Thursday, November 06, 2008


Now They Tell Us!

Glenn Reynolds is keeping track of "now they tell us" post-election moments, as are several others... and it seems like a fun idea to me.

I saw this yesterday, for example:
According to the six-year narrative of the press and political class, the Bush Administration's counterterrorism policies fall somewhere between the Spanish Inquisition and the Ministry of Love in "1984." So it was something of a shock to read a remarkable front-page story in the New York Times yesterday, the abridged version being: Never mind.

In their 1,600-word dispatch "Next President Will Face Test on Detainees," reporters William Glaberson and Margot Williams discover that, gee whiz, many of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay really are dangerous terrorists. The Times reviewed "thousands of pages" of evidence that the government has so far made public and concludes that perhaps the reality is more complicated than the critics claim.

Lo and behold, detainees are implicated in such terror attacks as the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole. Those with "serious terrorism credentials" include al Qaeda operatives Abu Zubaydah, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and the so-called "Dirty 30," Osama bin Laden's cadre of bodyguards. The Times didn't mention Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of 9/11, though he's awaiting a war-crimes tribunal at Gitmo too.

Both Barack Obama and John McCain have pledged to put Guantanamo out of business, but, as the Times explains, "the review of the government's public files underscores the challenges of fulfilling that promise. The next president will have to contend with sobering intelligence claims against many of the remaining detainees." Now they tell us.
(emphasis mine)

The snarkiness is, to me, all the funnier because it comes from the Wall Street Journal, of all places. (Granted, they're talking about their friendly adversaries over at the New York Times.)

Then there's this (hat tip: GR):
From Reuters:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Iraqi government is confident that president-elect Barack Obama will not jeopardize Iraq's improving security by hastily withdrawing U.S. troops, Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Wednesday.

Obama has "reassured us that he would not take any drastic or dramatic decisions," Zebari told BBC television.

Wait, wasn't the whole idea that a President Obama would get us out of Iraq as quickly as possible and Endless This War? Now they tell us! (Had we only known, maybe we would have voted differently! Too bad we hear this on the day after the election, huh?)

Then it turns out that Sen. McCain's campaign wasn't the dirtiest ever after all. (Admittedly, this is a lot easier to say after the campaign is over.)

What's next, a Democrat staffer claiming that we shouldn't have been so harsh on President Bush after all? Oh, wait --
The treatment President Bush has received from this country is nothing less than a disgrace. The attacks launched against him have been cruel and slanderous, proving to the world what little character and resolve we have. The president is not to blame for all these problems. He never lost faith in America or her people, and has tried his hardest to continue leading our nation during a very difficult time.

Our failure to stand by the one person who continued to stand by us has not gone unnoticed by our enemies. It has shown to the world how disloyal we can be when our president needed loyalty -- a shameful display of arrogance and weakness that will haunt this nation long after Mr. Bush has left the White House.
This, mind you, by a lawyer who interned with John Kerry's legal team four years ago. Now they tell us!

I expect we'll see lots more of this, in days and weeks and years to come -- both of the "our attacks on Bush weren't as justified as we thought" variety and the "Obama didn't quite mean what we thought he meant" type. Hang on, boys and girls... it's going to be a fun ride.

In the meantime, however, leave it to an Army National Guard staff sergeant to give us perspective on all this:
I'm smoking a Hecho a Mano Primo in celebration because when you think about it, it’s a victory no matter who won.

To 44 peaceful transfers of power...

G-d bless America.
Amen, brother.

UPDATE: Perhaps this should be a category all its own, of the press admitting -- after the fact, naturally -- that they were heavily biased towards Sen. Obama. The Washington Post has the first frank admission I've seen:
The Post provided a lot of good campaign coverage, but readers have been consistently critical of the lack of probing issues coverage and what they saw as a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama. My surveys, which ended on Election Day, show that they are right on both counts.
Oh, really?
The op-ed page ran far more laudatory opinion pieces on Obama, 32, than on Sen. John McCain, 13. There were far more negative pieces (58) about McCain than there were about Obama (32), and Obama got the editorial board's endorsement. The Post has several conservative columnists, but not all were gung-ho about McCain.
While (presumably) all the Post's liberal columnists were enthusiastic about Obama, at least once he clinched the nomination. Yup, no press bias here.
Our survey results are comparable to figures for the national news media from a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. It found that from June 9, when Clinton dropped out of the race, until Nov. 2, 66 percent of the campaign stories were about Obama compared with 53 percent for McCain; some stories featured both.
In other words, don't worry too much about our press bias, because most of the national news media was doing the same thing. (Well, isn't that special.)
Counting from June 4, Obama was in 311 Post photos and McCain in 282. Obama led in most categories. Obama led 133 to 121 in pictures more than three columns wide, 178 to 161 in smaller pictures, and 164 to 133 in color photos. In black and white photos, the nominees were about even, with McCain at 149 and Obama at 147. On Page 1, they were even at 26 each. Post photo and news editors were surprised by my first count on Aug. 3, which showed a much wider disparity, and made a more conscious effort at balance afterward.
(emphasis mine)

That makes me wonder about two things. First: you saw a blatant bias in August, and you didn't see fit to mention it to your readers until now, hey? Second: how bad was it before August 3rd, when your editors "made a more conscious effort at balance"? I guess it's not important, because she doesn't bother to tell us. (Or perhaps she finds it embarrassing.)
But Obama deserved tougher scrutiny than he got, especially of his undergraduate years, his start in Chicago and his relationship with Antoin "Tony" Rezko, who was convicted this year of influence-peddling in Chicago. The Post did nothing on Obama's acknowledged drug use as a teenager.
One gaping hole in coverage involved Joe Biden, Obama's running mate. When Gov. Sarah Palin was nominated for vice president, reporters were booking the next flight to Alaska. Some readers thought The Post went over Palin with a fine-tooth comb and neglected Biden. They are right; it was a serious omission.
All together, now -- now they tell us!

Now -- what is the intent of admitting all this, four days after the election? Can they seriously believe that their blatant bias in press coverage of the campaign had no serious effect on the election results -- or that we'd believe them even if they said so? Or do they mean that, yes, they were biased, and yes, this may well have influenced the outcome of a national election; oops, sorry, now let's forget all about it, but now you can trust us again, really.

Fat chance.

Two predictions: one, the "national press media" will (privately!) congratulate themselves on having made the American public elect their chosen candidate, and look forward to doing it again next time... and two, they will react with astonished befuddlement as their viewers and subscribers continue to abandon them in disgust.

Oh, and the Republican candidate of 2012 should assume, going in, that the press cannot be trusted with anything. Sen. McCain picked up on that this time around, but it was too little, too late, and he did nothing about it except to complain. If Republicans want to win elections from this point forward, they need to do locally what they accuse Democrats of failing to do internationally -- they need to understand who their friends are and who their enemies are, and treat them accordingly.


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