January 12, 2009

"I don’t think journalists should be anywhere allowed war."

"I mean, you guys report where our troops are at. You report what’s happening day to day. You make a big deal out of it. I think it’s asinine. You know, I liked back in World War I and World War II, when you’d go to the theater and you’d see your troops on, you know, the screen, and everyone would be real excited and happy for’em. Now everyone’s got an opinion and wants to downer – and down soldiers. You know, American soldiers or Israeli soldiers. I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting. You know, war is hell. And if you’re gonna sit there and say, 'Well look at this atrocity,' well you don’t know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it."

Joe the Plumber, in Israel, shaming the journalists.

I'm sure the reaction to this will range all the way from idiot to genius.


Meade said...

And if only he would get his butt back here to Ohio and get my main drain unclogged, I promise you... to me, he'd be an idiot savant.

Lawgiver said...

Say it ain't so Joe.

Zeb Quinn said...

I'm sure the reaction to this will range all the way from idiot to genius

It's neither. It's a statement of the unvarnished how it is, expressed by many others at many other times.

Harsh Pencil said...

As long as he doesn't actually participate in faking a blacked out parliament, helping to stage fake atrocity pictures, photoshopping bombed citiscapes, and so on, he's doing better than most of the reporters on this conflict.

Bissage said...

War reporting is too important to be left to the reporters.

EDH said...

Was that JTP's actual syntax, and did the reporter intentionally not clean it up?

Looks like this is war.

Xmas said...

Immediate reaction to the video clip...

It's an AP reporter (and at least a dozen others) following Joe the Plumber around while he does things reporters should be doing. Like talking to the Israeli bomb disposal squad.

Joe is not the most articulate of folks though. I think he's a bit flustered because the reporters are following him around.

Zeb Quinn said...

We now see the matrix being populated, with the artful dodgers and the inartful confronters leading the way.

traditionalguy said...

What's the chance Tina Fey can work up a JTP skit soon? Joe is, as you say, an idiot-genius like a lot of people I know and love. Maybe the new Enlightened Leader and friends can put in a Cap and Trade system for Idiot-Genius free speech so the planet will not stop too long watching this train wreck happen right before our Internet Eyes.

garage mahal said...

Wonder if he means he shouldn't be over there covering the war, or, that he isn't a real journalist so it's okay. In both cases I think he's correct.

AlphaLiberal said...

What a horse's ass! He thinks the American people should be fed propaganda and lies, and not have actual reporting.

He's against freedom of the press!

There is your typical modern radical conservative. If they had their way the Constitution would be gutted, the freedom of the press and of speech repealed and clerics put in high government positions.

And, of course, they don't think all Americans are equal, witness their war on homosexuals.

Conservatives have abandoned American values of governance in favor of an authoritarian model based on narrow mindedness.

Paul said...

"What a horse's ass! He thinks the American people should be fed propaganda and lies, and not have actual reporting. "

Because the press would never lie or dispense propaganda.

You are either terminally naive or stupid beyond belief.

Or just a cheap lyin' son of a bitch.

TosaGuy said...

Alpha Liberal is the horse's ass on this....immediately jumping to contorted, hyper partisan conclusion.

JTP does have a hangup with the way journalism is presently performed in this country. He does wax a bit too nostalgic for the so-called good old days of journalism. However, his basic premise is that journalism once had a basic respect for the US and the military, however, now under the guise of "objectivity", journalists only seek to report negative news in a manner meant to push their own agenda. It is no longer the case of simply reporting facts so we the people can decide them. The press has a tremendous right cited in the Constitution, however, they have a solomn responsibility and many journalists have shrugged that part.

While JTP probably has a big chip on his shoulder regarding the press due to the way they treated him for simply asking a question of THE ONE, he does hold a position not unlike many Americans--a loss of respect for the institution of journalism.

traditionalguy said...

Alpha liberal: FYI there is no war on homosexuals. There is a war going very well for homosexuals seeking an approval from the culture rather than just a cruel neutrality. Why can't we all just get along? I agree with all the rest of your comment, though it was harsh, it was good.

downtownlad said...

Are we surprised?

