For the past two nights on “Anderson Cooper 360º,” CNN’s Cooper has convened a panel to discuss press performance in Iraq — or, as last night’s segment is named in the transcript, “Reality in Iraq.” Joining via satellite from the gritty heart of Baghdad were CNN’s Nic Robertson and Michael Ware of Time magazine. Joining via satellite from the gritty heart of Orange County, California was Hugh Hewitt.
Keeping score this morning is Mash at Doc Strangelove who, after posting an exchange between Hewitt and Ware, asks, “So, who would you believe? Hugh Hewitt and all the wonderful untold stories (they are hidden in the same place the WMDs are); or, Michael Ware? All you have to do is listen to Michael Ware speak — you can almost feel through him the horrors he sees there. Reporter 1, Propagandist 0.”
Scoring things a bit differently is Abigail at Stones Cry Out whose tally seems to be something like: Hugh Hewitt 1, Michael Ware 0, Anderson Cooper 10. Abigail agrees with Hewitt that “Anderson does indeed run a ‘fair show,’” because she “did get the sense that [Anderson] was going out of his way to let Hugh talk when Ware was spinning out of control.” Actually, make that Anderson Cooper 9 — points deducted for running “bad” footage while Hewitt was talking or, in Abigail’s words: “The discussion was about the portrayal of Iraq by the news media…[b]ut while Hugh was arguing that the MSM is out to support a bad version of events there, all the Iraq footage was of burned out cars, and troops investigating other sorts of Baghdad violence. So, while they were talking about the media’s eagerness to show more bad then good, they were showing all bad.” This left Abigail wondering, “Was Anderson in charge of the Iraq footage being shown next to Hugh?”
What did Hewitt think of his own performances (plural because he appeared on 360º Tuesday and Wednesday nights, discussing the same topic)? “[E]ven though I was booked against two MSMers from Baghdad … I didn’t hesitate to accept because Cooper recognizes panel imbalance and corrects it with time allocation,” Hewitt explains, recapping his Tuesday night appearance thusly: “The takeaway: MSM wants Bush to fail, and as a result MSM’s coverage of Iraq tilts to the IEDs and the terrorist successes and never, ever provides the context that the president did in the press conference today. The MSM thus allows itself to be used by the terrorists, and thus to hamper victory. MSM doesn’t believe in ‘victory,’ in fact, or in Saddam’s unique evil. It believes, mostly, in the necessity of humbling Bush. But a majority of America voted for Bush. Which is why the collapse of MSM is ongoing.” Sounds eerily like the opening column earlier this week of Ben Domenech, the Washington Post’s brand new right-wing blogger.
Do we detect an echo chamber of the week?
While Hewitt is anxiously anticipating the fall of the MSM, James Wolcott is fantasizing about picking off some other media types, sharing an idea that occurred to him the other day when “those merry souls at Fox News Your World with Neil Cavuto opened the show…with a segment asking if the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq should be celebrated as a national holiday there.” Wolcott goes on to bless the idea, adding: “Perhaps next year on the anniversary of this glorious mission, the US could fly a transport plane crammed with the creme de la creme of warbloggers, hawkish pundits, neoconservative thinkers, and cable news and talk radio hosts, and deposit them on the site of Saddam Hussein’s fallen statue—the newly christened Krauthammer Square—and let them behold the joy and splendor they have bestowed upon a grateful Iraqi people. Who, in turn, will brave the heat, dust, and danger and leave their homes to demonstrate their gratitude to their noble guests by attempting to shoot their lying asses to pieces.”
Which has us wondering: What if both Hewitt’s and Wolcott’s wishes come true — the MSM “collapses” and “warbloggers, hawkish pundits, neoconservative thinkers, and cable news and talk radio hosts” are taken out?
Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.
What’s left? And what great beast, we shudder to think, might rise from those ashes?