A paragraph in this morning's column by the WashPost's Howard Kurtz leaped out as easily the most miserably pusillanimous thing I've ever read by anyone who touts himself as a "media critic." Entitled "Post-Indictment, A Glut of Glee?" it's exactly the sort of miserable, craven "on-the-one-hand-but-then-on-the-other" weighing of "issues" that makes students of good, pungent writing and cogent reporting yearn, this All-Hallows' Eve, for H. L. Mencken to rise unbidden from his grave and make a quick vitriol-drizzled snack of Howie Kurtz' brains.
Here's the pabulum in its mushy glory:
The hostility directed at Patrick Fitzgerald when he was threatening reporters with jail seems to have faded now that his targets are senior aides to President Bush. Perhaps most important, are reporters, commentators, bloggers and partisans using the outing of Valerie Plame as a proxy war for rehashing the decision to invade Iraq? The vitriol directed at New York Times reporter Judith Miller, whether deserved or not, seems motivated as much by her role in touting the administration's erroneous WMD claims as in her decision to be jailed, at least for a time, to protect Libby.First off, I don't recall a hell of a lot of hostility directed at Fitzgerald when he was threatening reporters with jail -- the prevailing emotion I recall was mystification, not hostility -- but that's not the truly nauseating thing about the first sentence. No, it's the now-the-shoe's-on-the-other-foot dig: Now that the investigation is bearing fruit, now you're all sitting on Fitzgerald's lap and crooning sweet nothings in his ear! Now he's your hero, when he's gotten around to indicting senior Administration people! You hate America!
The investigation has always been about which senior Bush aide(s) leaked Plame's name. Kurtz draws equivalency between the PlameGame and the Whitewater investigations, which is an absolutely fatuous comparison: Fitzgerald began with a fait accompli: A High Crime or Misdemeanor was without question committed by a White House aide, and the investigation was launched to find which aide did it. This couldn't have been farther from a fishing expedition.
The next sentence is just amazing: Are reporters, bloggers, etc., using this as a "proxy war for rehashing the decision to invade Iraq"? This astounding sentence from the media critic of the Washington Post, the paper where two Metro reporters once exposed Presidential criminality!
Two grafs later, Kurtz offers up this pile of milk-soaked Raisin Bran in illustration: "More than two years after the Bush administration took the country to war based in part on inflated weapons claims that turned out to be wrong, the wounds still haven't healed." Please try to wrap your brain around just how mealymouthed is the phrase, the wounds still haven't healed. Oh, how desperately we all suffered as a polity and a nation when, completely out of nowhere, with no warning whatever, we suddenly found ourselves, as if waking from a dream, in a hideous land war from which we can't extricate ourselves with even a tatter of national honor or credibility, which is destroying the armed services, bankrupting the treasury, shredding centuries-old alliances, and fostering a formidable insurgency that grows stronger daily? How could something like this have happened? Sure beats the shit out of Media Critic Howard Kurtz!
Wounds! We are suffering wounds! Nobody wounded anybody, of course! No active verbs for the likes of Media Critic Howard Kurtz! Wounds were suffered! By all of us! And they haven't healed!
Jesus H. Particular Christ.
Let's repeat this:
The vitriol directed at New York Times reporter Judith Miller, whether deserved or not, seems motivated as much by her role in touting the administration's erroneous WMD claims as in her decision to be jailed, at least for a time, to protect Libby.Seems? Seems?
The anger directed at New York Times reporter, "whether deserved or not," Mr. WashPost Media Critic, is (not seems) motivated because she and her editors turned a newspaper that once published the Pentagon Papers into a sniveling mouthpiece for a pack of liars; that she and her editors made an absolute hash of any concept of journalistic ethics in not crosschecking the "erroneous" WMD claims fed to her directly by high White House sources with obvious agendas; and finally that she remained in the confidences of the White House even after it was plain to her that she was being used to smear a political enemy -- an enemy, it might be added, who was Right when her WH buddies were demonstrably, obviously and murderously Wrong.
That, Mr. WashPost Media Critic, is how you report it. Because it's the goddamned Truth.
Kurtz concludes, bravely:
Libby may be charged with lying about his conversations with journalists, but much of the public resents the coziness that allowed those discussions to take place under a cloak of anonymity.Resents. Resents. Christ on a unicycle with a bottle of Mescal, "much of the public" resents it.
"Your Honor, in the case of the People versus Attila the Hun, in which Mr. Hun is accused of the commission of rapine and plunder across Europe and Asia in the Fifth Century A.D., much of the People wish to register their profound and lasting resentment."
Howie, we Little People don't resent the coziness between reporters and highly placed sources. That makes us look jealous. It does, however, make us stop believing anything they say.