Shame on the New York Times

Shame on the New York Times

: Sarah Boxer’s story on IraqTheModel in today’s New York Times Arts section is irresponsible, sloppy, lazy, inaccurate, incomplete, exploitive, biased, and — worst of all — dangerous, putting the lives of its subjects at risk. Let’s start with her lead:

When I telephoned a man named Ali Fadhil in Baghdad last week, I wondered who might answer. A C.I.A. operative? An American posing as an Iraqi? Someone paid by the Defense Department to support the war? Or simply an Iraqi with some mixed feelings about the American presence in Iraq? Until he picked up the phone, he was just a ghost on the Internet.

So here is a reporter from The New York Times — let’s repeat that, The New York Times — speculating in print on whether an Iraqi citizen, whose only apparent weirdness and sin in her eyes is (a) publishing and (b) supporting America, is a CIA or Defense Department plant or an American.

Ms. Boxer, don’t you think you could be putting the life of that person at risk with that kind of speculation? In your own story, you quote Ali — one of the three blogging brothers who started IraqTheModel — saying that “here some people would kill you for just writing to an American.” And yet you go so much farther — blithely, glibly speculating about this same man working for the CIA or the DoD — to sex up your lead and get your story atop the front of the Arts section (I’m in the biz, Boxer, I know how the game is played).

How dare you? Have you no sense of responsibility? Have you no shame?

It’s not as if you have the slightest — not the slightest — bit of responsible reporting that would guide you to put that speculation in your lead (and, of course, whenever a reporter launches that speculation high up and never really answers it, she’s trying to lead the reader toward the same speculation — that, too, is a trick of the trade, eh, Boxer?). All you have is the rantings of one known internet troll whose spittle-specked babblings have been dismissed in saner quarters. But you hang your lead on that. I hope that is all you end up hanging.

Next paragraph:

The mystery began last month when I went online to see what Iraqis think about the war and the Jan. 30 national election. I stumbled into an ideological snake pit. Out of a list of 28 Iraqi blogs in English at a site called Iraqi Bloggers Central, I clicked on Iraq the Model because it promised three blogging brothers in one, Omar, Mohammed and Ali.

What mystery? Two of there brothers were in New York in the flesh more than a month ago. Do you still have a clip file at The Times? Have you heard of Google? Try a search and you’d have found plenty to dispel what you call a mystery. Try reading Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post. Or Dan Henninger in the Wall Street Journal. Or try listening to Brian Lehrer’s interview with them on WNYC (you can hear the archives online). Try reading any of the many bloggers who wrote about meeting them. Send one of us an email. Ask us a question. Wait for the answer. That’s how reporting worked, in my day.

[Now let me break off here to make sure everyone knows my relationship to this story: It started with email correspondence with Zeyad, the first Iraqi after the war and after Salam Pax to start blogging. He, in turn, convinced the IraqTheModel brothers and others to blog. Later, Spirit of America — a charity that sends direct help to Iraqi people in the form of tool belts, sewing machines, and TV equipment — hired a wonderful blogger named Kerry Dupont who had, on her own, sent laptops and cameras to bloggers in Iraq, including these gentlemen. SoA decided that supporting citizens’ media in Iraq was a worthy goal; they financed the creation of an Arabic-language blogging tool, something I’d lobbied for on this blog. When Harvard held a conference on international blogging, SoA paid to bring two of the brothers, Mohammed and Omar, to the U.S., where they also wanted to promote their own project, Friends of Democracy. I had the privilege of meeting them here. At SoA’s request, I also made introductions that led to the interviews in the Post and WNYC. They were asked whether they wanted to do interviews here and they wanted to, asking only not to go on TV and not to use their full names, for security reasons.

[Note, by the way, that Boxer does use their full name. They don’t even use it on their blogs. I am usually very critical of people who do not use their names on their weblogs — but I do make an exception for those whose lives might be at risk if they did. I will still not use their full names here. {Update: See my correction below.}

[I should also add for those who did not read the posts at the time that when the irresponsible Prof. Juan Cole spread Martini’s slander, I went batshit.]

Boxer, unfortunately, continues…

The blog, which is quite upbeat about the American presence in Iraq, had provoked a deluge of intrigue and vitriol. People posting messages on an American Web site called Martini Republic accused the three bloggers of working for the C.I.A., of being American puppets, of not being Iraqis and even of not existing at all.

Isn’t this amazing: The New York Times choses this time to quote a blogger without fact-checking them and trying to find someone from the other side. They pick this blogger, known to be a bit, well, from the fringe. Again, Boxer, a Google search would have have been quite handy. You’d have found this story about this from the National Review. Oh, I know, you’re probably not a subscriber; not many of those at The Times. But that’s what makes the internet so wonderful: You can expand you reporting and hear more than one side and you don’t even have to put the source material in a brown paper wrapper. You quote Martini and length but quote no one who questioned their baseless accusation. You simply spread them again. That’s journalism?

Boxer then goes on to tell about one of the brothers, Ali, leaving the blog and not joining the U.S. trip. She quotes from his last post to IraqTheModel. She does not, however, quote his followup post about this on his own blog, called Free Iraqi:

So I did not quit because of any distrust of America’s plans in Iraq, I was not treated badly by any American, I have no problem with any right-wing blog and I never had any problem in dealing with extreme left blogs. I and my brothers have only some disagreement on few points. I had a different feeling about the trip and was more skeptic than them. Now I see that I have overreacted and I had to be more patient. I say that despite that I was right about the unecessary dangers that may come from such a trip, because my reaction created many speculations among our readers that could’ve been avoided had I not post such obscure message. My brothers seem to have done what they were comfortable with and they say that no one put any pressure of any kind on them.

Families disagree about things.

Yet Boxer says that Ali “seemed to have gone through a radical transformation when he found that his brothers, both described as dentists on their Web site, had met President Bush. Odd.” You know, Boxer, “seemed” is an awfully bad word for a good reporter. “Seemed” means you don’t know the facts; you’re speculating again.

Boxer could have emailed Ali or his brothers at that point. Heck, two of them — Mohammed and Ali — were called and interviewed on American radio only a week ago. But, no, Boxer did not go to the source. She went instead to the aforedismissed MartiniRepublic.

And then she brings up the stupidest tin-hat episode of all: The Martini bozos acted as if their conspiracy theories had born fruit because they found that the IraqTheModel domain was hosted in — gasp — Texas (implication: the Bush state!). Worse yet, the company that registered the domains is called CIATech Solutions. And, of course, the CIA always clearly identifies its operatives; it’s a brand, don’t you know?

Once more, Boxer, if you’d just turned to Google, you would have found that CIA Tech Solutions is owned by a nice guy named Jeff Reed who donated domain hosting for a list of Iraqi bloggers, including ones quite anti-American. And if you went to his site, you’d confirm that CIA stands for Complex Internet Applications Technical Solutions, so you wouldn’t need to rely just on Ali.

She repeats MartiniNutjob’s conspiratorial speculation: “Why else… would the brothers have been feted in Washington?” Maybe because people make friends online — even across such boundaries — and want to meet them. And she repeats more tin-hat crap I won’t bother to repeat. More of the same.

She complains: “Surely Iraq the Model did not represent the mainstream of Iraqi thinking.” I just love that red herring. Who said this one blog should represent the mainstream of Iraqi thinking? It’s a blog with the opinions of three brothers.

Does The New York Times represent the mainstream of American thinking, Ms. Boxer? Do you? I think not. So what’s your point?

Finally, she writes about the real disagreement among the brothers: The two who came to the U.S. had no problem with press coverage and with meeting President Bush; Ali did. As I quoted above, Ali wrote about that.

The kicker to the story, the whole point of of the story is this:

“Me and my brothers,” he said, “we generally agree on Iraq and the future.” (He is helping his brother Mohammed, who is running on the Iraqi Pro-Democracy Party ticket in the Jan. 30 election.) But there is one important difference: “My brothers have confidence in the American administration. I have my questions.”

Now that seems genuine.

That’s where Boxer was headed all along: This Iraqi who blogged in favor of liberation — who still has on top of his new blog the words, “I was not living before the 9th of April and now I am, so let me speak!” — couldn’t possibly be real, could he? But if he has questions about the American adminstration, then Boxer — on behalf of no less than The New York Times — concludes that maybe he could be real after all. That seems genuine to her.

That seems shameless to me.

: UPDATE: Ed Cone blogs on this, too.

: LIES SPREAD: That’s just the problem with telling them. Now the BBC is — surprise, surprise, surprise — gleefully jumping on Boxer’s folly.

But some anti-war activists said it was a CIA-sponsored propaganda tool.

The brothers strongly denied the claims, but the row has led to severe ructions in the online Iraq community.

I supposed I should expect no more of the BBC.

: Here is a wonderful comment from Janice Abrahams, a friend and colleague who lead the development of the Arabic language blogging tool SoA funded. I quote in full:

I work with 24 year old Omar every day building the arabic blogging tool. He is patient, kind, funny, blazingly intelligent and yes, his english is better than half the people in this country.

I’m an American. I’m a technologist, and I am also of the opinion that Omar and Mohammad are heros.

They are text-book kind of heros. Working 80 hours a week to further democracy kinda heros. Real heros.

All they care about is making their country better. They endanger themselves 24×7 to do it, never complain and hardly get enough sleep. I know.

I feel ashamed sometimes, and never talk to them about this sort of idiotic, lazy, horrid journalism — because I am too embarrassed, in the face of their bravery and unending dedication to their cause, to even bring it up.

Even though Boxers lazy, DANGEROUS article, just added another brick to the wall of their mortal danger, the brothers will never complain, never waver, and they will hardly even pay attention.

Why?

They’re too busy changing the lives of the people in their country.

-janice

PS: “It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.” Thomas Paine

Reporters too often forget that they are dealing with real people and can have real impact on their lives.

: Here’s a response from Jim Hake, founder of Spirit of America.

: In the comments, Tex corrects me: I said that the brothers do not use their names on their blogs; he found an instance where Ali did; link in the comments. I will still say that’s one of the brothers and it’s a bit buried, not like the NYT using the name of all three brothers. There’s certainly precedent for not using names in The Times…. unless you are of the belief that there are a lot of people named Source.

And another commenter finds that when two of the brothers announcd that they would run for the national assembly, they used their last name and so did I. I stand corrected. I have done it. So take that sin away from my recitation above. Plenty left.

[Let me add this: Thank you, Tex, for correcting me. I don’t mean to turn this moment of factual error into a distracting opportunity for blogger triumphalism but I will: It took no time for Tex to catch me in the error and call me on it. As I often say, when a blogger makes a mistake, other bloggers decend upon him like white blood cells on a germ. And that is a good thing. So I was wrong about that aspect; I leave it up above so you can see I was wrong; I put the correction here so you can see it; and we’re all better off for it. So thanks.]

