"Where friends and neighbors are also newsmakers, journalists must guard against giving them extra access or a more sympathetic ear," reads a section of the New York Times' online "Ethics in Journalism" document. "When practical, the best solution is to have someone else deal with them." Makes sense! Which is why we found ourselves stroking our nonexistent beard over Times war guy Dexter Filkins' review today of New Yorker war guy George Packer's new play, "Betrayed," based on an insanely long story Packer wrote last year for the magazine. Turns out the two of them are close pals, which explains so much about both the above photograph and Filkins' (left) review.
"As a correspondent for The New York Times in Iraq," Filkins discloses, "I sometimes traveled and worked with Mr. Packer, though not on that piece." No, must have been some other 16,000-word-er. Naturally, we'd assume that two dusty, angularly-handsome war correspondents might cross paths in a war zone or two. That Filkins was also a guest at Packer's June 2006 wedding in Brooklyn and is, we hear, a close friend of Packer's, makes his earnest, passionate review of the journalist's Iraqi translator drama a bit off-putting. If Packer's drama was brilliant, like his book The Assassins' Gate, it might be one thing for Filkins to faun all over it-the plight of translators in Iraq who get tortured and killed for helping out the U.S. deserves as much earnest passion as possible, and Packer is no dilettante with the written word. But in response to exchanges like this one, highlighted in the Times review?
"I don't want to do anything that someone obliges me to do," Intisar tells her boss, an American diplomat named Bill. "I hate that. I won't do it. I was forced to do many things in Saddam's regime. I don't want to do that anymore."
Bill says, "That's pretty brave of you, Intisar."
She replies: "It's not because I'm brave. It's because I am tired."
We can literally taste the hail of shit we're going to catch for this one, but the lameness of that dialogue made our toes curl. Come on, Dex. The canapés at Packer's wedding couldn't have been that fucking good.