Lawrie Dayne, the Wall Street Journal reporter in the film “Green Zone,” is the worst kind of journalist. She’s an insider. She gets most of her information about the war in Iraq from one “trusted” and highly-placed source in the government. A source, as it turns out, with a hidden agenda, a source that uses her to further his aims. Or in reality, the aims of the Bush administration. Worse, she never questions the information given her.
Two forces drive Dayne, played admirably by Amy Ryan. One is to get an interview with “Magellan,” the fictitious Iraqi source who knows where to locate the elusive and equally-fictitious weapons of mass destruction. The other is to feed her ego. She is overly ambitious. She wants to be a star at all costs. She no doubt wants to win a Pulitzer for her reporting.
This is a film a day late and a dollar short. Most knowledgeable readers long ago concluded the war was concocted by Bush and his cronies for political reasons. The war’s “shock and awe” was as much a high-dollar pyrotechnic display for the gullible American public as it was to scare the Iraqis. It was like the Fourth of July. “America, the Beautiful.” Wow, look at those bombs, baby.
Still the movie was right-on with the war and right-on with the media’s role in abetting Bush as he led us down that primrose lane from 9/11, all fueled by Big Oil, big corporations, and profiteering.
Dayne symbolized the media’s own gullibility and the sense of superiority and arrogance that their stars exude. Think of TV’s talking-heads. Dayne has every resemblance, by actions and looks, to the discredited New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who had a pipeline to the White House and used it not only for “news” about Iraq’s WMD but the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson as well. It does not seem strange then that the real truth-seeker and Dayne’s polar opposite in “Green Zone,” is also named Miller. The Matt Damon character, Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller. He is what she as a reporter should be.
I have only one objection to Ryan’s Dayne. No star reporter would risk career suicide by confessing her reporting sins to the likes of Chief Miller. Never. She would do as Judith Miller did in real life. String it out, never fully admit to wrong-doing. Save some measure of the career at all costs. The flaw is not Ryan’s. The confession served director Paul Greengrass’s script.
Those bombastic conservative propagandists (Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage et al) have only to take a hard look at Dayne, and ultimately Judith Miller, to see there is no “liberal media” to chastise. If anything, reporters play along with those in power and their bosses, those powerful right-wing CEOs that run a great majority of America’s news outlets. It’s called career preservation.
And, in the case of the war in Iraq, the media swallowed the swill of the most dangerous president of our lifetime. Most dangerous so far.