: LATER: And it keeps spreading. Now Seth Godin writes a post about the problem with CIA blogs. Readers come down on him — as they damned well should, saying no one has shown for one second that such a thing exists — and he back off, as damned well he should and then tries to backpedal to say he’s just talking theoretically and complaining about a world where such a thing could happen and if it did what would happen to the trust in the medium? Well, Seth, lots of things could happen but idle speculation about that will get us nowhere; it’s the speculation and the spreading of it that ruins the trust. The medium corrects itself effectively. Now we’ll see how long it takes The Times to correct itself.

: Yes, I did email Dan Okrent at The Times with a link to this post. More when I hear it.

: There was a meme starting in the comments that this was only an arts story. I said it still had to be true and those who commented and I don’t disagree about that. But it’s not an arts story everywhere. The Times has a wire; here it’s a news story.

: TimesWatch has this on Boxer from June, 2004. At the end of a story about the screening of a movie on Vietnam, she wrote:

She ends: “Those in the crowd seemed angrier than Mr. Davis. They wanted to talk about the land mines left behind and the long-term effects of Agent Orange on the children. They wanted to know what had become of the bombers and pilots. And how is it, they asked, that after 30 years the United States finds itself in yet another quagmire?”

: Let me make one thing very clear: I like, read, and respect The New York Times and I care about journalism and that is why it’s worth going after this story: to turn journalism into a self-correcting mechanism, as we call our new medium. No, I don’t go after every story with something wrong (though I know you’ll now demand that I should or I’m a hypocrite); I don’t know enough about all those stories. But this one is wrong on so many levels and that’s why I said so.

: UPDATE ON BOXER’S REPORTING: I asked and found out from Omar and Mohammed at IraqTheModel that Boxer never tried to contact them or ask any questions of them; she tried to contact only Ali. That’s bad reporting: lazy and incomplete. But, sadly, that’s how some reporters behave: They don’t want to ask the one more question that will ruin the story they want to write.

: EVENING UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds writes:

At the moment, the New York Times is in court, demanding constitutional protection for its sources. If they’re exposed, it fears, they may suffer consequences that will make others less likely to come forward in the future. That, we’re told, would be bad for America.

But the New York Times has no compunctions about putting the lives of pro-American and pro-democracy Iraqis at risk with baseless speculation even though the consequences they face are far worse than those that the Times’ leakers have to fear. It seems to me that doing so is far worse for America.

When journalists ask me whether bloggers can live up to the ethical standards of Big Media, my response is: “How hard can that be?” Not very hard, judging by the Times’ latest.

  • Jeff B.

    It utterly beggars belief.
    I would also think, by the way, that this is one thread that could be devoid of the usual ankle-biters (I won’t call them trolls, because honestly many of them are not – they come to their disagreements honestly). But if we can’t all agree on the reprehensibility of this, then truly there is no common ground. It was an irresponsible, sexed-up story that could even conceivably put the brothers at greater risk (they already blog at risk), and is horrifyingly unbalanced to boot.
    Hey, I’ve got an idea! Let’s publish the names of witnesses to gangland murders! I mean, the public has a right to know, yes?

  • http://www.dotnetjunkies.com/WebLog/paul/ paul

    How many Iraqi Dinars does it cost for an airline ticket to Washington DC from Baghdad?

  • Jeff B.

    Of course, I didn’t read the comments of the preceding thread. More fool me: there ARE people who think this is just jim dandy, even those comparing terrorists to Minutemen (whoa, shades of Michael Moore) and the Iraqi bloggers to lickspittle Tories. Joy.

  • http://hubris.typepad.com Hubris

    paul,
    As in the thread below, are you trying to accuse them of being wealthy? Again, who cares how much money they have? Besides, look in Jeff’s post:
    When Harvard held a conference on international blogging, SoA paid to bring two of the brothers, Mohammed and Omar, to the U.S., where they also wanted to promote their own project, Friends of Democracy.
    You mentioned the value of interent research on the preceding thread; it starts with reading the subject post.

  • button

    Just found similar article on BBC website.
    Are these two reporters having an affair?
    What is the explanation for this “coincidence?”
    Inquiring minds want to know.

  • http://www.dotnetjunkies.com/WebLog/paul/ paul

    It

  • http://hubris.typepad.com Hubris

    paul,
    Do your suspicions extend to Riverbend, who also has an excellent command of English (read a few posts on the main page?? Or are suspicions confined to those with whom one disagrees?
    I didn’t know that blogs couldn’t have a narrative. These rules keep springing up.

  • http://www.radosh.net radosh

    In the previous post on this article, Michael Zimmer wrote something important:
    “One thing to keep in mind is that this article is in the Arts section, not News. This isn’t supposed to be (and the reporter probably isn’t fully skilled to perform) a deep, investigative report as to the authenticity fo ITM. This is an article talking about how the blog has created various reactions among other blogs/bloggers. It correctly notes the “intrigue and vitriol” – its purpose is not to close the book on the issue… Again, it seems that the purpose of this article was not to refute claims that ITM has been “astroturfed” or to discredit Martini Republic. It is telling a story; it is recounting how these sites are embroiled in a larger online conversation. If anything, the article ends up in support of the authenticity and genuiness of Ali and ATM. ”
    Bingo. I find this kind of thinky culture story intolerably silly, but I would never try to read and analyze it as a news article. Jeff is half-right when he says that Boxer “sex[ed] up your lead and get your story atop the front of the Arts section.” In fact, the whole story was sexed up. That’s what the Times arts section is for.
    And that’s why Jeff’s nuclear response is so out of proportion. He may be too close to this story to accept anyone writing about it as a matter of mild cultural interest rather than Important News, but on those terms, the article is perfectly accurate and responsible: it captures the spirit of an online discussion. Boxer includes wild speculations (they are not her own, but ones that we are to understand are vaguely in the air) because this story is partly about people speculating things wildly. It shows a lack of trust in the Times’ readership to assume that by the end of the story, they would not get that Boxer’s lede was intentionally over-the-top for dramatic effect.
    Again, I think this is a dumb story, but it’s not an irresponsible one. If I want hard news about this issue, I’ll look for it in the news section — or on blogs. The only genuine issue that Jeff raises is whether the story compromises the bloggers’ safety. I will give the Times the benefit of the doubt that the brothers agreed to have their names made public. If this is not the case, then YES, the Times did do wrong in that respect.

  • sophia

    The mystery began last month when I went online to see what Iraqis think about the war and the Jan. 30 national election.
    I’m curious, am I misinterpreting this, has a journalist for one of the most widely read newspaper NOT been reading Iraqi bloggers for the past 15+ months? I guess I would have expected journalists to reflect a bit more curiosity.

  • BigFire

    I expected nothing less from the New York Times & BBC News.

  • http://www.hellblazer.com Hal

    Wow Jeff, the sniping, bitching, moaning and wailing. Now that the shoes on the other foot, you’re acting just like the very people you were tsk, tsk’ing a few short posts ago.
    Myopia.

  • Patricia

    Unbelievable…staggering.
    Couldn’t the culture story omit his last name???
    On a related note, did anyone see 60 minutes and the Iraqi reporter “embedded” with the terrorists? I believe it was G from Baghdad, Salam Pax’s friend, also an anti-war activist.
    I know it’s not as snappy as “Bush Lied, People Died,” but how many Iraqis and coalition soldiers will die because of G’s liaison with terrorists?
    They’re not reporters–they’re on the other side.

  • http://homepages.nyu.edu/~mtz206/ Michael Zimmer

    BBC: But some anti-war activists said it was a CIA-sponsored propaganda tool.
    The brothers strongly denied the claims, but the row has led to severe ructions in the online Iraq community.
    Are you disupting these statements? It is true that some say ITM is a CIA tool, and it is true that the claims have led to “sever ructions”, notwithstanding the brothers’ denial. Reporting this is not lying, or the spreading of lies. It is reporting what’s going on in the “conversation” online.

  • EverKarl

    I seem to recall that when you went after Juan Cole for peddling the Martini smear, there were more than a few commenters who thought that mentioning it merely spread the smear, or that it was no big deal, or not a threat to the ITM bloggers. Now the NYT has uncrtitically perpetuated the smear by innuendo, using the bloggers’ full names.
    They will probably rush back to this thread. Not to defend the smear, as they were unable to do so last time. No, they will return to do exactly what they tried to do last time, which is change the subject to the invasion of Iraq, or to Jeff’s civility, or just about anything other than the fact that left-leaning bloggers and MSM are perpetuating a baseless smear that threatens the lives of people trying to have a free election. You can find their pictures in the dictionary next to the entry for “shameless.”

  • JayeRandom

    http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2004/05/i-found-it.html
    Is “screwball” a common Iraqi colloquialism?
    It’s my impression that Iraq The Model has been getting some American ghostwriting in varying amounts over time.

  • Peg C.

    Arts section or not, I fired off a (typical for me) scathing email to Mr. Figleaf, Dan Okrent. I don’t expect to receive a reply. Yes, they are NOT reporters; they ARE ON THE OTHER SIDE. Shot for treason would work for me.

  • Dishman

    It is true that some say ITM is a CIA tool,
    It is also true that some people say the Earth is flat. Does that make it newsworthy?

  • John

    As an advocacy journalism story in a paper like the Village Voice or the L.A. Weekly, Boxer’s profile wouldn’t be out of place because those papers articles are almost always driven by their writer’s point-of-view, and the readers understand that. And quite often, those stories are a little less well sourced out that you’d expect from a more mainstream paper, but that’s because the writer has his or her point of view and focuses on the sources that will validate that view. And the readers know (or should know) that as well.
    However, the same story in the New York Times, and the same use of selective sources — even if it’s in the Arts section — is a different situation. It’s advocacy journalism masquerading as a puff piece in one of the paper’s less-important areas. But when the story goes out on the wires or across the web, placment makes no difference, and it carries as much of the Times’ name as anything that ran on Page 1-A in today’s paper.
    Complaining that the Times allows personal opinion to get into its news stories isn’t anything new. But with all the available sourcing anyone with a computer and an internet connection has access to, publishing something this shoddy that can be fact-checked by thousands of readers within minutes of it being uploaded to the website threatens to make the paper’s reporters and editors seem even more biased — or to be chariatble, less competent and knowlegable about the wonderful world of Google — than they already are.

