July 10, 2004


The Washington Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran emails:

For those of you who have been interested in the subject of why The Washington Post reported that U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer did not deliver a "farewell address" before departing Iraq on June 28, let me provide some detail and context. I am The Post's bureau chief in Baghdad and the author of the article in question.

First off, The Post published a correction on July 9. It reads: "An article June 29 on the departure from Iraq of U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer stated that Bremer did not deliver a farewell address to the Iraqi people. Although he did not deliver prepared remarks to an audience on the day he left, a U.S. funded television station in Iraq broadcast remarks he had taped two days earlier, his spokesman said."

What happened here? According to Dan Senor, Bremer's spokesman, with whom I spoke on July 8, Bremer taped a brief address on June 26 that would be broadcast on Al-Iraqiya, the U.S.-funded television station in Iraq, upon
his departure. Senor called it an "address for the Iraqi people." I asked Senor for a transcript of the address, but he has not yet sent me one. Similar requests to two other press officers with the former Coalition Provisional Authority have gone unanswered.

Unlike most other addresses given by Bremer during his tenure as CPA administrator, there was no notice provided to Western print journalists indicating that a speech would be broadcast. There also was no transcript of the address sent out later in the day, as was typical for the CPA to do after Bremer's speeches. (There may have been a CPA media advisory provided to television networks specifying satellite feed information for the broadcast, but I have not been able to obtain a copy of that advisory.) When asked about why there was no general advisory, Senor told me: "It wasn’t a big announcement. It wasn’t for the Western press. It was not a policy speech."

The broadcast was not widely known within the CPA. Two press officers I spoke with that day did not mention it. Other CPA officials I talked to said they had no knowledge of Bremer delivering a farewell address.

Our office in Baghdad does monitor television broadcasts, but we generally pay little attention to Iraqiya because it does not have continuous news coverage. We have stopped keeping one of our three televisions permanently tuned to the station because it broadcasts children's' shows and other non-news programming during most workdays.

It is impossible to know how many Iraqis saw Bremer's remarks. Iraqiya is watched my many Iraqis, but many others tune into Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya and other Arab satellite news channels. I understand Jazeera may have broadcast some of the remarks but I have not been able to verify that. Needless to say, the speech was not resonating among the score of people my Iraqi translators talked to that day to gauge public reaction to the handover. Most people wanted to discuss the speech made by the interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi. Nobody said anything about seeing Bremer on television.

I know some people have noted that CNN's domestic service and Fox News broadcast at least part of the address. I was watching CNN International (the version available in Iraq) throughout the day and did not see the speech. I certainly could have missed it if it was broadcast just once. But I can safely say that the address certainly was not given much prominence on CNN International in the hours after the initial broadcast on Iraqiya.

Whether Bremer's taped address should be deemed a farewell speech is something I will leave to others to debate. It was not spoken on the day political authority was transferred, nor was it delivered before an audience. Obviously there were security and scheduling concerns that factored into that decision. Had I known about his televised remarks, however, I would not have written that he did not deliver a farewell address. I even would have quoted what he said. According to a transcript of Bremer's remarks that were broadcast on CNN's domestic service, he said: "I leave Iraq gladdened by what has been accomplished and confident that your future is full of hope. A piece of my heart will always remain here in the beautiful land between the two rivers with its fertile
valleys, it's majestic mountains and its wonderful people." That's good stuff and I
certainly would have included it in one of the two stories I wrote that day.

The bottom line here is that I did not know anything about the taped remarks when I wrote that Bremer did not deliver a farewell address. Knowing what I now do, thanks in part to media watchdog bloggers, The Post has corrected the record. It's too bad, though, that the CPA did not do a better job in informing the Western and Arab press about the broadcast. Had we all known about it, I'm sure Bremer's comments would have received wider exposure inside Iraq and beyond.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 10, 2004 02:07 AM

"The bottom line here is that I did not know anything ..."

You said a mouthful there, bippy.

Now, pass the Biriyani.

Posted by: paul a'barge at July 10, 2004 at 02:12 AM

They need to stop watching Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya. What happened to the days when journalists would actually go out and verify their stories before running them? And haven't they figured out yet that Al-J and Al-A have the journalistic standards of Der Stürmer?

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at July 10, 2004 at 02:16 AM

That's bullshit!

I live in Portugal and even I saw the speech on a national news channel! They passed almost all of it!

