John Leo

On June 28, Paul Bremer gave a farewell speech as he stepped down as U.S. administrator in Iraq. Some Iraqis, at least, found the talk moving. Ali Fad­hil, 34, a resident in pediatrics at a Baghdad hospital, watched it on television with a group in the cafeteria. He said Bremer?s words choked up even a onetime supporter of April?s Shiite upris­ing. We have this information about the Bremer speech because Fadhil and his brothers are bloggers who file their own reports on the Internet (http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com). I had never heard of ?Iraq the Model,? but Margaret Wylie of Newhouse News Service produced a good story June 29 about Fadhil?s blogging and Bremer?s talk.
 
Word that Bremer actually gave the speech is something of a collector?s item among American reporters. The Washington Post said Bremer left without giving a talk. The Los Angeles Times did worse. It missed the speech, then insulted Bremer for not giving it. A July 4 Times ?news analysis? said: ?L. Paul Bremer III, the civilian administrator for Iraq, left without even giving a final speech to the country -- almost as if he were afraid to look in the eye the people he had ruled for more than a year.? This is a good one-sentence example of what readers object to in much Iraq reporting -- dubious or wrong information combined with a heavy load of attitude from the reporter.
 
Not sorry.  Bloggers in the United States have been all over this story, quoting one another, leaning on the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times for an apology or a correction. Last Thursday, the Times published a correction of sorts. No apology, though, and no regret for the zinger aimed at Bremer. The Times said that Bremer taped an address that was given to Iraqi broadcast media and ?not publicized to the Western news media.? So nobody at the Times watches Iraqi TV or reads blogs? One blogger wrote: ?Bremer?s farewell address had been common knowledge among readers of Internet blogs since at least June 30,? four days before the Times criticized Bremer for having given no speech. Apparently nobody at the Times reads the American press either. Margie Wylie?s Newhouse piece discussing the Iraqi reaction to the Bremer talk ran five days before the Times said the speech hadn?t been given.


John Leo

John Leo is editor of MindingTheCampus.com and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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