Michael Massing has an amusing and trenchant critique of what he terms “David Ignatius’s Helicopter Journalism.”
What a delight it must be to be a columnist for a major American newspaper. When traveling to distant, war-torn lands, you can enlist America’s top generals to show you around. That’s what David Ignatius of The Washington Post did on Sunday. He was shown around Baghdad by no less a figure than Centcom commander David Petraeus. Or, rather, he was shown it from the air. The two flew over the city in a Black Hawk helicopter. The general pointed out all the signs of recovery below. “See, the houses are occupied again,” he said as they passed over a neighborhood that several years ago had been largely abandoned. He pointed to the schools, police stations, parks, markets, and a traffic jam, which, he said was “good to see.”
The whole thing is worth a read. The larger issue, of course, is the problematic relationship between journalists and high-powered sources.