What are these reporters on?

With internet and blogs anyone can have access to that kind of info! Go and do some research! Work you sloppy jerk!

The media can't fool us no more. They are over.

Posted by: Sofia at July 10, 2004 at 02:21 AM

That's contemporary journalism, and why sanctimonious leftism is so hard to smack sense into .. it's self-referential. Journalist A is watching/reading Journalist B who is watching/reading Journalist C who is watching/reading Journalist A's reaction to Journalist B's report.. and on and on.

Posted by: Romeo at July 10, 2004 at 02:26 AM

As Tim noted, the Washington Post’s Baghdad bureau chief Rajiv Chandrasekaran had written:

When [Bremer] left Iraq on Monday after surrendering authority to an interim government, it was with a somber air of exhaustion. There was no farewell address to the Iraqi people, no celebratory airport sendoff.

He assumed there was no farewell address. In knowing nothing of whether there was such an address, he might have said nothing about it. But no. Instead, because it suited his take on things, he went ahead & positively asserted its not having been done. Baghdad bureau chief Chandrasekaran has somehow failed to notice that he’s in a location where one needs to dig for facts & check them.

Since I saw Rajiv Chandrasekaran's integrity up close, I haven't believed a word he writes, or any story coming out of the bureau he runs. You shouldn't, either. —Eric M. Johnson, “The Untouchable Chief of Baghdad” at

Posted by: ForNow at July 10, 2004 at 02:27 AM

Did I screw up two links or are links turned off? Test.

Eric M. Johnson, “The Untouchable Chief of Baghdad” at http://www.commentarypage.com/johnson/johnson062904.php

Tim’s earlier note

Ahem, preview suggests that I screwed up two links in one comment. Sorry!

Posted by: ForNow at July 10, 2004 at 02:31 AM

During the Vietnam War (you know, the quagmire one; or for a large portion of the American Left- the Good War, the one with the happy ending), the press labelled the official briefings "the Five O'Clock Follies". Any journalist who relied on them was derided as a government hack.

Fast-forward 30 or so years. Mr. Chandrasekaran's defense is that news wasn't delivered in an official briefing.

Oh yes, the times, they are a-changin'.

Posted by: Don Eyres at July 10, 2004 at 02:36 AM

Parts of the speech were broadcast on CNN too, sheesh

Posted by: Ryan Frank at July 10, 2004 at 02:44 AM

Romeo, that's a really good point. Another aspect of this is the publicity release middlemanism that passes for journalism. I can picture them hanging out the hotel bar waiting for the CPA advisory to let them know that news is going to happen. He actually uses that as an excuse, even though a few other organizations were able to determine that the speech was being broadcast. Woodward and Bernstein must be turning over in their graves.

(That's right- middlemanism.)

Posted by: Brian O'Connell at July 10, 2004 at 02:48 AM

Chandrasekaran says that Bremer said some quotably good stuff & that he certainly would have used it. But that’s not the point here. Not really knowing what had happened, he was so comfortable with his assumption that Bremer gave no farewell speech, that he didn’t do sufficient checking. Why was he so comfortable in assuming that? His laziness rewards his ideology by helping him represent the world to himself in certain ways. His laziness is selective & shows a pattern of bias. This is a man who has forfeited his intellectual right to trust his own gut reactions. Assuming he’s even being on the level.

Posted by: ForNow at July 10, 2004 at 02:52 AM

Is there nobody who works at the front page of the Post who keeps an eye on CNN domestic? Or, God forbid, Fox? (Sofia's comment that it was on international networks notwithstanding) Of course that doesn't excuse Chandrasekaran depending on television networks to provide his information, but the excuse that is was 'only' on CNN in the states and not the international version is really lame.

Posted by: Mike S. at July 10, 2004 at 03:10 AM

"It's too bad, though, that the CPA did not do a better job in informing the Western and Arab press about the broadcast."

Gee, I wonder why the CPA might have some reason to distrust the Western and Arab press?

Posted by: Mike S. at July 10, 2004 at 03:11 AM

Ah, so if only the CPA had written his copy for him, he'd have gotten the story right. Good to know.

More on this here.

Posted by: Posse Incitatus at July 10, 2004 at 03:12 AM

I saw part of the speech on Sky News (or Star News Asia) here in Malaysia. IIRC, Sky News in British (well, they sure speak like Brits... I don't watch much TV).

