Remember a couple of days ago I posted to Eric Johnson's story about how Washington Post Badgad bureau chief Rajiv Chandrasekaran showed up in Kut for a few hours, decided that a local thug who controled a block or two was the new power to be, and sent in a story about this "Untouchable 'Mayor' of Kut." Well, it was all wrong, of course; as all the locals knew the "mayor" didn't have nickel's worth of popular support, and he was sent on his way in very short order. Of course, people who rely on the Washington Post for their news wouldn't know anything about this.
Well Mr. Chandrasekaran and the Post were at it again last week. He reported that Paul Bremmer, the head of the occupation forces, left Iraq quietly, without making a farewell speech:
When he 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.
Of course, as numerous bloggers have noted, Bremer did make a farewell speech. This was reported by an Iraqi blogger, here. It was apparently quite moving:
The speech was impressive and you could hear the sound of a needle if one had dropped it at that time. The most sensational moment was the end of the speech when Mr. Bremer used a famous Arab emotional poem. The poem was for a famous Arab poet who said it while leaving Baghdad. Al-Jazeera had put an interpreter who tried to translate even the Arabic poem which Mr. Bremer was telling in a fair Arabic! “Let this damned interpreter shut up. We want to hear what the man is saying” One of my colloquies shouted. The scene was very touching that the guy sitting next to me (who used to sympathize with Muqtada) said “He’s going to make me cry!”
But, once again, readers of the Washington Post don't know anything about this. Moreover, the Post's take on things--i.e. that Bremer slipped out of the country without making a farewell speech--has now become the theme of a Los Angeles Times story:
L. Paul Bremer III, the civilian administrator for Iraq, left without even giving a final speech to the country — almost as if he were afraid to look in the eye the people he had ruled for more than a year.
By the way, Bremer's speech has been reported in the Lebanon Star, which noted that the hand over ceremony was "capped shortly afterwards with a televised speech by former occupation administrator Paul Bremer that was typically condescending and simplistic." Of course, readers of the Los Angeles aren't able to form their own opinion whether the speech was any good, given that they were told that it didn't exist in the first place.
You know, it wouldn't have been that difficult for someone from the Times or the Post to make a phone call or two and see if Bremer gave a speech or not. It wasn't that big of a secret, it being on television and all. You wonder why we bother having a media, when they can't get simple stuff like this right.