Michael Totten

The Post Blows It

A reader sent me an article by Annia Ciezadlo in the Washington Post called Lebanon’s Election: Free but Not Fair.
I thought I would like it. I wanted to like it, especially after I read the first couple of sentences.

Every week, my husband and I take a rickety old taxi to Hezbollah country. The emerald city of downtown Beirut, with its glittering luxury towers, drops away behind us; ruined buildings, their shell-shocked hulks festooned with laundry, loom ahead like ghost ships.

I took that very trip only a month ago. And I must say her description of what it’s like to arrive in Hezbollahland is just perfect.
But the rest of the piece didn’t sit right with me at all. Some stories about Lebanon have a certain, shall we say, smell to them. This story is one of them.
I forwarded it to my friend in Beirut at the Lebanese Political Journal and asked for his feedback. He’s the one who drove me down to Hezbollahland when I went down there. He didn’t like it. At all. And he ripped it to pieces.
His critique is worth reading for two reasons. One, you’ll learn a lot about Lebanese history. Two, it just goes to show how utterly wrong you can be and still get published in the Washington Post.