But I did read about the speech the next day on consistently anti-American Malaysian dailies. WaPo has little excuse. I mean, anyone in Baghdad, who is doing their journalist jobs, would know of this infamous speech where he recited a poem (IIRC) in rather okay Arabic...

Posted by: Rajan R at July 10, 2004 at 03:15 AM

His name (as with mine) sounds very South India-ish. So I doubt, other than a rare meal, he has briyani. Perhaps chapatis? Or tosai's? Ahhh... banana leaf rice....

Posted by: Rajan R at July 10, 2004 at 03:17 AM

While I think the Washpost goofed ....I think Rajiv Chandrasekaran is stepping up to the plate to a degree correcting his assumption. Perhaps he will do a better job of covering sources in the news away from Al-Jazeera in the future.

Posted by: Matt S. at July 10, 2004 at 03:19 AM

Having seen parts of the speech on CNN, perhaps the 'journalist' in question would care to clarify how CNN was able to report on the speech, but the Washington Post decided not to.

Maybe he could also defend in writing his 'promises broken' series for inaccurate and bizarrely biased slanting of 'news'. That is before he gets fired for incompetence.

Posted by: Mahatma at July 10, 2004 at 03:28 AM

Matt S: Please. I can't believe that you give credit to Chandrasekaran for "stepping up to the plate." I will paraphrase what others have already, rightfully, observed. This man is saying, basically, "It's the CPA's fault that I'm such a lousy reporter." The long, tedious diatribe is truly unnecessary; the bottom line being that he isn't doing the job. Before going to work that day, I turned on Fox and Friends and saw the "address that didn't happen" over my morning bowl of cereal. Didn't know I was such a skilled reporter.

Posted by: DaveS at July 10, 2004 at 03:43 AM

Maybe he should have asked Hans Blix to verify that there was no farewell speech. You know, absence of evidence, evidence of absence, not is.

Posted by: Andjam at July 10, 2004 at 03:49 AM

So basically what I get out of this is -

"I would have reported it... but my dog ate the press briefing."

Sheesh. To think I used to consider journalists professionals.

Posted by: mapchic at July 10, 2004 at 03:53 AM

The western (read "American") press wasn't given advance copies of the address, or even so much as a press release. As a result, the New York Times, Washington Post and LA Times all reported that Bremer didn't give a farewell address.

The CPA personnel Chandrasekaran talked to wouldn't tell him anything about ithe speech, and he still can't get a copy even though it has been broadcast on more than one network.

It sounds to me like this was Bremer's way of delivering a final F.U. to Chandrasekaran, et al., for all the wonderful reporting they've been doing from their hotel rooms.

Posted by: Bruce Rheinstein at July 10, 2004 at 04:03 AM

"Needless to say, the speech was not resonating among the score of people my Iraqi translators talked to that day to gauge public reaction to the handover."

Sounds like someone should be updating his sources. Omar, Alaa, et al would be good candidates, and not even require translation. To my suspicious mind, "Iraqi translators" sounds too close to the discredited minders of old.

Posted by: Ray Eckhart at July 10, 2004 at 04:04 AM

Rajiv Chandrasekaran dearest,

Just apologize and learn something from it (although it seems you haven't learn anything, according to other reports). Trying to point others as possible excuses for your grave mistake is pitiful. It's your responsibility, therefore it's your mistake. Stick to it.

Posted by: Yossi at July 10, 2004 at 04:06 AM

What a crock. *My* sense of journalistic ethic is offended, and I just got done implying Kerry and Edwards are having a gay affair.

"Had I known about his televised remarks, however, I would not have written that he did not deliver a farewell address."

What's the message here? "We didn't know what the hell was going on, so we made something up."?

Did someone TELL Rajiv that there was no address? If not, if they had no proof either way, why did they report something they did not know to be true? This is journalism!? And now it's ok because they published a correction a week and a half later? Bullshit.

Rajiv, buddy, actions like this ruin the credibility of your newspaper. Are we supposed to wait 10 days after every story to find out if you got it right or not? People are supposed to be able to depend on you. Don't report shit you don't know. It's not the job of the world to let you know when news is happening, it's your job to find out, that's why you get the bucks. Neither the San Francisco Chronicle nor the Lebanon Daily Star had the problems you did. They both accurately reported the speech's existance. Other papers simply didn't say anything, because they didn't know. You didn't know, so you filled in the blank. Why is that? When you assume, you make an ass out of yourself, your newspaper, and your readership.

