I had to read this L.A. Times story three times to make sure it wasn’t a spoof. I couldn’t find any real facts in it, other than some gratuitous and blatant apple-polishing for the top U.S. Marine general in Iraq.
I heard a reported piece on this cow-based story on NPR as well yesterday. No accident that both stories on this same hooey appeared within hours of each other. That means that several reporters were taken (or better said, taken in) at the same time on some sort of U.S.-Army-sponsored dog and pony show. Or in this case, a dog and cow show.
This is SOP for the U.S. military. When I covered the invasion of Panama 20 years ago, the U.S. Southern Command had sign-up sheets for different propaganda bus tours. I went on the one where we were told how daring U.S. Special Forces had liberated a prison abutting the Canal. It was beyond a joke and I wrote so. Because the U.S. maintained a large military presence in Panama prior to the “invasion” the liberators were able to openly rehearse the assault on the prison for days in advance — in situ! When they actually struck the facility (with a high school security level) they had to overcome the fierce resistance of two sleeping guards. Wow. I felt badly for the poor military PR putz who had to tell us with a straight face what an heroic operation this had been . Of course, there were no sources offered us other than the Army flack who rode with us on the bus. Any story written had to be based only on what he told us.
Back to Iraq. Stunning, really, that grown-up, adult reporters would reguritate this pre-chewed cud about trophy cows spooned to them by Pentagon propagandists. The story made me cringe, actually. After spending hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq, promising massive reconstruction, we see our tax dollars at work in the form of 50 cows bought for 50 pathetic war widows? Winning hearts and minds — and udders?
But I guess we should be grateful that we’ve got hard-working professional reporters working for us in Iraq. Heaven knows what kind of meaningless, BS-stories we would be getting if this were left to amateur citizen bloggers, no?