Saturday, March 01, 2003

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No! No! No!

White House criticizes Iraq showdown coverage.

The White House and Pentagon yesterday criticized news coverage of the Iraq showdown and other military matters in a sign of increasing acrimony between the press and administration. "You're covering the process as if it was a baseball game," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters. He accused journalists of missing the big picture on the Iraq story by distorting daily developments. Although criticism mounts against Saddam Hussein, Mr. Fleischer said, the press emphasizes expressions of doubt from wavering allies such as France and Russia. "You're looking at every step that is taken — every hit, every pitch, every strike — ignoring the fact that history has shown that during this consultative process, you will be able to write any type of story you want about any of these types of statements," Mr. Fleischer said. "But the focus is on the outcome for President Bush."

Ari, Ari, Ari! Hissy fittish and self servingly arrogant ... not to say a tad incomprehensible. Methinks there might be the odd *outcome* for your average innocent Iraqi. The *big picture* might be a little difficult for these people to appreciate when they are reduced to a disembodied puff of smoke.

Hours later, at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld scolded reporters for "prematurely" reporting on the outcome of U.S. military talks with the Philippines. He suggested it was symptomatic of widespread misreporting. "You get told things every day that don't happen," Mr. Rumsfeld said at a news conference. "It doesn't seem to bother people; it gets printed in the press; the world thinks all of these things happen.

"You get told things every day that don't happen". Don baby, you ought to know all about that. How many times have we been told that the elusive Mr. Bin Laden was going to blow up the Golden Gate Bridge, the Whitehouse, Heath Row Airport, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Strathmore Bingo Hall. When I last checked they all seemed to be intact, in fact I donned my anti-anthrax, anti-smallpox, anti-ebola virus, anti-mine, anti-macassar, anti-scud clobber and cleaned up very nicely during "Eyes down" time last night. Thank you umpire, thank you ballboys, thank you two fat ladies.

But let me leave you with a wonderfully ironic and "people in White glass houses" Ari-ism ...

Such criticism follows a dispute between the administration and CBS News over Dan Rather's interview with Saddam earlier this week.

"This interview is a good early indication of something that journalists are going to face," Mr. Fleischer said. "Journalists still have to ask themselves these questions about the responsibility to accuracy — knowing that the Iraqis are nothing but propagandists and deceivers."

"And American media are going to have to ask themselves: Do you put these paid liars and propagandists on the air to show this? "

Yes they will Ari, they'll keep covering your press conferences.