  • http://due-diligence.typepad.com Tim Oren

    So, Radosh, in your books it’s OK to endanger the lives of some brave men (who I happen to count as friends) for a piece of fluff in the Arts section? Just what constitutes irresponsibility for you?
    And what should we be saying about a reporter and paper that apparently assign greater credibility to a tinfoil hat conspiracy site than Iraqis who have met face to face with dozens of the best known writers in the blogosphere, plus POTUS for kickers. Ah, there’s the rub! Can’t have an issue go by without some casual denigration of the administration’s policies, and any facts on the ground that would support them. No matter the sloppy reporting and potential ‘collateral damage’ for the subjects of the story.
    Citizens’ media: It’s for blood now.

  • http://hubris.typepad.com Hubris

    Michael, I get what you’re saying, but doesn’t the reporter have a responsibility to look into the veracity (or lack thereof) of the claims that are part of the “conversation”? A failure to do this results in a poor news story (for example, when a news source reported on the supposed Kerry “affair” or the SBV allegations without researching or commenting on the basis for the claims, or if a news source reports on Bush claims re: Social Security without investigating those claims).
    A news source claiming it’s just commenting on “the conversation” is evading a fundamental aspect of reporting, I think.

  • Red Rover

    This is really ironic coming just a few weeks after “riverbend” was outed as a fake on the other side. Attempted payback?

  • http://www.glcq.com p_lukasiak

    When I read the story, I found nothing wrong with it. I didn’t note any factual inaccuracies.
    Jarvis has gone off the deep end because the New York Times ignored his intervention in the story.
    Bad! Bad! New York Times! Mustn’t ignore Mr. Jarvis! He’s important! He’s been invited to a conference!

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Zimmer & Radosh: Your response is ludicrous. Just because it’s in the Arts section, The New York Times shouldn’t care that the story is accurate or complete or well-researched or responsible? Ridiculous! It’s still supposed to be The New York Times. IT’s still supposed to be journalism. It’s not. I care about journalism, too. That’s why it is important to call them on this. I also started an entertainment magazine and I sure didn’t think that was a license to lie.

  • EverKarl

    As for Zimmer’s point, I’ll note that Matt Drudge routinely runs items on what media are investigating — Clinton’s love child, Kerry’s mistress, etc. And Drudge is correct that the media is working on them. But that stops no one in the MSM for treating Drudge as a less than credible source. In this case, the smear is completely unsubstantiated, and the failure of the NYT or the BBC to note this is grossly irresponsible.

  • http://opinionpaper.blogspot.com Brett

    Jeff, you should open your Harvard presentation with this example.
    As I mentioned, the biggest problem/turn off with Big Media is unfiltered bias. No “professionalism” there.

  • http://www.centellas.org/miguel miguel

    I don’t understand why so many people try to use the style of English usage by foreign bloggers as “evidence” that they’re not “real” bloggers. I’m myself am an immigrant to the US, and have known many foreign students at universities. And all of them develop a very articulate use of American colloquialisms and other lingo, first, just to fit in, and second, because they spent to much time here (often, years). It’s not surprising to meet middle class third worlders who write remarkably good English, even peppered w/ slang. After all, they do read, they watch English-language movies, and most have studied English extensively in school. And many thousands come to US universities (usually staying for 4-5 years) constantly.

  • Al

    “It is true that some say ITM is a CIA tool”
    It is also true that some say that Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster. Sounds like an above-the-fold NYTimes kind of story!

  • http://www.elflife.com/ carsonfire

    So repeating rumors is not rumor-mongering, and repeating lies is not lying. And it’s OK to make up stuff if it’s not in the front section.
    Remind me again why Jason Blayr wasn’t promoted to managing editor of the NYT?
    Journalists, like Democratic politicians, are becoming increasingly cowed by the fringe. Good liberals, most of them, they are being inundated with shouts of “MEDIA WHORE” because they still aren’t behaving sufficiently insane in public; they aren’t doing a good enough job reporting as fact every far-fetched anti-Republican theory and smear they can dream up on DemocraticUnderground.
    Can you imagine reporters repeating as remotely credible innuendo and rumors sourced from neonazis, Klansmen, and other assorted bigots and hatemongers, and then explaining it away as “we’re just reporting on the conversation”?

  • Al

    “Note, by the way, that Boxer does use their full name. They don’t even use it on their blogs. I am usually very critical of people who do not use their names on their weblogs — but I do make an exception for those whose lives might be at risk if they did. I will still not use their full names here.”
    And the NYTimes has used (and, I think, continues to use) complete anonymity for many of its Iraqi reporters. I’m curious how the Times would feel if someone simply decided to publish the complete names of all of the Iraqis working for the Times…
    (Although I suppose it is POSSIBLE that Boxer asked for and received permission to use the full name.)

  • http://homepages.nyu.edu/~mtz206/ Michael Zimmer

    Michael, I get what you’re saying, but doesn’t the reporter have a responsibility to look into the veracity (or lack thereof) of the claims that are part of the “conversation”?
    Good point. You’re right. It still seems in the end, to me, that the claims of a CIA connection were dismissed in favor of the “frankness” and “genuineness” of Ali.
    Zimmer & Radosh: Your response is ludicrous. Just because it’s in the Arts section, The New York Times shouldn’t care that the story is accurate or complete or well-researched or responsible?
    Jeff – I agree with your sentiment. I’m just saying that perhaps the “deep investigation” we all want shouldn’t be expected for such an article. She’s reporting on the conversation, not necessarily researching the veracity of the various conversants’ claims.

  • Eileen

    I also sent a scathing email to this propaganda rag at nytnews@nytimes.com (let it find its way to the ‘arts’ department) referencing this site, and assuring them their bias would be thoroughly exposed on the blogosphere. Call, email, express your outrage. Perhaps I’ll now forward a copy to the BBC.

  • http://www.jeff_is_a_hypocrite.com Jeff’s Conscience

    Jeff, your hypocrisy is amazing.

    After Kos and Jerome were slandered by WSJ with a story that was so wrong on the facts it was laughable, you criticized Kos and Jerome for defending themselves and getting “nasty” with those who libeled them.

    Now, why are you all of a sudden so concerned about when the NY Times libels another blogger. Why are getting “nasty” all of a sudden?

    Don’t even pretend not to be a complete hack for the right-wing blogosphere who can point to you as a “well-behaved democrat.” Now go to your little ethics-conference and report back to us.

    You are still an insult to Stern-fans everywhere. I loved it when Howard insulted you as “just a blogger.” A bad blogger at that.

  • http://www.jeff_is_a_hypocrite.com Jeff’s Conscience

    One more thing: I have a new idea for a pledge for you. “I will support what Instapundit and PowerLine say no matter if I disagree or not.”
    And lest anyone misunderstand, I agree that the NY Times just did a sloppy, unforgiveable job re the brothers at Iraq the Model. Unfortunately, Jeff only believes in criticizing the “MSM” when it libels those the right supports; not when it libels people like Jerome and Kos.

  • janice

    I work with 24 year old Omar every day building the arabic blogging tool. He is patient, kind, funny, blazingly intelligent and yes, his english is better than half the people in this country.
    I’m an American. I’m a technologist, and I am also of the opinion that Omar and Mohammad are heros.
    They are text-book kind of heros. Working 80 hours a week to further democracy kinda heros. Real heros.
    All they care about is making their country better. They endanger themselves 24×7 to do it, never complain and hardly get enough sleep. I know.
    I feel ashamed sometimes, and never talk to them about this sort of idiotic, lazy, horrid journalism — because I am too embarrassed, in the face of their bravery and unending dedication to their cause, to even bring it up.
    Even though Boxers lazy, DANGEROUS article, just added another brick to the wall of their mortal danger, the brothers will never complain, never waver, and they will hardly even pay attention.
    Why?
    They’re too busy changing the lives of the people in their country.
    -janice
    PS: “It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.” Thomas Paine

  • Jeff B.

    Is “Jeff’s Conscience” putting us on?
    The libel possibly endangers the lives of the bloggers. The other one (and don’t get me wrong, I think Kos and Armstrong were wronged) only endangers a reputation. Please: tell me there’s no important difference there.

  • http://homepages.nyu.edu/~mtz206/ Michael Zimmer

    I said: She’s reporting on the conversation, not necessarily researching the veracity of the various conversants’ claims.
    I’ll follow-up on my comments above that I’m not trying to defend or excuse the article. Just trying to understand it. My best guess is that they feel they’re reporting on an interesting conversation in the blogosphere, and don’t feel the need to necessarily explore the veracity of the claims. Yeah, that’s poor reporting, sloppy, and probably irresponsible. Exploitive and shameless? I’m not so sure….

  • DensityDuck

    Wow. I had no idea that the New York Times’s Arts section had such an amazing influence over the world’s knowledge and opinion. Surely we should all pray that the Secret Masters don’t decide to have Boxer do an Arts-section hit-job on one of _us_.
    If you actually read all the way through the article, rather than blowing your blood vessels over seeing someone’s NAME IN THE NEWSPAPER (holy Jesus! it’s like you’re handing Al Qaeda the hacksaws!) then it looks like a vague semi-opinion semi-reporting piece about some people who are famous on the internet. In other words, IT’S A BLOG POST.

  • Jeff B.

    Oh, and additionally, the tu quoque is a sandbox tactic. It cannot and never should be the lead or only point in your argument.

  • futuretense

    This appears to be a fairly recent trend in newspapering — the placement of wildly speculative and biased political stories in the “arts” section. Call me old-fashioned, but I remember when the “arts” section was where one turned to get reviews of the ballet and cinema and that sort of thing.
    I suppose the writers in the “arts” section desperately want to get in on the political conversation too, and more importantly to flash their ideological gang signs so everyone on the cocktail circuit knows full well where they stand (as if there’s ever any doubt). Call them on their irresponsible or utter lack of reporting and they can just airily dismiss it — “Oh, it’s in the ‘arts’ section; it doesn’t really count.” But as we see from the Beeb and, undoubtedly soon-to-be other outlets, the meme rapidly (and gleefully) spreads like manure across the international anti-American media (or am I being redundant here?).

  • Jeff B.

    Except, DensityDuck, it’s in the largest and most widely-read newspaper in the world. And it’s now been picked up by the BBC as well. And don’t fool yourself: the insurgents have web access and contacts. Just look at their video dissemination tactics.
    Other than that your point makes perfect sense!

  • conscience

    conscience,
    You come off as a complete dork. Errrrr, I’ma gonna call Jeff an insult to stern fans, errrr, that’ll show em.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Conscience (whoever you are who doesn’t have the balls to use his name): I have written quite often now saying that Kos and Jerome did not do anything wrong themselves. That’s is where the shitstormers on this are missing the point: Zephyr was, if anything, accusing herself and the campaign, not them but then they came back and said don’t accuse us. There were things in the WSJ story I thought were off (among them that the blogosphere was at wit’s end over this). I did speak to them and made many of these points and they chose not to quote or cover that. But I don’t think the story was the issue to discuss. The discussion was the thing to disucss.

