That Whole Rigamarole

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Becoming the Story

LOTS of coverage of the several journalist fatalities in Baghdad today, some of it quite irritating. A questioner at this morning's CENTCOM briefing and also a Mr. Simon of "The Committe to Protect Journalists" on MSNBC tonight used the phrase "Western journalists" in implying that US forces ought to be more careful in shooting up buildings that probably contain civilians. As though killing some brown, olive, or yellowish journalists would have been more understandable. Mr. Simon also used the phrase "press hotel" to describe the Palestine Hotel, as though the presence of reporters consecrates that dump in some way. For a tanker, it's just another tall building that someone can whack him from.

Now, our forces have been giving special consideration (for our own political reasons) to mosques and schools. And I could have sworn I heard some journo on the radio complaining about that, too. She wondered why hotels with reporters in them didn't get the same consideration. Short answer: because mosques and schools have special significance, in the letter and spirit of the law, that hotels (even "press hotels") don't. Duh.

I also noted lots of press incredulity about the claims of sniping from the Palestine Hotel, because the reporters there hadn't heard or seen anything. Sorry, but I think benefit of the doubt goes to the soldiers on this one. Some of these people don't seem all that observant to me. That's not to say that there could have been no mistake. Those are common during battles, we have seen plenty of the resulting tragedies. That's probably one the Pentagon suggested that remaining in Baghdad was risky.


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