Posted by: Aaron at July 10, 2004 at 04:23 AM

Sounds to me like ol' Rajiv is starting to feel a little heat for his lefty leanings and journalistic incompetence, and he's doing a little CYA.

Posted by: Rebecca at July 10, 2004 at 04:37 AM

Rebecca: It didn't do anything for me. How about you?

Posted by: Aaron at July 10, 2004 at 04:40 AM

Aaron: not a single thing.

Posted by: Rebecca at July 10, 2004 at 04:48 AM

I surprised Rajiv failed to mention the fact that Bremer didn't even jerk-off into a sink before leaving Iraq.

Posted by: Mike W. at July 10, 2004 at 05:07 AM

In other words "I'm an incompetent asshole and a partisan idiot. I'm defending my idiocy because as a leftist there is no other way to explain it. Also as a leftist I have no shame".


Rajiv Chandrasekaran

Posted by: swassociates at July 10, 2004 at 05:18 AM

It's too bad, though, that the CPA did not do a better job in informing the Western and Arab press about the broadcast. Had we all known about it

--we could have prepared our negative spin for it in advance. Bad CPA! Bad! Bad!

Posted by: ilyka at July 10, 2004 at 05:43 AM

Bullshit. If you're going to spin the absence of an event (the speech) as cowardice, then you need to take extraordinary measures (like, um, asking somebody) to make sure the event didn't take place.

Posted by: Brian Jones at July 10, 2004 at 06:27 AM

So, being a reporter means watching TV until you get bored waiting for the news to come on, and waiting for the subjects of your reporting to ring you up and let you know that they're about to do something newsworthy?

Sign me up!

Posted by: Dave S. at July 10, 2004 at 06:37 AM

"So, being a reporter means watching TV until you get bored waiting for the news to come on, and waiting for the subjects of your reporting to ring you up and let you know that they're about to do something newsworthy?"


Posted by: Aaron at July 10, 2004 at 06:41 AM

I didn't *know*, nobody *told* me. I looked in my Chomsky book, and it didn't say anything. I called my friends at Al Jazeera and they said no speech. What was I *supposed* to do? It's not my fault. I'm just a kid. Yell at my editors, they can take it. They protested Vietnam at Berkeley. They know all about you fascists with your *facts*. You're just trying to destroy me because I'm brown!!! You're all the same.
I want my mommy.

Posted by: Sergio at July 10, 2004 at 07:48 AM

Rajiv Chandrasekaran emails:
I am not the fuck-up! You are the fuck-up!

Posted by: SarahW at July 10, 2004 at 08:33 AM

Rajiv Chandrasekaran's e-mail would be a sufficient excuse for not reporting something that did occur: I looked for it, I missed it, my bad. OK, fine.

But that's not what Chandrasekaran did. Rather, he reported something that did not happen: He reported that Bremer refused to deliver a farewell address and stole out of town with his tail between his legs. This is utterly bogus.

Chandrasekaran writes about looking people in the eye. I'll believe he's on the level the day he walks up to Paul Bremer, looks him in the eye, and apologizes.

Posted by: Brown Line at July 10, 2004 at 08:36 AM

Crap! I *AM* the fuck up; used bad hyperlink above.
Here is correct. This is all Bush's fault.

Posted by: SarahW at July 10, 2004 at 08:36 AM

Now, now--I'm sure it's scary out there in Baghdad, on the mean streets, where I keep seeing scenes of apparent commuters apparently driving to apparent work in the backgrounds of these feisty "western" reporters when they babble about some nothing that didn't happen anywhere.

It's probably a whole lot more comfy in the hotel bar, nursing a Singapore Sling, watching the tube and wondering why all those grown men are playing soccer on screen...

Posted by: ushie at July 10, 2004 at 09:05 AM

Demonstrating that he is a total failure at reporting simple and straight forward facts, Rajiv Chandrasekaran will now tackle the complex oil-for-food program and blame it on Bush.

Posted by: perfectsense at July 10, 2004 at 09:13 AM


where has james morrow gone?



Posted by: lb at July 10, 2004 at 09:24 AM

All I thought was needed was "I screwed up. I'm sorry." Instead we get ten paragraphs of self-justification and blaming it on the Bush administration.

I guess it could have been worse, though, like the huge report the NYTimes did on the Jayson Blair affair.

