Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Michael Fletcher/Washington Post Edition)
Michael Fletcher of the Washington Post begins an article that reads as if it were dictated by the White House press office with:
Bush Has Quietly Tripled Aid to Africa - washingtonpost.com: President Bush's legacy is sure to be defined by his wielding of U.S. military power in Afghanistan and Iraq, but there is another, much softer and less-noticed effort by his administration in foreign affairs: a dramatic increase in U.S. aid to Africa.
The president has tripled direct humanitarian and development aid to the world's most impoverished continent since taking office and recently vowed to double that increased amount by 2010 -- to nearly $9 billion.... [F]our African nations -- Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt and Uganda -- rank among the world's top 10 recipients in aid from the United States.... Bush has met with nearly three dozen African heads of state.... He visited Africa.... [A]ides say he hopes to make a return visit...
What Fletcher never finds space to say is that Bush has raised U.S. aid to Africa per African from $2 per year to $6 per year, and has raised aid to Africa as a share of the Federal budget from 0.08% to 0.17% of federal government spending.
With Washington Post reporters, you never know what they are thinking. Is Fletcher omitting the relative scale measures because he knows that readers will conclude that he is really stupid if he writes "Bush has dramatically increased aid to Africa from $2 to $6 per African per year" and the purpose of his article is to please his sources inside the White House? Or is Fletcher omitting the relative scale measures because he genuinely has never bothered to learn anything either about the relative size of aid to Africa in what the federal government does or about the relative importance of U.S. aid in the context of Africa's development and economy and so is easily manipulated by his sources inside the White House? Mendacious? Or lazy and stupid?
As I say, I'm genuinely surprised anybody pays for the Post.