Shots to the left of me, shots to the right…
BEIRUT — Wow, I’m just catching hell from all sides today. Fresh off the howls for my disembowelment, the PAO for the Marines in Fallujah now says my story wasn’t balanced:
Thanks for the link. I ran across it the other day by accident and had other things to do so I did not read the entire story.
I find that reporters who come here have two choices, well three actually. They can choose the glass is half-empty story, the glass is half-full story or they can write a little of both. Yours is very much a half-empty story as you chose to focus on the negative aspects of the situation.
You could have mentioned the fact that Fallujah accounted for 90 percent of the voting in Al Anbar province. You could have mentioned that this took place because the local sheiks and imans saw the need to participate in the political process, which they did not do last January.
You could have mentioned that the voters went to the polls and the security situation was deemed safe enough by the city residents that 100,000 of them did so and voted, despite the insurgents’ threats. There were several small incidents of violence, but not enough to deter anyone from voting.
All of those things may have balance out the bad news you chose to deliver. We don’t expect every story to be a “happy-happy” piece but we do appreciate some balance.
So let me get this right: The anti-war left is mad at me because I don’t document stuff I didn’t see, and I’m supposed to take an Italian documentary’s word that “chemical weapons” were used… (By the way, white phosphorus is as much a chemical weapon as, say, gunpowder is a chemical weapon. That’s not to say it’s not horrible, but can you folks stop trying to score rhetorical points over which wounds are more gruesome?) The Marines — well, a Marine — is mad at me because I didn’t toe the party line and talk up all the cool new democracy busting out.
I think that’s about the highest praise a reporter can get. As an old mentor told me, “If they’re all shooting at you, you must be doing something right.” In short, I’m going to sleep well knowing that I didn’t follow anyone’s agenda but my own — which is to tell the best story I can. It’s too bad in some ways, though. I guess I won’t be invited to any organic juice parties in Berkeley or the new school repainting in Ramadi.
Finally, you’ll notice the dateline. I’m now in Beirut and will start working on other, non-Iraq projects through the end of the year. I may or may not update this blog, but if I don’t, don’t worry — or get your hopes up. I’m alive and kicking and I’ll be back online later.