Posted by: AST at July 10, 2004 at 10:09 AM

As Chandrasekaran says, it's all the CPA's fault. Knowing this as they do, the Baghdad Bureau Chief and his crack team of investigative journos and former Iraqi minders should venture out and approach a couple of locals on the street in front of their Baghdad hotel. They should ask whether there's a conspiracy by Coalition Bush supporters to undermine the Western free press by making them look out of touch, lazy or even partisan. And then, after a few clueless smiles and head nods, they'll have the REAL story about CPA treachery confirmed by these insider sources and representative sampling of the Iraq people. It's a tough assignment, but could be Pulitzer worthy.

Posted by: the story writes itself at July 10, 2004 at 10:58 AM

Hey Rajiv,

Let me describe reporting in terms you can understand:

"If the mountain won't come to Mohammed, then Mohammed must go to the mountain."

Posted by: ras at July 10, 2004 at 11:14 AM

"Had I known about his televised remarks, however, I would not have written that he did not deliver a farewell address."

I did not do my work, therefore I did not know therefore it did not happen.(sarcasm off)

Posted by: popo at July 10, 2004 at 11:21 AM

The man is an ass. Does he not understand his job description?

Posted by: Bostonian at July 10, 2004 at 12:12 PM

It's all Bush's fault!


Posted by: rosignol at July 10, 2004 at 12:39 PM

In the week of the BIG, historic transition of power to the Iraqi people, some journo's couldn't be bothered to accurately report it, apparently, unless invitations, press releases, or transcripts were put into their hands. It's almost as if the thought of no more Yankee imperialism to "report" and opine about were making the news corps even sulkier and balkier than usual last week. Or, perhaps this was their collective show of disdain for the moment's importance and a snub to the Coalition and the new Iraq. Pathetic, really, either way. How much more sneering and irrelevant do mainstream news outlets wish to become?

Posted by: WashPost humous at July 10, 2004 at 01:07 PM

Please consider that WaPo or any other reporters or NGO folks have stuck their neck out - just to be in Iraq. You know "the cradle of civilization" where whole bunches of people like to kill or maim whole bunches of other people. (Have I misunderstood?)
With some notable and other fairly numerous exceptions, the Iraqi peoples are really a backward, dark age bunch. About a third are functionally illiterate, their entire lives differing little from that of their ancestors in the AD year 1300. To say that 'they herd goats, sheep and camels' is not an insult, it is a reality. To expect them to understand what is going on outside their village and clan is a kind of inverse screwball ethnocentrism. Give it up.

Posted by: Gerry at July 10, 2004 at 02:28 PM

Gerry: Is that the soft bigotry of low expectations or the hard bigotry of being a fucking asshole?

Posted by: Sortelli at July 10, 2004 at 02:44 PM

Maybe Gerry is just trying to project away from the journalists...after all, the following could (in a methphorical sense) very well apply to them instead of the Iraqis:

To expect them to understand what is going on outside their village and clan is a kind of inverse screwball ethnocentrism. Give it up.

Posted by: PW at July 10, 2004 at 04:11 PM

PW, I am going to insult you by implying that you herd goats and sheep for a living. 'Cause, you know, that's insulting. For example, it implies that you work very hard and probably have not been to a proper Broadway play. It also means that you can't possibly form an opinion on your own life.

Thank goodness we have media personalities to do that for you, at great risk to their own lives.

Posted by: Sortelli at July 10, 2004 at 04:38 PM

Oh yeah, I forgot to add the implication that because you herd goats and sheep you are also therefore a dangerous maniac who poses a threat to the brave journalists who are risking their lives to put words in your mouth. So there.

Actually, nevermind, I kinda sympathize with someone who'd take exception to that.

Posted by: Sortelli at July 10, 2004 at 04:40 PM

I think have this translated:

All I saw on the television in the hotel bar was a porno film. How the hell am I supposed to know there was a speech?

Posted by: Ken Hahn at July 10, 2004 at 06:18 PM

Is this what modern journalism has become, waiting to be *told* what is happening? I always thought journalists went after the news and didn't wait for the news to come to them.

So he wasn't *told* about it! Big deal. To me, this doesn't seem to be a valid excuse for someone who is a reporter, a professional news person. I could understand a non-news professional using this excuse, for them it would be valid. How is this a valid excuse for a news professional?

