Jon Schwarz is editor of MichaelMoore.com and was research producer for 'Capitalism: A Love Story.' He's also contributed to the New Yorker, New York Times, Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, Slate, Saturday Night Live and NPR.
I'm sure it's tough for many reasons to work for the Sulzbergers and Carlos Slim at the New York Times. But I'd have an especially hard time coming into the office every day and being forced to write paragraphs like this in today's story about Afghanistan:
American and NATO officials in Kabul…said that [development] aid would continue, although the amounts given were likely to be reduced over time. And the Afghan government would have to live up to its commitments to battle corruption and run a more open government for the aid to keep flowing.
It's not just that the New York Times itself, to its great credit, uncovered the story of the CIA giving the Karzai government millions in bags of cash one week ago. It's that the bags of cash article was written by the same reporter, Matthew Rosenberg.
Yet here he is today, faithfully passing along the news about how anonymous American officials sincerely want Karzai to be less corrupt. It's like breaking the Eliot Spitzer prostitution story, and then quoting him a week later explaining how he's going to continue paying Ashley Dupré as long as she lives up to his longstanding demand that she be less of a prostitute.
(I have much more sympathy for the payee in both situations. In Karzai's case, he likely remembers that after the Soviets left, their last puppet was castrated, dragged through the streets of Kabul behind a jeep, and then publicly hanged. So you can understand if he wants to keep some cash on hand.)
P.S. Last October Glenn Greenwald and Kade Ellis has a long exchange on twitter with Rosenberg in which he finally acknowledged that the U.S. government may not be 100% trustworthy. Read it to see how anxious Rosenberg was about answering basic, straightforward questions.
P.P.S. It's also hard to be a reporter at the Washington Post. Several years ago, think tank couple Fred and Kimberly Kagan worked for David Petraeus in Afghanistan. Then they came back and told the world about how we had to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely.
It turns out that, according to great reporting by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the Kagans were paid nothing by the Defense Department. Instead, they continued to get their salaries from their think tanks, which in turn are largely funded by defense contractors that profit from indefinite war.
Yet Chandrasekaran had to write this without acknowledging that it was funny in any way at all:
Petraeus called them his "directed telescopes" and urged them to focus on the challenge of tackling corruption and building an effective government in Afghanistan, a task they addressed with gusto.
I guess in this case it would be like Spitzer seeing a second prostitute and paying her extra to look into the issue of why Ashley Dupré was such a prostitute.
But the best part is that after having the Kagans look into the issue of how the Afghan government could get less corrupt, David Petraeus went on to become director of the CIA. Maybe he flipped through their report whenever he needed a break from stuffing cash into the plastic bags.
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