Category Archives: Media Criticism

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.

“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.

“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.