(updated below - Update II)
David Brooks today says he wanted to write a column about Obama's pending decision over Afghanistan, and in order to write this column, this is what he tells us he did: "For the past few days I have tried to do what journalists are supposed to do." Sounds intrepid. What, exactly, is it that "journalists are supposed to"?
As he describes it, Brooks "called around to several of the smartest military experts [he] know[s] to get their views on these controversies." These are people "who follow the war for a living." He wrote down (at least some of) what they said. He then passed it on without quoting -- or even identifying -- a single one of these experts. That's his whole column.
In a shocking coincidence, the views of these unnamed, handpicked, anonymous "experts" all happen to coincide perfectly with Brooks's own warrior views and, more generally, with clichéd neoconservative pablum: Obama must prove that he's just like Churchill and Lincoln -- that he possesses the toughness and determination that tough guy War Presidents exude: "tenacity, the ability to fixate on a simple conviction and grip it, viscerally and unflinchingly, through complexity and confusion" -- which can only happen if he escalates the war in Afghanistan. If he doesn't do that, it will that prove Obama is weak and too "intellectually sophisticated" to be a real War President. "Their first concerns are about Obama the man," Brooks informs us about his invisible friends. The only thing missing from the trite Kristolian playbook is the accusation that Obama will be just like Neville Chamberlain if he doesn't send more troops to vanquish the Afghan Hitlers.
So apparently, this is what "journalists are supposed to do." They call handpicked invisible people on the phone and then write columns summarizing what they claim they said without identifying or describing a single one of them. Did he talk to Max Boot or one of the decorated members of the elite war-cheering Kagan family or similar discredited war-lovers from the American Enterprise Institute and The Brookings Institution? Who knows. He doesn't say. He just faithfully serves as a mindless stenographer for hidden people whose credibility you're told to accept even as they do nothing but spout manipulative, vapid idiocies about Churchillian Resolve designed to promote endless war. In that regard, Brooks has certainly accomplished -- as he usually does -- the typical establishment journalist's conception of "what journalists are supposed to."
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This morning, at 8:20 a.m. EST, I'll be on Democracy Now talking about a variety of issues. Local listings and live video feed is here. Also, the segment I taped yesterday with Bill Moyers should be available on the PBS site later today -- here. I'm traveling home tonight, so regular posting activities should resume on Saturday or, at the latest, on Sunday.
UPDATE: The Democracy Now segment I did this morning, covering a wide range of issues, is here:
UPDATE II: Here is the three-part segment I taped yesterday with Bill Moyers: