A Tepid Response
I just finished reading your "Asleep at the Wheel" piece in AJR (Full Court Press, August/September). Thank you for your reassurance that even after my 42 years in this business, I have not altogether lost my intuitive news sense. My reaction to the virtual absence of reports on the Downing Street memo in the U.S. press was virtually identical to your own.
The first mention of it I saw was in Molly Ivins' column, which prompted me to do a Google search, whereupon I was able to read the entire memo, after which my reaction was something cerebral like, "Holy, S – -!"
I kept thinking, surely this thing is gonna break wide open over here now. Yet, nothing of any substance or consequence! Incredible!
I'm still stunned by the lack of coverage on this thing, and I'm not certain I can remember the last time when the U.S. press stumbled so universally.
I'm just editor of a little twice-weekly paper in North Carolina, and matters such as the Downing Street memo are far from our routine beat. But I still think I know news when I see (hear) it, and I thought the memo was news – big news.
I'm just glad to know someone else did, too. Guess that makes three of us anyway: you, me and Molly!
Neal F. Rattican
Roxboro, North Carolina
Rem Rieder indicated his concern that the MSM did not take the Downing Street memos seriously. He wondered why that would be the case. Before the Iraqi invasion began, I was appalled that the press was so gung-ho. Of course, the press loves a good story, especially if they can participate. What is more exciting than a war? Journalistic reputations are built; reporters have high visibility; readership and viewers increase. My cynical feeling is of course the media were not questioning enough. Nothing has diminished my initial response. Judith Miller should be investigated by her own paper. The press by and large ignores the graft and mismanagement of the war. Without an investigation by the Republican Congress, little is questioned.
The Karl Rove story is great. But who is at the center? The press. This is not a repudiation of all of the media. Some good reporting has been done – but not enough. Meanwhile, more than 1,800 Americans have died in Iraq, tens of thousands of Iraqis killed (of course, we must not see those pictures) and America's reputation destroyed. Shame on the majority of the MSM.