By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Media Nation’s Zarqawi contest

Among the odder phenomena related to the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is the notion advanced in some circles that liberals are unhappy because the deadly raid makes President Bush look good. Media Matters offers this example, in the form of a deeply stupid exchange between Fox News host John Gibson and Republican strategist Ed Rollins.

Yes, Nick Berg’s poor father has said some strange things, but he is, after all, still grieving.

Anyway, Media Nation this morning issues a challenge. If you can find a credible example of a mainstream liberal expressing anything other than delight at Zarqawi’s demise, send it along and I’ll post it. An explanation of the rules:

  • “Credible” means from the horse’s mouth. If Sean Hannity, for instance, claims that Liberal X uttered Outrage Y, that doesn’t count. However, if you’ve got proof that Liberal X did indeed say Outrage Y, that counts.
  • “Mainstream” means someone whom we don’t have to spend a half-hour researching to figure out who he is. Also, Ward Churchill doesn’t count.
  • In determining the validity of any particular entry, I am judge, jury and executioner.

In a twist, conservative blogger Glenn Reynolds accuses Newark Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine of falsely claiming that Reynolds had criticized the media for not being sufficiently appreciative of Zarqawi’s death.

I followed the links, and I’d say Reynolds comes closer to making that accusation he wants to admit. The Himmler aside is telling.

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  1. Alger Hiss

    Henry Wallace!Woops! He’s dead too.

  2. Sven

    “From now on I’m going to make every son of a bitch who comes to my intelligence tent sign a loyalty oath. And I’m not going to let that bastard Major Major sign even if he wants to.”

  3. metallicaMobes

    Rep. Peter Stark, D-CA:”This is just to cover Bush’s ass so he doesn’t have to answer for the killing of Iraqi civilians by the U.S. military. Iraq is still a mess – get out.”Robert Fisk, CounterPunch (might not be considered a MSM Lib)- “Sir Percy Blakeney, of course, eluded the revolutionary French. But the Baroness Orczy–unlike Mr Bush–would scarcely have bothered with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian thug whose dubious allegiance to al-Qa’ida turned him in to another “Enemy Number One” for those who believe they are fighting the eternal “war on terror”. For so short is our attention span–and Messrs Bush and Blair, of course, rely on this–we have already forgotten that our leaders’ only interest in Zarqawi before the illegal 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq was to propagate the lie that Osama bin Laden was in cahoots with Saddam Hussein… Yesterday, with an inevitability born of the utterly false promise that the bloodbath in Iraq is yielding dividends, we were supposed to believe that the death of Zarqawi was a famous victory. The American press dusted off their favorite phrase: “terrorist mastermind”. No one, I suspect, will be able to claim the $25m on his head–unless he was betrayed by his own hooded gunmen–but the American military, stained by the blood of Haditha, received a ritual pat on the back from the Commander-in-Chief. They had got their man, the instigator of civil war, the flame of sectarian hatred, the head chopper who supposedly murdered Nicholas Berg. Maybe he was all these things. Or maybe not. But it will bring the war no nearer to its end, not because of the inevitable Islamist rhetoric about the “thousand Zarqawis” who will take his place, but because individuals no longer control–if they ever did–the inferno of Iraq.”(entire story at )Nir Rosen, Truth Dig: “Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the “Sheikh of the Slaughterers,” is dead. So dies an American myth—that of the “most wanted man” in Iraq. But other myths persist: that Zarqawi’s death will have positive consequences; or that “victory,” whatever that might mean, is possible in Iraq in the wake of Zarqawi’s death.”(full article at: )Do I win a prize?!?!?

  4. Anonymous

    Metallicamobes is missing the point. Iraq really is a mess. And the US evidently did excagerate Zarqawi’s importance. Moreover, none of these statements are hateful. They are simply taking postitions with which Metallicamobes disagrees.Metallicamobes, please try to understand. I don’t detest Coulter because she is a conservative and her opiniinos differ from mine. I detest her because she is hateful.

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Metallica –Sorry, no prize.1. The quote attributed to Stark appears to have been largely concocted. We don’t know what he said. See this.2. No, Robert Fisk is not a mainstream liberal.3. I’ve never heard of Nir Rosen, and I suspect you haven’t, either.Too bad — you could have won a free subscription to Media Nation.

