down the relevant name. So why did they violate basic journalistic protocol and not seek comment and verify, on record if possible, the substance of the allegation? Piercing the veil of pseudonymity would have advanced the story if what you were after was the truth and it was easy to do so why not do it?

Furthermore, the quote in the headline does not appear in the article. Who are they quoting? Did anybody ever represent that the Green Zone was totally secure? People have been lobbing in mortars for some time yet only now it's 'no longer totally secure' as the bad guys ramp up their pre-election offensive? Also, I like the flag. I believe it's the Saddam era flag they are using, you know, the one with Saddam's personal handwriting on it? Nice, impartial touch that bit.

The FT is not playing it straight and people should call them on it. It's not Dan Rather territory but still...

Posted by TMLutas at September 16, 2004 02:23 PM