Sunday, October 16
Friday and Saturday meetings on Syria: A lovely time was had by all
The Reuters editorial staff covering White House meetings got a little balder writing up their report on the security meeting but it's only for a few more months they'll have to tear out their hair. They hope. They did wring this news from the meeting:
President Barack Obama met on Friday with his national security team to discuss the fight against Islamic State and the war in Syria, the White House said.
A readout of the meeting released by the White House noted that the United States had broken off bilateral talks with Russia on reaching a ceasefire in Syria. It said Obama directed his team to continue multilateral talks with "key nations" to seek a diplomatic resolution to the civil war.
The brief summary made no mention of other U.S. options in Syria.Reuters filled in the rest of report on the security meeting with references to their earlier report on the planning for the Friday meeting.
But I must say The Wall Street Journal got quite creative with finding something to say about the White House meeting. They headlined their report, Syria Meeting Ends With Fresh Ideas, but No Agreement, making it seem that at least something had happened at the White House Friday meeting. But actually the fresh ideas (which they couldn't discuss with reporters) pertained to a multilateral meeting on Saturday in Lausanne -- that's in Switzerland not Washington -- about Syria. Almost the entire WSJ report was about this meeting, which actually boiled down to the participants agreeing on the need to schedule another meeting.
As to the Friday meeting in Washington, here is what the WSJ reporter scraped together:
Mr. Obama convened a meeting of his national security council on Friday to discuss the fight against the Islamic State extremist group and the civil war in Syria. It isn’t clear if any decisions were made in the meeting but officials have said the White House is considering nondiplomatic efforts in Syria.The reporter then rehashed what everyone's been saying for weeks about what these nondiplomatic efforts might be and presented it as if had been discussed at the Friday meeting, which meant a tongue-twister leading off in the sentence:
Officials have said they have discussed the possibility of more lethal weapons to rebels, limited military strikes on positions of the Assad regime and sanctions.The reporter also reported that "According to the White House, the president directed officials to continue to pursue diplomatic talks ..."
Definitely a good college try, but I think the Wall Street Journal and Reuters should learn from Pundita, who's a past master at churning out filler. To wit:
It was a beautiful Indian Summer day in Washington, DC on Friday for the meeting at the White House on Syria and related matters. President Obama's national security team played a game of horseshoes on the South Lawn and he got to practice golf putts and play with the family dog.
Chicken salad and deviled eggs were served along with iced cranberry tea and key lime pie.
Notice how I made the menu into a separate paragraph to take up more space.
Now as to filler for a report on the Saturday meeting, here the Wall Street Journal reporter really fell down because the meeting took place in the five star Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne. The hotel itself would be good for at least two paragraphs. In fact the WSJ report was even accompanied by a photo of the hotel entrance -- one of them -- but nary a word about the hotel! [clicking her tongue in disapproval]
The hotel and its setting are so gorgeous that this explains why negotiations in 2015 on the Iran nuclear 'agreement,' which were held at the hotel, dragged on so long. The breakfast restaurant and its Sunday brunch buffet are by themselves worthy of a sonnet.
I don't want to hear any Scrooges asking, 'So all this negotiating was done on the taxpayer dime?' Now now, not everyone can be a captain of industry. Bureaucrats also deserve to be treated like the very rich sometimes.
See how easy it is to crank out filler when you know how? It just takes practice.