April 04, 2004

MORE EVIDENCE THAT Bernard Goldberg was right, in the form of an article from the Associated Press with the scary headline "Bush Loyalists Pack Iraq Press Office."

Er, except that "pack" turns out to mean that 33% of those there have some sort of (undefined) GOP tie. But as reader Patrick Sennett notes, to a press used to newsrooms that are upwards of 95% Democratic, I suppose an operation that's one-third Republican must seem inconceivably rightward-tilting!

UPDATE: On the other hand, a reader who for obvious reasons would rather remain nameless, has this rather negative report. He's a guy I've corresponded with more than once, and he looked into taking a job with the CPA. This is what he heard from people he considers knowledgeable, who are not journalists:

They all came back to me with the same story. Go if you want, but know what you are getting into. And what you are getting into is a completely incompetent organization. They had a high opinion of Bremer, but other than that, nothing. In particular they highlighted the presence of political appointees - sons of prominent Bush contributors, quite often - who had absolutely no qualifications whatsoever for their jobs and were doing disastrously poor work there.

They also commented on a really pathological culture where anyone, anyone at all, who in any way dissented from the party line on any issue was harshly suppressed, with their careers ended on more than one occasion. So if a third of the people in the press office are connected to the Administration, then the AP has (in my opinion) started to nose around the edges of a real story.

If that's the real story, then that's what we should be hearing about -- though you'd have to go beyond the press room, I suppose, to get the story. Unfortunately, the "bunker mentality" often emerges in response to slanted reporting, which is one of the reasons that slanted reporting on topics of such importance is a bad thing. I'd like to see some trustworthy journalists reporting on this subject. It's too important to get wrong.

ANOTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, reader Mark Patton weighs in with this observation:

Your correspondent may be right that there could be the beginnings of a real story in excessive Administration loyalty being pushed by Bush loyalists, but two quick thoughts come to mind:

1. The AP story doesn't assert that any stories being "pushed" are false. If they're merely counterbalancing CNN, Reuters, and the AP that's probably only fair. There's surely a difference between bucking the dominant press culture and living in panglossian la-la-land, and there's nothing in the AP story to indicate these guys have crossed the line.

2. The AP writer's commentary source is some guy at the Center for American Progress, which he credulously (or mendaciously) describes as "non-partisan." Oooh-kaaay. By that standard, the Heritage Foundation is non-partisan, too.

Another reader suggests that this is a pre-emptive strike by Democrats to try to undercut the impact of good news from Iraq between now and the election. (Or maybe a preemptive strike by journalists who've missed the story and are looking for excuses?) Maybe so. At any rate, I tend to trust my correspondent's email more than the AP account. And it's on a more important topic than who the PR flacks are. But I'd really like to see a story by somebody credible -- maybe John F. Burns? -- on the general remarks about the CPA. In the meantime, here's a fairly critical take on the CPA, from Michael Rubin of AEI.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Rich Galen emails the following:

All which follows is on the record:

AP reporter Jim Krane is doing a similar piece - largely aimed, I suspect, at me. There are a couple of points:

1. Political loyalties are, to me, like sexual preference, is none of my business. Don't ask, don't tell. I only know when someone is a Republican when they say they know my son who is the REAL political animal in the family.

2. As I said to Krane: If I wanted to work for the Bush campaign, my ass would be parked in an office on Wilson Blvd in Arlington; not dodging mortars, rpg's, rockets, and AK-47 fire in Iraq.

3. It is only the most cynical view of the world - as opposed to a skeptical view - which would lead you to believe that volunteering to work in a war zone is somehow a cheap and dirty undertaking.

4. I challenge you to find a State Department career person who is a Bush Republican.

I'm in Amman, as I type this. Enroute to Riyadh. I'm looking for talent
for a "Riyadh - Girls Gone Wild" video.

When that comes out, we'll know the war is over. I'd still like to see more stories on this stuff, though.