Maureen Dowd: Live From Baghdad: – More Dying

More death in Baghdad. Laura Ingrahm should be feeling mighty ashamed.

Live From Baghdad: More Dying
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: May 31, 2006

James Brolan, the CBS soundman who was blown up in Baghdad on Memorial Day, was cute and funny and cheated at Scrabble. The 42-year-old former British soldier left a wife, an 18-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter.

Paul Douglas, the cameraman, was a slab of a man with a great smile and gentle charm, a whiz of a cook who lived in London, where he liked to ride his motorcycle and cruise in an old Bentley that he’d restored himself. The 48-year-old left a wife, two daughters, three grandchildren and a mother.


Several teams of doctors have been fighting to save the life, and the legs, of Kimberly Dozier, the CBS correspondent who was hurt by the roadside bomb. The single 39-year-old was a headlong, generous reporter who had spent years covering Iraq and Afghanistan.

“People rarely think of a woman as pretty as Kimberly as being strong,” Dan Rather blogged on the CBS Web site. “She is.”

Mr. Rather recalled that she had kept a kayak in her room in Baghdad, hoping she could someday persuade the military to let her row on the Tigris, near where she almost died while embedded with the American infantry, reporting a story about what the troops were doing on Memorial Day.

Doctors said that her heart had stopped beating and her blood pressure had plummeted. But somehow, with the help of blood donations from those in the combat hospital, they stabilized her. (Soldiers dragged Mr. Douglas away from the burning vehicle and put a tourniquet on one of his legs that had been blasted off, but it was too late to save him.)

The administration and some right-wing commentators have blamed the press for not reporting positive news in Iraq. The radio host Laura Ingraham has suggested that the press is “invested in America’s defeat” and has mocked TV journalists for “reporting from hotel balconies about the latest I.E.D.’s going off.”

Conservative chatterers have parroted President Bush’s complaint that “people resuming their normal lives will never be as dramatic as the footage of an I.E.D. explosion.”

But now two network personalities — Ms. Dozier and Bob Woodruff — have been severely injured by roadside bombs while embedded with the military, trying to do the sort of stories the administration wants.

“One thing I don’t want to hear anymore,” Steve Capus, the president of NBC News, told The Times’s Bill Carter, “is people like Laura Ingraham spewing about us not leaving our balconies in the Green Zone to cover what’s really happening in Iraq.”

Even with constricted coverage, the tally of journalists killed in Iraq is now 71, more than the number killed in Vietnam or World War II. (This war is now six months short of the United States involvement in World War II, but at least then we knew we were winning by this point.)

Shaken by the CBS losses, networks were reassessing how to cover a story with such excruciating risks. Journalists in Iraq are hamstrung in Iraq just as the troops are, struggling, with ever greater frustration and higher costs, to do the job they were sent in to do.

As the CBS war correspondent Lara Logan told CNN recently, American officials often reject her requests for optimistic stories, saying: “Oh, sorry, we can’t take you to that school project, because if you put that on TV, they’re going to be attacked, the teachers are going to be killed, the children might be the victims of attack. Oh, sorry, we can’t show this reconstruction project because then that’s going to expose it to sabotage.”

An American soldier was killed in the blast that killed the CBS cameraman and soundman and injured Ms. Dozier. But more than a day after we knew everything about the CBS victims, no information had been released about him.

There is a tragic anonymity about this war. Kids die but we don’t know who they are, other than their names, which turn up in small print. They do not touch everyone’s lives because, without a draft, they are not drawn from every part of American society. The administration tries to play down any sense of individual loss; the president has not attended a single funeral, and the government banned pictures of their returning coffins. The Iraqi civilians who die don’t even get their names in the small print.

Journalists die and we know who they are. We know they liked to cook and play Scrabble. But we don’t know who killed them, and their killers will never be brought to justice. The enemy has no face, just a finger on a detonator.

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 10 Comments

She’s a better writer without snark.

May 31, 2006 @ 3:43 am | Comment

Agreed. She can be superb, when she drops the cutesy, tiresome snark. Too bad she almost never does.

May 31, 2006 @ 4:01 am | Comment

I too didn’t like Dowd’s dripping sarcasm and irony at first, but I’ve grown to like her style very much. She’s also a very imaginative writer who connects dots in entertaining, fascinating ways.
Thanks, Richard, for posting. The more Times columns that get posted, the better! Since you’re in Asia, maybe it’s safer for you to post them, especially as Times lawyers are still coming down on some (likely Stateside) bloggers who do it. This has happened just in the past week or two to a blogger that was regularly reproducing Times columns at fbihopopeds.blogspot.com
Unfortunately, he’s been frightened into conforming to Times’ lawyers’ demands to cease and desist. Truthout was similarly scared into submission many months ago.

May 31, 2006 @ 4:10 pm | Comment

I wish the NYT would show a photo of her with a shorter skirt. For a woman of 50-something she ain’t bad.

Oh and sometimes she can write pretty well, too.
;-)

May 31, 2006 @ 5:04 pm | Comment

Ivan, send her a note. Maybe the two of you can get something started. ;)

May 31, 2006 @ 8:15 pm | Comment

Ivan, I gather she’s looking…

May 31, 2006 @ 11:05 pm | Comment

What kind of minds focus on the messenger of this powerful piece rather than the substance?

A rhetorical question, since the answer is obvious to all but the willfully blind…

June 1, 2006 @ 12:11 am | Comment

Truth, there’s history here – a lot of us have been frustrated at MoDo’s cutesiness, and we see this column as a relief.

June 1, 2006 @ 12:41 am | Comment

What’s frustrating about MoDo is that she can be so powerful and eloquent and concise. Other times she just wastes her talent on trivial fluff. Which if it were funnier would be okay, but it’s just mediocre.

I agree that this was a really good piece. I think MoDo needs to connect with her anger and her passion more often, rather than retreating to cutesy irony.

June 1, 2006 @ 12:57 am | Comment

And she’s Irish, so I’ll bet she can really hold her liquor.

Yep, she’s the girl for me!

June 1, 2006 @ 3:33 am | Comment

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