Now we read his 'explanation/justification' and it reads like all the others who have been caught not doing their job. Admitting mistakes and learning from them seems to be a foreign concept.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at July 10, 2004 at 07:17 PM

You people are a truly amazing bunch of dipshits. Half of you scream and yell about a speech not being covered. Half of you say it's great that the CPA didn't notify the U.S. media, resulting in the speech not being covered. A tiny few proud voices decide to make no sense whatsoever. Blogging Comments at their finest. You should all be proud -- by posting comments on Tim's web log, you have sacrificed nearly everything for freedom. Good on you, one and all. You are heroes.

The CPA ran like dogs in the night, the fake handover ceremony was done under cover of fear a day-plus earlier than planned, and you're all giving each other rim jobs for complaining about the little "whoops, gotta go!" moment not being properly written up as the great statesmanlike moment it wasn't?

And if any of you clowns have ever actually worked as a one- or two-person bureau trying to cover an entire war-torn country, please list your qualifications and explain how you never got bamboozled by a crooked government on the run. Mocking press mistakes is easy & fun & sometimes even useful, but it's pretty clear all you people want is some magical fake world in which the invasion of Iraq was justified & successful, and everyone who didn't kiss your ass is a doomed communist going to hell with Satan, and you all drink special narcotic smoothies to convince yourselves that the Bush Administration is "conservative" and the War On Terror was actually never about Bin Laden & Afghanistan & Saudi Arabia. Good luck with that and everything else.

Posted by: Johnny Friendly at July 10, 2004 at 07:30 PM

Enough journalistic incompetence in Iraq!

Resign Rajiv! Right now! Stop taking the salary on false pretences!

You're not qualified to do the job!

Stop trying to evade the simple truth and bury it in verbiage!

Rajiv lied! People died!

Out! Out! Out!

Posted by: Tamil at July 10, 2004 at 09:52 PM

Oh no! Johnny Friendly got us, we're all chickenjournalists!

Posted by: Sortelli at July 10, 2004 at 09:58 PM

Johnny said:

"You should all be proud -- by posting comments on Tim's web log, you have sacrificed nearly everything for freedom."

*THE ABOVE STATEMENT* makes no sense to me at all. How in the heck is posting anything to anyone's blog a sacrifice for freedom?

Laying one's life down is a sacrifice for freedom. But, posting to a blog??? (Freedom is a good thing to sacrifice for. I just can't see how posting to a blog qualifies.)

Posted by: Chris Josephson at July 10, 2004 at 10:49 PM

Johnny Friendly,

getting a wee bit defensive on Rajiv's behalf, n'est-ce pas? And you're projecting...it's pretty obvious that you (and your Leftist nutjob friends) are the only ones who actually think they're sacrificing something by posting comments to blogs (the dissent, man, the dissent!). The Rest Of Us realize we're just voicing our opinion, nothing more.

BTW, I wonder if the fake turkey is a kind of intellectual virus (or perhaps anti-intellectual virus)...just look at Johnny's post:

fake handover ceremony

fake world

When the facts don't follow the party line, just pretend it's all fake. Don't worry, the men in the white coats who'll be coming to take you away are fake, too.

Fake Bush victory in November!

Posted by: PW at July 11, 2004 at 12:35 AM

Johnny Friendly is so friendly that his tirade doesn't contain a word about the Iraqi people. Who cares about them? They should have stayed Saddamized; they are an unmentioned and unimportant factor in his sneer over our ousting of a dangerous despot. Or, as in Gerry's ode to racial understanding, they should have remained Saddamized, because they are a primitive and unworthy lot for liberation.

Any way they could, the main press and leftists have spun the Iraqi Operation as futile, botched, unnecessary or counterproductive without referencing the true benefits to the Iraqis themselves. When Iraqis are written into their stories, they are depicted as resentful and hurt by Coalition efforts. The same sub-narrative applies to Afghanistan, as well.

For security reasons and because of relentless media hostility, the CPA downplayed their part in the official transition. But the fact remains that Iraqis have been given a huge, exciting, untidy and daunting responsibility to begin governing themselves, and the WaPo and other outlets could not let the moment of official self-rule for the Iraqis be seen as historic. Their agenda of denigrating Bush, the Coalition, and their efforts supersedes any positive recognition of Iraq's democratic experiment. Big Media and the caring Left seem indifferent, at best, to any hopes for free Iraqis. Usually, though, they just sound disgusted by the prospect.

