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I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Whoops! The media blew it!

Salon.com's Eric Boehlert has written a devastating piece about the media's ineptitude during the lead-up to the Iraq war. It's a fascinating story, but also pretty infuriating, so be careful. (It's also pretty long, so make sure the boss is away in the bathroom or something.)

Boehlert details the fear reporters felt about being percieved as biased and unpatriotic by the Right on the march to war. A lot of what he writes rings true for me. Conservatives have successfully "worked the refs" in the past several years, convincing many in the media to overcompensate for the right because they don't want to appear liberal.

In other words, crying babies get their bottles.

Battered by accusations of a liberal bias and determined to prove their conservative critics wrong, the press during the run-up to the war -- timid, deferential, unsure, cautious, and often intentionally unthinking -- came as close as possible to abdicating its reason for existing in the first place, which is to accurately inform citizens, particularly during times of great national interest. Indeed, the MSM's failings were all the more important because of the unusually influential role they played in advance of the war-of-choice with Iraq. "When America has been attacked -- at Pearl Harbor, or as on September 11 -- the government needed merely to tell the people that it was our duty to respond, and the people rightly conferred their authority," noted Harold Meyerson in the American Prospect magazine. "But a war of choice is a different matter entirely. In that circumstance, the people will ask why. The people will need to be convinced that their sons and daughters and husbands and wives should go halfway around the world to fight a nemesis that they didn't really know was a nemesis."

Not wanting to appear biased is a legitimate concern, and indicates reporters really do take their jobs seriously and aren't part of some paranoid conspiracy for either side of the political chasm. (Didn't I sound smart there? Actually, I'm not sure what chasm means or whether I used it correctly.)

Here's another passage about the 2004 Radio and Television Correspondents Association where W. joked about the government's failure to find WMDs. Some on the left had the nerve to find this offensive since, you know, we supposedly went to war over WMD and more than 2,000 Americans have died in the process. Lighten up, libs!

Tradition held that sitting presidents took the opportunity at the Correspondents dinner to poke fun at the press as well as themselves. Bush did just that during his ten-minute, professionally written monologue, delivering some topical zingers: "'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.' My Cabinet could take some pointers from watching that show. In fact, I'm going to have the Fab Five do a makeover on [Attorney General John] Ashcroft."

Then Bush turned to the "White House Election-Year Album," as photos flashed on the screen behind his podium. One showed Bush gazing out an oval office window as he provided the narration: "Those weapons of mass destruction must be somewhere!" The audience laughed. Then came a picture of Bush on his hands and knees peering under White House furniture. "Nope, no weapons over there!" The MSM audience laughed harder. And then came a snapshot of Bush searching behind the drapes. "Maybe under here?" The audience roared in approval -- Bush couldn't find the WMDs!

The next morning, newspaper reporters who laughed out loud themselves at the Correspondents dinner dutifully typed up the jokes. It wasn't until some Democratic members of Congress, along with parents whose children had been killed in Iraq, expressed their disgust that it dawned on some members of the MSM that Bush's jokes might be considered offensive. Even after objections were raised the MSM rallied around Bush arguing the jokes were no big deal. In fact, it was telling how the MSM were reading off the exact same talking points as the Bush supporters in the right-wing press. Their mutual message was simple -- lighten up! On National Review Online, conservative talk show host Michael Graham, who attended the Correspondents dinner, mocked the critics: "Somehow, over the past 30 years, liberalism has mutated into something akin to an anti-comedy vaccine. The more you're Left, the less you laugh."

That's right, conservatives are hilarious! Here's a good conservative joke: Why did the abortion doctor cross the road? Because protestors set his clinic on fire! Hey-oh!


Blogger mark said...

i like this post. i appreciate the occasional departure from placenta and other entertainment news. the end.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Thomas Roz said...

"Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction!" -- Stephen Colbert

1:13 PM  

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