Tuesday, November 30, 2004

BECOMING AN UNPERSON. Back in the days when warbloggers were praising veteran New York Times reporter John F. Burns for his clear-eyed Iraq coverage ("GIVE BURNS A PULITZER," quoth Andrew Sullivan), Roger L. Simon did his part: "...those of you who haven't read the Burns interview (Editor & Publisher, 9/15/03), hurry and do so," Simon breathlessly breathed in September 2003. "It makes you believe in the possibilities of journalism again."

But Burns, alas for this lot, has been expressing reservations about our postwar conduct of the Iraq adventure, and Good Solider Simon has taken up the new official line on him:
On my last day of a great New York vacation I am even able to laugh at the fusty local paper the NYT which is still, incredibly after the election, living in 1972. (If you're going to be nostalgic, at least give us Paris in the Twenties.) This morning they are sporting an orange "Apocalypse Now"-style photo of what could be the Mekong River (wink, wink -- we know it's the Euphrates) with the same writer, John F. Burns, flogging the same story he has for two years now, to wit Iraq could be the next Vietnam. (I know - you're shocked). And it's not even a Sunday. This kind of none-news usually fits better with bagel and cream cheese. Burns, once justifiably regarded as one of our better war correspondents, seems to be suffering from "Burns out," feeding his audience what they want to hear.
Everything about this loathsome passage smacks of the Soviet -- from the I laugh at anti-imperialist stooge Burns! opening, to the characterization of the story as "non(e)-news" (i.e., a story that is off-message and hence memory-hole fodder), to the assertion that Burns is "feeding his audience what they want to hear" -- a tawdry, cautionary end for someone who once filled Hat Boy with wonder at the possibilities of journalism (something Simon has visibly gotten over).

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