A favorite subject of mine recently has been the Pentagon's daily "Early Bird" brief, which provides full-text versions (in accordance with 17 U.S.C. 107) of news articles for DoD users, registered press, and others within the federal government. I've written on it here, here, and here. At some point, the Pentagon decided to put "Corrections" at the top of its main news page -- which is the news digest read by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld every morning as he rides to work in his Lincoln Navigator, among other decisionmakers. The gist of my complaint has been that this deemphasizes the stories that are actually news, transmits the subtle message that the Pentagon cares more about "the story" and "the spin" than news, and is just plain silly.
Well, today's Early Bird certainly illustrates the point that this editorial judgment is silly. Check out the juxtaposition of articles and decide for yourself what's more important:
CORRECTIONSC'mon... you just can't tell me that this correction is more important than all the top stories which come after it. For one thing, this is a political detail -- the only reasons why it would matter that the SecDef stood in for the POTUS are political reasons. Second, there's just no good argument for the importance of this correction -- it's inane, and probably important to a handful of people in the Pentagon and White House alone. Granted, I don't think that many Early Bird readers are so unsophisticated that they will let this stupid story placement alter their morning newsreading. But still... it's a little silly.
1. CorrectionTOP STORIES
(Concord (NH) Monitor)...The Concord Monitor
A story in Wednesday's Monitor said incorrectly that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had taken President Bush's place at a NASCAR event in Virginia at the last minute. According to a Pentagon spokesman, Rumsfeld's appearance had been planned for months.
2. Effort To Train New Iraqi Army Is Facing Delays
(New York Times)...Eric Schmitt
Three months into its new mission, the military command in charge of training and equipping Iraqi security forces has fewer than half of its permanent headquarters personnel in place, despite having one of the highest-priority roles in Iraq.
3. Iraq Leader Will Face Doubts On Visit To U.S.
(Los Angeles Times)...Paul Richter
Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi will visit the United States this week in an effort to convince Americans that his country is on the path to stability, even as GOP leaders in Congress expressed growing concern Sunday about the upsurge of violence in Iraq and the ability of the government to deal with it.
4. Allawi: Violence Won't Halt Iraq Vote
(USA Today)...Barbara Slavin
Despite mounting violence in his country, interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said Sunday that Iraqi forces, backed by American troops, would retake rebel-held territory to allow elections to proceed on schedule next year.
5. Iran Is Helping Insurgents In Iraq, U.S. Officials Say
(New York Times)...Thom Shanker and Steven R. Weisman
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld have raised sharp complaints in recent days that Iran is providing support for the insurgency in Iraq, expressing concerns over what they say are Iran's attempt to shape Iraq's future.
6. Classic Guerrilla War Forming In Iraq
(Christian Science Monitor)...Brad Knickerbocker
...To many experts, the conflict in Iraq has entered a new phase that resembles a classic guerrilla war with US forces now involved in counterinsurgency. And despite the lack of ideological cohesion among insurgent groups, history suggests that it could take as long as a decade to defeat them.
7. China's Ex-Leader Quits Post In Military
(Washington Post)...Edward Cody
Former president Jiang Zemin resigned Sunday as the head of China's military, turning the job over to his successor as president and Communist Party leader, Hu Jintao, and completing the orderly transfer of power to a younger generation.