Internal Combustion

by digby

Can you hear all the heads exploding on the right this evening? How hard it must be for them to reconcile their knee-jerk assumptions in a world more complicated than their little games of Risk and super-hero comics prepared them for.

You'll all recall, I'm sure, that the wingnuts have been whining for days about CNN correspondent Michael Ware's comments about John McCain being in Neverland when he implied that Bagdad was as safe as a summer's day at Epcot center. And you also know by now that subsequently Drudge got punk'd by somebody who said that Ware heckled McCain at the press conference following his little Bagdad shopping trip with Huckelberry Graham (and 100 soldiers and 5 or six helicopters) over the week-end. The wingnuts went wild:

Here's an example of the outrage from our friends at Powerline:

Maybe Ware was drunk; that would be consistent with his own description of how he spends his time in Baghdad. But he is an extreme manifestation of an all too common phenomenon--the journalist as advocate rather than neutral observer. One of the many problems with a reporter who becomes an activist, agitating for a particular side of a public issue, is that he loses any hope of objectivity. Having publicly committed himself to the proposition that everything that happens in Iraq is a disaster, having publicly ridiculed those who pointed to optimistic developments, how can anyone trust that Ware's future reporting is giving us anything like the straight story from Iraq? And what does his conduct say about his employer, CNN? How much confidence can we have in their reporting from Baghdad, or anywhere else?

It's just terrible that such a cut 'n run liberal pants wetter is even employed, isn't it?

After it was revealed that Drudge's story was a fiction, Powerline posted this:

As Scott notes in his post below, CNN's Michael Ware has denied heckling Sen. McCain during a press conference (he doesn't say whether or not he laughed at McCain). However, Ware's appearance with Soledad O'Brien, as quoted by Scott, is enough to condemn him as unfit to cover the war....

Unfit. One wonders how can the wingnut brigade can account for what he said today?

Malveaux: And as we look at what impact this war funds battle might have on the troops, what effect might it have on the efforts to calm Iraq's cauldron of violence?

Moments ago, I spoke with CNN's Michael Ware.

He's in Baghdad.

He's covered this war since the very beginning.

Thanks for joining us, Michael.

Now, obviously Congress, as well as the administration, they're at loggerheads over whether or not the troops should withdraw, whether or not they should withdraw funds, as well.

And we've heard from -- from the vice president, Cheney, and President Bush, saying look, this emboldens the insurgents here.

Do they pay any attention to this at all? Is that even true?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what I can tell you from the outset, Suzanne, is that, say, for example, by some bizarre political miracle, Congress was able to impose a real time line, a real deadline on the U.S. presence here or on the funding for the war here. Now that absolutely would play completely into the hands of America's identified enemies, al Qaeda in Iran. That would be handing the entire advantage to them. That's why that can never really happen.

But in terms of the broader debate, in terms of, you know, taking the temperature of the American mood, of the American public, adhering to what's going on in Congress, looking at the Congressional elections, absolutely do the insurgents, do al Qaeda and does Iran and its proxy organizations in Iraq pay attention?

Yes, for sure. I mean they know that the most certain way to strike at their enemy is to strike at his support back home. And, indeed, they monitor these things. They know that, you know, what's happening in D.C. doesn't really relate to the ground. This is just political artifice.

Nonetheless, it does tell them about the pressure points to apply. And we saw from 2003 the Baathist insurgents saying from the beginning this war will not be won on the battlefield, it will be won on that -- pointing to a TV screen.

That's where this war will be won -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Do you think the president, as well as the vice president, then, are actually correct -- they're accurate -- when they describe to the American people, saying, look, all of this infighting is weakening our position overseas, specifically in Baghdad?

WARE: Oh, absolutely. I mean it's very clear -- it's been evident since the mid-term elections that America is in a period of strategic malaise. Essentially, America does not have one rock solid strategy. There's no one clear way forward to U.S. victory.

There is a lot of infighting. There's a lot of debate. Now in a pluralist democracy, that's seen as a healthy thing.

But when you're fighting a war, you want a clear and concise direction. You want everyone on the same page and you want your enemy to know that you shalt not falter.

Now, that's precisely the opposite message that America is sending to its opponents here in the region. And, quite frankly, that's why America's rivals in the Middle East are becoming so much stronger and the concept of American empire or American presence is becoming so much weaker.

MALVEAUX: Thank you very much, Michael Ware, from Baghdad.

If the wingnuts watched something other than Fox they would know that Michael Ware is not their enemy. In fact, he's been saying this for months. He even said it in the same report in which he said that McCain is in Neverland, (which I pointed out in my post that very day. )

So, what to make of this? My assumption is that Ware personally buys into the rightwing strategic view of the occupation, but that he reports the facts on the ground straight. Is that fair enough?

I don't require that reporters hold my political opinions. I just require that they report the facts as best they can without imposing their political spin on the story. Ware seems to be a reporter who does that. I have no complaints about him even though I think his views on strategy are cracked.

The wingnuts, on the other hand, who don't even like John McCain and mostly want to see him lose, just can't deal with the idea that any reporter would contradict GOP spin, no matter how thoroughly ridiculous it is. In fact, they go so far as to just make stuff up to counter him.

The wingnuts are confused, I'm sure, if they saw today's exchange. Here you have a reporter who says (as he's always said) that the Democratic proposals to withdraw from Iraq will play into the hands of al Qaeda and yet he is the number one enemy of the rightwing that felt the need to jump to the defense of an addled, factually challenged candidate they don't even like, simply out of reflexive tribal loyalty. It's quite an illustration of why these people can't properly govern.