I don't think very much of Vox.com and its journalistic standards. I've made the case against them before in detail, but the evidence of their general lack of professionalism is still piling up. Vox has a daily email newsletter written by Matthew Yglesias, and today's missive contains the following gem:
Obama's pretty successful Middle East strategy
Obviously, Obama's strategy in the Middle East is a disaster. Yemen is a disaster. Syria is a disaster. Libya is a disaster. Iraq is a mess. The relationship with Israel is a mess, and yet nothing has been accomplished for the Palestinians. Disaster disaster disaster.
This conventional wisdom isn't exactly wrong, I guess, but I think it leaves some important big picture things out. Relative to his predecessor, Obama has succeeded in drastically reducing the number of Americans getting killed in the Middle East while continuing to keep the US homeland free of terrorist attacks. That's pretty good!
People used to argue a lot about promoting stability versus promoting democracy, and Obama has not succeeded in promoting either. But he has protected core US interests at a low cost. That's decent work, if you ask me.
It is true that Obama pulled troops out of Iraq, which did cut down substantially on U.S. military deaths. Of course, it's worth considering all the other deaths Obama's Iraq policy may have caused. Recall that Joe Biden bet his vice presidency the administration would secure a Status of Forces Agreement to keep some troops in Iraq. The White House failed to secure Status of Forces Agreement, and since then Obama has made all sorts of disingenuous flip-flops on whether he intended to keep some troops in Iraq. The bottom line is the lack of U.S. troops in Iraq paved the way for ISIS. And is also ceding the country the Iran-backed Shiite militias fighting ISIS. The country is now an abattoir, but it's not Americans that are being dumped into mass graves and Obama feels no need to honor any sort of commitment to Iraq so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
But what about Afghanistan? Total troop deaths in Afghanistan under Obama: 1,663. Total troop deaths in Afghanistan under Bush: 569.
Oh and "continuing to keep the US homeland free of terrorist attacks"? I forget -- why are we having that big trial up in Boston with that Tsarnaev kid again? It's been in the news quite a bit lately, so Yglesias doesn't have much an excuse for overlooking this. And there have been at least four other domestic terror attacks on Obama's watch -- the underwear bomber, the Times Square Bomber, the Fort Hood shooting, and the Little Rock military recruiting office shooting.
This might be the most callous, superficial, and flatly inaccurate defense I've ever read of Obama's foreign policy -- and that's saying something.
Two weeks ago, Rolling Stone published a bombshell piece that rocked the academic world. In the story, author Sabrina Erdely detailed a horrific crime — a gang rape at one of the fraternities at the University of Virginia that allegedly took place two years ago.
Someone I'm related to by marriage has written a superb column on the problem of media ignorance. The fact I'm not a disinterested observer shouldn't stop me from noting that the column and the event that prompted it has attracted some attention. The piece is pegged to a much discussed interview talk radio star Hugh Hewitt conducted with Zach Carter, the Huffington Post’s “senior political economy reporter.” Hewitt asked Carter why he was spouting off various critical opinions related to Dick Cheney and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Certainly, Carter's not alone here -- the rise of ISIS has had liberal journalists queuing up to insist President Obama bears minimal responsibility for the disintegration of the situation in Iraq. Joe Biden bet his vice presidency Iraq would extend the Status of Forces Agreement, and had they not failed, it might well have prevented the current mess. But here we are.
Another reporter is joining the Obama administration. Emily Pierce, the deputy editor of Roll Call, will be joining the office of public affairs at the Department of Justice, the federal agency headed by Attorney General Eric Holder.
Pierce was welcomed to her new position by Brian Fallon, who works in that DOJ office and who used to be Chuck Schumer's spokesman in the Senate.
"Can't wait to welcome @emilyprollcall to @TheJusticeDept Office of Public Affairs later this month. She is a true pro," Fallon said on Twitter.
Like Diogenes in search of an honest man, The Scrapbook has been on an extended quest to find the Golden Age of American journalism. That was the era, not so long ago, when a literate public was downright serious about the news, and America’s newspapers, magazines, and television networks paid close, detailed attention to current events, foreign affairs, and national politics—which, of course, were civil in tone, bipartisan in nature, and concerned with finding solutions rather than exploiting problems.
The Scrapbook has previously commented on the “new breed of pundit/political scientist who seems to think that a pie chart is a substitute for argument.” Whether it’s the fault of an education system and corporate sector saturated with PowerPoint presentations, the increasing desperation of polemicists, reporters, and poli-sci types to cast their work as hard “science,” or just the rising tide of philistinism, it seems an ever-growing number of writers and thinkers have taken to substituting the siren song of the computer-generated chart for the hard work of written argument.
With the death of Jack Germond at 85, the great triumvirate of political reporting is now gone. Germond, Robert Novak, and David Broder were the Clay, Calhoun, and Webster of political journalism with their columns and TV commentary, but mostly with their dogged reporting.
In light of the ongoing, slow-motion collapse of the mainstream media, at least one major journalism school has decided to reassess its priorities. Last week, Inside Higher Ed reported that the prestigious Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern California is revamping its master’s degree program.