Here’s exhibit 125th — or is it 1,125th? — why I have subscribed to the Wall Street Journal. It’s what I got on page one of my home-delivered Chi Trib, which landed right next to my Journal:
Russians, Georgians engage in war of spin
The Tribune’s Alex Rodriguez finds cagey denials and unverified claims aimed at gaining global support
By Alex Rodriguez | Tribune correspondent
12:07 AM CDT, August 18, 2008
TBILISI, Georgia — A Russian newspaper recently published what was portrayed as the seamy truth behind the conflict in Georgia: Vice President Dick Cheney helped engineer the war as a way to keep Barack Obama from getting elected.
The tortuous logic behind the claim may be hard to grasp, but the intent isn’t.
Russia acts like Germany in 1938, and we have time for relaxed irony? And with a touch of pox on both their houses, at that?
The claim, made by Sergei Markov, a political analyst closely tied with the Kremlin and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, was meant to shift blame away from Moscow and lay it on an obvious target on the other side of the Atlantic. In an age when Russia tries to show itself as a democracy free from the shackles of the Soviet mind-set, it had all the markings of Kremlin propaganda.
This is Tribune thumb-sucking at its best — while the newspaper burns. From their man in Russia, for God’s sake, here reporting from Tbilisi.
Now see what I found in the Journal:
First of all, it’s by one guy in Poti, another in Gori, each on the ground, as we say. The lede is crisp and business-like:
Russia, under intense diplomatic pressure, announced it will begin pulling troops out of neighboring Georgia — but it leaves behind a battered Western ally.
Since a separatist dispute flared into open war Aug. 8, Moscow has occupied chunks of Georgia’s territory, strangled its economy, cut transport links and damaged key investment projects.
There’s diplomatic reporting, from Georgian economy minister, the Russian president, Sec. of State Rice, White House spokesman, the German chancellor, the Georgian First Deputy Minister of Economic Development, etc.
Then from Poti, a town on the Black Sea:
Though hundreds of miles from the fighting in Georgia’s separatist province of South Ossetia and clearly not a military asset, Poti’s huge commercial port was targeted 10 days ago in a Russian bombing raid that killed 10 people and wounded 40. The town itself has seen daily incursions by Russian troops who have looted stores, trashed offices and systematically destroyed military infrastructure, according to Georgian officials. Some looting has been captured on local television.
From Alan Middleton, the English head of Poti Sea Port Corp.:
“The Russians deliberately targeted commercial operations to inflict economic damage on Georgia. Dropping bombs on Poti port, killing people — I don’t see how you can connect that with South Ossetia.”
Lots more from Poti, including:
[A]bout 700 Russian troops trundled into town in tanks and armored personnel carriers. Tengiz Khukhia, the town’s deputy mayor, approached the Russian commander, who told him they had orders to eliminate all Georgian military facilities in Poti. He also issued a warning. “He said if any of you touch a hair on any of my soldiers’ heads, we’ll flatten the whole town,” says Mr. Khukhia. The commander couldn’t be located for comment.
Lots, lots more, plus another story from the scene, in this case Tkviavi, with this lede:
As armored columns rumble by, the body of Shamil Okroporidze is rotting for the fifth day in his garden, just two steps off the main north-south highway that bisects this village deep in Russian-occupied Georgia.
And there’s neither pathos nor bathos nor sentimental rot, just reporting in time-honored straight fashion, bringing the reader along. And no “war of spin.”