Category Archives: Media Criticism

Margoworld

Tim Blair bludgeons poor Margo Kingston today (though, unfortunately, probably not into submission).

Margo is truly a national Ozzie wonder, like Ayers Rock, or the Barrier Reef, or vegemite, and he’s lucky among all of us anglospherians to have her. We have our Ralls, our Salters, and they have Heather Mallick Up North, and Fisk across The Pond, but somehow, you just can’t beat the non-stop, vacuous platitudes of Margo.

However, while I realize that she’s a rich ore to mine, he should have broken it up into installments–one can only take so much unprecedented idiocy at a single sitting. One has the frightening thought that he could probably do this every day for a month and never run out of material.

Distaff (And Distressed) Whistleblowers

Will Vehrs says:

…look for any number of follow-up articles on the relative honesty of women versus men, profiles and interviews with the distaff whistleblowers, and maybe even a comparison with the women of the Clinton years, such as Susan McDougal.

Of course, Susan was practicing omerta. But, actually, of course, there were female whistleblowers galore during the Clinton years, most notably Linda Tripp, who, while most well known for her involvement in l’affaire Lewinsky, revealed lots of unrelated unseemly and probably even illegal activities. There was also Jean Lewis, RTC investigator in Whitewater (they went after her private emails). And the doctor who was practically drummed out of the military because she questioned the Ron Brown autopsy. Not to mention Gennifer Flowers, Dolly Kyle Browning, Kathleen Willey, etc.

Of course, in contrast to the brave souls exposing Enron improprieties and illegalities, whistleblowers (particularly female whistleblowers) on the Clinton Administration were not heralded by the media–they were vilified, via the “nuts ‘n sluts” whispers emanating from the White House and parroted by an adoring press.

I continually found it ironic that the feminist movement was so eager to defend a president who not only eviscerated their hard-fought legislative victory in workplace sexual harassment, but used women, both figuratively and literally, as toilet paper…

More Krugman Bashing

Mark Steyn has started going after Krugman today.

While I agree that Andrew Sullivan has been ODing on the story, that’s probably out of frustration at the fact that no one in the “mainstream media” seems to think that it is a story…

And to Matt Welch and Jeff Jarvis–I don’t “scream about media bias until blue in the face.” My face remains a healthy fleshy color. I simply calmly point it out as a fact…

More Media Bias Confusion

In his failed attempt to debunk the notion of media bias, Jeff Jarvis misses the point entirely. He does, however, unwittingly make the point of Goldberg, and those of us who do claim bias:

…journalistic integrity — or bias — is the product of the consciences of individuals far more than of the conspiracies of institutions.

Exactly. Media bias exists, but it isn’t caused by editorial pressure, or some kind of conspiracy, so most of what Jeff says is utterly irrelevant. It is caused by the intrinsic staff composition of the major media organs. Most reporters and editors are liberal, both by their nature (many go into journalism to “change the world”) and training (most journalism professors, like most humanities professors, are liberals to one degree or another of extremity). Also, if you’re not a liberal, in the social circles that journalists hang out in, you will not get invited to the right parties, or get access to the best sources. How else to explain that 89% of the Washington press corps voted for Bill Clinton in 1992?

It’s not a conspiracy–it’s just an emergent trait of the profession. Jeff doesn’t see it because he is immersed in it. Fish are similarly unaware of water.

Why Are Funerals News?

I’m listening, with half an ear as I work, to the funeral of the guy killed in hostile fire in Afghanistan, on Fox News. It seems to have turned into a lengthy sermon. It sounds like I’m listening to something on Sunday morning on some double-digit VHF or UHF channel, instead of Friday afternoon on FNC.

I have no objection to such a thing at the funeral, if the family want it, but do the non-Christians among us really have to be subjected to it (yeah, I know, I can switch the channel)?

I just think that funerals are not news, at least not any more. I thought that Barbara Olson’s service was beautiful, but I still questioned its being telecast live. We’re only making a big deal about this one because there have been so few casualties, and none due to hostile fire, until this one. But if this were a real war, we wouldn’t have enough television bandwidth to broadcast all the funerals. The fact that he died is news. I’m sorry for his family, but his funeral isn’t.

Quagmire Is Back In Vogue

Time to resurrect the Quagmire Watch. Murkiness is out, after a brief rein, and quagmire is back in. The only catch is that even a journalist isn’t dumb enough to apply it to Afghanistan anymore. So they simply change the venue, to Iraq where, according to the handwringers at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the mother of all quagmires awaits us. (And while we’re at it, hats off to Saddam, the father of the mother of all cliches…).

