S.J. Hedges of Chi Trib Wash. bureau talked to two people for his 7/23/06 story about how Bush admin. lost Syria. (Apparently successor to the 40s "who lost China?" problem.) One was a former Pentagon Middle East aide who he says pushed a hard line on Syria and now is at a think tank. The other is Syria’s aambassador to U.S.

Hedges also went to clips for assorted comings and goings, as what Rumsfeld said on the matter and, we presume, actions taken by a former CIA analyst who used to be "top Syrian expert" on the Bush Admin Natl Security Council, who wouldn’t return Hedges’s phone calls. So where he stood on Syria comes from someone else. Hedges does not say whom.

Bush admin. "stumbled," say "some . . . analysts." How many and what are their names? He cites one, plus an ambassador.

This is typical daily newspaper throwaway stuff, the reporter acting as expert. It’s how newspapers do it, and it’s part of their problem. The good bloggers, on the other hand, are tentative and thoughtful, regularly referring to others, weighing and balancing. They respect how the mind works. Their medium permits it. But the $2.50 ad-packed Trib doesn’t permit it. So people go elsewhere, even for the ads. How many? More every quarter, circulation figures tell us.

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