Posted by: c at July 11, 2004 at 01:31 AM

Thanks, Johnny, for taking the time to crush freedom by posting a comment to this blog. It must be difficult to type while simultaneously sucking Chandrasekaran's cock. I hope no injuries resulted.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 11, 2004 at 01:37 AM

Has RC talked to any Iraqis to determine their viewing habits? It seems to me, a faithful blog reader, that the Iraqis are as fed up with the inaccurate, sensationalistic coverage presented on the arab channels as the Americans who seek truth in news reporting. Suggestion, keep the Iraqi channel on with volume off and watch for interuptions of the childrens' programs for news the Iraqi people seek.
Read the blogs written by Iraqis and coalition military--you might find out what is happening in Iraq.

Posted by: Pat in NC at July 11, 2004 at 05:22 AM

Hey Johnny,

The facts hurt. The guy didn't do his job. Period. I haven't "worked as a one- or two-person bureau trying to cover an entire war-torn country" and I am willing to believe that you haven't either. Please list YOUR qualifications.

The guy should be sacked. Corrections are an attempt to spin 'dropped the ball'.

Perhaps you don't work for a living but some of us do.

Posted by: zzx375 at July 11, 2004 at 06:10 AM

I swear, sitting in front of a computer screen on the other side of the world, and I am able to pick up more information about what is happening there than poor Mr. WashPost bureau chief. Can I have his job?

Posted by: Sgt. Mom at July 11, 2004 at 06:15 AM

Johnny Friendly typed: "it's pretty clear all you people want is some magical fake world"

Yes! Where I can play with the elves all day and eat flower petals made of sugar-spun candy and watch the fairies dance amongst the wild stingless honey bees! Where I can cavort with the faun and pipe merry tunes upon my fantastical magical silver flute! Where I can pirouette with the sylvan nymphs as they glide and flutter o'er the pretty posies opening their tender buds to receive the tender benediction of our twinkling toesies! Yes, yes, Johnny Friendly, that's what I want! Give it to me, and you, too, can come leap amongst the bunnies and the froggies and the gentle mousies in the fields!

Posted by: ushie at July 11, 2004 at 06:30 AM

I was worried until that last part.

Posted by: Hucklebuck at July 11, 2004 at 07:42 AM

You wanna learn the first rule of journalism, Rajiv? You'd know if you ever spent a day in your life. You never open your mouth 'til you know what the shot is.

Posted by: Brian at July 11, 2004 at 11:47 AM

I'm an Australian. Here's what worries me about 'Johnny.Friendly' and the masses of young Americans he might represent:

The CIA has let us down (didn't they learn from 1990?), the Washington Whatever (which most of the US govt reads) is posting fantasy reports on a crucial conflict...

And these young Americans are happy because they think the BIG issue is Bush and 'stupid white men'.

They even defend the shoddy near-fraud of the offending journalist.

It's the young lefty Americans who give their country a bad name. Products of a multiple choice standardised education system hamstrung by political correctness gone mad, they think the whole world revolves around the US.

Newsflash: the terrorists are gonna hate you no matter who is elected President.

Posted by: despair at July 11, 2004 at 01:07 PM

What's a rim job Johnny?
Is it a cyberspace thing or can I pick one up reading the Washington Post?

Posted by: gubbaboy at July 11, 2004 at 01:35 PM

Little Johnny Friendly typifies the new left and the media, they did not consent to this war so its NEVER going to be O.K. NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS. They are angry now, very angry that their voice was ignored and they were proved so badly wrong, so angry that even the freeing of around 20 million people from a living nightmare most of us can't even begin to comprehend, isn't seen as a positive.
So don't expect the likes of little Johnny Friendly to see the relevance of a correspondent already heavily criticized for his bias against the Coalition getting caught out in the most obvious and bumbling display of journalistic incompetence and bias seen in a while.
To the little Johnny’s of the world Rajiv Chandrasekaran was just fighting the good fight.

Posted by: John at July 11, 2004 at 01:54 PM

I'm thinking Johnny Friendly is none other than little Johnny Pilger...

Posted by: Hanyu at July 11, 2004 at 02:51 PM

I dunno. Does Pilger sound that shrill and frightened?

What ever happened to the level of trolls around here? All we get now are howling ninnies who change faces from one day to the next. It almost makes me miss cranks like Nemesis, who was a fool and a moral midget but at least he always had a strong narrative that was easy to catch and fun to mimic. Le sigh.

