Patterico's Pontifications

7/2/2004

Los Angeles Times Churns Out More Pro-Saddam Propaganda

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 2:32 pm

The Los Angeles Times plays the role of cheerleader for Saddam Hussein this morning, with a lead story bearing the misleading title Still Defiant, Hussein Faces Down Iraqi Judge. The story begins:

A thinner, more wrinkled Saddam Hussein, brought to court in chains and an off-the-rack suit jacket, defiantly faced down a young Iraqi judge Thursday when he was arraigned on seven charges related to the killing of thousands of people during his decades as the absolute ruler of Iraq.

The headline and first sentence of the story are calculated to paint a picture of Saddam Hussein as a man in control of the court proceedings. The reader could not be blamed for wondering whether the Bush Administration has blundered by permitting Saddam’s trial to be held in Iraq. This position is, not coincidentally, the apparent thesis of this morning’s Times editorial, which characterizes Saddam’s demeanor at his arraignment as that of an “in-charge dictator.”

This portrayal of Saddam as the dominant figure in the courtroom is consistent with the breathless headline and opening paragraphs of the Times‘s page one news story. That story’s use of the phrase “face down” strongly indicates that Hussein got the better of the judge. An online dictionary defines the phrasal verb “to face down” as follows:

To attain mastery over or overcome by confronting in a resolute, determined manner: face down an opponent in a debate; faced the enemy down.

To most people, the connotation of the phrase “to face down” is consistent with this definition.

The only problem is that Saddam didn’t “face down” anybody. Nothing in the story shows that Saddam Hussein attained mastery over, or overcame, the judge conducting his arraignment. To the contrary, the judge was clearly in charge, as is demonstrated by facts reported on the paper’s back pages, as well as by other facts not reported anywhere in the L.A. Times article.

If you turn to the back pages of the L.A. Times article, you will see this:

When the judge asked him to state his full name, he responded: “Saddam Hussein al Majid, president of the Republic of Iraq and commander in chief of the armed forces.”

Former president of Iraq and former commander of the dissolved armed forces,” the judge corrected him.

Appearing more comfortable as the hearing progressed, the 67-year-old Hussein gesticulated and parried with the judge, who looked at least 25 years younger than the former president and maintained a calm and authoritative demeanor.

“So you are an Iraqi representing the coalition forces?” Hussein asked.

“No, I am an Iraqi representing the Iraqi judicial system,” the judge replied.

Does that sound like a judge getting “faced down” to you?

The misleading nature of this portrayal is even clearer when you branch out and read accounts from other media sources. (Links via the Ranting Prof.) For example, this account from the New York Times states:

[Saddam] began nervously, like a hunted man in alien terrain. His eyes swiveled back and forth, his voice was weak, and his fingers stroked his beard and touched his bushy eyebrows. But halfway into his 26-minute appearance he appeared to find his pitch, and he ended with a string of finger-wagging admonishments for the court’s temerity in putting him on trial.

At the start, the young Iraqi investigative judge, his identity shielded from disclosure by Iraqi and American officials fearful of his assassination, stared straight back at Mr. Hussein, barely 10 feet away, and said plainly, “former president.”

“No, present,” Mr. Hussein said. “Current. It’s the will of the people.”

“Write down, in brackets, “former president,’ ” the judge told the court clerk.

Several times, Mr. Hussein interrupted as the judge outlined his legal rights and Mr. Hussein sought to resume a political diatribe. Several times, the judge cut him off.

. . . .

If Mr. Hussein cast himself as the usurped champion of Iraq’s nationhood, falsely accused of heinous crimes against his people, he met his match in the judge, who admonished him to restrain his occasionally vitriolic language and respect the court’s authority.

Another New York Times account has this revealing insight:

When he was finished, and guards went to take him out of his chair to leave, he said, “Take it easy, I’m an old man.”

Yup. Nothing shows you’re an “in-charge dictator” like whining to the guards.

The L.A. Times is increasingly abandoning any role it ever played as a news organ, and appears to moving ever-steadily towards a role as a pure left-wing propaganda sheet.

My Daughter Says the Darndest Things

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 6:04 am

You gotta have a healthy ego when my four-year old daughter is around.

My parents are visiting, and last night we ate my mom’s patented enchiladas.

Lauren: “I like enchiladas!”

Me: “Yeah, but if you eat nothing but enchiladas, in 20 years you’ll have a big, huge behind.”

Lauren: “Is that what Mommy eats?”

Turns out it was not a comment on my wife’s physique (as you would know if you had met my wife), but a complete non-sequitur: Lauren just wanted to know if these enchiladas are like the ones Mommy gets at the store. Still, it made for some good-natured ribbing around the dinner table.

Of course, Lauren made some comments to me the other day that my wife can always throw back in my face:

Lauren: “Daddy, you’re skinny!”

Me: “Thank you, Lauren!”

Lauren: “You’re welcome! Do you know why I said that?”

Me: “No, why?”

Lauren: “Because I didn’t want to say that you’re fat, because that might hurt your feelings!”

Art Linkletter imitation ends now.

(For the record — because I’m feeling defensive here — I am 5′ 11″ and weigh 155.)


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