Category Archives: Media Criticism

Compare And Contrast

I’m not a smart enough Googler to figure it out, but how did the press coverage of Saddam’s “election,” in which he won 99% of the vote, compare to today’s? Which did the MSM think the bigger story, and by how much?

[Update on Friday morning]

Little Green Footballs has an example.

[Update at 9 AM]

Here’s a roundup from last January of how credulous many in the media were about Saddam’s “election”:

While the network news gurus have spent weeks questioning whether Sunday

Instant Urban Legend

Mudville Gazette is calling for corrections:

THE PRESIDENT: How many Iraqi citizens have died in this war? I would say 30,000, more or less, have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis. We’ve lost about 2,140 of our own troops in Iraq.

Today’s headlines? “Bush says 30,000 Iraqi civilians dead in war.”

Emphasis mine. Also, I wonder if the president misspoke. Is he including all the foreign fighters in that count? If so, they’re not even Iraqi citizens, let alone civilians.

This is how urban legends get started, and you can be sure that it will now become part of every lefty playbook. And don’t expect a correction.

Banking on $780 Million Deposits

Virgin Galactic announced that they are opening a spaceport in New Mexico with $225 million in state money. They are also reported by BBC Radio, Forbes, AP and others to have 38,000-40,000 people who have made a deposit. Ned Abel Smith of Virgin Galactic confirms that in fact that 39,000 is just the number of people on their mailing list, not the number of depositers. This is not the first media exaggeration of Virgin Galactic’s prospects. On the other hand, with Virgin Skill’s vendor for Virgin Galactic Quest, Fun Games selling to Liberty Media for $390 million with $13 million in revenue and no profit, maybe Virgin Galactic Quest will be worth more than Virgin Galactic. (BTW, Smith said that they are probably delaying launch of Virgin Galactic Quest until the new year, but it is “ready to go”. They don’t want to crowd their spaceport announcement.) Check out Virgin Galactic’s new logo.

Could Exodus Get To The Screen Today?

Torah Portion says that Stephen Spielberg is no friend of Israel:

For some time I’ve asked this question – would Leon Uris get “Exodus” to the screen in this climate? I keep coming up with the same answer. No! Things have changed and not only for movies but for books as well. Again, personal experience, as with my latest, “The Bathsheba Deadline,” that’s running as a serial on Lucky for me that came along, the largest of them all put together.

But not so fast. The novel was turned down by a dozen New York publishers for being too pro USA and much too Jewish, too pro-Israel. One top publisher said it plainly, or half plainly: “I really got caught up in your novel; enjoyed it very much; powerful stuff. But I will not make an offer, and I think you know why.”

Yes, I knew why and I know why.

The Innovator’s Dilemma

We have here a perfect example, in an area that I’ve noted previously:

During the whole time I was there [at the San Francisco Chronicle] I constantly pleaded with the powers that be to do the online version of the classifieds right, the way it could be done with all the power of the web. At that time, 1995, craigslist was still a gleam in Craig Newmark’s eye. The Chronicle owned the classified space for the Bay Area. I created a classified section on sfgate, but it was just an online version of what was in the newspaper, no more, no less. I argued that we should add interactivity, let people purchase ads online cheaply, have pictures and links, make the goto place for everybody in the bay area to buy, sell, rent, and know everything.

But this was utterly impossible. It was a question of turf. There was a large department that sold and processed classified ads. It was a major source of revenue, employed a lot of people, and had a big budget. No way they were going to yield that turf to a bunch of weirdos over at the six person, unprofitable, experimental web site crew. Besides, online ads would cannabalize the whole business. Even as time went on, and craigslist grew and the sfgate website traffic and personnel grew, there was never any possibility of going up against the entrenched bureaucracy. Newspapers are the most old-fashioned organizations left alive in the marketplace. Even book publishing companies are more with it.

They couldn’t innovate themselves, because it would have wrecked an existing profit center, but by avoiding it, they let someone else do it to them instead.

This is the fix that NASA is in as well. They can’t innovate, because the politicians (and their own internal fiefdoms and rice-bowl sitters) won’t let them shed the jobs in Houston and Huntsville and at the Cape that would be destroyed. So instead, they’ll be put out of business in a few years.

Of course, given that (unlike newspapers) they’re not a business, it’s possible that they’ll continue to get their multi-billion dollar stipend from Washington, but it’s hard to believe that even they will be able to continue to persuasively justify their hyperexpensive elitist activities in an era of cheap private access to space.