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Hullabaloo


Monday, April 14, 2003

 
You can't fight in here, this is the War Room!

Via Atrios this may be the best article yet about the surreality of Operation Big Swinging Manhood.

Even Kubrick and Southern couldn’t have made this stuff up:

[…]

First it was CNN that replayed my question - the CNN view was, more or less, the liberal media view: a certain hand wringing about whether the media was being used. Then it was Fox, with its extreme, love-it-or-leave-it, approach to the war, which took me apart: I was clearly a potential traitor.

And then it was Rush.

To his audience of 20 million - pro-war, military minded, Bush-centered, media-hating - lily white-Rush laid me out. I was not only a reporter, but one from New York magazine. "New York" resonated. It combined with "media" and suddenly, in the hands of Rush, I was as elitist and as pampered (fortunately nobody mentioned the Ritz) and as dismissive of the concerns of real Americans as, well, Rush's 20 million assume the media to be. Whereas Rush, that noted foot soldier, represented the military heartland.

What's more, according to Rush, that great defender of the rights of African-Americans, I was a racist. Duh. A white liberal challenging a black general. It's a binary world.

And Rush gave out my email address. Almost immediately, the 3,000 emails, full of righteous fury, started to come.

Clearly marked as the rabble-rouser of the get-out-of-Doha movement, I was approached by some enforcer types. The first person was a version of a Graham Greene character. He represented the White House, he said. Wasn't of the military. Although, he said, he was embedded here ("sleeping with a lot of flatulent officers," he said). He was incredibly conspiratorial. Smooth but creepy: "If you had to write the memo about media relations, what would be your bullet points?"

The next person to buttonhole me was the Centcom uber-civilian, a thirty-ish Republican operative. He was more full-metal-jacket in his approach (although he was a civilian he was, inexplicably, in uniform - making him, I suppose a sort of para-military figure): "I have a brother who is in a Hummer at the front, so don't talk to me about too much fucking air-conditioning." And: "A lot of people don't like you." And then: "Don't fuck with things you don't understand." And too: "This is fucking war, asshole." And finally: "No more questions for you."

I had been warned.


Read the whole thing

It's pretty clear who the civilian in uniform is and he's a real piece 'o work:

Signaling the high interest in improving the military's image is the appointment of [Jim] Wilkinson as spokesman for CENTCOM. A veteran White House publicist as well as a Navy Reserve lieutenant, Wilkinson headed the anti-Taliban Coalition Information Center during the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and was spokesman for the Bush campaign in Miami-Dade County during the Florida recount after the 2000 election.

Wilkinson's political credentials have aroused journalistic concerns that the Bush administration, not known for its openness, is trying to control the message and use it for re-election purposes in the 2004 campaign.


Buzzflash reported:

...this entire public affairs operation is headed Jim Wilkinson, one of the thugs who protested the Florida recount. Ever the good soldier, (though a civilian, Wilkinson reportedly wears a military desert camouflage uniform to work)...


He is a big believer in freedom of expression, though, so it's hard to believe he would try to muzzle the press. Why, during the Florida recount CNN reported:

A spokesman for the Bush recount team in Florida said he was there during the exchanges Wednesday and saw no violence or kicking.

"I can tell you that simply did not happen," said Jim Wilkinson.

"What you had was a lot of young volunteers who, frankly, objected to this election being decided behind closed doors, without the media having a full view and without our observers having a full view," Wilkinson said. "We executed our First Amendment rights in a peaceful manner, with full decorum."


Yes. Elections these days are so darned "untidy," aren't they?




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