The implication in his statement is that the Israeli war is OUR war, and American reporters are unpatriotic for reporting on Israel's war. WTF???

I'm Jewish and I happen to support Israel in this matter. But to say that Americans automatically have to side with Israel if they don't want to be considered unpatriotic is disturbing to say the least.

downtownlad said...

There's a war against gay people. Gays can't marry. Gays are not allowed to adopt in many states. Gays can't have contracts with each other in Virginia. Gays can't serve in the military. Christians are allowed to fire gay people from their jobs, just for being gay, but gays can't fire Christians for being Christian. Sorry - that's not "neutral".

garage mahal said...

Conservatism 2.0...the next generation.

Matt Eckert said...

Thank God the new president is going to fix all that.

I mean he has the votes.

Original George said...

Two excellent pieces of front-line reporting:

1) The New War for Hearts and Minds by Robert Pelton in the new Men's Journal. (Not available on line).

Summary: US strategy is to send civilian social scientists into Afghan villages. (Think: Community Development.) The reality? Troops live in walled isolated forts watching TV. Randomly mortar hillsides. Travel in air-conditioned science-fictiony hermetically-sealed vehicles like the one in the movie "Aliens." Go to villages. Hand out gifts. Beat up people. (At night, we sneak into the same villages to kidnap people.) No young men in villages.....because? They're in the hills. All the elders/fathers are on their side.

Interesting anecdote: What games do Afghan boys like to play? They catch sparrows. Twist their necks to kill them. Then use sharp-edged stones to decapitate them. Such children do not get gifts from visiting GIs. Early childhood-intervention needed.

2) Obama's Worst Pakistan Nightmare. Sanger. NYT Mag.

Summary: We don't know how many nukes they have, where they are, whether they have PALs (fail safe devices), and to what degree the military is infiltrated with fanatics.

Great anecdote: Pakistani PM comes to Bush, tells him his army will hit a terror base. But Bush already has intercepts of Pakistani military telling terrorists to leave their hideout. So..Pakistani PM is "incapable of keeping a secret and incapable of cracking down on his military and intelligence units. Indeed, Gilani may not even have been aware that his gift was a charade: Bush and Hadley may well have known more about the military’s actions than the prime minister himself."

Conclusion: The only way to win is to declare Afghanistan and Pakistan U.S. territories. Offer free land there to U.S. homesteaders and also unemployed Mexican, Central American and Chinese workers. Air-lift these unemployed settlers into both countries by the tens of thousands. Put Eastwood in charge. Provide cavalry support. Give blankets as gifts. Relocate infant to deserving parents in U.S.

Tibore said...

I see where Joe the Plumber (JtP) is going with this, but I think he's shot way to far beyond any decently analyzed point into the realm of excessive rhetoric with that statement. Col. David Hackworth once complained that too many reporters covering Gulf I just didn't know what the heck they were talking about, and his point, I think, is a bit clearer and on topic than JtP, despite being over a decade apart. Hackworth realized that there's a time gap between mission and perception of context by remote observers. Too many news organizations rush to print "occurrances" and "events", and unfortunately nowadays such reportage gets processed with all sorts of analysis added to them. Which is a mistake when the reporters and analysts are lacking the full context with which to judge what they're reporting on. An observation like that would be more on point than the hyperbolic indulgement that JtP engaged in.

I think JtP is correct, albeit obvious, in noting that too many journalists today all too often shape stories with their own views instead of trying to uncover narratives that are naturally inherent in the events. But his point needed to stop there; again, he ran with it too far and overshot fair analysis. Eisenhower well knew the importance of information distribution, and went to the lengths of calling reporters "quasi-members" of his staff. Since Vietnam, it's the reporters who've venemously rejected any such relationship, but they've done so at the cost of cohesive context comprehension. They now retail facts like a buffet, but good luck trying to comprehend the narrative from what they put out. Too often, you're stuck with the narrative generated either by an individual news agency or the one that flows from (for lack of a better term) the zeitgeist between reporters in the field and at headquarters, and editors/producers back home. You don't get one generated from the natural narrative flowing from complete analysis with enough facts and context on hand. The "first drafts" of history are increasingly written more sloppily, and less note is given to full contextual analyses of events that take place after the events, as the "first drafts" are now taken as gospel and dogma by interested parties irrespective of their lack of context and, in too many cases, basic accuracy This is to the detriment of history. You see such misuse in 9/11 myth making, from the misinterpretation of the initial reporting of passenger victims lists as excluding hijackers (taken by conspiracy peddlers to mean the hijackers were never on the flights to begin wtih) to reports of "hearing explosions" (twisted to mean "hearing bombs", not parts of the structures giving way, or electronic devices such as transformers exploding), and so on. The way news reports are used nowadays underscores with emphasis the need for these firsts drafts of history to become even more factually and contextually accurate, but the race to be the first to dump information renders the process as ultimately less, not more accurate than in the past.

