New York Times reporter Michael Gordon, their Man in Baghdad, wrote a courageous article in yesterday’s paper condemning his own reporting. Gordon, who was the first to accept Karl Rove’s latest rhetorical trick wherein the confusing host of insurgent groups in Iraq is re-labeled “Al Qaeda” for clarity, and then authored a series of reports based on the assumption that the trick was an actual description, criticized the very trick he had been using without once mentioning it was him who’d been using it.
[Bush’s] references to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and his assertions that it is the same group that attacked the United States in 2001, have greatly oversimplified the nature of the insurgency in Iraq and its relationship with the Qaeda leadership.
There is no question that the group is one of the most dangerous in Iraq. But Mr. Bush’s critics argue that he has overstated the Qaeda connection in an attempt to exploit the same kinds of post-Sept. 11 emotions that helped him win support for the invasion in the first place.
Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia did not exist before the Sept. 11 attacks. The Sunni group thrived as a magnet for recruiting and a force for violence largely because of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, which brought an American occupying force of more than 100,000 troops to the heart of the Middle East, and led to a Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad.
Gordon, who is famous for re-writing Rove’s press releases without any sort of independent investigation or evaluation as to their veracity or accuracy, adopted Rove’s term-change from “the insurgents” to “Al Qaeda” the same day it was announced by Bush and has been pushing it in his reporting ever since. Yesterday’s article makes it clear that, as a conscientious newsman, he is no longer going to accept such shoddy journalism from himself.
“Michael Gordon”, Gordon said in an interview today with this site’s editor, “has been shamelessly shilling for an Administration with a penchant for telling lies, and I, for one, am not going to put up with it any more.”
Speaking from Baghdad via AIM (his avatar is a cartoon of Pinocchio whose nose grows as Gordon types), Mr Gordon explained that Gordon’s slack, sloppy approach was an insult to the whole concept of professional journalism.
“This business of Gordon’s simply copying press releases and and military PR handouts and then printing them without asking a single question or verifying a single fact,” Gordon grunted in disgust, “has to stop. It brings our whole profession into disrepute, and I can no longer just sit by and watch Michael Gordon destroy our credibility and the trust our readers put in us. It’s a disgrace and I’m calling him on it.”
Asked if he expected Gordon to defend himself in the light of these revelations, Gordon replied, “I doubt he has the guts.”