Camelot Finally Over?

I haven’t been watching the news today. Has anyone mentioned that today is the 38th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination? Certainly pre-911, it would have been a lead. Perhaps we finally have a day that eclipses November 22. If so, it’s another beneficial side effect of a devastating event…

Shake and Shake The Catsup Bottle

OK, I give up, American media. Which is it? First you’re frustrated because we’re in a “quagmire” (oh, we know, you’d never say such a thing–it’s just that some unnamed “others” are starting to use the word). And besides, those horrible Northern Alliance types (who just a couple of days ago you sagely informed us were undisciplined, and still using actual (gasp!) horses for cavalry) were incapable of mounting a serious offensive against the battle-toughened, death-seeking, fanatical, unbeatable Taliban. And our bombing was having little effect.

But wait! Now, somehow, those incompetent NA types seem to have those supermen Taliban invincible warriors on the, well… run. And now you’re not happy about that, because as I type this, you’re complaining because we haven’t yet put together a “broad-based government” to replace them, and of course, it would be worse to let the NA take Kabul, when we could let those humanitarian souls, the Taliban, continue to hold it.

Let’s face a few facts here. First of all, no, the Northern Alliance are not a bunch of Sunday School teachers. When it comes to enlightened democracy and western values, they leave much to be desired, as they’ve demonstrated in their past behavior. But is anyone really going to argue that they’re worse than the Taliban? A general in (I think, WW II) once said crudely, but accurately, that “war is a set of shitty choices.” No, it’s not ideal to let the Northern Alliance take Kabul, but it’s preferable to allowing the Taliban to keep it, particularly if its falling maintains the momentum of deteriorating morale of their fighters, and that of those idiots who would go to Afghanistan to fight beside them. We have time, eternity even, to fix whatever problems are incurred by a takeover by the NA.

Second, wars are not smooth, predictable affairs. They are chaotic, and catastrophic, in the mathematical sense. One can pound a position for days, or even weeks, and think it impregnable, when it suddenly, inexplicably crumbles. So it is not surprising to anyone familiar with military history (which lets out most of the modern press corps) that a military campaign can seem bogged down–even in a “quagmire”–and suddenly see the tide turn. To bring it down to a level that even a journalist can understand, having experienced it in some soda shop or diner, there was an old and simple poem that I remember from childhood (perhaps by Ogden Nash?).

Shake and shake the catsup bottle

None will come, and then a lot’ll

Apparently, we’ve finally shaken the catsup bottle enough in Afghanistan.

American Media Finally Notice Iran

Brit Hume must have read Michael Ledeen’s piece in today’s Wall Street Journal, because he just had him on for an interview about the civil unrest in Iran. Ledeen said nothing new that he didn’t say in his article, but hopefully by saying it on Special Report, more Americans will become aware that the Iranian people are, for the most part, our friends, probably more so than any other regime in the area right now other than Israelis. The mullahs are clearly very worried, they know that people aren’t buying the “soccer riot” story any more, and they’re starting to confiscate satellite dishes. The story that, for some reason, the American press continues to ignore, is that Iran may be on the verge of another revolution, this time pro-western, because they’ve had more than their fill of living under a Taliban-like regime. If this can happen successfully and quickly, it will be the best news yet in terms of starting to establish reasonable regimes in that part of the world.

“Furriners” and CNN

What is the deal with these people? Do they really believe that most Americans get their news exclusively from CNN, or that they get any of their news from that source? Even in the last few weeks, which has been a period of the highest ratings the channel has had since the Gulf War, fewer than two million people were watching it during prime time–it momentarily pulled them back ahead of Fox, the new kid on the block. I would venture to say that CNN still falls far behind ABCCBSNBC as the main source for Americans’ news. (My primary source is actually periodicals on the net–the only dead-tree news source that I read regularly is the Economist.)

I don’t have the data handy, but I’d be willing to bet that many more people overseas get their news from CNN than Americans, both in absolute terms, and on a percentage basis. I suspect that what’s happening here is projection–since they get a lot of their news from CNN, and it’s the only American news outlet that they regularly see, they assume that Americans do as well, and that our opinions are formed by the contents of that source. What I find amusing about this, and the only reason that I’m ranting about it, is that this implies that they are apparently as pig-ignorant about Americans as they claim that we are about them and events overseas in general.