Joe the Plumber, As Qualified As Many Mideast Reporters

Pajamas TV is sending Joe Wurzelbacher, A/K/A '"Joe the Plumber," to Israel to cover the conflict in Gaza. Eric Trager sees the pitfalls:

It seems as though Joe will only contribute to the very problem that so many in the blogosphere have harped on for so long-namely, that Middle East reporters frequently arrive in the region with no frame of reference and/or obscene biases.  Indeed, will Joe be any more capable than the average MSM correspondent of reading an Israeli newspaper; or interpreting a mosque sermon on Palestinian television; or assessing the strategic significance of a given Israeli operation or Hamas rocket-attack?  It seems highly improbable, to say the least.

A couple of years ago, during the previous iteration of the Iran-Israel war, I was standing on the Lebanese border with a group of American reporters. Overhead, Israeli Apaches were firing rockets at Hezbollah positions. One of the reporters looked up and asked, "Is that an airplane or a helicopter?" Man, that was embarrassing.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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