JtP's overstating what is otherwise an obvious observation: Too many reporters and news organizations in general - not all of them, but too many of them - are about as competent to report on war as lifestyle writers are to report on sports, yet they pontificate from a position of authority anyway. Whatever experience many of them have with the topic is often accidental, and way more often than not terribly superficial. Too often, whatever accuracy any of these reporters have, whether accidental or generated truly professionally, is rendered moot by whatever context-lacking processing occurs upstream of the reporter.

So what should be done? Simple: More experience with what the military does is (it might be useful to hire even more writers who've had military service; this occurs, but at a sadly low rate), and more emphasis on accuracy and context development taken at the cost of less "gotcha-ism" and agenda-driven reporting. On top of that, even more and better attempts to identify where bias colors perception, and moves to eliminate that (it's inexcusable that too much Israeli reporting ultimately is generated by local stringers who have demonstrated themselves to be too far biased towards Hamas (in Gaza) and Hezbollah (in other areas), and it's doubly inexcusable that such reportage is not well identified as such). Let the narrative flow from increasing understanding of the event; don't stamp it with an analysis and then shape subsequent stories to fit that.

JtP could have said something truly fine and cutting here, but he let his rhetorical impulse run too loose. It's now too easy to dismiss the point, and it's ultimately his fault for not developing it in favor of saying something splashy.

LarsPorsena said...

"What a horse's ass! He thinks the American people should be fed propaganda and lies, and not have actual reporting."

Thank God there's still The BBC, Reuters, CNN, where we can get straight news unfettered from any ideological filtering.

Henry Buck said...

An idiot reporting from a war zone? I expected "Ashley Banfield" and "MSNBC" in the tags for this post.

JD said...


Fisking time:

(Ann -- sorry for the threadjack)

1. Gays can't marry.

True, but can have most benefits of marriage through civil union statutes. Also, is this the rampart upon which gays want to make their valiant stand?

2. Gays are not allowed to adopt in many states.

The real question is whether the number of states which ban gay adoption has grown or shrunk in the past 10-15 years. Florida may be the outlier and its recent attempts at banning adoption may not survive constitutional scrutiny.

3. Gays can't have contracts with each other in Virginia.

Huh? You are saying that a gay Virginia homeowner can't hire a gay contractor to remodel his kitchen?

4. Gays can't serve in the military.

Gays most certainly can serve in the military. Gays can even declare their sexual preference under certain conditions. What gays (and non-gays) cannot engage in is "homosexual acts". In other words, you don't get kicked out because your heart goes "pitter-patter" for someone of the same sex. You get kicked out for shtooping someone of the same sex.

5. Christians are allowed to fire gay people from their jobs, just for being gay, but gays can't fire Christians for being Christian.

Does this include states in which employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is banned? It seems that this ought to be the gay rampart.

Oh, BTW, pot -- meet kettle. Gays may not be able to "fire" Christians, but they certainly have been able to hound Mormons out of their jobs. Under your logic, official job termination because of a disfavored belief or status = bad (which I agree with); mob demands that someone leave his/her job because of a disfavored belief or status = good.

This is not a war on gays by conservatives or the "religious right" (remember, conservatives, by definition, do not take the offense, but play defense) but is a war on traditional values and religious institutions, as well as a war of normalizing deviancy by gay community.

tim maguire said...

The first and most obvious clue about how someone feels about the person they're quoting--do they clean up the quote or leave in all the ticks and broken phrases?