Posted by: Sortelli at July 11, 2004 at 03:13 PM

Well, Nemesis may finally have shut up, but it's nice to see someone taking up his torch: CLICK!

(And for the love of God, before anyone tries to argue with that guy, eet ess a joke site, no matter how genuine it may seem)

Posted by: Sortelli at July 11, 2004 at 03:43 PM

Eh, somehow it's giving me an error, so here: http://iraqwarwrong.blogspot.com/2004/07/open-mind-but.html

Posted by: Sortelli at July 11, 2004 at 03:51 PM

Thanks for that link, Sortelli, it gave me a good laugh, especially the hilarious rant on 'Manichaenism'.

Sometimes that's all you can do, even in the bleakest times, try to see the funny side of it.

the best medicine...

Posted by: less-despairing at July 11, 2004 at 06:45 PM

For Rajiv Chandrasekaran, absence of evidence is evidence of absence. Of course, it's so much easier to not find something if you don't bother looking for it, and why would he want to look for positive news from Iraq?

Posted by: charles austin at July 12, 2004 at 02:33 AM

I'll posit, bias speculations aside, that the gentleman in question is simply out of his depth. I'm a veteran Post watcher. If memory serves, only a few years he was on the technology beat, covering the dot coms and the likes of AOL and MicroStrategy in the wilds of Northern Virginia. An impenetrable thicket of a different sort, I suppose, but I'm wondering what sort of expertise he brings to Iraq. Is he a desk jockey who phones in what Arabic-speaking stringers bring to him?

Posted by: Paul at July 12, 2004 at 07:11 AM

I dunno. Does Pilger sound that shrill and frightened?

Pilger's shrill and whiny, last I checked. Of course, it's been a few years.

Posted by: rosignol at July 12, 2004 at 11:16 AM

Paul, from what I've read he was shifted to international affairs about four years ago. Rajiv is now 31 years old. It seems the bureau has several reporters at any one time but has a high turnover rate.

Posted by: Michael Lonie at July 12, 2004 at 12:34 PM

I think this thread is missing the real stunner in Chandrasekaran's report: Iraqi television is broadcasting hours of children's programmes each day. In the flaming hellhole quagmire humanitarian catastrophe that is today's Baghdad, people are broadcasting (and presumably watching) kid's shows? Is Playschool syndicating to Iraqiya? Maybe not the 'two mummies' episode.

Posted by: cuckoo at July 12, 2004 at 12:45 PM

How many words did he use to say "I'm sorry, I was wrong" and still screw it up?

Posted by: Pearl at July 12, 2004 at 12:58 PM

The main guy in charge of getting the news to the people for one of the most influential newspapers in America sits around all day watching CNN international?

Get this guy a real job.

Posted by: daniel at July 12, 2004 at 01:20 PM

""Had I known about the WMD's, however, I would not have written that he did not have WMD's."

Posted by: Hangtown Bob at July 13, 2004 at 01:40 AM

The amazing thing is that this guy used to be a technology reporter for the WashPost. You would think that he, if anyone, would be well-attuned to Internet news sources and search capabilities....

Posted by: David Foster at July 13, 2004 at 04:24 AM

--"Needless to say, the speech was not resonating among the score of people my Iraqi translators talked to that day to gauge public reaction to the handover."--

How could Nixon win? I don't know anyone who voted for him.

Posted by: Sandy P at July 13, 2004 at 06:22 AM


Is this the blog you mentioned last night on ABCs Australia Talks Back?

About the three Iraqi brothers and that their blog has made the Guardian and NY Times to apologise and admit that their was a farewell speach.

In the comments I also see that somebody mentioned that the speech was on Irakya and these guys say it was on AlJazeera.
And look at the childesh texts and how they show that all six of them are celebrating the handover.

I do not think that anybody could take them seriously

Posted by: dragan at July 13, 2004 at 10:10 AM

I meant this link.

You are using a really old way :-)

Posted by: dragan at July 13, 2004 at 10:16 AM


Posted by: dragan at July 13, 2004 at 10:17 AM

I saw Bremer's address on CNN in my Hotel in Khartoum, Sudan on the day he left Baghdad - The Washington Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran ought to be ashamed of his lazy reporting & unprofessional attitude.

Posted by: Howard Roberts at July 13, 2004 at 08:30 PM