  • http://ancapistan.typepad.com/ tex

    Jeff: Note, by the way, that Boxer does use their full name. They don’t even use it on their blogs. I am usually very critical of people who do not use their names on their weblogs — but I do make an exception for those whose lives might be at risk if they did. I will still not use their full names here.
    What bullshit. Everyone knows their name, for crying out loud. Here’s just one example:
    Iraqi bloggers Ali & Mohammed announce candidacy for the Iraqi National Assembly
    On August 18 bloggers Ali and Mohammed of http://www.IraqTheModel.com will formally announce their candadicy for the Iraqi National Assembly.
    Baghdad, IRAQ (PRWEB) August 19, 2004 — Two popular Iraqi webloggers, Ali Fadhil and Mohammed Fadhil, today announced their candidacies for the Iraqi National Assembly.
    The bloggers, who are brothers, have been writing their popular weblog http://www.IraqTheModel.com since November of 2003. Their weblog has been quoted in major world media, including the BBC, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, National Review, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Bulletin, Dallas Morning, and New York Post.
    Baghdad, IRAQ (PRWEB) August 19, 2004 — Two popular Iraqi webloggers, Ali Fadhil and Mohammed Fadhil, today announced their candidacies for the Iraqi National Assembly.
    Jeez, chill out and pull yourself together. You’re acting like a fruitloop.

  • Ernst Blofeld

    Perhaps the blogs should engage in some baseless speculation about whether certain named NYT reporters in Iraq are really CIA agents. Of course, this may put them at risk of decapitation at the hands of the insurgents. But the NYT obviously doesn’t think that likely, or they wouldn’t have done that to the Iraqi bloggers.

  • Bolie Williams IV

    I would like to ask the question, is Sarah Boxer an Al Qaeda agent? I have no evidence, but she could be. Has anyone checked into her background? I could probably do a web search, but that’s too much trouble. So can anyone confirm that Sarah Boxer is an Al Qaeda agent? Again, I have no evidence, but am just asking the question.
    Bolie IV

  • DensityDuck

    >Conscience (whoever you are who doesn’t have the
    >balls to use his name):
    Christ on a _bike_. Are you for _real_? You rant for pages about two guys in Iraq having their names exposed, and then you take some guy to task for using a tagline.
    PS Sorry. You’re right. The back pages of the New York Times are clearly the go-to source for frothingly insane religious fundamentalists. Hopefully they won’t publish anything about a famous Southerner being gay; those rednecks would rip him to pieces with their teeth, like weasels.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/4621394 Matthew Goggins

    Jeff,
    Thank you for bringing this story to our attention.
    Those who claim that this is just a typical piece of “Arts” section fluff are of course perfectly correct.
    But that just explains the why and the how of the story. It does not refute the what, that this story is junk journalism, that this story endangers the Iraq the Model brothers for no good reason.
    I have little patience for MSM bull. Dishonesty is still dishonesty, even when it is institutionalized. In this case, the consequences of the dishonesty are plain to see, except for those who don’t want to look.

  • http://myblahg.blogspot.com Robert McClelland

    See Jeff whore.
    Whore, Jeff, whore.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    Why did they (the NYT) not directly contact the management of CIATechSolutions and form their own educated opinion about the affiliations of this company?
    What is the probability that if this were a “black” CIA operation they would run it through a shell that had CIA in the title?
    Absolutely unbelievable irresponsibility on the part of the NYT.

  • http://ancapistan.typepad.com/ tex

    So, Duck, want to talk about the Fadhil Brothers while Jeff figures out what to rant about next?
    Yours in pseudonymity,

  • http://hubris.typepad.com Hubris

    Brilliantly argued, McClelland, as usual. You are an absolute joy.

  • http://donatacom.com/blog.shtml Terry Heaton

    Sometimes a story is just too good to let the facts get in the way. But those who sit atop pedestals observe under the influence of oxygen deprivation, and Sarah Boxer is clearly just a victim.
    And so it goes…

  • max

    Yes, I agree – we should find out if Sarah Boxer is an al-Qaeda agent. Or perhaps she worked for Saddam before he was dethroned? She could have – she surely is doing everthing she can to help the terrorists in Iraq.
    And it makes sense – everyone knows the Sulzbergers wrote ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’. (A joke – but not so far fetched when you think of the hatred that consumes the nyt’s editorial and op-ed pages.)

  • Kathleen A

    While it is true the brother’s names are well-known based on IPDP, etc. – there are legitimate reasons for ‘reporters’ to show more responsibility and understand the gravity of the situation the brothers are in. See this. The brother’s truly are living in a very different place than a NY Times reporter can appreciate. They should THINK before they report GARBAGE as fact – or leave the GARBAGE hanging out there to legitimize it. The brothers work hard to help Iraq move forward. I, for one, will not allow some NY Times and BBC reporters to use them for their b.s.

  • DensityDuck

    >Why did they (the NYT) not directly contact the
    >management of CIATechSolutions and form their
    >own educated opinion about the affiliations of
    >this company?
    Because that wasn’t the point of this article. It’s not drawing conclusions about the provenance of Iraq the Model. It’s showing that there is a conflict about it, and that people are slinging accusations, and that some of those involved have decided to strike out on their own rather than continue to be bothered. Jarvis’s article is just as guilty of perpetuating a false impression as he accuses Boxer’s of being.
    >So, Duck, want to talk about the Fadhil Brothers
    >while Jeff figures out what to rant about next?
    oh snap!

  • http://ancapistan.typepad.com/ tex

    Jeff: Note, by the way, that Boxer does use their full name. They don’t even use it on their blogs.
    Not even that is true, Jeff.
    We were always known as the Fadhils brothers….Ali

  • http://ancapistan.typepad.com/ tex
  • Dexter Westbrook

    “Until he picked up the phone, he was just a ghost on the Internet.”
    Seriously, now. How did she know she was talking to Ali Fadhil?
    Boxer must be a CIA agent.

  • Eileen

    Well, Sarah’s story has already made to one of three NYT headlines on AOL’s news page. So much for being buried in the arts section. The propaganda machine is in full swing.

  • http://democraticunderground.com Democraticunderground

    Any Iraqi who sides with the colonials in Iraq, does not deserve to have a voice. I do not care if this person is real, fake or a mix of both. They do not realise that they are hurting their country, and since they do not realise it then we must make them realise it. Even if it means their death.

  • http://ancapistan.typepad.com/ tex

    Oh, look, Jeff – here’s a really funny one:
    This is wonderful news: Two Iraqi bloggers — brothers Ali Fadhil and Mohammed Fadhil of IraqTheModel.com — announced today that they are running for the Iraqi National Assembly.
    That’s written by some blogger named Jarvis on an obscure website named Buzzmachine. It’s hilarious that you sneer at Boxer 3 times in this one post for not using Google to check her facts. But, you’re just a blogger, not a real journalist, so it’s OK when you do it.

  • Wagner James Au

    The biggest fault with Boxer’s article, it seems to me, is her negligence to employ the one unambiguously powerful tool someone writing for the New York Times has: the ability to get anyone to respond to a question, instantly. “I’m a reporter for the New York Times, and I’d like to get your comments for a story we’re putting together” is a sentence strong enough to penetrate kevlar. You call someone up on the phone and say that, or send it to them via e-mail, and they respond *instantly*. Either they give you answers immediately, or they scramble trying to put an answer together, or they put everything aside to duck the question. Yet for the all times she *could* have done that, she doesn’t. Does she call up CIATech? No. Does she e-mail the Martini bloggers? No. Does she contact Spirit of America? No. She does finally calls Ali, but by that time, too much innuendo has gone unchecked, and the damage has been done.
    Forget about using Google; she doesn’t even condescend to take the 15-30 minutes using the best tool her disposal. Had she done so, even that little amount of legwork would have gotten a far more accurate and useful article. Instead, she merely repeats unsourced claims found on this Web or that, and pretty much leaves it at that.
    In other words, her article reads like something a mediocre blogger would write.

  • EverKarl

    Refer back to my first post in this thread, then read what followed. Fish. Barrel.
    To all who are willing to defend the perpetuation of a smear, either directly or by simply calling hour host names:
    For a small fee, I would be willing to post your boring tripe — under your names, of course — to save you the time of typing it. I’m sure a few lines of computer code would be able to generate the level of “discourse” you bring to the table.

  • Lydia

    I also have a small nit to pick.
    Jeff: Heck, two of them — Mohammed and Ali — were called and interviewed on American radio only a week ago.
    That’s not quite the case. Apparently the call never went through, as Omar stated on his blog.
    Friday, January 14, 2005
    Sorry guys, the expected interview didn’t happen; Mohammed and Ali didn’t receive a call from the radio station probably because of the bad situation of the phones’ network here in Baghdad especially in the afternoon which is the peak time.
    – posted by Omar @ 22:15

    Otherwise, right on!!

  • nobody important

    Any American who sides with the Islamofacists and Baathist thugs in Iraq, does not deserve to have a voice. I do not care if this person is real, fake or a mix of both. They do not realise that they are hurting their country, and since they do not realise it then we must make them realise it. Even if it means their death.

  • Where was the outrage?

    Where was the outrage when Bob Novak exposed Valerie Plame as a CIA agent ? That’s a MUCH worse offense.
    This actually rings as something completely innocent from the NYT. They talked to these guys on the phone, don’t you think they would’ve said something if they didn’t wanted their names published ?.
    “The propaganda machine is in full swing”. What do you call the SBVfT then ?

  • Rev. Churchmouse

    When I clicked on the link to NY Times to read the article, I wondered who might have written it. An operative for Al Qaeda? An Internationalist Leftist Loon posing as an American? Someone paid by George Soros to oppose the war? Or simply another useful idiot reporter whose idea of mixed feelings is an inability to decide between stupidity or evil as accounting for anyone who could possibly support the liberation of 25 million people from a murderous regime.
    After I read the article I picked up the phome and dialed 411. “Operator, get me GhostBusters. Baghdad, Iraq. Someone just got slimed.

  • Gregg

    That’s written by some blogger named Jarvis on an obscure website named Buzzmachine. It’s hilarious that you sneer at Boxer 3 times in this one post for not using Google to check her facts. But, you’re just a blogger, not a real journalist, so it’s OK when you do it.
    Jeff – how does that foot taste?

