It's bad enough when media refer to civilian deaths in U.S. wars as "collateral damage," but it was jarring to see how the phrase was used in a Washington Post headline today: Obviously, they're talking about the sex-and-emails scandal. How could dead Afghan civilians ever threaten the career of a high-ranking U.S. official?
There's no doubt that the sex scandal that prompted CIA director David Petraeus's sudden resignation late last week is a big story. New details–verified or not–seem to arrive almost by the hour. But the reason it seems to have shaken so many media figures is because Petraeus was uniquely beloved by many in the corporate media, who considered him both an accessible source and a war hero. NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams called him (11/9/12) a "a man of such sterling reputation," and confided on the air to one guest that "it is impossible to be a member of […]
Newsweek (7/17/11) begins a piece on David Petraeus becoming CIA director with an account of how he got the "short-term job done" after he was named commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan: Now, after 13 months, the 58-year-old Petraeus is coming home to head the Central Intelligence Agency. Since that day in the Oval Office, hopeful signs have begun appearing that he may have performed the seemingly impossible task of stabilizing the Afghan battlefield. The article, by reporter John Barry, doesn't provide much detail on what these "hopeful signs" are, but Afghan civilian deaths are up 15 percent in the […]
Washington Post Dana Milbank (3/19/11) skewers the Republicans for their "emergency meeting" to defund NPR: This particular emergency involved the lower end of the FM radio dial. Republicans, in an urgent budget-cutting maneuver, were voting to cut off funding for National Public Radio. All $5 million of it–or one ten-thousandth of 1 percent of the federal budget. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office ran the numbers and calculated the impact this emergency measure would have on government spending: "No effect." One of the rules of corporate media balanceisthat if you criticize Republicans, you have to findan example of similarbuffoonery on the […]
David Ignatius of the Washington Post (12/29/10): I've seen Petraeus give many briefings over the years, and it's a bit like watching a magician at work. Even though you've seen the trick before, and you know the patter, you still get mesmerized. He has the ability to make people believe the impossible might be doable, after all. That sounds bad, but then I remembered this from ABC's Martha Raddatz (6/23/10): A warrior and a scholar, Petraeus is sometimes jokingly referred to as a water walker, since almost everything he touches seems to turn to gold. Joke's on us, I guess.
USA Today had a piece yesterday (8/5/10) about new rules of engagement issued in Afghanistan by Afghan War commander Gen. David Petraeus. The new rules–much like the old rules–"are aimed at limiting civilian casualties," the paper's Jim Michaels reports in its own voice, explaining: At the heart of counterinsurgency doctrine is the principle that winning over the population is the key to defeating insurgents. Civilian casualties can alienate the population. That's the surviving population, presumably. USA Today doesn't quote anyone skeptical of the Pentagon's claim that not killing civilians is a top priority, instead reprinting the official assertion of good […]
The Washington Post (6/23/10) allows an anonymous voice inside the White House to spill the beans on the decision to replace Gen. Stanley McChrystal with Gen. David Petraeus: Said a senior administration official, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations: "It's as seamless as it could be, not only in terms of operations but also because you put someone in who's widely respected. No one is going to doubt that he's the right guy for the job." Indeed!
There's been a discussion (some of it neatly summarized on the Daily Show) of elite journalists' reaction to the explosive comments made by Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his staffers to Rolling Stone freelancer Michael Hastings. One admission came via a Politico story, captured by NYU's Jay Rosen (6/24/10): And as a freelance reporter, Hastings would be considered a bigger risk to be given unfettered access, compared with a beat reporter, who would not risk burning bridges by publishing many of McChrystal's remarks. Rosen notes that this line in the Politico piece was subsequently removed, perhaps because it revealed too much: […]
With Gen. David Petraeus back in the media spotlight after being tapped to take control of the Afghanistan war following General Stanley McChrystal's fall from grace, the corporate media are trumpeting the "successful" surge in Iraq (Extra, 9/10/08) that Petraeus oversaw and are looking to him as the man to turn around the Afghan war. Columnist David Ignatius (Washington Post, 6/24/10) writes: Gen. David Petraeus didn't sign on as the new Afghanistan commander because he expects to lose. That's the boldest aspect of President Obama's decision: He has put a troubled Afghanistan campaign in the hands of a man who […]