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Damage Control?

Reported by Nancy - August 26, 2004 -

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani travelled to Najaf this morning & has apparently begun efforts to mediate some kind of resolution to the fighting that has been going on there. But if you want actual information about what may be a critical turning point for the US in Iraq, FNL today (8/26) is no help whatsoever.

Aside from the usual endless teasers about Sistani's arrival, which tell the viewer nothing at all, there was a brief (2-minute) report from Carolyn Shively in Najaf at 10:58am (EDT) that hit some high points (Sistani's back; Sadr's Mahdi army may not be keeping the ceasefire; a mosque in Kufa was hit by artillery, killing 25 & injuring 60, & fingers are pointing every which way; & there's been oil pipeline sabotage) without any attempt at depth or background. I'm not blaming Shively -- this is entirely typical for FNL (& a lot of cable TV news). How much can you cram into a 2-minute report? Which is precisely what's wrong with the whole format of little blurbs that only encourage ADD.

If you want to learn anything substantive about this confrontation in Najaf, I suggest the following sources will provide a much better perspective:

The BBC's ongoing coverage, with extensive background info

The Los Angeles Times, which has also been providing superb ongoing coverage

Tony Karon's column (dated 8/25) in Time magazine

Or Juan Cole's Informed Consent