Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

  Reporting that falls through the cracks

Do left-wing bloggers read the San Diego Union-Tribune? This story from yesterday got me to thinking again about the apparent blind-spots that persist in lefty blog coverage of the news.

The report reveals moderately important information about the firing of the US Attorney Carol Lam. Oddly, though, it hasn't been mentioned by any diarist at the biggest left-wing blog, Daily Kos.

This is one of several major regional papers that are producing distinguished reporting on several key issues that concern us all. The same is true of some of the smaller wire services and newspaper chains. At least as often as not, though, these reports get little or no attention in leftopia.

So what's the point of having this big megaphone in www.Land if it picks up only intermittent signals?

The San Diego story tells us that in her thirteen-page letter to the House Judiciary Committee, responding to questions about her firing, Lam told the committee that she'd been given the bum's rush when she asked for a little time to put her current cases in order before stepping down.

A few days after learning last December that she was to submit her resignation effective Jan. 31, Lam asked Michael Battle, then the head of the U.S. attorney executive office, for extra time to ensure “an orderly transition – especially regarding pending investigations and several significant cases that were set to begin trial in the next few months,” Lam wrote in her answers...

About a month passed when Lam got a call from Michael Elston, Gonzales' former chief of staff, telling her that her request for extra time was “not being received positively” and that she “should stop thinking in terms of the cases in the office.”

“He insisted that I had to depart in a matter of weeks, not months, and that these instructions were 'coming from the very highest level of the government,' ” Lam wrote.

Among her pressing cases, obviously, were several connected to the "Duke" Cunningham corruption probe. The pressure "from the highest level of government" (which would be the White House) to dump Lam as quickly as possible reinforces vividly the impression that the White House has turned the DoJ into a political machine.

Pretty bracing stuff, then, from a paper that has been leading the pack in coverage of Cunningham, Abramoff, and the whole rotten gang of corrupt Republicans. But it came from Copley News, so how many bloggers were paying much attention?

It's far from the only example of great reporting that has too little impact in lefty blogging.

Take the Baltimore Sun, another paper that rarely gets mentioned here. Siobhan Gorman practically owns the NSA and national security intelligence beat (honorable mention to Dana Priest, but nevertheless...). When's the last time any of Gorman's pieces got so much as a nod from bloggers? Yet the other day she had an interesting interview with CIA Director Michael Hayden:

Hayden, a former director of the National Security Agency, has also been forced to grapple with one of the agency's thorniest issues in recent decades: what to do with the secret jails that the CIA has been operating for the interrogation of suspected terrorists.

"We're the nation's intelligence agency, not the nation's jailer," Hayden said.

And a few days before that Gorman had an overview of changes being contemplated in Pentagon intelligence operations. Then there's this from yesterday:

National Security Agency Director Lt. Gen Keith Alexander has launched a marketing blitz.

His goal: to get his employees on message.

Last month, Alexander launched an "Internal Communications Campaign" to promote "buy-in" among his troops for plans to modernize NSA’s spy capabilities and to generate "positive" news stories, according to planning documents obtained by The Baltimore Sun.

The two-part campaign will employ a set of "cascading messages" repeated down through NSA’s hierarchy, as well as "viral" marketing "to generate excitement and unity enterprise-wide," one planning document says.

Whether you think this is merely idiotic, or symptomatic of a willingness of the new and improved NSA's willingness to engage in prohibitted domestic activities (propaganda), still it's arguably a big deal that the super spy agency that's illegally wiretapping around America is being led by dolts.

I'd really, really like to see more attention given on line to the original reporting of papers like the Baltimore Sun and especially Siobhan Gorman's work.

Let me put this boldly: It's a sin to let good reporting fall down the memory hole. Enough bitching and moaning about the MSM's failings, for now. What about just cataloguing some of its successes?

Want to help keep the pressure on about abuses at Guantanamo? Then keep an eye on The Miami Herald for the rest of us. CIA torture flights got you down? There are several newspapers in North Carolina that have been following that story for quite a while (and the Charlotte Observer has published great reports about Gitmo as well).

Why is it that despite all the acclaim that bloggers have showered upon McClatchy, much of their important and compelling reporting still trickles into leftopia only slowly if at all?

Several hundred somber-faced Iraqis assembled today in a parking lot just outside Damascus to register with the U.N.’s refugee agency...

On a busy day, a U.N. spokeswoman said, as many as 8,000 refugees request appointments. Syria is so flooded with displaced Iraqis – the latest estimate is 1.4 million – that relief workers are struggling to cope with the crisis. One man who applied today showed me his appointment date: Jan. 4, 2008.

Even some important stories from the LA Times and Chicago Tribune get less attention from bloggers than they merit. Mark Silva's reporting ought to be near the top of everybody's must-read list -- yet he's almost never mentioned in leftopia. chiz.

I'm not even going to discuss the near total lack of awareness of most foreign reporting that we see in all too many blogs. In this regard, this blog is somewhat better than most. But that says quite a lot, doesn't it?

Gentle reader, the sun does not rise whenever the NYT is put to bed. The sun does not set to the glow of MSNBC. There's a world of good reporting out there that falls through the cracks, month after month. Grab that megaphone and use it. In the immortal words of Sid Caesar...

We've got to get organized!

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