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May 01, 2005

Patterico Jumps Shark

Patterico has jumped the shark, if he ever was on the near side of it. He reports that the LA Times withheld proof that the Bush Administration position in the Sgrena shooting is correct, and the reflexively anti-U.S., anti-U.S. military conclusion-jumpersand the MSM are wrong. ut this isn’t news.

That the giants of the MSM are hostile to this Administration and hostile to the military and the enterprise in Iraq, is not news, any more than Dog Bites Man is news. As William Randolph Hearst said, Man Bites Dog – now that’s news. Patterico does a nice job here, but the result looks more like the local TV station stringer reporting on a bake sale for the zoo. Sure, there’s some human interest in it, but does anybody here think it’s news anymore?

It’s a Dog Bites Man story because Patterico is reporting two facts we’ve all known for a while. The U.S. troops didn’t screw up as Sgrena alleged, and the LA Times is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg, when it comes to reporting on anything that could reflect well, or debunk negative myths about the Bush Administration. That’s not News, it’s Olds.

In an era prior to Rush Limbaugh, or compilers like Drudge or freelance media critics in the Blogosphere, it would have been news. That the LA Times lied by omission, is no longer news.

On the merits, a few years ago, Patterico would have had a good story. You will recall that Sgrena is the Italian journalist from a communist paper, who was held hostage by Iraqi insurgents of one stripe or another. (You know the communists – the anti-capitalist folks who made life really good for 1/3d of the world, exterminated dissenters, and hated the U.S. “Oh, those communists,” you say.)

The Italian counterterrorist forces retrieved Sgrena, but the car in which they were traveling was tragically shot at, and hit by U.S. troops manning a checkpoint, killing an Italian counterterrorist operator who bravely threw himself over Sgrena to keep her from getting hit.

The U.S. has maintained all along that the Italians did not notify the U.S. military of the mission, and that the troops followed the rules of engagement for dealing with a speeding car heading straight for a checkpoint – warning shots, flashing lights, and finally a couple shots directed at the car.

Sgrena insisted that the car crawled up to the U.S. checkpoint, and the trigger happy cowboy G.I.’s opened fire, spraying thousands of bullets at the car and killing the operator. Her tale resembles the kind of story that the bad guys on an A-Team episode would tell – thousands of bullets, lots of explosions, yet a fairly small number of casualties. The meta tale she has told all along is about the vicious U.S. Joes teeing off on her, probably because she speaks truth to power, and Bush Knew™ about the rescue operation and was worried about her politics. The Italian government agrees in substance with this account, and has labeled the U.S. military’s account to the contrary a cover-up.

Yet thanks to the blogosphere and the compilers, most of us knew a few months ago that Sgrena was lying. You no doubt remember the pictures of Sgrena’s fairly untouched car, shown here courtesy of one of the MuNuvians.

Now CBS has become aware of satellite surveillance footage, which shows the car speeding at the checkpoint at around 60 miles per hour, along with the U.S. troops following the appropriate battle drill for this situation.

It’s understandable that the Italian government doesn’t want to admit fault here. The left in Italy hates the U.S. No, I mean it. They really hate the U.S., as in “would push the button if they had put their engineers to work building nukes, instead of building painfully beautiful motorcycles.” So half of Italy is perfectly willing to buy Sgrena’s story no matter what she says, lock, stock, and smoking minigun barrels. Likewise, Sylvio Berlusconi’s right/center-right governing coalition has no incentive to be truthful here either. It faces tough sledding right now, and may splinter due to internecine political concerns. Italy is also a pride/shame culture, preferring quietly hypocritical ambiguities to painful truths, so as a country there is little incentive to admit that its crack counterterrorism team screwed up. (I won’t get into the humiliating paying of ransom, an allegation Italy does not deny).

Patterico demonstrates that the LA Times took the Reuters newsfeed which discussed the satellite evidence, and edited it out, reducing the story to a “he said, she said,” in Patterico’s words – thus preserving the allegation that the Administration and its fiendish minions in the Armed Forces tried to assassinate Sgrena. Nice catch, Mike, but it’s not news.

In summary, Patterico’s story is: a European government can’t admit it screwed up; an Olde Europe™ hard left journalist lied; our soldiers did the right thing, as they usually do under most circumstances; and the MSM lied to hurt the Bush Administration.

Like I said, it’s Dog Bites Man all the way, and not really worthy of being news.

Posted by Blackavar at May 1, 2005 11:02 AM | TrackBack
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I think this might be a bit of a pile on for a couple of reasons. Both the LA Times and the Italians know what happened and yet both attempt to change reality. When CBS reported that we have satellite confirmation it would take Ratherian ignorance to proceed with a white wash. I think his piece so completely lays them out as parisans that some accountability may be possible.

My piece on Sgrena and my own newspaper's bias or incompetence is actually posted on their website as they host my blog, I trackbacked it.


Uncle J

Military Matters

Posted by: Uncle Jimbo at May 1, 2005 09:24 PM

Thanks Uncle Jimbo. The "Patterico Jumps Shark" comment, BTW, is meant to be ironic, not literal. Also, I checked out your blog. The bit about the best fisticuffs you've ever witnessed was pretty fantastic. Put me in mind of my days as a Joe...

Posted by: Blackavar at May 1, 2005 10:18 PM


You've been reading Pratchett's "The Truth", haven't you?

Posted by: Kevin J at May 2, 2005 10:35 AM

A number of Pratchett's books seem to mesh well with the blogosphere.

Posted by: Bigwig at May 2, 2005 11:00 AM

No I haven't been reading Pratchett. But after looking it up on Amazon, I kinda wish I had time to. Frankly, when it comes to Sci Fi, I'm a Jerry Pournelle kind of guy. I'm all about the bad unintended consequences of our great leaps forward. I thought Scalzi's Old Man's War was very good, if a little uneven. But mostly I'm reading conservative legal & policy philosophy lately, plus some Frankfurt School Neo-Marxists, and a lot of stuff on race and the law. This is all work related reading, though reading some of the earlier 20th century philosophers is actually kind of fun. And for trivial fun I go through a lot of motorcycle and woodworking magazines. In fact, the woodworking magazines are where I draw my dynamic style from. Adjectives like "butchered trees, wooden, chiseler" probably come to mind when you read my stuff.

Posted by: Blackavar at May 2, 2005 01:06 PM


I am crushed to have been oblivious to irony, it is an area I had a friend study. He watched a comic deconstruct Alannis' song "Ironic" to show no irony only unfortunate events. This led my friend to a years long quest ending with a call to me "Jimmy I got it. Ice-T got famous for a song called Cop Killah, now he plays one on TV".

Congratulations is all I could say. Thanks for the HA on the brawls more fun to watch I think.


Uncle J

Military Matters

Posted by: Uncle Jimbo at May 2, 2005 11:48 PM
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