TUESDAY, APRIL 15, 2003
DOUBTING WALLACE: Pseudo-con pundits are now naming names in the wake of the Great Patriotic Victory. On the front page of Sundays Washington Times, James Lakely played the great game quite well (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/14/03). He quickly slimed General Wesley Clark, a man who might be a Demand who might run for office. Lakely knows how the game is played, so he baldly lied about Clark, just the way Tom DeLay did.
But Lakely began where many pseudo-con pundits are currently seeking their scalps. He began by savaging mainstream news orgsorgs which dared express doubts about the coalition war plan in Week 2 of the Recent Great Conquest. Indeed, what was the headline atop Lakelys piece? Television, newspapers wrong on war in Iraq; Saw lengthy battle; doubted U.S. plan. As others on the talk-show right are doing, Lakely began by slamming those orgs who dared to express such vile doubts.
He began with recent, pleasing images. Television screens, newspapers and magazines across the globe this week featured images of a joyously liberated Baghdad, he said. But guess what? It was a scenario wholly contrary to a future many of those very same media outlets predicted just days before. Which media outlets had failed so miserably? The great scribe was eager to tattle:
LAKELY (pgh 5): A front-page story in the Washington Post [sic] on April 1, titled Rumsfelds Design for War Criticized on the Battlefield, stated that raw nerves were obvious as officers compared the war planning of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld with that of maligned Vietnam War-era Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara.Plainly, Lakely wants you to think that these stories were lightly sourced. He implies that the Washington Post played Chicken Little, rushing to suggest that Rumsfelds plan was in danger on the basis of unidentified army men and on the basis of a sole quoted source. But as when he slimed General Clark a bit later, Lakely was faking in this passage too. His pleasing tale was Pure Propagandalike so many tales now being sold on the pseudo-con right.
Lets start by getting some basic facts straightthat April 1 article appeared in the New York Times (not the Washington Post), written by Timesman Barry Weinraub. And did Weinraub quote only one active battlefield complainer? Hardly. In paragraph 3, Weinraub did in fact quote an anonymous colonel saying that Rummy had moved on the cheap. But in paragraph 4, he named a Large Name. In paragraph 4, he wrote this:
WEINRAUB: The angry remarks from the battlefield opened with comments made last Thursdayand widely publicized Fridayby Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, the V Corps commander, who said the military faced the likelihood of a longer war than many strategists had anticipated.Duh! Weinraub cited widely publicized comments by General Wallace, who was the commander of V Corps! But so too with the April 2 story which Lakely slimeda story which did appear in the Post. That story also cited Wallaces comments, first reported by The Washington Post.
In fact, almost all second-week doubts about the war derived from General Wallaces remarkable statementsremarkable statements which were, in fact, first reported by the Washington Post. Many mainstream scribes are now being slimed for raising doubts about the war plan. So you can see how fake these con-jobs are, lets review what General Wallace told the Post on March 27.
The story, written by Rick Atkinson, appeared on the papers front page on March 28. Heres how the story began:
ATKINSON (pgh 1): The Armys senior ground commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, said today that overextended supply lines and a combative adversary using unconventional tactics have stalled the U.S. drive toward Baghdad and increased the likelihood of a longer war than many strategists had anticipated.In short, it was Wallacethe senior ground commander in Iraq!who said that the plan may have foundered. In paragraph 2, the first quote appeared:
ATKINSON (2): The enemy were fighting is different from the one wed war-gamed against, Wallace, commander of V Corps, said during a visit to the 101st Airborne Division headquarters here in central Iraq.Some questions have been raised about that quote (see below); in Sundays Post, the paper said it stands by the statement. But this was only one of many quotes attributed to General Wallace this day. So youll be able to see why mainstream news orgs reported some doubts, heres a chunk of the Atkinson story:
ATKINSON (3): The corps commander said the duration of the current pause will depend on advice from his logistics specialists. Another senior commander suggested that a 35-day strategic bombing campaign, similar to that waged before the ground attack in the Persian Gulf War of 1991, would not be preposterousIn short, it was Wallace who said that the war might take longer than had been expected. Meanwhile, another senior commander even suggested that there might be a 35-day delay! No serious news org could ignore such statements from the men in charge in the field. Later, Atkinson quoted another commander who said that the enemy had been misjudged:
ATKINSON: Everybodys frame of reference is changing, Col. Ben Hodges, commander of the 1st Brigade of the 101st, said shortly after arriving here Wednesday night. The enemy always gets a vote. You fight the enemy and not the plan. I personally underestimated the willingness of the Fedayeen to fight, or maybe overestimated the willingness of the Shiites to rise up.Everybodys frame of reference is changing. These were the comments which led mainstream news orgs to say that the war plan was being revised, and had been based on some misjudgments. Infact, it was Wallace and Hodgeand other unnamed commanderswho first had expressed those vile doubts.
Again, no real news org could ignore such comments. But it was on the basis of these statements that mainstream journalists began voicing doubts about the coalition plan. Indeed, both the articles which Lakely slimes refer back to these seminal statements. Were the April 1 and 2 stories lightly sourced? Sadly, Lakely was up to old tricks. As he would later do with Clark, Lakely was simply deceiving his readers, an old game at the slippery paper which put his trash out on page one.
But on the pseudo-con, talk-show right, propaganda now rules the land. Readers run to the Washington Times because they want to be lied to. And it isnt just the Washington Times; all over the pseudo-con right, theyre lying their heads off about Wesley Clarkand they want to mislead you about these weak-kneed news orgs which expressed vile doubts about the Great War. Tomorrow, THE HOWLER is forced to take a day off. But because you need to know how badly youre being misled, our incomparable story resumes here on Thursday. Of course, Jack Shafer will surely have expressed many thoughts on these topics by that juncture.
WHERE DOES PROPAGANDA COME FROM: As always, pseudo-con loudmouth Andrew Sullivan has been eager to mislead his readers, so he has made a major deal out of the statement quoted in paragraph 2 (see above). After quoting Wallace as Atkinson quoted him, the New York Times later filed a correction. Wallace had said something slightly different, the Times now said; he had really said that the enemy was a bit different from the one wed war-gamed against. This past Sunday, Times ombudsman Michael Getler addressed the issue; Getler said that the Post stands by the original quote as reported. But as anyone with an ounce of sense can see, Wallace said many things on March 27and other commanders made similar statements. Whichever way one presents that one quote, the overall story is not affected. But propagandists want you to believe that the Post and the Times just invented a story, so they deep-sixed all the other statements byWallace and asked you to focus on just this one quote. Street hustlers call it misdirectionbut then, street hustlers are far more honest than the loudmouths who now rule your land.