Fat Steve's Blatherings

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Outrage at the Main Stream Media

      Some people can't understand why does it get so many of us enraged?  Let us count some of the ways.

      1) Just plain incompetence.  Here's a small example from the "newspaper of record," the premier newspaper in the United States, The New York Times, in an article by Jonathan Miles:
      By Nascar's estimate, stock-car racing now counts 75 million fans -- more than a quarter of the United States population -- and, to put that in broader context, more than the entire populations of Britain, France and Iran.

      From the CIA's World Factbook, Population (July 2005 est.)

      United Kingdom                               60,441,457
      France                                                 60,656,178
      Iran                                                      68,017,860

      The total is 189,115,495, rather more than 75 million.  Of course, what the author meant was 'Britain, France, OR Iran.'  Is it too much to expect correct usage from people who are PAID to write?

      2) Bad writing. In the story mentioned above, the very next sentence is:
      [75 million is] also, coincidentally, the number of anthrax vaccine doses that President Bush ordered a few months ago.
      A decent writer would either have left that out, as irrelevant, or made a joke of it.

      3) Sneering contempt for all those who differ.  The start of the article is:
      For a certain segment of the population, Nascar's raid on American culture -- its logo festoons everything from cellphones to honey jars to post office walls to panties; race coverage, it can seem, has bumped everything else off television; and, most piercingly, Nascar dads now get to pick our presidents -- triggers the kind of fearful trembling the citizens of Gaul felt as the Huns came thundering over the hills. To these people, stock-car racing represents all that's unsavory about red-state America: fossil-fuel bingeing; lust for violence; racial segregation; run-away Republicanism; anti-intellectualism (how much brain matter is required to go fast and turn left, ad infinitum?); the corn-pone memes of God and guns and guts; crass corporatization; Toby Keith anthems; and, of course, exquisitely bad fashion sense. What's more, they simply don't get it. What's the appeal of watching . . . traffic? It's as if ''Hee Haw'' reruns were dominating prime time, and the Republic was slapping its collective knee at Grandpa Jones's ''What's for supper?'' routine. With Nascar's recent purchase of a swath of real estate on Staten Island, where it intends to plop down an 80,000-seat racetrack and retail center for the untapped New York City market, the onslaught seems poised on the brink of full-out conquest. Cover your ears, blue America. The Huns are revving their engines.

      Me, I don't get NASCAR either.  But if I were trying to write an article explaining the appeal of NASCAR, I certainly wouldn't start by insulting its fans.  That would be true even if I weren't a big fan of fossil-fuel bingeing,run-away Republicanism, the corn-pone memes of God and guns and guts, crass corporatization, Toby Keith anthems, and moderately bad fashion sense (for "exquisitely" bad, you need to look at the golf courses that many liberals may be found on).

      Perhaps the author felt that he had to start with a sneer, otherwise his audience wouldn't read it?  If so, that says a lot about the attitudes of those who find the MSM congenial.  And probably a lot about the MSM itself.

      By the way, the sneers get worse later in Miles's piece.
  Record that URL, and the fact that it's the position of the New York Times that NASCAR fans are Republican anti-intellectuals who support racial segregation and have a lust for violence.  Use it against them until they apologize, and prominently inform their readers that anyone who thinks that is a narrow-minded, willfully ignorant bigot.

      4) Anti-Americanism.  The recent Newsweek flap illustrates that fairly well.  But if you need more, take a look at Frank Rich's latest NY Times op-ed(reg. req.):

It's All Newsweek's Fault
By FRANK RICH
Published: May 22, 2005

      IN the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Fareed Zakaria wrote a 6,791-word cover story for Newsweek titled "Why Do They Hate Us?" Think how much effort he could have saved if he'd waited a few years. As we learned last week, the question of why they hate us can now be answered in just one word: Newsweek.

      "Our United States military personnel go out of their way to make sure that the Holy Koran is treated with care," said the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, as he eagerly made the magazine the scapegoat for lethal anti-American riots in Afghanistan. Indeed, Mr. McClellan was so fixated on destroying Newsweek - and on mouthing his own phony P.C. pieties about the Koran - that by omission he whitewashed the rioters themselves, Islamic extremists who routinely misuse that holy book as a pretext for murder.

      That's how absurdly over-the-top the assault on Newsweek has been. The administration has been so successful at bullying the news media in order to cover up its own fictions and failings in Iraq that it now believes it can get away with pinning some 17 deaths on an errant single sentence in a 10-sentence Periscope item that few noticed until days after its publication. Coming just as the latest CNN/Gallup/USA Today poll finds that only 41 percent of Americans think the war in Iraq is "worth fighting" and only 42 percent think it's going well, this smells like desperation. In its war on the press, this hubristic administration may finally have crossed a bridge too far.

      Uh, Rich, do you have a different explanation for the deaths of 17 in riots, other than Newsweek?  If so, I'd like to read it.

      I especially note that the second paragraph seems to blame everything on Muslim fanatics.  But it doesn't explain what set off this series of riots.  If not Newsweek, just what was it, Mr. Rich?  And you seem to making the Administration the goat for this incident.  Care to explain that?

