Sunday, July 17, 2005

And We Need to Know This... Exactly Why???

Today, on the front page of my local Sunday paper, often called the "Austin Un-American Mistatement", is a really stupid article, written by Douglas Jehl and David E. Sanger of the New York Times. It is an article about something which did not happen. Now, why would the newspaper put such an article on the front page, as the lead article?

I know there are plaques being sold which say something like, "In 1828 Nothing Happened in This Place", but I don't think I've ever read a front-page newspaper story about a negative before. Imagine the headlines: "Tornado Halted Plan to Form", "Stock Market Halted Plan to Fall 230 Points", "Austin Man Halted Plan to... ". Well, you get the idea.

In reading the lead story today, headlined "Bush Halted Plan to Sway Iraq Election", I learned that 1.) there was concern in Bush's Administration about Iran trying to influence the January elections in Iraq, 2.) there were discussions about whether or not to try to provide "covert support" to candidates which weren't favored by Iran, 3.) this was discussed with certain members of congress which should have been privy to the discussions, 4.) no one knows whether Bush actually signed off on this or not, BUT, in the end, 5.) the decision, by the Bush Administration, was to do NOTHING to influence, one way or another, the election in Iraq, so nothing was done.

Okay. I "get it"-- the sky is not falling.

This is important for us to know... why? I'm confused, because this seems like a supreme waste of time and effort for a newspaper which is losing circulation. The article cites "a dozen current and former government officials from Congress, the State Department, intelligence agencies and the Bush Administration" and says "None would speak for the record, citing the extreme sensitivity of discussing any covert action". Am I impressed? The journalists spoke with a dozen people, none of whom would speak for the record, and none of whom could confirm any fact beyond the fact that there was lots of discussion.

Back in "the old days", my parents told me, the newspaper was referred to as "the weekly wiper" and was recycled in the outhouse. I had pondered renewing my annual subsription, which runs out in August, but realized that, with the easy availability of toilet paper and flush toilets, there is not much reason to subscribe to a newspaper anymore.

So, Austin American-Statesman, here's a headline for you: "Reader Halts Plan to Use Our Newspaper Instead of Toilet Paper