I'm disgusted with the coverage of Al-Zarqawi's death, which focuses obsessively on how meaningless it is and how it will do little if nothing to make a difference in the President's war for oil. Oh, by the way, try telling that to the wildly celebrating Iraqis. The worst I heard was an NPR blip reporting the news from Zarqawi's hometown, as if he were an ordinary dead celebrity. It seems to me that the Press has lost all perspective on how to report a war.
In the old days, from what I gather, wars were reported by telling about troop movements, battle fronts, and battle outcomes. Victories (on our side) were celebrated, defeats (on our side) were mourned. The enemy was the enemy, and we didn't go to a mass murderer's home town to hear about how some people were sad that he died — and if we did, we'd hear about it with the appropriate level of disdain.
The press nowadays brings two mentalities to the war, both of which make for obscene war coverage: The first is a complete hostility to the war itself, which destroys any objectivity in its reporting. The second is a hopelessly parochial viewpoint, stemming from the "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality in local news. Reporters are unable to distinguish enemy deaths from American deaths, they're unable to distinguish ideologies, they know nothing about warfare, they have no sense of history or geography — they operate from a complete basis of ignorance.
They're also completely uninformed about the psychology of the region and believe everything told them. This last is exceptionally stupid, because the region is a hotbed of lies. Many of the lies are intentional propaganda (and explicitly stated Al Qaeda tactic), and the press makes itself a collective useful idiot by blithely reporting everything at face value (which is why I'm reserving all judgment on Haditha).
Other lies are cultural. This is a culture that (a) tells people what they want to hear and (b) lies to save face. With regard to the first, the Iraqis have figured out that the media people they meet want to hear bad news and anger, so they oblige. It was common knowledge in the old days amongst Westerners dealing with Arabs that you never took such things at face value. If you asked an Arab "Is your father very old?" the Arab, assuming that great age was something that would impress you, would promptly answer "yes, he's very, very, old," regardless of the man's age.
As for the lies to save face, if you don't believe me, check out King Hussein's memoirs. I have to admit that I haven't read them personally, but one facet of them came in for heavy analysis in Raphael Patai's seminal book, The Arab Mind. In that book, Patai, when analyzing the "honor" lying that characterizes a lot of Arab communication, relates a story about the 1967 War that Hussein included in his own memoirs. As you know, the Israelis, within hours, decimated the Eyptian airforce. However, when Hussein spoke to the man in charge in Egypt (I can't remember if it was a general or the president), he was assured that the Egyptians had destroyed the Israelis. Hussein, who had been educated in Britain, took this statement at face value and did not send reinforcements — virtually guaranteeing the War's outcome in Israel's favor. Had he understood his own people better, he might well have delved behind the honor rhetoric, discerned the truth, and made a history-turning different decision.
So, as I said, I'm disgusted with the media generally, because of its routine hostile editorializing and credulity, and I'm disgusted with reporters specifically for their inability to recognize and rejoice that a very, very evil person is wandering disconsolate in the afterlife, wondering where the heck those virgins are. (Or, even better, is suffering in some Hieronymous Bosch type environment). And so, as I promised in the title of this post, I'm going for inane, rather than obscene. Here's inane:
A Missouri woman has been arrested for breaking into a dog breeder's home and beating her repeatedly over the head with a dead Chihuahua.
Now, I happen to like Chihuahuas, thinking them a much maligned breed, but that's still a funny opening line for a news report.