  • http://elemming2.blogspot.com Easter Lemming Liberal News

    Overblown hysterical reaction to brothers who outed themselves long ago. It has been no secret who these brothers are. Speculation has been rampant from the beginning based on the fact that their blog has never printed anything that the large intel group in Iraq would not approve of.
    The function of US agents has long been to befriend and finance individuals who will support the U.S. and get them involved in politics and in government leadership roles. Two of the brothers are now involved in politics.
    #2 on search engines for liberal news

  • http://hubris.typepad.com Hubris

    What do you call the SBVfT then ?
    Here’s what Jeff called it:
    I’ll say it over this nonstory. It doesn’t get us anywhere except mired in bile. Worse, it’s just getting boring.
    Seems like he wasn’t much of a SWBfT fan.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Tex:
    Thank you. I stand corrected.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    And Tex: See the added note of thanks on the main post.

  • Lester Dent

    “Does The New York Times represent the mainstream of American thinking, Ms. Boxer? Do you? I think not. So what’s your point?”
    The truth be told, Ms. Boxer undoubtedly believes that her thinking and writing represents mainstream American thinking – or what it should be if people were as intelligent, caring and informed as she is. Pauline Kael syndrome.

  • Kathleen A

    Jeff – you eloquently demonstrated once again the difference between the MSM and blogging. You posted something – people corrected you – and you OPENLY posted a correction and thanked the correcter! This is something the MSM will never ever understand. And this is why blogs (real ones) have loyalty and fact-checking down to a science. No one OWNS the facts. Thanks for being a stand-up guy.

  • http://homepages.nyu.edu/~mtz206/ Michael Zimmer

    Where was the outrage when Bob Novak exposed Valerie Plame as a CIA agent ? That’s a MUCH worse offense.
    Agreed. Well said.

  • http://homepages.nyu.edu/~mtz206/ Michael Zimmer

    you eloquently demonstrated once again the difference between the MSM and blogging
    No, he demonstreated a difference between some MSM and some blogs.

  • http://mossback.org Richard Bennett

    Sarah Boxer’s claim that Iraq the Model is hosted on a CIA Tech Solutions server is false. The blog is hosted on Blogspot, and always has been. CIA Tech registered alternate names for a bunch of Iraqi bloggers, including both ITM and the squeaky-clean Riverbend completely on his own initiative. ITM had nothing to do with this, and doesn’t use the name that was registered for them. Neither does Riverbend.
    It’s also false that this name registration caused “severe ructions in the online Iraq community.” The only ructioning that went on around this was confined to the American leftwing community, specifically Martini Republic and the arrogant Juan Cole.
    Sarah Boxer has been proved to be a liar and a hack. She should be writing for CBS News, not the New York Times.

  • Jos Bleau

    Boxer is mistaken in her characterization of the Iraqi blogger Riverbend (who’s bona fides she does not question) as antiwar. She is not antiwar, she is simply anti-American.

  • Mary

    This is perhaps one of the most outrageous pieces of journalism I have ever seen. I actually think in its own way, its as bad as Rathergate!
    How dare they? Rather tried to dump something before the US election and she….tried to dump something before the Iraqi election.
    Why would anyone believe in democracy after something like that?

  • http://www.di2.nu/blog.htm DirtyDingus

    BBC piece fisked here – http://www.di2.nu/blog.htm?20050118a

  • Eileen

    “Any Iraqi who sides with the colonials in Iraq, does not deserve to have a voice. I do not care if this person is real, fake or a mix of both. They do not realise that they are hurting their country, and since they do not realise it then we must make them realise it. Even if it means their death.”
    Why don’t you tell us your name, Mr. Death Threat at Democratic Underground? Where do you live? Who is “we”?

  • http://theheadlemur.typepad.com alan herrell – the head lemur

    Wow! I thought I knew how to give a bitchslapping. I am in AWE!!
    I guess the NYT is having sometimers sometime I remember sometime I don’t
    Today’s lesson is: We can fact check your ass

  • http://homepages.nyu.edu/~mtz206/ Michael Zimmer

    she….tried to dump something before the Iraqi election.
    Do you really think this article is meant to influence the Iraqi election? Wow – now that’s taking things a bit too far.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Redrover. You say:
    This is really ironic coming just a few weeks after “riverbend” was outed as a fake on the other side. Attempted payback?
    I have not seen such a report. Any citation?

  • Ryan

    Between taking a DU poster conspiracy theory that the tsunamis were caused by the US and now this crap, one gets the real sense of how hostile the NYT is towards blogs and discussion forums.

  • http://americandigest.org Van der Leun

    I did some googling of Sarah Boxer and came up with:
    AMERICAN DIGEST: Shameless Scribblers of the New York Times: An Endless Series
    http://americandigest.org/mt-archives/004968.php

  • Northpaw

    The guy who runs MartiniRepublic is venting now about Jeff’s post. I’ll be interested to see if Jeff reads/responds. The MR site is interesting in its smart-aleck kind of way, but it is devoid of any real content. Nevertheless, they deserve a spanking.

  • Mark Buehner

    Bernie Goldberg put it best: Arrogance.
    Nothing else can describe such breathtaking wrecklessness with real human lives, particularly in ones supposed field of expertise. Coming on the heals of Rathergate, im shocked to find myself shocked.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Northpaw: Just more spittle and bile. Nothing of substance to respond to.

  • futuretense

    Speaking of arrogance, what is the point of that “Now that seems genuine” kicker on the end of the article in question? Why tell us what to think about what we’ve just read? Boxer (btw, any relation to the senator of the same name? certainly there is an ideological relation, at the very least…) has already stacked the deck in favor of her interpretation through selectively reporting unsubstantiated innuendo and rumor.
    Boxer gives away the plot with that last bit. Only those who criticize the Bushies are credible in her eyes. Bush supporters are automatically suspect. The burden of proof shifts. Why, everyone who meets with Bush is obviously a CIA operative or paid off or something like that. A glimpse into the NYT mindset, and it isn’t pretty.

  • praktike

    “The medium corrects itself effectively”
    Only when the blogger is honest.

  • Mary

    I do not necessarily believe that she was trying to influence the Iraqi election. But the NYT printing an insinuation about men running for the Assembly… that is reckless.
    These young men want to participate in the writing of the constitution and an unfounded rumor like this could effect the elections OR their lives.
    This woman obviously didn’t agree with the war so she insinuated and used people running for election in a war-torn country.
    Yes. I think its worse than Rathergate. The NYT and BBC against young democrats risking their lives in a small country.

  • http://khemenu.blogspot.com/ Ari Tai

    re: justice. Has a way of catching up with people. Mr. Kerry and his Senate testimony. Ms. Boxer and her slander of these fine people. And if not in this life, the next. I pray nothing happens and she is spared waking up every day thinking “what have I done? how could I have been so stupid?”

  • http://ancapistan.typepad.com/ tex

    Jeff, I need to rain on your triumphalism parade again, because you’re missing the point. You took a journalist to task repeatedly for not checking facts in a post in which you repeatedly and egregiously committed the same errors, to the extent you accused her of doing something you, in your agitation, forgot (?) you did yourself.
    I have more to say about this, but I’m going to write it up in a blog post. I’ll email you when I get it done.

  • Mork

    I honestly don’t get the outrage. The story Boxer wrote is an amusing and interesting piece about an online controversy. It is the way the controversy played out that is her subject, and she tells it from the POV of an observer of the controversy as it unfolds, which is appropriate for the piece she is writing and it’s placement in the newspaper.
    I simply don’t buy the accusation of lying: she reports the main threads of the controversy accurately. She doesn’t endorse or support any of the negative accusations, other than leaving out there the fact that the brothers were spontaneously invited to the White House, which does raise a bunch of perfectly reasonable questions. She also effectively debunks the “CIATech Soultions” red herring … I can’t see how Jeff could possibly read what she wrote as perpetrating the myth: she buries it … I guess some people just won’t be happy.
    All in all, the outrage seems to me to boil down to two things: Jeff reading into the article, on the flimsiest of evidence, a motive and a set of beliefs on the part of the writer with which he disagrees (even though he has to contort himself to come up with a reading that shows the article to be actually advancing those beliefs); and Jeff being disappointed that the article is not the sort of article that he would like to see written about them: presumably a serious news piece that pays due deference to their heroism and speculates about the transformative potential of blogging in the middle east.
    All in all, a storm in a teacup, and an ill-considered overreaction.

  • Kathleen A

    The difference is Jeff admitted his ERROR and isn’t being paid to write his blog – the NY Times reporter is paid to get facts straight and to answer her errors. We’ll see if that happens. Blogs (the honest ones) are self-correcting due to the overwhelming fact-checkers that make it so. The MSM needs fact-checkers – but wait – that’s what reporters are supposed to be for.

  • http://gpwgpw.blogspot.com/ Giles

    Ari this isnt going to catch up on Sarah – she only wants attetion which is what she’s got. Truth, other people’s lives and so forth can go to hell.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Tex: Well, you could graciously say “you’re welcome.” …
    Actually, it’s worse than not checking Google because I wrote that myself and I forgot. When shown it. I shouldn’t have had to Google myself.
    When shown what I wrote, I recalled it: I remembered thinking it was notable that they decided to use their names but I thought at the time that they had to because they were candidates.
    In fact, however, right now the Iraqi election officials are not revealing the names of candidates and only parties because of security concerns. That’s not a great way to run an election, to be sure. But I have to understand the desire not to put candidates at risk of assassination.
    In hindsight, I don’t think the brothers should have used their names in that release — but that is their business. I should not have used it, seeing what I see now. I also should have remembered that I did. I did not. But I have corrected myself and thanked you for helping me.

  • Trapezium

    What Boxer did is completely idiotic. If any one of these bloggers get killed over this, it’s on her head. It’s pretty obvious the left want to shut these guys up, if not through fact, then through murder. How far have the media come to sink this low? It is unbelievable.
    PS JayeRandom : I was born in Jordan and I use the term “screwball” all the time. So do many of my friends. I even say “cool”. As unbelievable as it may sound, American movies and TV is quite freely available, and watched, in the middle east.

  • Mork

    It’s pretty obvious the left want to shut these guys up, if not through fact, then through murder.
    What a cesspool the blogmire has become.

  • http://homepages.nyu.edu/~mtz206/ Michael Zimmer

    In fact, however, right now the Iraqi election officials are not revealing the names of candidates and only parties because of security concerns. That’s not a great way to run an election, to be sure. But I have to understand the desire not to put candidates at risk of assassination.
    Not to change the topic, but isn’t this an indication that perhaps the time isn’t ripe for an election? My understanding is that the Jan. 30 timing was arbitrary, so perhaps it would be best to delay 60 days to work towards better security and safety.

  • http://www.semirandomramblings.blogspot.com TallDave

    I am a regular at ITM and the credulity Boxer bestows on “Gandhi” is UNBELIEVABLE. He is a well-known troll who does not peddle “polite antiwar comments” but rather insane conspiracy theories and general personal obnoxiousness.

