June 30, 2004



Nice job. From the outset (even when reporters had free run of most of the country), the coverage has been narrow, misleading, and uninformative. Your little exercise -- asking basic questions about basic issues that would allow a reader to make some sort of evaluation of the situation -- could be applied to any topic, from security to health to education to inter-communal relations. Useful coverage has been episodic, at best.

And you're more correct than you know about a major factor in slowing disbursement of reconstruction funds being the ludicrous, illiterate, irresponsible witch-hunts regarding Halliburton. Even the reference you cite is misleading and indefensible. Disputes over costs and sub-contracts and sourcing are routine, everday matters between govt. managers and contractors. Stripped of this context, of course, it's child's play (for children) to portray any given dust-up as troubling evidence of mismanagement or cronyism. And the public -- which thanks to the incompetent media has not the slightest idea how its tax money is administered in such situations -- laps it all up eagerly since it fits into the populist fantasy-construct.

Your point about the media not really telling us much we don't know or can't reasonably guess is central. It's why anyone with some background on the subject has to dig and prospect through coverage for facts, screen out the silly editorializing, supplement liberally with alternative info directly from the theater, and hazard one's own tentative conclusions. As someone (Keegan?) wrote recently, there's been a catastrophic failure of the "public intelligence system," the media.

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