I take it you don't think much of him.

As for me, ehh, I don't expect much. Here he's just laying out his opinion about the other journalists. And, what do you know! it's the opinion we expected him to have and, coincidentally perhaps, it's the opinion I and many others have. Roughly.

Henry said...

There is your typical modern radical conservative.

From the Pirates of Penzance, yes?

I am the very model of a modern right-wing radical,
My opinionations from the ground are evidently notable,
I know that war is hell, and quote the fights historical,
From World War I to World War II, in simple rank numerical;
I'm very well acquainted too with matters wholly practical,
I'm good on indoor plumbing, the strategic and the tactical,
About the best technology, I'm hip to what is on the scene,
And will fill you in with cheerful facts 'bout cross-linked polyethylene.

For my military knowledge, though I'm plucky and adventury,
Only reaches backwards to the middle of this January;
But still in matters sensical both common, non-, and quotable,
I am the very model of a modern right-wing radical.

Henry said...

Here's the B-side:

I am the very model of a modern leftwing journalist,
My opinionations from the ground are better when I'm halfway pissed,
I know that war is hell, and quote the fights historical,
From Vietnam to Vietnam, in order categorical;

You know the rest.

AlphaLiberal said...

I went back and watched the whole JtP video. And, I've gotta say the guy's a joke. In over his head. Can't even figure out what questions to ask when in the Sderot used rocket warehouse.

So, I'll just try to laugh at Joe more.

dtl, I'd add to your list on the war on gays (from line in the "Culture Wars,") violence and intolerance and discrimination.

Look, when you want to strip a class of people of rights enjoyed by everyone else, you're declaring war on them. No matter how much you fluff it up with "hate the act, not the actor BS."

You're trying to make them second class citizens with a separate package of rights than enjoyed by everyone else. That notion, alone, should be rejected out of hand.

OK. that's a tangent.
If your church doesn't like gays, don't marry them. But don't use government to ram you religious doctrine down everyone else's throat, for Pete's sake. (and then claim you're defenders of freedom!!)

Henry said...

DTL and Alpha -- If you really want to mock Joe the Plumber as a war correspondent, who might want to think about your own use of the word "war."

Pogo said...

It's a modern sin to say the truth out loud, but sometime the obvious must be stated.

And for doing precisely that, and repeatedly so, this mere plumber will not be forgiven.

Sissy Willis said...

It's the authenticity, stupid

former law student said...

""I don’t think journalists should be anywhere allowed war.""

Holy fractured syntax, Batman!

I think JtP made this famous translation for a Japanese video game:

In A.D. 2101
War was beginning.
Captain: What happen ?
Mechanic: Somebody set up us the bomb.
CATS: All your base are belong to us.
CATS: You are on the way to destruction.
Captain: What you say !!
CATS: You have no chance to survive make your time.

One of the classic Photoshop compilations:

Howard said...

I'll hold out any crit of JtP once we hear his reports from Gaza... then we can tell if he is fair and balanced.

Ann Althouse said...

"The first and most obvious clue about how someone feels about the person they're quoting--do they clean up the quote or leave in all the ticks and broken phrases? I take it you don't think much of him."

I copied the transcription at the site I linked to. I checked it for accuracy. It is kind of mean....

But have you ever heard Rush Limbaugh play his Obama "uh" montage or his Caroline Kennedy "you know" montage? That's much more unfair.

Anyway, JtP can prove himself by what he actually says. I think his comment made a certain about of sense and was in other ways really stupid. It is what it is.

tim maguire said...

No, I don't listen to Rush, but I've seen that done elsewhere--always by people mocking Obama's speaking abilities (FWIW, I think Dave Barry nailed it--he sounds great but when he's done you can't remember anything he said).

I'm having trouble understanding all the wringing hands about Joe (not from you, I mean generally). Just let it play out. If he flops, he'll go away quickly. If he does well, then his critics look stupid. So they're setting themselves up unnecessarily.

1jpb said...

I am not impressed w/ JTP.

But, I also didn't think Palin was the second coming of Reagan or Thatcher.

And, I didn't need a day or two to realize that the smart move was to come out against the Magic song's position as part of the RNC debate.

