Angry New Yorker

Tuesday, May 25, 2004
The Sad State of Today's Journalism

Having spent ten+ years as a journalist, including publishing several articles in major outlets, such as The New York Times, the increasingly prevalent opinionism that passes for journalism pains me. I'm seriously old school when it comes to journalism, with the caveat that journalism is, like most things, a reflection of our own foibles.

Journalists are greatly despised today -- and C-SPAN and the availability of press conference transcripts highlight why. Too many "journalists" don't do journalism; that is report. Rather they recreate to reflect their world view. An extremely well-documented round of this practice, generated by a press conference in Iraq, has been superbly Fisked by Jason Van Steenwyk, a U.S. officer in Iraq who runs a blog called "IRAQ NOW ...... Media Analysis With A Sense of Insurgency" at

As Glenn Reynolds, of Instapundit, notes: "[h]e's [Van Steenwyk] got links and transcripts and he's naming names, which include the New York Times, Reuters, AFP, and more."

Mr. Van Steenwyk states:

"To: the editors of almost every news report I've seen who quote General Mattis saying 'I don't have to apologize for the conduct of my men.'

As exhibit A, I present to you a verbatim transcript of the press conference in question.

As exhibit B, I further note the pertinent part of the conference:

Unnamed Reporter: What happened yesterday at 3 a.m. in Al Qaim? Was there a wedding on? A wedding celebration?

Gen. Mattis: You joined us a little late, as I said to the young lady here, I said how many people how many people go to the desert 10 miles from the Syrian border and hold a wedding 80 miles from the nearest civilization? Over two-dozen military-aged males... let's not be naïve. Let's leave it at that.

(Question unintelligible)

Gen. Mattis: I can't...I've seen the pictures, but I can't...bad things happened. Fallujah, I never saw a Marine hide behind a woman or a child or hold them in their house and fire out of the building. I don't have to apologize for the conduct of my Marines.

As you can plainly see, General Mattis clearly shifted his point of reference from the site of the so-called 'wedding party' to Fallujah. When he said he did not have to apologize for the conduct of his Marines, he was contrasting his own Marines' tactics with those of the insurgents, who make a common practice of hiding behind women and children.

Contrast this with these accounts:

Essentially, it looks like they're quoting each other, or some apocryphal Q source material. They're not quoting General Mattis. They didn't even show up at the press conference, and they didn't bother to get a transcript or listen to the tape. But all these reporters are passing their crap off as if they were right from the source material.

Absolutely, completely pathetic.

If this is what passes for news coverage, then they ought to fire their reporters and hire some boy scouts to write for them. At least they'll be honest."

Read his entire post here.

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