5 Best Tuesday Columns

"Preposterous" WikiLeaks revelations, debunking journalism's "gatekeepers" and more

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  • Bret Stephens on WikiLeaks and Killing Fields Lost amid WikiLeaks fever, writes the Wall Street Journal columnist, was the conviction of Khmer Rouge prison commandant Kaing Guek Eav for his involvement in Cambodian genocide. That was another war unpopular with the left. But when American troops left southeast Asia, all hell broke loose. "All in all," says Stephens, "America's withdrawal from Southeast Asia resulted in the killing of an estimated 165,000 South Vietnamese in so-called re-education camps; the mass exodus of one million boat people, a quarter of whom died at sea; the mass murder, estimated at 100,000, of Laos's Hmong people; and the killing of somewhere between one million and two million Cambodians." This is why outrage towards the Afghanistan war strikes Stephens as so curious--it would seem that staying in the war-torn nation and preventing another region of the world from plunging into chaos is in keeping with a liberal world view.
  • Robert B. Gagosian and Christopher F. D'Elia on Researching the Oil Spill  In an op-ed contribution in The Washington Post, the two academics outline how scientific inquiry into the gulf oil spill fallout will drastically improve the U.S. government's response efforts. While BP has launched a 10-year, 500 million dollar research plan, much of the project has been stymied by bureaucratic inaction. They conclude: "Every day of delay means more valuable data is not being collected, and ultimately lost. After the Exxon Valdez spill, it took more than three years for a research initiative to come to fruition, a terrible loss of scientific opportunity and information critical to planning and implementing better responses to future spills."
  • Fred Kaplan on the Unsurprising WikiLeaks documents "Just because some documents are classified doesn't mean that they're news or even necessarily interesting," the Slate contributor begins. While Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has equated the data deluge with the Vietnam-era Pentagon Papers, Kaplan finds this assertion to be "preposterous." The newspaper world is just "hyping" the documents because, in essence, that's what media organizations do: "Journalism, the old saw has it, is the first draft of history. The WikiLeaks documents amount to the first notes of a journalistic story, and incomplete notes at that."
  • Jonah Goldberg on the 'New' Journalism  The Tribune's syndicated columnist waves off the nostalgic "self-serving bunkum" of some veteran journalists who bemoan the passing of the Cronkite era. Not only were journalistic "gatekeepers" prone to manipulation and fabrication, Goldberg writes, they were also liable to make mistakes with no one to check them. In the fractured, 24-hour news cycle there are a million swirling voices that are a backlash to the "old media monopoly", "[t]his pincer movement can be scary. But it's progress over the Cronkite era."
  • Marc Thiessen on East African Terrorism The Washington Post columnist reports "a new transnational terrorist network is taking shape in East Africa--one that may have its sights set on the United States." An ally of al-Qeada, the group, known as al-Shabab, has already been linked to attacks in Uganda. What's more troubling, according to Thiessen, is the ease with which they've been able to recruit Americans. Making a bad situation worse, Thiessen says President Obama botched a chance to capture and interrogate the group's leader last fall when he ordered an air strike instead of trying to take higher-ups alive. As a result, notes Thiessen, any intel about this burgeoning new terrorist network "vaporized."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.