Thursday, June 05, 2008

Spin

The New York Times reviews Jim Sheeler's new book, Final Salute, about how notifications and funerals are handled for fallen soldiers. And I'm dizzy from the spin:

Mr. Sheeler took one of the great underreported stories of the Iraq war and brought it to light.

Underreported? Is there somebody with a warm body temp and IQ over 80 who is unacquainted with the lack of presidential attendance at soldiers' funerals? The only people I can imagine not knowing about this are some survivalists in the high desert who don't know anyone in the military.

And apparently the NYT doesn't think the book goes far enough to explain the perfidy of "hiding" the deaths:

Mr. Sheeler’s readers may not have realized, for instance, that dead soldiers’ coffins have been hidden in cardboard boxes (ostensibly to protect the coffins), toted by forklifts and stowed in the cargo holds of passenger planes.

Ostensibly? The NYT would rather the coffins got banged up in the cargo holds, or maybe attacked by demonstrators? Graffitoed maybe? How are the coffins supposed to be transported, by private jet, individually? That would be more money being spent on the war, you know, so if they did it that way, we could be twice as mad at the size of the Iraq war budget!

And just in case you aren't sure what emotional reaction to have, the NYT is kind enough to spell it out for you:

included here is a shocking image — by Todd Heisler, now of The New York Times — of commercial airline passengers looking out plane windows at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada, trying to see what is happening beneath them. Down there, in the cargo hold, a Marine honor guard is preparing to deliver the flag-draped coffin of Second Lt. James J. Cathey to its final resting place.

Wow, I wasn't shocked. I was touched. It was a beautiful picture of people looking out their airplane windows. I read their expressions as mournful, empathetic, and respectful--just like I would be in that situation.

Since Mr. Sheeler followed the individual stories of several military men and their families (no dead female soldiers are included in the book), “Final Salute” seemingly qualifies as an extended human-interest story. To some extent that’s what it is, if human interest includes the pain and frustration of surviving the death of a loved one (or breadwinner) in battle.

Don't mistake this for human interest-after all, individual human life and death and mourning isn't interesting. We must portray this politically to make it interesting!

The NYT sucks.

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