Journalists in Iraq

| Fri Apr. 8, 2005 12:23 PM PDT

It's not often we link to gossip columnists, but Lloyd Grove's bit in the New York Daily News today about the controversy surrounding the New York Times' Badghdad Bureau is sort of intriguing:

The perils of Iraq have nothing on the nasty fracas erupting between former New York Times Baghdad Bureau Chief Susan Sachs and her ex-colleagues, Times Baghdad correspondents Dexter Filkins and John Burns.

The Gray Lady's management has just fired Sachs, a widely respected and experienced journalist who has tangled bitterly with Burns and Filkins, over allegations that she sent anonymous letters and an E-mail to their wives alleging bad behavior with women in the war zone….

But there's certainly no love lost between Sachs and her former colleagues in Baghdad. Back in January, The New York Observer reported that relations between Sachs and Burns and Filkins had become so toxic that Times Executive Editor Bill Keller dispatched then-foreign editor Roger Cohen to broker peace. During a meeting at the bureau to quell the antagonism, Sachs demanded the session be tape-recorded. Soon after the failed effort, Sachs - who loudly complained when Filkins starting carrying a gun - was recalled to New York.

Can't say Iraq is the sort of place where tensions wouldn't run high. On a far, far more substantial note, though, the International Federation of Journalists today published "credible and convincing" reports that the United States has been targeting journalists in Iraq. (You'll recall that Eason Jordan of CNN was forced to resign after making similar accusations a few months back.) I don't at all feel comfortable judging or assessing what's going on here—or distinguishing between "targeted" killings and journalists getting caught in the crossfire—but the fact that the U.S. seems to have whitewashed any and all investigations into the matter is pretty deeply disturbing.

UPDATE: And here's a story that, by rights, ought to placate those who think the media is ought to "sabotage" or "undermine" the U.S. military in Iraq. Al Kamen reports that an Army Stryker Brigade in Mosul brought a journalist along to a site "where school supplies were to be handed out to needy students." But when the reporter got there, no schoolchildren! So did the rabid leftwing journalist embarrass the brigade by plastering this little folly on the next day's front page? No. The reporter, it seems, "understood what had happened." Not bad for a Fifth Columnist, eh?

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