  6. metallicaMobes

    well Anon 2:13, I believe the challenge was not to find “hateful” statements, it was to find “a credible example of a mainstream liberal expressing anything other than delight at Zarqawi’s demise.” Big difference there. And you and I are in the same boat when it comes to Coulter, my friend. The less she speaks the better of we are.Dan, I was not aware of the supposed out-of-context Stark quote, but from what I now understand, HuffingtonPost (completely non-biased, just like the Times =P ) was taking issue with the “stunt” aspect in the headlines- and either way he clearly was still expressing a sentiment “other than delight” at Zarqawi’s death. I appeal my denial of a free subscription!

  7. Dan Kennedy

    Metallica — It’s not so much that the Stark quote was taken out of context (though it may have been) as it is that it’s not a Stark quote. Here’s the relevant section:”‘This is just to cover Bush’s [rear] so he doesn’t have to answer’ for Iraqi civilians being killed by the U.S. military and his own sagging poll numbers, said Rep. Pete Stark, California Democrat. ‘Iraq is still a mess — get out.'”Look at all the words the WashTimes puts in Stark’s mouth — from “Iraqi civilians” through “sagging poll numbers.” This is pretty poor practice, and it’s got zippo to do with the HuffPost’s liberal slant.Besides, where does Stark express anything other than delight at Zarqawi’s death? That’s the standard for this contest. Sorry, you’ll still have to pay to read Media Nation. Your bill is in the mail.

  8. Jenna

    Why is time even spent (wasted?) discussing the drivel uttered on fox? You grant them creds.

  9. Specks

    Here, here, Jenna.Way too much keystrokes spent on the propaganists and not enough on the press.How about a line or two on Eric Boehlert?

  10. Steve

    I *just* heard of Nir Rosen the other day, on a Lydon open source archived show (5/8/06).He’s a journalist reporting from Iraq who stays out of the green zone – he’s Iraqi-looking and speaks Iraqi Arabic. I dare say he knows more about Iraq than either Mo or Dan or George Bush or me, for that matter. So before you pigeonhole him, check out what he has to say.

  11. MeTheSheeple

    Jenna, you know what Fox and Al-Jazeera have in common? Dismiss them at your own peril, for better or for worse.

  12. Dan Kennedy

    Steve — I’m not pigeonholing him. I’m not accepting him as an entry in the contest only because he’s too obscure. He may well be a knowledgeable guy. For that matter, I think Fisk’s reporting has a lot of value, but he ain’t no mainstream liberal.

  13. neil

    Now we’re the Delight Police? Inspecting the troops for insufficiently sincere expressions of delight…Come on. Nir Rosen instead tackles the subject straight on:So dies an American myth—that of the “most wanted man” in Iraq. But other myths persist: that Zarqawi’s death will have positive consequences; or that “victory,” whatever that might mean, is possible in Iraq in the wake of Zarqawi’s death.The American tendency to personalize the enemy in this “most wanted man” way has always struck me as naive and counterproductive. It gives too much credit to individuals and shortchanges the confounded complexity we couldn’t be bothered to sort through. We only have the patience for a High Noon-style showdown thus the need to focus on a few visible bad guys. Zarqawi wasn’t an ideological leader anyway but only a thug and murderer who thrived in the chaos of Iraq. Killing him is a tactical victory of course. It’s good to get a killer off the streets. But as long as a power vacuum exists in Iraq the sectarian violence, which poses the greatest threat to long-term stability in Iraq and which is completely out of our control, will continue. And that sectarian violence has no such famous face attached to it. Oops gotta go, the Delight Police are at the door…

  14. Anonymous

    From,2933,199205,00.html“Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro has called the U.S. airstrike that killed Al Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi a “barbarity” — saying Zarqawi should have been captured and tried.Castro says the U.S. acted as its own judge and jury against Zarqawi, telling an audience, “They bragged, they were practically drunk with happiness” over his death. The communist leader said if Cuba used the same logic, it could bomb the U.S. to kill the man Castro has called the government’s No. 1 enemy, Luis Posada Carriles, who is currently being held in Texas on immigration charges.”Castro is a mainstream liberal.

