Category Archives: Media Criticism

Not Must-See TV

But it’s worth a listen. Heck, I even turned Greta down for it.

Yes, Mickey, that is damning it with faint praise, but it’s what happened to be on at the time that I linked to it from Glenn’s site. I would have turned down Hannity and Colmes, too, and probably O’Reilly, unless he had some really interesting guest on (a rare event). But not Brit Hume.

Here’s the problem. Political commentary doesn’t make for compelling video, even if it offers the entertainment of watching human robots (a combination of natural ability, and many frozen frames as the video buffer fills up). Even on high-bandwidth media (i.e., my satellite dish), talking heads are talking heads, and most of the time I rarely watch, but listen to it as I’m doing things elsewhere in the house. Well, unless Lauri Dhue, or Megyn Kendall, or various other newsbabes come on. Then, for some strange reason, I feel compelled to actually come into the room to view the screen. I’ve no idea why, but perhaps Robert Wright does.

But I thought the conversation was interesting, and much easier on the ears than the shout shows, and more intelligent than most of them as well. So one suggestion might be to bag the video, because it really is very little value added, and do instead. Bandwidth doesn’t yet grow on trees, and sticking with audio would open up the audience to the dialup crowd, and allow easier storage of shows, both for users and the server, with reduced bandwidth charges for all.

But even then, the question is, what is the value of listening to guys (and gals) talk, as opposed to reading what they write, which for me has a much higher baud rate for lower bandwidth. I had the same problem in college. I rarely attended the lectures, unless I explicitly had to in order to get the grade, because I don’t take information in that well through my ears, at least if I want to retain it. I always preferred to read the book, which offered me much more data in a given amount of time than having to listen to someone slowly mouth the words.

But given that I do keep a news channel on in background when I’m working, and I could download the audio and listen to it while exercising or out for a walk, one could certainly do worse than checking them out. As I mentioned up at the top, I know I was. Doing worse, that is.

Setting Her Straight

Emily Will says that Mary Mapes is living in an alternate reality, and that her book is rife with errors:

Mapes: Page 167: “Concerned, I asked her what the trouble was. She said she had done research on the Internet about President Bush’s military record and found that he had been in Alabama at the time those documents were written, so there was no way they could be true.”

Will: Book version is ABSOLUTELY FALSE. What did happen is that in our conversation on Sunday I outlined several problems with two questioned signatures, and with the typescript of the documents, including the superscripting and the proportional spacing, and I said that I had been researching online to determine the earliest date of production of typewriters offering those features.

Don’t book publishers care about this sort of thing?

One Quote Says It All

Mary Mapes is still whining, this time to Howie Kurtz (who seems to be largely humoring her). But what tickled me was the bottom line:

Despite her career implosion, Mapes hopes to stay in journalism.

“It’s what I’m good at,” she said. “I like making a difference.”

“Making a difference,” ever since Woodward and Bernstein, has become the cliche reason for people to go into the profession of journalism. But judging by the results, “making a difference” seems to be more important than “improving the situation,” or understanding logic or reality.

One-Two Bird Flu Punch

The Media and the health authorities talk about “it” mutating as if the viruses were all getting updated by wireless like in I, Robot (sorry for the spoiler). In fact, commencing a pandemic will not make a second ensuing pandemic less likely (although it will empart partial resistance). The birds still all have the flu and if flu can jump species once, it can do it twice with the need for a whole new vaccine (else why wait until it breaks out to produce one?). This is what happened in 1918-1919. It was the second wave of the flu that was the deadly one.

I saw this weird quote from 11/3, Prof. Donald Burke in WSJ (subscription required–search on flu and extinction):

At one extreme the case fatality ratios seen in Southeast Asia could be maintained (57 deaths in 112 cases, about 50% mortality), in which case the human species might face extinction.

Last I checked, you need 100% mortality for extinction and it is pretty hard to spread a virus that is 100% fatal to the entire global population before all the carriers die.

World Bank put an $800 billion price tag on bird flu if a pandemic hits with that being 2% of world GDP. They see SARS style disruption. CIA says world GDP is $55T according to purchasing power parity and 2% of that would be $1.1T.

Story has taken on a life of its own. Out of my league. Now if only they would take aim at heart disease that kills 17 million every year.

Do They Get It?

Probably not, but Jonathan “Pajamas” Klein is canning Aaron Brown at CNN, according to Drudge (no permalink, which is one of the reasons that Drudge has not been, and is not now, a blogger):

We have made some programming decisions which will impact our prime time schedule as well as our colleague Aaron Brown. Aaron will be leaving CNN and is very much looking forward to some well-deserved time off with his family.

Aaron has made enormous contributions to CNN since his groundbreaking anchoring of Sept. 11th through the war in Iraq to the Tsunami to the recent hurricanes. Outside of the big stories, on a nightly basis, Aaron has provided our audiences with insight into the events of the United States and the world with eloquence and the highest journalist integrity.

Besides his stellar work as an anchor, Aaron stands as an absolutely brilliant writer, evident by the thoughtful perspective he injects into every story he touches.

Personally, I will miss Aaron and his wicked sense of humor. We cannot thank Aaron enough for the skills and professionalism he brought to CNN. Given his respect throughout the industry, there is no question that he will be missed.

Translation: he was tanking us in his timeslot. Don’t let the door hit your kiester on the way out.

