June 20, 2004

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Why Does Fred Hiatt Still Have a Job? Department)

Matthew Yglesias reads Washington Post columnist Fred Hiatt, and bangs his head against the wall:

Matthew Yglesias: June 20, 2004 - June 26, 2004 Archives: Hiatt buys a little spin:

This is the irony of Bremer's legacy. A ruthlessly methodical executive, he set numerical goals for himself more than a year ago and mostly met them: electricity restored, schools rebuilt, provincial councils formed. Yet he can barely travel in Baghdad. Polls show that he and his occupation are reviled, and Iraqis who cooperate with Americans are less safe than ever. It's far from clear that Bremer's "building blocks" will survive.

They haven't met the electricity generation goals set 12 months ago -- they're not even close. Nor have they met the oil production goals, the telephone landline goals, the security training goals or, as far as I can tell, any of Bremer's numerical goals. But whatever.

Matthew is right: In this case--as in many others--the amount of information conveyed by the Post would be increased if this column of Hiatt's were simply replaced by white space, or by another Nordstrom's ad.

Posted by DeLong at June 20, 2004 08:23 AM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post

Given that Hiatt is *editorial page editor*, it'd be kind of hard to tell his boss to drop his column.

Posted by: liberal on June 20, 2004 08:26 AM


Our host knows he's editorial page editor; in fact, that's his point.

Posted by: Jonathan Goldberg on June 20, 2004 09:12 AM


It is MY's "Whatever" attitude that has killed this country. The lies come so fast and furious that the truth just lies down and takes it.

Posted by: MattB on June 20, 2004 09:23 AM


Semantic reduction algorithm for reading editorial crapola in the "el guapo" (WP) or WSJ:

Suppose the editorial page asserts:

$p_1 \wedge p_2 \wedge \cdots \wedge p_n$.

Replace it with

$(p_1 \vee \neg p_1) \wedge (p_2 \vee \neg p_2) \wedge \cdots \wedge (p_n \veq \neq p_n)$

Of course whitespace is just as good, although less interesting. Yeah, I'll take Nordstrom's ads.

Posted by: CSTAR on June 20, 2004 09:34 AM


Matt, I think MY's "whatever" comment is a statement of disgust. I mean, how is pointing out that Hiatt is full of shit lying down and taking it?

Posted by: M. on June 20, 2004 10:11 AM


The post ombudsman went on today about how opinion is what you find on opinion pages. One is tempted to ask him what the position on straight out lies on the opinion page is, but why waste electrons?

Posted by: Eli Rabett on June 20, 2004 11:53 AM


It's all too typical of rightish American thinking nowadays. "They hate Bremer because he's saved Iraq," fits right in with "They hate us for our freedoms" or Bill O'Reilly saying "The primitives in Iraq are too cowardly to fight for their own freedom, just like the South Vietnamese!" (no, not making that up)

Not that I'm writing as an apologist for the Iraqi insurgency (or the VC, for that matter), but with some noble exceptions (Andrew Sullivan, Tacitus) a lot of the right simply denies America's mistakes/culpability in anything.

Posted by: Brad Reed on June 20, 2004 12:28 PM


Matt Y. should have continued on to Hiatt's next paragraph:

"For this, many in Washington blame Bremer: It is said that he played the colonial master too grandly, he dissolved the army too rashly, he should have turned over sovereignty more quickly. But he took over from an administrator, Jay Garner, who was derided as not grand enough; if he had not sent Saddam Hussein's generals packing, the Kurds might have stormed out of the country; he believed sovereignty should be handed to an elected government, which is not on its face a crazy idea."

Except *Garner* was the one who wanted to hold local elections a year ago, and apparently got sacked partly on that account.

If he had carried out that plan, there would be mayors and provincial officials all across Iraq who would now have a year's worth of political cred to their names. (There would also be a bunch who didn't do so well, too, but you take the bad with the good.) And they'd be in good shape to help legitimize the democratization of the entire country.

That would also mean there'd be a bunch of cities that we wouldn't have to worry about, **because the elected Iraqi leaders would 'own the problem'**, as they say in management courses.

Instead, it's all ours, baby, it's all ours. We broke it, we can't fix it, and conservatives are now railing against the Iraqis because they're 'ungrateful'. Sheesh.

Posted by: RT on June 21, 2004 04:43 PM


I should also mention that Hiatt apparently can't distinguish between sending Saddam's generals packing, and dissolving the entire freakin' army. The same army that we'd promised for years that if they didn't fight us when we invaded, we'd take care of them once we were in charge.

You know that made us a lot of friends.

Posted by: RT on June 21, 2004 04:47 PM


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