  • http://www.semirandomramblings.blogspot.com TallDave

    Michael,
    No, giving the enemy exactly what they want is usually not a recpie for winning. Why would things necessarily be better in 60 days anyway?

  • Will

    Mork is one of the few posters on this thread that has a wit of common sense. The rest of you are so caught up in your lynch mob you can’t even see where you’re going.
    The only legitimate complaint was the use of the brother’s full names, but that got de-bunked pretty quickly.
    But hey… have fun. Call for the death of a few more journalists if it makes you feel better.

  • Trapezium

    Tex, you’re missing a few points as well. The problem with Boxer’s article is that she uses innuendo and circumstance to weave a tale of CIA conspiracy, endangering the lives of 3 Iraqi’s whom she implicates in the process. In other words her journalistic activism can prove deadly for 3 Iraqi’s. THAT’S the point.
    Then there’s the facts. Jarvis has Google, she has the vast resources of the NYT (and Google). She get’s PAID to produce a factually correct article. Jarvis get’s writer’s cramp and people like us pissing about HIS work. Any errors Jeff makes will be noted and corrected in his blog. Will the factual errors in Boxer’s hit-piece ever be corrected by the NYT? Don’t hold your breath.

  • EverKarl
  • http://ancapistan.typepad.com/ tex

    Trapezium,
    I have no interest in discussing the paranoias of warbots and Bushies.

  • Trapezium

    Tex,
    I simply stated that you’re missing the point, and you are. I couldn’t give a fuck whether you want to “discuss” it or not.

  • http://doctorzhiblogo.typepad.com jim

    Jeff –
    Ms. Boxer wrote a graphic novel about Freudian animals –
    http://www.randomhouse.com/pantheon/graphicnovels/floyd.html
    Check out this quote from the publisher –
    The tale begins when Mr. Bunnyman runs into Dr. Floyd

  • Kim

    Sarah Boxer is no stranger to blogs or google. She reads blogs and she’s written about them before this. I think she’s a crappy art critic and who can forget her review of “Hearts and Minds” this summer.
    Finding Echoes of Iraq War in a Film About Vietnam http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/17/movies/17HEAR.html?ex=1106197200&en=8480c6e5eef21d36&ei=5070&oref=login
    “The Web is obsessed with anything that spreads whether it’s a virus, a blog or a rumor. And so the Internet loves memes”. – Sarah Boxer – “Buzzing The Web On a Meme Machine”
    Business as usual at the NYT.

  • http://www.hfienberg.com/kesher/ Yehudit

    “It

  • http://www.hfienberg.com/kesher/ Yehudit

    “Is “screwball” a common Iraqi colloquialism? It’s my impression that Iraq The Model has been getting some American ghostwriting in varying amounts over time.”
    See above. Racist.

  • http://iraqiblogtechsupport.blogspot.com/ Tom Villars (CIA Agent 009)

    Jeff said,

    :Let me make one thing very clear: I like, read, and respect The New York Times and I care about journalism and that is why it’s worth going after this story: to turn journalism into a self-correcting mechanism, as we call our new medium.

    While journalism desperately needs some sort of mechanism to find, analyze, and constructively criticize sloppy reporting, blogs are not and more importantly can not be that mechanism. With the readership of the NY Times fading those who remain will be the least likely to ever use what they hear from a blog to hold the journalist staff accountable.
    The NY Times is actually in a negative feed back loop where the remaining readers are going to see the ongoing criticism from the blogoshpere as strictly partisan and safe to ignore. I don

  • Mork

    The NY Times is actually in a negative feed back loop where the remaining readers are going to see the ongoing criticism from the blogoshpere as strictly partisan and safe to ignore.
    One reason for this might be that, for the most part, it’s completely true. This confected outrage is a prime example.

  • Faramin

    Tex is right.
    Jeff is outraged that Sarah Boxer has identified Ali’s last name and believes this would endanger Ali
    Sarah Boxer’s story on IraqTheModel in today’s New York Times Arts section is irresponsible, sloppy, lazy, inaccurate, incomplete, exploitive, biased, and — worst of all — dangerous, putting the lives of its subjects at risk…
    but as soon as it is pointed out to him, that he too, had done the same irresponsible, sloppy, lazy, inaccurate, incomplete, exploitive, biased, and — worst of all — dangerous, putting the lives of its subjects at risk.., then he tries to make a point of honesty for admitting the error he made:
    As I often say, when a blogger makes a mistake, other bloggers decend upon him like white blood cells on a germ. And that is a good thing. So I was wrong about that aspect; I leave it up above so you can see I was wrong;..,
    What aspect is that? That it was wrong by Boxer to mention the last name? Or what? So Jeff thinks “that aspect” of criticizing Boxer for mentioning the last name should be deleted, because he, too made the same mistake?

  • Crandel

    Maybe this has been mentioned, but from:
    http://www.buzzmachine.com/archives/2004_08_18.html
    Big news: Iraqi bloggers run for office!
    : This is wonderful news: Two Iraqi bloggers — brothers Ali Fadhil and Mohammed Fadhil of IraqTheModel.com — announced today that they are running for the Iraqi National Assembly.
    How’s that for democratizing? Two citizens who had no voice in their nation a little over a year ago came to blogging and now have a voice that matters — they are quoted often in many major papers — and are using that platform to gain a voice in their government.

  • http://homepages.nyu.edu/~mtz206/ Michael Zimmer

    The National Review published an article on 12/23/04 about Martini Republic’s accusations against Iraq the Model, and also printed the bloggers full names. Didn’t this article also put their lives in danger? Do they deserve equal wrath?

  • Angus Jung

    “I have more to say about this, but I’m going to write it up in a blog post. I’ll email you when I get it done.”
    Feels like Christmas Eve, dunnit, folks?

  • Mork

    The National Review published an article on 12/23/04 about Martini Republic’s accusations against Iraq the Model, and also printed the bloggers full names.
    You know, if you read nothing more than the front pages of Iraq the Model and Free Iraqi, not only do you get the bloggers’ full names, but you get links to the accusations of being CIA plants and some (quite amusing) commentary on them.
    How can it be that Sarah Boxer is endangering these individuals for reporting information that these bloggers themselves are happy to post and link to on their own web sites?
    Jeff, your apology does not nearly go far enough.

  • Mork

    And BTW – your correction on the main page in respose to Tex is not correct. Ali is not the only one to have given his full name. See IraqtheModel December 11.

  • http://iraqiblogtechsupport.blogspot.com/ Tom Villars

    Mork said,

    How can it be that Sarah Boxer is endangering these individuals for reporting information that these bloggers themselves are happy to post and link to on their own web sites?

    When the brothers declared their candidacy for Iraqi National Assembly, they were just one more name on a list 1900 candidates. When Boxer writes about them they are candidates with rumored connections to the CIA and a large following of pro-Bush Americans. It seems pretty obvious to me the NY Times article is much more dangerous to the brothers than anything Jeff has written.

  • Mork

    Tom, you misread my comment. The commentary and links to the “CIA plant” speculation that I was referring to is on Iraq the Model and Free Iraqi.
    In other words, Jeff is accusing the New York Times of endangering the brothers lives by repeating information that the brothers are happy to make available to anyone who cares to visit their sites! (Which sites, in the case of Iraq the Model, at least, they were delighted to have promoted in the American press, along with their American visit.)
    The outrage is nothing short of absurd. What completes the absurdity is Glen Reynolds’ new MSNBC piece, which is far more journalistically egregious and irresponsible than anything Boxer has written. On a venue which is supposed, presumably, to meet the standards expected of professional journalism, Reynolds has raced to press with a series of ludicrous and unsubstantiated slurs against both Boxer and the NYT in order to advance his own political agenda.
    It would be an extreme example of the pot calling the kettle black, except in this case, the kettle is anything but.

  • http://oodja.blogspot.com oodja

    It seems pretty obvious to me the NY Times article is much more dangerous to the brothers than anything Jeff has written.
    Yeah, I hear the insurgents in Fallujah can’t start their day without reading the New York Times Arts Section.
    Get a grip folks. It’s not always about us.

  • http://iraqiblogtechsupport.blogspot.com/ Tom Villars

    Mork says,

    In other words, Jeff is accusing the New York Times of endangering the brothers lives by repeating information that the brothers are happy to make available to anyone who cares to visit their sites!

    While the CIA speculations are in both IraqTheModel’s postings and Boxer’s article it is clear the ITM postings are satire while the Boxer article leaves the CIA speculations open ended. This is the difference that is potentially dangerous to the brothers.
    Also, Jeff got confirmation from Omar and Mohammed that Boxer never contacted either of them. While Omar and Mohammed have allowed their full names to be used in the past, it is rather a different thing to have their full names posted 12 days before the elections in a NY Times article that speculates on whether these people are CIA agents.

  • Mork

    Tom, Ali last published his full name on January 11, and linked to the CIA speculation on January 9.

  • http://iraqiblogtechsupport.blogspot.com Tom Villars

    oodja said,

    Yeah, I hear the insurgents in Fallujah can’t start their day without reading the New York Times Arts Section.

    That’s a fair point but with all the oil-for-palace/food corruption in the UN don’t you think there are people in New York City sympathetic to the terrorist in Iraq? I agree it’s unlikely that this article will actually cause the brothers harm, but then it isn’t Boxer’s call to make about what level of risk the brothers are going to take.

  • Mary

    Again I am shocked that folks here do not realize that when the NYT, the BBC, etc. pick up a story like this…
    It often gets picked up in Iraq. Don’t you realize there is a campaign of intimidation going on now that is unrelenting?
    Jeff is justly angry because he understands the dangers as any professional worthy of CALLING themselves a journalist, would. In a war_torn Middle East Country…you don’t even begin to imply CIA about anything unless you can prove it!

  • Mary

    Again I am shocked that folks here do not realize that when the NYT, the BBC, etc. pick up a story like this…
    It often gets picked up in Iraq. Don’t you realize there is a campaign of intimidation going on now that is unrelenting?
    Jeff is justly angry because he understands the dangers as any professional worthy of CALLING themselves a journalist, would. In a war_torn Middle East Country…you don’t even begin to imply CIA about anything unless you can prove it!

  • Mork

    … but then it isn’t Boxer’s call to make about what level of risk the brothers are going to take.

    But that’s exactly what you’re asking her to do, Tom: refrain from reporting factual information because, in her judgment (and despite all the evidence to the contrary), it might endanger the brothers.

  • Mary

    It’s not factual information! There are no facts that really support this….only slur and innuendo…and misrepresentation.
    When you have facts (and not the words of the worst kind of nameless troll)…its different.