But despite this, I suspect that Mr. Pajamas still doesn’t understand why his (and his previous employer, CBS’ ratings were in the toilet, and it amazes me that CNN thought that they could pull up their ratings by hiring either Klein or Brown) network continues to lose market share. When I hear that they’ve made an offer to Brit Hume (for twice or more of the money that he makes at Fox), then I’ll know that they’ve figured it out. For now, I can only conclude that they know that Brown is a problem, but not why.

In The Limelight

Glenn Reynolds just mentioned this post of mine on CNN’s Reliable Sources. Roger Simon (the journalist, not the smart blogger), whined in response (and completely missed the point) that WW II was nothing like Iraq.

[Update in the afternoon]

Here’s the rush transcript (in which they manage to misspell my name in a new and unusual way):

KURTZ: Glenn Reynolds, is this 2,000 deaths just a bloody milestone that naturally was going to get some media attention, or is there an anti-war tinge to the sudden focus on 2,000 deaths, the press’s way of saying, see, this just isn’t working out?

GLENN REYNOLDS, INSTAPUNDIT.COM: Well, it’s more than that. It’s a manufactured event by a press that has largely been anti-war from the beginning, and I think is dogpiling on the Bush administration for as many opportunities as it can find.

Ran Siemberg (ph), who is a blogger, had an amusing parody from World War II of the media making a big deal out of another milestone, the 250,000th death. And I think that provides all kind of perspective, on the difference between the two wars, and the difference between the press’ treatment of the two wars.

Too often, war coverage now is just another opportunity to try to go after Bush, who the press has disliked from day one. And I think that’s very, very unfortunate.

KURTZ: Roger Simon, you are shaking your head.

SIMON: I just don’t find much comparison between World War II, in which we were fighting predatory fascism that was trying to take over the globe, and invading Iraq for reasons that the administration now admits were false.

“…predatory fascism that was trying to take over the globe…”

I guess he’s never bothered to read any statements of intent from Al Qaeda.

Which part does he think is untrue of the enemy? That they aren’t fascists? Well, admittedly, the term has lost much of its currency from overuse by much of the left to be applied to everyone who disagrees with them on almost any conceivable subject, so let’s call it totalitarianism instead (a term that I would hope that Mr. Simon would agree also applies to our enemies in the second world war). If that word can’t be applied to people who want to run every aspect of everyone’s daily existence, will brook no dissent, and have no apparent value for human life, as the Jihadis objectively do, then to whom does it apply? And even if you want to imagine that the “secular” Saddam didn’t support the “terrorists” (one would have to disregard the Salman Pak training camp and the bounties offered for attacks on the Israelis to buy that one), he was as totalitarian (and fascist) as they come.

And part of the totalitarian ideology of Al Qaeda is that there shall be no ideology before theirs–ultimately, all the infidels must convert or die. That we aren’t first on the list is a matter of political and military necessity, not an indication of any solicitude toward our ultimate fate. Does he really believe that it isn’t their goal to “take over the globe”? From the standpoint of the threat, if they (and Saddam) are not the Hitler of the MSM mind, it’s because they’re Hitler in 1935, instead of Hitler in 1941. But while he made many strategic mistakes (which were his ultimate undoing, as hopefully will be the case for our new totalitarian adversaries), he didn’t make the strategic mistake of attacking New York in 1935, as Osama did in 2001.

It would have been a lot easier to deal with Hitler in 1935, which is one reason why our casualties are counted only in the low thousands after over four years of war, instead of the large fractions of a million that it took to defeat our totalitarian enemies six decades ago, for all that the media would make of them.

Still Crazy After All These Years

Or at least after one year. And maybe it isn’t crazy–just, mentally challenged. Mary Mapes still doesn’t get it:

Within a few minutes, I was online visiting Web sites I had never heard of before: Free Republic, Little Green Footballs, Power Line.

This is the first hint of her cluelessness. The fact that she’d never heard of these sites before shows how insulated she was. Free Republic has been around for many years now, and was instrumental in bringing out many of the Clinton scandals. It’s one thing to say (as I’d expect a hard-core Democrat to) that they have no credibility, but to claim ignorance of their very existence?

They were hard-core, politically angry, hyperconservative sites loaded with vitriol about Dan Rather and CBS.

Contemplate the possibility, Mary, at least for a moment, that said vitriol was justified and prompted by your vicious partisan hit pieces and shoddy journalism.

Our work was being compared to that of Jayson Blair, the discredited New York Times reporter who had fabricated and plagiarized stories.

Hey, this isn’t fair. At least Jayson Blair didn’t fabricate actual evidence. And of course, given that they’re “hard-core, politically angry, hyperconservatives,” there’s no need to pay any attention to what they say, right, even if they are smart lawyers, and that in the case of Charles Johnson, proprieter of Little Green Footballs and web site designer, he has forgotten more about typography than Mary is ever likely to learn or (on the available evidence) be able to comprehend?

All these Web sites had extensive write-ups on the documents: on typeface, font style, and peripheral spacing,

“Peripheral spacing”? I think that she means proportional spacing. This demonstrates again, just how little she has learned from this experience, when she doesn’t even seem to possess the reasoning skills to understand the arguments against her.

…material that seemed to spring up overnight. It was phenomenal. It had taken our analysts hours of careful work to make comparisons. It seemed that these analysts or commentators—or whatever they were—were coming up with long treatises in minutes. They were all linking to one another, creating an echo chamber of outraged agreement.

Maybe because they had facts and logic on their side?

I was told that the first posting claiming the documents were fakes had gone up on Free Republic before our broadcast was even off the air! How had the Web site even gotten copies of the documents? We hadn