I'm really striking out w/ the modern GOP. Obviously that means there's something wrong w/ me.

According to some conservatives that might make me a 100% certified classist, elitist librul dedicated to the destruction of America.

The mainstream conservative thinking, that I've heard from a lot of sources, is that the librul media tries to silence Palin and JTP. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

These two are probably the first things a lot of Americans think of when they think of the GOP. So, the GOP supporters can be happy knowing these two have broken through, and they (and Rush/Hannity) are very high profile standard bearers for the GOP.

I'm sure the libruls are really upset about this.

Ha, ha, ha.


Liberal online (and off) sources spend a lot of time replaying (often complete form w/o any editing) interviews w/ Palin and JTP. They play all of their unedited answers, and let folks come to their own conclusions, just as conservatives would presumably wish for. Wonder why the libruls are doing this? [Not really.]

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.


I think JTP, Palin, Rush, and Hannity should be the go-to folks for GOP reactions to all issues.


If he flops, he'll go away quickly.

No!! He must not go away. That would be a victory for the evil media journalists. Conservatives must continue to support and promote JTP!!!! He's a key factor that will lead to electoral victory [for one of the two major parties].

Trooper York said...

I continue to not understand why these liberals get upset about some plumber's crack.

ZZMike said...

I'm all for anyone going places and telling us what they find. But Mr Plumber does not excel in the communicating arts.

The video clip had a sort of Woody Allen weirdness about it: it was reporting about someone who was supposed to be reporting. Maybe after a while, Mr Plumber will be able to whittle down his "lots of questions" into a few good ones, but that segment wasa colplete waste of the Israeli guy's time.

You want real reporting from over there, you read Michael Yon or Michael Totten.

It makes me wonder about Roger L. Simon's judgement in hiring him.

I'm with Tim Maguire - a few weeks from now, he'll be back home.

JAL said...

Second to Althouse on the comparison of Wurzelbacher to Obama and Kennedy.

He's not the first person to twist the words in a sentence, but here it proves he's an idiot.

What I think worth noting is that this guy who probably never took a public speaking course in his life, and until the fall of 2008, probably never said anything to a crowd bigger than 100 people, can actually talk WITHOUT a TELEPROMPTER without the pathetic, absolutely pathetic, uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh um um uh uh of Obama or youknowyouknow youknow yuouknow of Caroline Schlossberg.

But it must be that the latter is okay for bright liberals, because even though those folks have trouble talking everyone knows they are Democrats who graduated from the best private schools and they are very. smart.

Why don't the reporters do some real reporting and leave Joe to do his thing?

Typical. They can't be bothered to figure out what the real story is. Any of them there when the rockets were falling daily in Sredot last fall? Any of them care?

They can't figure out there is a real story they need to be doing. Trying to trivialize JW and report their unbiased [cough] take on his perspective just continues the personally destructive tack they took last fall.

It will backfire.

While JW does not represent the Republican Party he is more like the "average Joe" than a lot of people want to recognize, and for good or bad, the lack of "nuance" is at least refreshing. There will be no double think to descramble.

I do not watch any coverage on national TV of the war in Gaza. The media is simply no longer trustworthy. Period.

Cedarford said...

Well, so far, JTP, like Palin, is not aging well with the general public after beleagured conservatives raised them as idols.
They appear out of their depths to all but their true believers. Not fountains of commonsense wisdom, but spouters of stuff an unemployed worker in Tulsa with lack of much knowledge about anything, but ticked off about everything, deep into his drink - would say as he vents to those he thinks are listening in a bar.
You know..."Knowin' stuff and all that thar book larnin' don't count like iffen you're right in your heart...you betcha!"

However, it is nice to know the Left has insincere lying idiots like Alpha Liberal to sort of balance things out:

AlphaLiberal said...
What a horse's ass! He thinks the American people should be fed propaganda and lies, and not have actual reporting.

He's against freedom of the press!

