What We Would Do If We Were You

Advice may be more agreeable in the mouth (or, in this case, on the keyboard) than in the ear, but over the weekend bloggers buzzed with recommendations for mainstream media, ranging from providing better coverage of Iraq to just throwing in the towel altogether.

Jeff Jarvis counsels the big guns to cover the good news in Iraq: “If I were in charge of a bureau of reporters in Iraq — are you listening NY Times, Washington Post, FoxNews, NBC, CBS, ABC, Reuters, BBC? — I would assign one reporter, just one, to the rebuilding beat.” What would this entail? Jarvis cites one example, picking up on a post from an Iraqi blogger about a “rally of support and gratitude to the coalition [forces].”

Reporting the feel-good news is, it seems, an idea that The Corner’s Jeff Geraghty could also get behind. Geraghty is distressed by his observation that “it’s all Iraq troubles, all the time” in Sunday’s Washington Post — even in the sports and metro sections. “I guess later this week,” Geraghty huffs, “Hagar the Horrible will refer to [Iraq] in a punchline and the Horoscope for Aires will warn, ‘you may find communicating difficult, like those poor naked guys with the hoods on their heads.’”

Speaking of “those poor naked guys,” The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh this week delivers his latest piece on the Iraq prison abuse scandal, and Josh Marshall takes issue with how “various news outlets are reporting” the Pentagon’s official reaction. Many journalists, Marshall notes, are writing that the Pentagon “steadfastly, firmly, or — put in your tough-sounding adverb here — denied [Hersh’s] claims,” when in Marshall’s view the Pentagon’s statement is actually “a classic non-denial denial — a bunch of aggressive phrases strung together to sound like a denial without actually denying anything.” Marshall’s suggestion? “Reporters who characterize [the Pentagon spokesman’s] words for their readers should read them a bit more closely before describing them as any sort of blanket denial.”

Wonkette! has a bit of advice for The Washington Post’s art department: keep it simple. It’s not that she didn’t appreciate the Post’s chart yesterday of the Bush campaign’s top fundraisers. In fact, she “applaud[s] the WP going through so much trouble to illustrate the power and influence of the most successful Bush-Cheney fundraisers.” It’s just that she sees “simpler ways” of showing this system’s effect on voters. “But,” she concludes, “as a family paper, [the Post] probably couldn’t show an average citizen getting reamed.”

Finally, Instapundit delivers perhaps the most radical recommendation of all: rid the world of reporters altogether. It was a Sunday Los Angeles Times piece — sub-headed, “With battered gear and nerves, one third of the U.S. Army is ‘unfit to fight’ but preparing to return” — that inspired Instapundit. “It seems that once the press herd decides on a storyline,” he scolds, doing his best impression of Campaign Desk, “the facts don’t matter.” (In this case, Instapundit identifies the “storyline” as things are going badly for the U.S. military in Iraq). He concludes, “[s]o why bother even using reporters?”

Something tells us that one won’t make it out of the suggestion box.

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.