MONDAY’S LETTERS: Gordon Trumpets the Threat From Iran, ‘Rumbo’ Reflections, Howell and ‘Mercenaries’

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By: E&P Staff

In today’s letters, readers react to Michael Gordon’s New York Times article over the weekend suggesting Iran was behind many of the attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, some thoughts on Deborah Howell’s reacton to Washington Post blogger William Arkin’s recent controversy over the word “mercenary,” and a note from an Illinois publisher about coverage of the deaths of Anna Nicole Smith and Jennifer Parcell.


On Michael Gordon’s Trumpeting of the Iranian Threat

Thank you so much for writing this piece so fast and getting it up so quickly. I read it early this AM and felt so helpless. I knew an email to the NYT wouldn’t help. It’s just unbelievable gall. Thank you. Thank you.

Janie Angus

I’d seen [Gordon’s] article myself and emailed Mr. Gordon that it seemed they were possibly being used again (I’m just a Times reader). I didn’t realize he was Miller’s co-author. He responded that I should desist from “ad hominem attacks” (I was polite but pointed) and become more informed and that the “Iraq situation is complex.” That you and your publication — what many would consider the Main Stream Media — are on top of this so quickly is really great.

Jackie Burns

It’s about time someone started talking about how “journalists” fail at reportage.?

To anyone who cares to look critically at media methods, the kinds of things you’ve mentioned in regard to a new push for another war are obvious.?

Please keep up the good work, and pass my compliments on to the editors and publisher. The contempt in which U.S. media hold their customers is appalling. Save us.

(I am a retired newspaper editor who reads your web site daily)

Bruce Humphrey

Thanks for the article [about] the reporter who cried wolf. This is important work to keep things in perspective. Too bad this story hasn’t made it to TV — I’ll keep watching.

John Herstek

Greg [Mitchell], what would you have done if you were President when 9/11 hit? You seem to be all-knowing … why don’t you run, so this country can live in peace ever after.

You spout numbers and 9/11 lost this many people in two hours. Would you move our brave men and women home so they can fight over here instead. The Evil is going to follow them right over to our shores.

Sylvia Fullerton

I’m so glad to see you have the courage and intelligence to print information contemptuous to this administration. I’ve been noticing it for years — I don’t think there is another “mainstream’ publication that, thankfully, toes the line less than you.

Geoff Finwicke

Thank you for going after Michael Gordon in regard to his slipshod writing for the NYT. It truly boggles the mind how selective this stuff is. Needless to say the U.S. people won’t hear about the caches of weapons that we virtually gave to the Iraqis when we didn’t guard them upon invasion. Nor will it be widely known about how we didn’t bother to track the actual distribution of OUR weapons in the training of Iraqi forces. You know, the Iraqi forces which are insanely corrupt and have death squads and militias operating within them who are killing both Iraqis and U.S. troops alike. Then there is the little piece about ethnic divisions in the region which Bush Co. are leaving out, or rather continue to leave out, of their selective strategies. If one were to actually do some research and get it into the press as to the virtual impossibility that Iran is solely responsible for said weapons distributions (because the militias are both Shia and Sunni in origin), well, then we’d have to take a good hard look at how Saudi Arabia is probably just as guilty at funding indiscriminate Sunni militias which kill Iraqis and U.S. Troops alike. And what — pray tell — is the likelihood of that with “W” and his daddy’s secretary of defense running the show? And what the hell was up w/ Cheney’s little summons to his masters in Saudi Arabia just a bit ago?Get on this, please!?

I have a brother in Iraq as it is and a brother-in-law who is being called up to do security patrols around Baghdad, in line with the surge. Too much is on the line for you folks not to go after this stuff. We should be in Afghanistan finishing the job before that country goes to hell as well. As it is, maybe by the time we get our troops out of Iraq (according to Bush’s policies), we’ll be just in time to march into a losing battle in Afghanistan.

Todd Jesness

Concerning the “Iranian” weapons in Iraq, it is good to see that ya’ll are, once again, not jumping on the alarmist bandwagon. I am a college student who is in no way affiliated with journalism, but I think that the news for the newsmakers, Editor & Publisher, of course, is absolutely the most intelligent, thanks again,

Chip Zuckerman
Portland Ore.

Thanks for pointing out Michael Gordon’s track record. I’d like to think that it will be noted in other media outlets, but I am not hopeful.

Rick Mercier


Rumbo Reflections

With all my respects, this article published on your website on Feb. 2, lacks totally comprehensive reporting.

The only source consulted is Edward Schumacher Matos. Not a word from former journalists fired from the newspapers, not a word from publishers competing with Rumbo in the cities where it is published, not a word from advertisers, etc, etc.

Your quote: “Rumbo can hardly be called a failure. Its 2006 revenues were up 40% from the year before, and as a weekly it won’t be burning through cash so rapidly.”

Rumbo is a BIG failure. The business plan started the opposite way. It began launching in four cities as a daily, full color, with a huge staff and big spendings, and finished the way it should have started: as a weekly and a very small staff.

To claim as a big asset the 40% raise in revenues from the year before is very weak. The newspaper is only two years old and its revenues before were in the red mark and the reason why it fired most of its staff was before the new investors expect them to stay in red should they keep their original big staff.

In any case, I am very dissapointed at this article and the Web sites/publications that publish this type of weak one-sided reporting. It lacks credibility. It sounds to me like a publisher making a favor to a friend in the business who still has the balls to say that he was ahead of his time.

Rumbo was a great project ran by uncapable executives.

Serious reporting consists in researching and using as many sources as possible.

Diego Aparicio


On Use of the Word ‘Mercenary’

In deconstructing the journalistic genealogy of blogging, Deborah Howell reveals some fine points about editing, and they are well taken [‘Wash Post’ Ombud Hits Handling of Blog Column, By E&P Staff: February 11, 2007 10:35 AM ET]. But content is another matter, as is meaning and even veracity. To suggest that an American soldier in Iraq has chosen to be a mercenary in most cases would be incorrect, and, therefore, would seem to be slanderous.

But these troops serve at the pleasure of the commander-in-chief, whose own intentions unfortunately may be questionable. In other words, American soldiers may serve in the spirit of patriotism, but their leaders may be using them in a mission that, in fact, is more mercenary than it is national defense per se. Then the dilemma devolves into false pretense, deception and evolving discord. And this question certainly is well within the purview of bloggers and traditional journalists alike to pursue, vigorously.

Richard Neubert
Falls Church, Va.


Re: Young Woman Meets Tragic End — No, It’s Not Anna Nicole

The Quad City Times, of Davenport, Iowa, carried the news of [Jennifer Parcell’s] death in a very brief article on Page 4 of their morning issue today. Anna Nicole Smith was on Page 3 although there was a streamer head on Page 1 directing readers to Page 3. Just thought I would pass this along that, at least here in middle America, we are aware of the tragic loss of life in Iraq.

Jon Whitney
The Carroll County Review
Thomson, Ill.

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