Guernica Magazine

How I Wrote Certain of My (Fake) Poems

The author of Loudermilk reflects on “the weirdest form of history writing” she's ever done. The post How I Wrote Certain of My (Fake) Poems appeared first on Guernica.
Illustration: Ansellia Kulikku.

What’s a successfully-trolled newspaper to do? On May 26, 2004, The New York Times issued an apology: “FROM THE EDITORS: The Times and Iraq.” As I type this here, maintaining the original capitalization of the print version, I note that it looks as if they are shouting. When I consider this act of contrition from the vantage of 2019, it feels like something out of a dream. I try to follow the logic of these bygone events: The Times has to apologize, because why? Oh yes, they have to apologize because they published tens of reports—this is my guesstimate—based on what, in the apology, they repeatedly term “fake intelligence.” The fake intelligence led to a deluge of unsubstantiated claims regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). And not just minor WMDs, like anthrax! The big ones, as Colin Powell swore, displaying a series of doctored photographs on February 5th, 2003, at the UN. The smoking gun. The aluminum tubes. The nuclear weapons. These were probably pointed at the United States from somewhere deep inside a country that had nationalized its oil supply two decades earlier.

In their 2004 expression noted, “Editors at several levels who should have been challenging reporters and pressing for more skepticism were perhaps too intent on rushing scoops into the paper.” The most egregious of the eager-beaver items is helpfully cited, should we wish to terrify ourselves by revisiting it. Co-authored by Judith Miller and Michael Gordon, it was titled, “U.S. Says Hussein Intensified Quest for A-Bomb Parts” (September 8, 2002). And, yes, in hindsight, the aluminum tubes in question were not appropriate for uranium enrichment, although on the Sunday when this article appeared American network television (ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, NBC) was graced with not one, not two, but members of the Bush administration’s inner circle, all of whom enthusiastically called viewers’ attention to the “A-Bomb Parts” article, as if it were a recently-released novel for which they had received an exorbitant advance.

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