There is your typical modern radical conservative. If they had their way the Constitution would be gutted,

In the Constitution, the goals are stated in the Preamble. Everything else is just verbage inserted 225 years ago and in subsequent Amerndments to get us to that goal, after the 1st try at a Constitution, The Articles of Confederation - proved a miserable failure.
In war, we sacrifice the most basic liberties - life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness....Not to mention peripheral crap in later Amendments like freedom to write or email whatever we want from war zones, being free on military bases of searches without warrant, enemy soldiers and explosive factories being subject to "due process".
Alpha is an insincere liar or an idiot. Possibly both. "Joe" or for that matter CNN - is reporting from a country at war. With involuntarily conscripted folks as well as volunteers willing to sacrifice for their highest duty to nation - deprived of their liberties, their pursuit of happiness, possibly even their lives with no trial or due process involved. Let alone "right of reporters to endanger them".

Its war, and censorship is always prevalent, limits on reporter movement is operative, and the only reason reporters are allowed is to the extent they are judged to serve the national purpose in wartime.
Lots of reporters get killed & maimed in war, and like soldiers, unless they were harmed by enemy acting in an unlawful manner...they have zero recourse to their "Constitutional Rights" to seek legal justice against the enemy that got to them. Or the much lesser "grievance" of military that limit their movements, hold or censor their reports..

Pogo said...

Don't bother talking about Hamas when you can critique the messenger.

I haven't watched a single newscast since about September. I have bought maybe 7 or 8 Wall Street journals in that time, but haven't read a single paper otherwise. What's the point?

Hell, I even gave up on the local TV weather (I mean goddamit come on, all I want to know is "do I need to get up early and shovel or not?", but noooo you have to tell me about Omaha or Houston or someplace else I don't live first.

But now you understand my plight.
They can't even do the weather or Hamas right, the easiest shit in the world to do, so screw 'em.

garage mahal said...

Geez Pogo, outside of maybe 5 bloggers everyone in the media and Congress will utter nothing about the conflict other than Israel can do whatever the hell it wants, anytime it wants. You can't get any lopsided that that, can you?

Pogo said...

"everyone in the media"?
Names, please.
Some of the blogs are showing the usual CNN/BBC Palestinian propaganda shit, so you must mean someone else. I was in my car Sunday and my wife found NPR only to catch some inane "humanity" BS about Israel's bombing campaign, nothing negative about Hamas, so I turned it to music, and Google news this morning had one of those patented Pali outstretched-arm-women bawling about how the mean Israelis are bombing the bomb factories (that happen to be inside schools and such).

Palladian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Palladian said...

"FWIW, I think Dave Barry nailed it--he sounds great but when he's done you can't remember anything he said"

Obama speeches are like Ambient music.

Except, unlike Obama's speeches, I can actually remember some melodies from "Music for Airports".

AlphaLiberal said...

Ha-ha. Joe conntinues to play the fool, demanding an Israeli reporter bias his reporting in a PRAVDA-esque style:

Joe The Plumber Exposes Blatantly Pro-Hamas Israeli Reporter.

"What I can provide are actual real questions and get real answers."

OK, Joe. Let us all sit at your feet.

"And uh, not giving it any kind of slants."

Ha-ha! He demands a slant then says this!

traditionalguy said...

Since Harry Truman tricked his sec'y of State Geo. Marshal into suporting a Jewish State in about 18% of Palestine [the other 82% was assigned to Jordan] which was then passed at the UN in 1947, has there been a single Palestinian group which which has not cooperated with the Arab states to exterminate the Jew in Israel. Harry Truman had more guts than anyone in the US Gov't.. has had since 1947. The strange spectacle of JTP is like watching the mid-western rube Truman all over again.Maybe his lack of skill and experience is not the issue that counts. Truman made everyone from Japan's emperor to Joe Stalin tothe Arab League come up short by always seeing the goal thru the fog of political pressures.

Michael said...

Zeb Quinn said..."It's neither. It's a statement of the unvarnished how it is, expressed by many others at many other times."

Yeah, why can't we just watch it in a movie theater?

And...gosh, when he gets back I hope he can be a regular contributor here.

He fits the "dolt" mode required.

Michael said...

It really says something about a blog site where a majority of the contributors think Joe (not really a plumber) The Plumber voices his opinions about something so serious and complicated as what is occurring...and AGREE.

This is a collection of the dumbest and most shallow people I've ever encountered in my life.