  15. metallicaMobes

    Ok I’m sorry, but did I just hear that we shouldn’t take “delight” when we eliminate one of the high-profile leaders of the enemy? I mean, regardless of the strategic benefit (or lack thereof, for my “Mr. Glass is 1/4 Empty” friends) we should at least applaud the end of one of the most through and through Evil persons in human history. This man personally slowly hacked off other human beings’ heads while videotaping it and sending it to the victims’ families. Enough said.I, Dave Moberg, Officer in the NUDPD (Northeastern University Delight Police Department) am thouroughly Delighted at the demise of this bastard. We all should be. Libtards and ultracon-artists alike.

  16. neil

    Dave take all the delight you want. What I’m saying is, don’t let’s tell each other how we should feel. To quote Martha Stewart, I’d agree that it was a “good thing”. But our emotional wiring varies. It doesn’t affect my overall gloom about our clumsy efforts in Iraq, and how we’re going to get the heck out of there without the whole place going to sh!t, even worse than it already is, the minute we’re gone.Remember the day they found Saddam hiding in that rathole? Hooray, we caught him! A fine day. Did it change anything? How many murderous torturing bastards are still at large? The supply seems endless. Lately they’ve turned their attention to torturing and murdering their fellow countrymen. Progress! We can’t win by killing individual bad guys, it’s the wrong level. It’s like celebrating killing a cockroach, when you should be fumigating the house. Something has to happen higher up, but I don’t know what that is (Prozac in the water supply?) and more important, I don’t think our Dear Leader ever thought about it either. He never thought past the plain-talkin’, lone gunfighter metaphor out of the Old West. Ride in all righteous and taciturn, squinting in the sun, kill the bad guys, and bask in the adoration of a grateful townsfolk. President Gary Cooper. Funny to get that far in life still thinking life is like the movies.This frustration tempers my mood.So I’ll hoist a jar in honor of our boys who got Cockroach Z, but you’ll have to excuse me officer, if I’m not quite of a mood to dance a jig on his grave.

  17. Don

    Fidel Castro? Is he still alive? Who cares what he says? Wouldn’t that be. . . NOBODY?

  18. Conservative Conspiracy Theorist

    We all should be delighted? I guess this is further proof that deep in the heart of almost every self-professed free thinking conservative lies a nasty little authoritarian streak demanding obedience to dear leader.Zarqawi was “one of the most through and through Evil persons in human history”? I suggest metallicaMobes do a little more research before making such a sweeping claim.

  19. whispers

    About this idea that we should “take delight” in Zarqawi’s death, well, there are several decent reasons that I wouldn’t take that step.1) Well, there’s that old standby, the Ten Comandments. “Thou shalt not kill” and such. Sure there’s leeway if there’s a war on, but I think the implication is that taking delight in killing another person is somehow immoral. 2) If you opposed the war in the first place (and I was telling Dan three years ago that the whole WMD thing was a snipe hunt), then you’re not going to celebrate the small victories in the war. Why? Because you think the entire war is a mistake in the larger picture. I think too many people get sucked into the mindset of “well, now that the war has started, we’ve got to keep fighting it”. Really, must we? That kind of thinking kept the US in Vietnam for over a decade. We left, and the US did not, in fact, suffer for having left. We were better off.3) Bush said “justice was done”. No, killing was done. Not the same thing. I don’t want to celebrate the distortion of the word “justice”.4) Zarqawi was always overrepresented in the press. Getting into the “delight”-fest feels a bit like participating in the con.5) If Zarqawi really was a terrorist leader, and the US really did know where he was, why didn’t we nab him and grill him for intel?6) The entire sequence of events just reminds me that Bush could have targeted Zarqawi in 2002-3, before the invasion, but simply chose not to. They didn’t want to stop him, they wanted to use him as a justification for invasion. Cheering his death at this point would make me feel like I’d been suckered by the entire sequence of choices. Probably #2 is the strongest of the reasons.Sadly, I would not qualify as a “prominent liberal”, so no free subscription for me.

  20. Neil

    By the way here’s a cartoon that uses the same infestation metaphor I made. No plagiarism on my part though, honest! Maybe Jack Ohman plagiarized from me. Yeah, that’s the ticket…Anyway probably lots of people thought of it because it is apt.

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