I don't have the energy to explain everything that's annoying about Matt Bai's Sunday Times Magazine article on Hollywood and the war. It struck me as a near perfect illustration of what I was talking about here, replete with a pullquote from FreeRepublic.com as if those people are not nuts:
The constant refrain that Hollywood is "out of touch" and filled with "political dilettantes" is offered as evidence of the illegitimacy of Hollywood's political participation in a way one never hears about, say, Wall Street, Grosse Pointe or even Silicon Valley.
Media machers would have a far stronger case for complaint about the role Hollywood plays in our politics if the very same media outlets weren't begging for each star's latest pronouncement. As the Irish actor Daniel Day-Lewis notes, "The media are sick and tired of people in my profession giving their opinion, and yet you're asking me my opinion. And when I give it, you'll say, 'Why doesn't he shut up?'"
Anyway, Bai seems awfully angry at Rob Reiner and company for being righter about the war than most of his colleagues in the mainstream media. He quotes him, saying,
"To me, the death of people at somebody's hands over the stupidity of this man is astounding!" he shouted at me. "When I hear that on the weekend of the Super Bowl an Iraqi expatriate was explaining to him the difference between Kurds and Sunnis and Shiites, it makes me want to cry. I want to cry!" (Reiner said he recalled hearing this anecdote on cable news or talk radio, though I wasn't able to find any reference to it subsequently.)
In fact, Bai (or the Times fact-checkers) could have found the incident described on p.96 of George Packer's book, Assassin's Gate. (A friend adds: Eric - Matt Bai's negligence is even worse than you note. The bit about the exiles having to explain Sunni-Shia conflict to Bush, which you correctly attribute to George Packer's book, originally appeared in a piece that George wrote for the NY Times Magazine!)
UPDATE: This just in: The Packer quote in the Times is:
Bush is a man who has never shown much curiosity about the world. When he met with Makiya and two other Iraqis in January, I was told by someone not present, the exiles spent a good portion of the time explaining to the president that there are two kinds of Arabs in Iraq, Sunnis and Shiites. The very notion of an Iraqi opposition appeared to be new to him. War has turned Bush into a foreign-policy president, but democratizing an Arab country will require a subtlety and sophistication that have been less in evidence than the resolve to fight.
From Dreaming Of Democracy, By GEORGE PACKER (NYT) 7730 words, Published: March 2, 2003
It's just amazing to me the distance that the MSM will go to try to make it appear as if those in favor of this impossibly idiotic war were right and those of us who understood its foolishness were wrong.
Our man Tom Tomorrow has something to say about that here.
Meanwhile, the other guys can be a real pain in the ass as well. Lefty William Arkin fell into a trap set by the likes of Hitchens and others when, in mocking me, he wrote, "Civility was also the subject of Eric Alterman's 21 November column in The Nation that I read on the plane. Okay, maybe in a column where you call O'Reilly/Limbaugh/Scarborough toxic and a certain peace group 'Stalinist android,' it's tough to make too much of a case that you are being civil," here.
Hitchens is absolutely right, for once, when he writes, here.
"International ANSWER," the group run by the "Worker's World" party and fronted by Ramsey Clark, which openly supports Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, and the "resistance" in Afghanistan and Iraq, with Clark himself finding extra time to volunteer as attorney for the génocidaires in Rwanda. Quite a "wide range of progressive political objectives" indeed, if that's the sort of thing you like. However, a dip into any database could have furnished Janofsky with well-researched and well-written articles by David Corn and Marc Cooper—to mention only two radical left journalists—who have exposed "International ANSWER" as a front for (depending on the day of the week) fascism, Stalinism, and jihadism.
So I guess I don't know what "peace group" Arkin had in mind...
Quote of the Day, Geraldo Rivera on Michael Jackson: ""He's a lot more normal in person. And more normal as a dad than you would ever, ever expect. He's really just a normal person once you get past the packaging." Here.
Irony: I skipped a friend's Halloween party, because I don't like costumes, but stupidly, as it turned out, because I missed the sight of Ron Silver showing up with Ann Coulter on his arm... And yes, finish the joke about her costume yourselves...