Embedded blowback

Folks are beginning to wonder whether a journalist who is “embedded” is likely to have an objective view of the war. The answer to this seems obvious to me: if the Pentagon thought embedded journalists would make the military look bad, they wouldn’t have come up with the idea! But I noticed something today. This may be a reach, but I think the normally tame White House press corps are feeling the pinch.

I mean, after all, the Press Corps have traditionally been an elite group among reporters, and they have often shared a somewhat cozy relationship with the administration, attempting not to offend because of the explicit or implicit threat that they would lose access to the most powerful players in the country.

Helen Thomas is no frield of the Bush administration. Despite efforts to resign, she remains a thorn in the administration’s side. Consider, for example, this exchange at the press conference yesterday:

Q What about the POW pictures? Has he asked to see them?

MR. FLEISCHER: Nothing to report since the President shared that with you yesterday.

Q In terms of the pictures, the administration is upset because it is a violation of the Geneva Accords, you say —

MR. FLEISCHER: That’s correct.

Q Are we following the Geneva Accords —

MR. FLEISCHER: Of course.

Q — in Iraq and Guantanamo?

MR. FLEISCHER: There are two different situations. You have the war against terrorism, and then you have this conflict, which is much more of a traditional conflict. And we have always treated people humanely, consistent with international agreements. In the case of the fight in Iraq, there’s no question that it’s being done in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.

Q How about the detainees in Guantanamo? They have no rights under the Geneva Accords?

MR. FLEISCHER: As I just indicated, we always treat them humanely, consistent with.

This evening on NPR, I hear that the press corps pressing Rumsfeld.

Could it be that domestic reporters are actually digging deep and taking adversarial positions because they see their colleagues “in country” getting a lot more air time. This may be reading into things a bit too deeply, but there can be little doubt that the 24-hour news coverage of the war creates a voracious news hole, and one that controversy in Washington can help fill.

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