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Time Magazine’s Michael Ware

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The newsweekly’s Baghdad burea chief joined me for a long conversation about the war in Iraq and journalism’s role –including his– in it.

It will play in the second hour today, and replay in the first hour on Thursday.

Radioblogger.com will have a transcript up later.

Parts of this interview trouble me a great deal. Ware is quite obviously a courageous, battle-hardened and determined reporter, but his answers to a variety of questions leave me concerned that the pressure of his circumstances will impact his reporting, and may have already impacted the candor of his assessment of the jihadists and the “insurgents.” His refusal to answer other questions of historical judgment and relevance –were the Soviets better off under Stalin or Khrushchev, for example– tell me he is aware of the deep problems with his analysis of Iraq under Saddam and post-Saddam, and that he refuses to engage in any conversation that will inevitably expose that analysis as indefensible.

But the major problem comes from the threat of distortion born of fear, the same problem that we learned plagued CNN under Saddam, but learned only after Saddam was toppled.

The public can judge for itself whether Ware’s defense of his choices is persuasive. But those choices have few if any parallels in American journalism’s history of wartime reporting.

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