Thursday, June 03, 2004

NYT on speech coverage

NYT Bush speech coverage

Over at Volokh conspiracy a guest blogger - Tom Smith - takes the NYT to the task for their coverage of the Bush speech at the Air Force Academy. I agree with a lot of Tom's remarks. However, I also enjoyed the differences between this, June 3rd article in the Washington section, and the one published on June 2nd by David Stout in the International > Middle East section. A friend of mine pointed that article out, complaning about poor verbiage in the speech. His particular nitpick was this sentence:

"Like the Second World War, our present conflict began with a ruthless surprise attack on the United States. We will not forget that treachery, and we will accept nothing less than victory over the enemy."

I agree that this is a poor choice of sentences. For one, WWII certainly did not begin by an attack on the United States. War has been going on since September 1st, 1939, and by December 7, 1941 all of Europe was aflame - from London to Moscow. There were plenty of ways to keep the meaning and the 9/11 parallel without giving the world media a mistake to chuckle over, IMO. It is possible to argue that the inclusion of "our present conflict" provides the link to the WWII conflict in the sense of "our entry into WWII conflict began with...", but that is weak, especially as we (the US) have been supplying British and Soviets throughout, blockading Japan's sea traffic and thus were hardly uninvolved in the WWII. I am also not crazy about the mentioning of "treachery". In the end, does it matter whether the attack was "trecherous" or not? Would it really change anything? If Japan's Foreign Ministry actually announced was on US, as it was supposed to do, a few hours before Pearl Harbor - what be different in the grand scheme of things? Was our victory somehow tied to the trechery of the attackers? If anything, the connection between Pearl Harbor and 9/11 is of willful desire to ignore the intellegence information. Bush could have said, "In both WWII and out present conflict we were caught unaware because of twin sins of pride and sloth. We were not vigilant enough, not careful enough. But we triumphed in WWII, and now Japan and Germany are the stalwarts of democracy. And we will triumph in this war, and make sure that Afganistan and Iraq, and all the nations of the Middle East can share in prosperity and justice of democracy's promise. " At least this is what I think would have been better. Enough with nitpicking on the President, on to the Times.

Tom Smith mentions NYT writer's reluctance to admit that the audience was applauding wildly

The Times describes Bush's speech as "interrupted intermittently by applause, most of it modest" and this is true. The applause was modest, except when it was enthusiastic.

This is generous compared to the David Stout article

The president was interrupted several times by the white-capped academy graduates, whose bravery and skills Mr. Bush said would be marshaled for a struggle no less momentous than that of six decades ago.

Wow. One can almost hear the boos and hackles raining down on the President who, according to the same article

Far from expressing any misgivings about the undertaking in Iraq, Mr. Bush restated his belief in pre-emption. "We can only imagine the scale of terrorist crimes were they to gain control of states of weapons of mass murder or vast oil revenues," he said. "So we will not retreat. We will prevent the emergence of terrorist-controlled states."

I imagine the NYT writers and editors felt that the proper course of action would have been to reverse the position, "We cannot imagine the scale of terrorist crimes were they to gain control of states of weapons of mass murder or vast oil revenues. So we will retreat. We will not prevent the emrgence of terrorist-controlled states."

Why should we do that? Because that would express proper misgivings about fighting terrorism. [kinda weak there, no? ran out of steam, sorry. -ed] [


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