Yes, the main stream media is often predictably awful. Thankfully, every once in a while, valuable content finds its way into the mix. Case in point: Here are two articles, both from the Washington Post.
One is a clear example of the press doing poorly. The other offers a valuable perspective and is surprisingly good.
relates (of course) to Iraq--particularly the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Generally The Post avoids the excesses typical of their rival the New York Times
. In this particular case, the two are indistinguishable.
relates to the recent elections in Peru. This column offers a personal perspective from someone who knows of what he speaks. I will highlight some excerpts, but let me encourage you to read this one in its entirety.
Driven by obvious partisan instincts, Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus do their best to turn a story worthy of celebration into a slam against the Bush administration:
From the moment President Bush introduced him to the American people in October 2002, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi served a crucial purpose for the administration, providing a tangible focus for its insistence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist network responsible for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
...In addition to his indisputably prominent role in the Iraqi insurgency, Zarqawi was always a useful source of propaganda for the administration. Magnification of his role and of the threat he posed grew to the point that some senior intelligence officers believed it was counterproductive.
But the administration also occasionally found it useful to play down Zarqawi's importance and influence.In early 2004, the then-governing Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad triumphantly displayed an intercepted letter from Zarqawi to the al-Qaeda leadership that it said illustrated the terrorist's despair in the face of an increasingly competent U.S.-trained Iraqi security force.
Let me see if I've got this right. On one hand, the administration exagerated Zarqawi's role ("magnified," to use their term). On the other, the administration "played down" Zarqawi's importance. In both cases, the "journalists" imply, the administration warrants criticism. And this passes for news print, not opinion. Hmm...
In contrast to the above, in a piece entitiled "Andean Blues," Alvaro Vargas Llosa, reflects on the recent presidential election in Peru. Llosa
is a Peruvian native, living inthe U.S. who, as the result of his grandfather's death, found himself in Lima on the day of the runoff between Alan Garcia and Ollanta Humala. To quote Llosa:
One of them, former President Alan Garcia, brought ruin to Peru in the 1980s -- hyperinflation, corruption, abuse of power...
The other candidate, Ollanta Humala, was a former military officer accused of human rights violations who led a coup attempt against dictator Alberto Fujimori in 2000. He is now close to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and sought to replace the fragile republican institutions with an authoritarian, or caudillo-style, nationalist regime.
Peru's election is not unlike the mayoral contest in New Orleans. Mulitple candidates populate the first ballot (I think there were something like 20 candidates for president in the initial round). If no one has a 50% majority, then there is a runoff.
In the early going, Humala held a commanding lead in the polls, but as the election drew near, his numbers began to drop. Nevertheless, he won the first ballot with about 30% of the vote--not enough to avoid the runoff, however. Two other candidates received an almost identical percentage of the vote. Lourdes Flores, a buisness-friendly conservative and Alan Garcia who had reigned over a disasterous presidency from 1985-1990. Each recieved about 23%, but Garcia's percentage was fractionally higher.
The two top vote getters were thus, Humala and Garcia--not an attractive choice, either way you cut it. They faced each other in the run off in early June. Humala's standing plumeted in the final days of the campaign and Garcia ultimately won with about 55% of the vote.
Garcia seems to have "evolved." He favors Peru remaining a part of the global community. His leftist tendencies seem to have moderated. Peru definitely dodged a bullet with this one. We can be thankful that the people were not dupped as the voters in Venezuela were. Let's hope that Garcia's second effort as Peru's leader works out better this time.Top photo: Ollanta Humala (attribution unknown)Lower photo: Peru's next president, Alan Garcia (Reuters)