      Rich goes on:
      Let's stipulate flatly that Newsweek made a serious error.
      OK, now that that is stipulated, shall we discuss press errors, or what the White House should say when a newsmagazine fouls up this badly?

      I guess not, because the rest of the next two paragraphs go:
      For the sake of argument, let's even posit that the many other similar accounts of Koran desecration (with and without toilets) by American interrogators over the past two years are fantasy - even though they've been given credence by the International Committee of the Red Cross and have turned up repeatedly in legal depositions by torture victims and in newspapers as various as The Denver Post and The Financial Times.

      Even with all that evidence off the table, there is still an overwhelming record, much of it in government documents, that American interrogators have abused Muslim detainees with methods specifically chosen to hit their religious hot buttons. A Defense Department memo of October 2002 (published in full in Mark Danner's book "Torture and Truth") authorized such Muslim-baiting practices as depriving prisoners of "published religious items or materials" and forcing the removal of beards and clothing. A cable signed by Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez called for interrogators to "exploit Arab fear of dogs." (Muslims view them as unclean.) Even a weak-kneed government investigation of prison abuses (and deaths) in Iraq and Afghanistan issued in March by Vice Adm. Albert T. Church III of the Navy authenticated two cases in which female interrogators "touched and spoke to detainees in a sexually suggestive manner in order to incur stress based on the detainees' religious beliefs."

      So much for the "Islamic extremists" who were in paragraph two, the lying, murderous, Jew haters who make up most of the detainees at Guantanamo.  They must be treated with great respect, and only questioned in such a way that refusing to cooperate is easy, for otherwise the great goal of tearing down the Administration while our country is at war will not be advanced.  FEH!

      You can fisk the rest of the lies and nonsense in that drivel yourself.

      5) Hypocrisy.  Go look here at the covers of various editions of Newsweek, the Japanese, the International, and the U.S.  Just make sure you've taken your anti-anger meds.

      Other great examples of press hypocrisy can be found in the books The Taming of the Press: Cohen v. Cowles Media Company, and in Anonymous source :at war against the media; a true story, which relate how my local excuse for a newspaper got it in the neck.  You see, during the 1982 gubernatorial campaign, some Republicans decided to attack the Democratic ticket.  To that end, they arranged for Dan Cohen, a Minnesota Republican activist, and former Minneapolis City Council member to act as their go-between.  He in turn contacted, the Associated Press, WCCO (a local TV station), and the two Twin Cities newspapers, the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.  In exchange for confidentiality as to his identity, readily granted by all four reporters, he gave them copies of court records showing that Marlene Johnson, the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, had been arrested twice, and convicted once, for "unlawful assembly" and for "petit theft," the theft charge being the conviction.

      The AP ran the story, letting people know that it was from an opponent of Johnson's.  The TV station decided it wasn't newsworthy.  But the papers were run by friends and partisans of the Democrats, and they decided that the world had to know Dan Cohen's name.  Cohen got fired from his job by a cowardly employer, then lost his next job when the Strib attacked him again.

      The paper's always insisted that the outing of Cohen had nothing to do with the fact that they favored Democratic candidates Rudy Perpich and Marlene Johnson.  It was a matter of principal.  The public had to know who was attacking Johnson.  But Cohen sued, and during the trial, the papers couldn't explain why this case was different from the cases of the past, where they'd used material from anonymous sources against political candidates without revealing who gave it to them.  (One case the Strib ran was reported by the same woman who Cohen later talked to, and also involved court documents.  In that case, the reporter noted, the "source" of the story was considered the documents themselves, and the question of who gave them to her, or why, was not important.  She was, by the way, furious that the Strib made a liar of her).  As for the fact that all those other candidates were Republicans, strictly a coincidence.  One editor, after insisting on the public's right to know who peddled the documents, said that if the Strib had been offered to them exclusively, he'd have been in favor of keeping Cohen's name secret.

      The suit was eventually appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, who ruled 5-4 in favor of Cohen.  The arguments for the papers made for outing sources whenever they felt like it, and keeping them secret whenever they felt like it; for considering their employees their agents in everything the employees did, EXCEPT when they making promises of confidentiality; and their general we can do whatever we want, we're the Press, we're constitutionally protected from consequences illustrates people drunk on power and self-righteousness.  Now, the power is fading, but they're still legends in their own minds.

      Of course, such failings are human as well as institutional.  John Cole of Balloon Juice had a long post recently in which he demonstrated he had no idea why many we're angry at the MSM.  One of Cole's targets was Hugh Hewitt, not exactly an obscure personage.  But, apparently, at no time did it occur to Cole to just call Hewitt up, or e-mail him, and try to get some clarification from Hewitt.  Nope, Cole was right, everyone who disagrees with him is wrong.  Gee, maybe he can get a job as a MSM reporter! (Hat tip to Jeff Goldstein, who bashes Cole some more).

      Well, John Cole can do as he likes, but I'm staying angry.

THE HOUSE OF SAUD MUST BE DESTROYED -- AND WILL BE!

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