  • Trapezium

    Mary,
    Exactly. There is zero hard evidence to back any of Boxer’s claims up, basically just that the bloggers are pro-American (and in Boxer’s narrow-mided, hate-filled, leftwing world, that just can’t be). From there it’s just a dazzling display of intellectual gymnastics to arrive at the suggestion that these guys are “CIA operatives”. God help us if this is the future of journalism.
    This could have been dismissed as just another shoddy piece of journalism if it wasn’t for the fact that the CHARGE she makes could very well end up costing these 3 guys their lives. Some people have no problem with that, but that doesn’t surprise me anymore.
    PS : Hey, I think the New York Times is run by Hamas. There, I said it. Consequently, we now have “proof” that the NYT is run by Hamas.

  • Mork

    It’s not factual information! There are no facts that really support this….only slur and innuendo…and misrepresentation.
    Mary, the factual information that is the subject of the story is that this controversy has been playing out in the blogmire in recent months.
    Which is undeniable.
    PS : Hey, I think the New York Times is run by Hamas. There, I said it. Consequently, we now have “proof” that the NYT is run by Hamas.
    Trapezium, that’s moronic. Nowhere in the piece does Boxer state, or even imply, that any of the allegations are true. In fact, any sane reader of Boxer’s piece would come away with the impression that they are nothing more than the typical hot air that circulates around the blogmire.

  • http://oodja.blogspot.com oodja

    That’s a fair point but with all the oil-for-palace/food corruption in the UN don’t you think there are people in New York City sympathetic to the terrorist in Iraq? I agree it’s unlikely that this article will actually cause the brothers harm, but then it isn’t Boxer’s call to make about what level of risk the brothers are going to take.
    If the brothers had been jealously guarding their identities I would agree, but they weren’t. And I think we’re melodramatically overstating the value of an insinuated smear from a third-party news source.
    As an insurgent you don’t need (again) the Arts Section of the NYT to link Iraq The Model to the CIA in order to paint its authors as collaborators. These guys are marked men simply for publicly supporting the occupation. Let’s not over-cerebralize what’s going on over there – it’s not Cold War cloak and dagger stuff, but thuggery plain and simple.

  • http://www.15grant.com/mrsizer/blog/ mrsizer

    I read all (well, OK, a lot) of the blogsphere commentary before reading the article. I was expecting something truly awful. I have side with the “tempest in a teapot” crowd.
    It was a not-unusually bad piece of fluff journalism. Was it biased? Sure, but how is that even worthy of comment? Was it shallow? Sure, but also unworthy of comment. There was no “news” there, only “olds”, but that’s also typical of anything in print.
    The audience may be a bit wider, but I can’t see how this materially increases the danger to the brothers. People running for Iraqi office are getting blown up WITHOUT being in the New York Times.

  • button

    First, I am surprised that you still do not attribute any responsibility to the Tech Guy for naming his company ‘CIA.’ I realize that he must have done so as a goof, tongue-in-cheek, but he should be having second thoughts by now. Just because we CAN do something doesn’t mean we SHOULD do it. I would fault him for being Tragically Naive. But if anything untoward happens, he could be accused of being irresponsible.
    Secondly, I object to the depiction of the CIA as Djinns. This is something I might expect from some ditzy mullah, isolated up in the mountains somewhere. This kind of hysterical reaction is not becoming to an educated, mature American. And only incidentally, the last offical cultural project the CIA did was Encounter Magazine.
    Today, there is a diminished role for the CIA, thanks to the universities’ regional studies departments, and to Google! A half century ago, little was known about remote places like Tibet and Laos; today you can get lots on the Internet alone. This is called ‘Open Intelligence. I wish you wouldn’t imbue it with Scary Magic.

  • bd

    The constant found in news reporting, thoughout history, is that safe things get scrutinized dangerous things do not. Reporters are just like most people – if reporting a story might result in a bomb in their car they probably will ignore it. But they will be all over a story if the only consequence is an argument.
    And the NYT feels financialy threatened by bloggers.

  • Trapezium

    Mork,
    “Trapezium, that’s moronic. Nowhere in the piece does Boxer state, or even imply, that any of the allegations are true.”
    Now THAT is moronic.
    Examples abound. She talks about CIATech being in Texas, but not the counter-argument that CIATech also hosts anti-American bloggers. At the very least, this is very sloppy journalism.
    She implies that “genuine” Iraqi bloggers would be anti-American. This is not a repeat of what’s being discussed in the blogosphere, that’s her own observation, and it illustrates where she’s coming from.
    If you can’t see the agenda in that article, you’re blind.

  • DensityDuck

    >Tex: Well, you could graciously say “you’re
    > welcome.” …
    oh snap!
    Jarvis: You have _hardly_ posted a correction. “…in the comments”? Give me a damn break! It’s your website, for God’s sake, at least post a link to the _comment_. (And then you spin your complete idiocy into a rah-rah moment for bloggers. Nice try.)
    PS apparently calling something a “meme” is the 21st-century version of calling it a “logical fallacy”. It’s a code phrase for “I don’t want to listen to what you are saying, or seriously consider it and come up with a counter-argument, so I’ll just call it a name and never talk about it again.”

  • Glyn

    “LIES SPREAD: That’s just the problem with telling them. Now the BBC is — surprise, surprise, surprise — GLEEFULLY (my caps) jumping on Boxer’s folly…I supposed I should expect no more of the BBC.”
    If anyone can find any element of glee in that report then please point it out – this is an example of shoddy journalism by Jeff Jarvis, i.e. slanting a news report by pejorative use of adjectives. However, since Jeff Jarvis must have been typing at about 100 mph when he wrote this it is no more than a venal sin – it doesn’t invalidate the rest of his polemic.

  • http://hubris.typepad.com Hubris

    DensityDuck,
    Did you read Jeff’s comment after his “meme characterization?
    : There was a meme starting in the comments that this was only an arts story. I said it still had to be true and those who commented and I don’t disagree about that. But it’s not an arts story everywhere. The Times has a wire; here it’s a news story.
    I’d call that a counter-argument.
    Also, Jeff posted a correction that runs three paragraphs, and sepcifically admits that he had published the brothers’ names before. What do you want, a pound of flesh?
    (And then you spin your complete idiocy into a rah-rah moment for bloggers. Nice try.)
    You’re confusing the individual blogger with the medium. The virtue of the medium is the virtually immediate corrective process, which we’ve seen in action here.
    By the way, we’ll trust that you’re being emphatic even_if_you_don’t_use_the_underscores.

  • Jos Bleau

    Can anyone explain how the comments section of a conspiracy-minded far-left wing blog became an assignment editor for the New York Times?
    Isn’t the point of the New York Times and the whole legacy journalism establishment that they are (or are supposed to be) execizing better news judgement than blog tolls?

  • EverKarl

    Oh, I get it: If some site like ITM, NRO or BuzzMachine writes about the baseless smear to debunk it, it’s exactly the same as making the smear or recirculating it in a non-judgmental, “gee, I wonder if it’s true” sort of way. Right.
    Oh, I get it: the recirculation of this smear by the NYT and the BBC is no big deal because terrorists don’t read the NYT or the BBC. Terrorists and their supporters don’t use the internet to collect information. Right.
    Oh, I get it: Jeff is being melodramatic. As though Ali hasn’t publicly stated that he and his family believed they were threatened by the circulation of the rumor. Right.
    Oh, I get it: This is not as bad as the Plame outing. Except that Plame was a known CIA employee in the U.S. And that the innuendo about the ITM bloggers is baseless and they live in a war zone. Right.
    BTW, if this smear was true, would any of the regular trolls come here to demand that Boxer be jailed for naming covert CIA agents? Just wondering.
    I’m also wondering why I almost never see the trolls who pop up in threads like this ever express the idea that having free elections in Iraq would be a good thing, and that accusing people of being CIA agents without any proof is a bad thing. But I doubt I’ll be getting a good answer. Oh, to foreclose some needless debate, I’m exempting Faramin who believes that there will be no free elections so long as the evil Bush mafia is involved.

  • DensityDuck

    Hubris: When I see a post without any kind of emphasis marks, I think of someone staring straight ahead and speaking in a monotone.
    >I’m also wondering why I almost never see the
    >trolls who pop up in threads like this ever
    >express the idea that having free elections in
    >Iraq would be a good thing,
    What the hell does _that_ have to do with anything?
    >If some site like ITM, NRO or BuzzMachine writes
    >about the baseless smear to debunk it…
    ehehehh. That’s not what’s happening here. This is Jeff Jarvis reprinting an article and screaming about how each line is LIES, ALL LIES! AND HE DON’T NEED TO BOTHER PUTTING UP SUBSTANTIATIVE REBUTTALS BECAUSE THEY’RE *ALL* *DAMN* *LIES*! Gosh, that MSM, _what_ will they do _next_? Oh wait, I published these guys’ names a while ago, just like I’m getting upset about this article doing? Oops. I’ll mention it in passing, at the bottom of the post, with a note that people can go look for it themselves if they (snerk snerk) _want_ to, or something. That oughta be enough!
    As others have pointed out, if you _read_ the article, instead of the excerpts reprinted (without permission, no doubt) you’d see that the author is hardly advocating a position–on either side. But from the looks of the comments here, the prevailing attitude is “if you aren’t with us then you’re against us.” But hey! That’s not partisan or anything, right?! Only the MSM is partisan and biased.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/4621394 Matthew Goggins

    Mork:
    Ms. Boxer used innuendo to slander Iraq the Model.
    If they get kidnapped, whether or not they get beheaded could very well depend on what the New York Times or the BBC have to say about them. A story in an Iraqi newspaper based either directly or indirectly on Ms. Boxer’s story could very well prompt someone to target Iraq the Model for assassination.
    Ms. Boxer’s story would have been an excellent story if she had chosen to emphasize facts over rumor. She could have trotted out the innuendo, debunked it, and everyone would be congratulating, not castigating her.
    As it stands, she needs to get out a “clarifying” article out pronto. Why? Because like it or not, the New York Times is still widely used as and considered to be a paper of record.
    Jeff,
    Your correction was a model of class and grace. Keep on rolling, sir.

