The Times Slams Pro-Bush Bloggers in Baghdad - Again
What does the Times have against the pro-war Baghdad bloggers at IraqtheModel.com?
"President Bush has discovered bloggers. Iraqi bloggers.
"Mr. Bush - a man not known for his love of the working press, and certainly no fan of anonymous quotes - cited two Iraqi bloggers on Wednesday in a speech asserting that his troop buildup, despite Congressional criticism and calls for withdrawal, was helping improve everyday life for Iraqis.
"'I want to share with you how two Iraqi bloggers - they have bloggers in Baghdad, just like we've got here,' Mr. Bush told an audience of ranchers and cattlemen, after remarking that Iraqis were beginning to see 'positive changes.'
"But just who were these anonymous bloggers? The deputy White House press secretary, Dana Perino, spent a good chunk of her regular briefing on Wednesday deflecting that question, and defending the propriety of the president's use of anonymous quotes.
"Ms. Perino called the bloggers 'one input from many different inputs that are coming in regarding progress on the ground,' and said she herself had often responded to anonymous quotations. 'Blogs are new for all of us,' she said, 'and I know that you all look at them, because you call me and ask me what we think about the blogs.'
"As for the writers' identity, it remained a mystery - until the White House distributed a transcript of the briefing. In a footnote at the end, the administration disclosed that the bloggers were Omar and Mohammed Fadhil, two brothers who are both dentists and who write an English-language blog, IraqTheModel.com, from Baghdad. The White House said their writings had been cited in mainstream news outlets; on March 5, the Fadhil brothers wrote an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal titled 'Notes from Baghdad.'
"Oh, yes, and on Dec. 9, 2004, they met in the Oval Office with Mr. Bush." (That would seem to contradict Stolberg's flippant opening that Bush "has discovered bloggers" only now.)
There's apparently a blind spot in the institutional memory of the Times, given that Arts reporter Sarah Boxer filed a notoriously irresponsible article about IraqTheModel.com in January 2005, relaying reckless and unsubstantiated left-wing charges against it, including accusations that it was a CIA front.
Media maven Jeff Jarvis called the story a "reprehensible exercise in unjournalism,"and got some defensive comments fromExecutive Editor Bill Keller. Former Public Editor Daniel Okrent also commented on Boxer's inflammatory story on the Times' website (Times $ required).Yet either out of ignorance or embarrassment, the Times didn't mention Boxer's story.