  • EverKarl

    Density Duck,
    Reading is a skill. Jeff actually wrote (as opposed to words you’re sticking in his mouth) that Boxer’s piece was “irresponsible, sloppy, lazy, inaccurate, incomplete, exploitive, biased, and — worst of all — dangerous, putting the lives of its subjects at risk.”
    Boxer’s treatment of a completely basesless innuendo that the ITM bloggers are CIA cut-outs as anything but a baseless innuendo is all of those things. If you were at all familiar with the background of this story, you would know that it has been rebutted many times over — depsite the fact that the burden of proof rightly rests on those making the charge.
    Nevertheless, to cite one example for your education, this smear was based in part on the fact that the ITM blog was hosted on a server in Abilene, Texas. That server is owned by Blogspot, which also hosts Riverbend’s anti-U.S. blog. It’s tinfoil-hat garbage that would be laughable, but for the fact that it increases the danger to these bloggers and their families, which brings me to point number two.
    “>I’m also wondering why I almost never see the
    >trolls who pop up in threads like this ever
    >express the idea that having free elections in
    >Iraq would be a good thing,
    What the hell does _that_ have to do with anything?”
    The NYT and the BBC are assisting leftist smear jobs and endangering Iraqis running for election. Thus, it may not be an accident that some people who want to defend the smear or attack Jeff instead to change the subject seem to be uninterested in free elections in Iraq. That’s what I (and Jeff, based on his prior posts) care about — helping Iraqis build a free society. Others launch baseless smears against Iraqis putting their lives on the line for this goal. Still others treat such smears as though there might be something to them, increasing the risk to these Iraqis and their families. And still others apparently miss all of these points altogether.
    Some people want to be willfully ignorant of these points and quote only part of a sentence. For example, the entire sentence you quoted stated:
    “I’m also wondering why I almost never see the trolls who pop up in threads like this ever express the idea that having free elections in Iraq would be a good thing, and that accusing people of being CIA agents without any proof is a bad thing.”
    It seems that you have no response to the part you snipped, which is the crucial point: “Accusing people of being CIA agents without any proof is a bad thing.” That’s been Jeff’s point from well before the NYT ran Boxer’s piece of trash. It saddens me that there seems to be a certain percentage of people who can read Jeff expressing this opinion and have their response be to defend the smear or to attack Jeff. Such people are exposing much more about themselves than they realize.

  • http://troyworman.blogspot.com Troy Worman

    I was going to write something about this, but I think I will just point to Mr. Jarvis…

  • DensityDuck

    >Reading is a skill.
    Damn straight. So is knowing what parts to cut out of what you read, and posting a rant based on just those excerpts. (And I can practically _see_ the impulse crystallizing in your brain, so let me say “Pot. Kettle. Black.” so that you can get the cutesy out of your system.)
    >Boxer’s treatment of a completely basesless
    >innuendo that the ITM bloggers are CIA cut-outs
    >as anything but a baseless innuendo is all of
    >those things.
    In other words, you’re agreeing with me that the primary reason for attacking this piece is that it does not agree with you. “This writer has the _gall_ to mention that some people want to establish the provenance of these pro-American Iraqis,” you are saying, “and therefore it’s an attack job worthy of nothing but scorn.” You want to talk about fallacies? You’re engaging in the classic Internet-debate “tactic” of labeling anyone who disagrees with you as a troublemaker who’s just saying things to start an argument.
    >Nevertheless, to cite one example for your
    >education, this smear was based in part on the
    >fact that the ITM blog was hosted on a server in
    >Abilene, Texas.
    The “smear” in the article doesn’t smear very much. The article brings up the name “CIATech Solutions” (on its own; it’s not quoted from Martini Republic, though Jarvis’s writeup gives the impression that it was) and two paragraphs later describes what it means, and how it has nothing to do with the government. Everything else mentioned in the article is vague speculation which could be performed by anyone with a brain.
    But you already knew that, right? After all, you’ve got reading skills!
    (As a side note, Jarvis’s post also fails to mention that the article itself debunks the CIATech angle, giving only an oblique reference to relying on Ali.)
    >If you were at all familiar with the background
    >of this story, you would know that it has been
    >rebutted many times over…
    And if you were at all familiar with the text of the article, you would know that it didn’t lead to the conclusion that the three founders of Iraq The Model were frauds. As I said earlier in the thread, it was about as substantiative and insightful as your average blog post. For Christ’s sake, it’s in the Arts section! It’s not intended to be a hard-hitting piece of action reportage that blows the lid off the seamy underbelly of, well, _whatever_! Anyone who treated this as a primary source would be an idiot. (Yeah, I know that some people are. THEY’RE IDIOTS.)
    >Jeff actually wrote (as opposed to words
    > you’re sticking in his mouth)
    Ho, ho, ho. You’ve never been exposed to the concept of satirical exaggeration? (Oh, but of course you have! YOU’VE GOT READING SKILLS!)
    Although Jarvis’s post is littered with hyperbole. “I’m in the biz, Boxer, I know how the game is played.” “…irresponsible, sloppy, lazy, inaccurate, incomplete, exploitive, biased, and — worst of all — dangerous, putting the lives of its subjects at risk.” “All you have is the rantings of one known internet troll whose spittle-specked babblings have been dismissed in saner quarters. But you hang your lead on that. I hope that is all you end up hanging.”
    Not to mention the fact that someone who is oh-so-superior to the MSM has been corrected for doing THE VERY SAME THING he takes the reporter to task for doing, and his correction is AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST. See, this is the internet, where the citizens have control over what is displayed on their websites. That means that when something you write isn’t correct, YOU GO BACK AND FIX IT. (And you add a disclaimer, saying “this was wrong before; here’s what I said, and here’s how it wasn’t right.) On the other hand, the only way Jarvis could fix this would be to delete the post entirely. Wheee! What a predicament!
    >The NYT and the BBC are assisting leftist smear
    >jobs and endangering Iraqis running for election.
    Ahhahaha. Buddy, that article was light-years from a smear job. For one thing, a smear job wouldn’t have included SYMPATHETIC QUOTES FROM THE SUBJECT.
    The reason I quoted only one part of your post was that I didn’t see why you were using the Iraqi elections as a way to dump on someone who thought that Jarvis was acting like a bull going after a red flag. Now I get it–you’re trying to suggest that Iraq The Model is somehow going to usher in a new era entirely through its own actions, and that nobody should ever be allowed to say anything even vaguely negative about it.
    Oh, and since you’re so smug about me not quoting the entire run-on sentence, I’ll bring in the last bit. I’m not trying to suggest that I think Martini Republic is right and Iraq The Model is a plant. (Do I get to complain about “putting words in my mouth” or is that only you?) I’m not discussing that aspect of this situation at all! I’m agreeing with others who think that the general response to this article is entirely out of proportion to its substance, and is probably based as much on solidarity with Jarvis as anything else.

  • EverKarl

    Density Duck,
    Sorry you find my writing “cutesy.” Maybe I should put more things IN ALL CAPS, WHICH IS LIKE THINKING SHOUTING MAKES YOUR ARGUMENT MORE COGENT.
    Any way, you wrote:
    “The ‘smear’ in the article doesn’t smear very much. The article brings up the name ‘CIATech Solutions’ (on its own; it’s not quoted from Martini Republic, though Jarvis’s writeup gives the impression that it was) and two paragraphs later describes what it means, and how it has nothing to do with the government. Everything else mentioned in the article is vague speculation which could be performed by anyone with a brain.”
    “It doesn’t smear very much.” Maybe that should be the NYT’s new slogan, eh? The article speculates as to whether the ITMers are CIA plants, and by your own admission, has nothing to back it up, which is why your suggestion that my problem is some sort of factual disagreement is bizzare. The fact that the NYT piece does not identify the source of this baseless smear, let alone examine the fools making it is one of the major flaws in the piece, because it doesn’t allow the reader to consider the source.
    You then wrote:
    “I’m not trying to suggest that I think Martini Republic is right and Iraq The Model is a plant. (Do I get to complain about “putting words in my mouth” or is that only you?) I’m not discussing that aspect of this situation at all! I’m agreeing with others who think that the general response to this article is entirely out of proportion to its substance, and is probably based as much on solidarity with Jarvis as anything else.”
    No you’re not discussing that aspect of it at all, although that’s the most important point to those of us who are objecting to the NYT and BBC stories. Nor did I write that you were defending the smear. If I had to put you into one of the categories I described it would be the person ignoring the important point, which is — again, by your own admission — exactly what you did. You may not think this sort of drive-by journalism is dangerous to the ITM bloggers, but they do and they live there.
    My point all along, from near the top of this thread (#14), is that there would inevitably be people who want to ignore the problem and find ways to attack Jeff on his own blog for pointing it out. It happens every time Jeff blogs on these subjects. And cutesy is about all I can muster for such people.
    BTW, I would not be surprised if Jeff takes this as seriously as he does because of his prior online and f2f relationship with ITM bloggers. Indeed, I would be surprised if he did not. If someone I knew was having their life and the lives of family members endangered by tinfoil hat-wearing neanderthals and MSM outlets that should know better, I would be pretty upset myself.

  • Mr Peebody

    Martini Republic is a fake blogg run by the anti war crowd. They are not real.

  • Tom

    Nice distraction from the real issue which is that the US invaded Iraq illegally and will be destroyed for having done so. Yep that’s right: the US is all but finished. All but finished. Read ‘em and weep, you bunch of sorry losers.

  • Angus Jung

    “‘Tis but a flesh wound! Come back here, I’ll bite your knees off!”

  • http://bushout.blogspot.com gandhi

    I was busy burying my father this week so I have not had time to join this debate. Besides, I have been banned from commenting at Iraq The Model and my comments at Ali’s Free Iraqi blog are being deleted.
    Here are my questions for the Fadhil brothers:
    1. Were the Fahdil brothers aware that Spirit of America was set up and supported by Cyber Century Forum, a group dedicated to spreading US influence worldwide, particularly covert cyber-intelligence measures?
    2. Were you aware that Cyber Century Forum holds 100K stocks in oil companies Schlumberger Ltd and Transocean Sedco? As Iraqis, (supposedly) – do you have a problem with that?
    3. Did you know that 2 of the 3 members of Cyber Century Forum are also members of a top-level think-tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which is also dedidicated to spreading US influence? Do you have a problem with that?
    4. Who are the Americans trying to use ITM for partisan political or other purposes, whom Ali said “made me feel I’m on the wrong side here”? Why did Ali not go to the USA? What happened over there? (Note that Ali’s comments came BEFORE his brothers met with Bush and Wolfowitz, so the NYT explanation is not valid.)
    5. How do you expect to garner support from ordinary Iraqis during the election process if you do not even try to refute these very serious allegations? Why don’t you just come right out and admit that you are working hand-in-glove with the CIA?
    6. Are you aware that Spirit of America is a client of Direct Impact, a “grassroots marketing” organisation, whose marketing involves creating a “Buzz” by getting seemingly ordinary people (or better yet, influential people) to promote a product by word-of-mouth. Do you receive any money from Direct Marketing?
    7. Did you know that Lady Diana Dougan, one of three members of Cyber Century forum, is also on the board of directors at Qualcomm, a US company which won the contract to deliver Iraq’s lucrative new mobile phone network (despite the questionable bidding process and Qualcomm’s unpopular CDMA technology).