Dangerous Dan Thoughts and musings on the world

5/26/2005

Media Responsibility

Filed under: Media,Society,World — Dangerous Dan @ 1:13 am

Via Moonbattery comes this story about media outlets complaining about the limitations on them when it comes to showing pictures of dead American soldiers. Why? Because not having pictures reduces the impact of their reporting. Let's take an extended quote and come back to this.

”There can be horrible images, but war is horrible and we need to understand that," veteran war photographer Chris Hondros told the Times. "I think if we are going to start a war, we ought to be willing to show the consequences of that war.

Pim Van Hemmen, assistant managing editor for photography at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., agreed, telling the Times:

"Writing in a headline that 1,500 Americans have died doesn't give you nearly the impact of showing one serviceman who is dead.

By censoring the photos of GIs as they lay dying, Van Hemmen said, "We in the news business are not doing a very good job of showing our readers what has really happened over there."

Steve Stroud, deputy director of photography at the Los Angeles Times, also thinks the public needs to see more photos of dead American soldiers.

"I feel we still aren't seeing the kind of pictures we need to see to tell the American people about this war and the costs of the war," he explained.

Michele McNally, New York Times director of photography, concurred, observing: "War kills men, women and children, and we would be remiss if we couldn't in some way show that this is what happens in war. … It's our responsibility to bear witness to these events."

There are two motivations in effect here and both are poor. The first is commercial. Let's not kid ourselves, the MSM is an enterprise composed of competing entities and bad news is good news. Second, much of the media don't like the war and want to damage it in any way they can. When the greed of the first is combined with the dislike of the second, you get the MSM wanting to publish photos of dead GIs. I have little doubt that the publishing of such pictures would wind up working against the media. I imagine the public backlash would be such that you'd only see the pictures in the most self-righteous of news outlets that think their publication is some kind of moral duty.

Ideally, of course, such pictures should incite anger at the soldiers' killers and a commitment to crush the enemy. If this were universally the case, though, it's doubtful the reporters would be pleading to publish them. They want to play on people's feelings of despair and fear. They certainly don't want to make the American public anti-enemy because that, in all their confidence in the public, could turn into anti-Arab or anti-Muslim bias. Recall that this was the MSM reasoning for not showing graphic images of people jumping from the twin towers on 9/11 or showing the destruction of the day since then.

So if they want to show pictures of dead American soldiers that will demoralize the public, let them also show pictures and video footage that will show Americans what kinds of bastards those soldiers were fighting. Show the videos of terrorists beheading hostages. Show the body parts of Iraqi civilians who were purposely targeted and blown up by car bombs. Show the mass graves of women and children who were executed by Saddam and his lackies. Show video of civilians who made suicide runs at checkpoints for the express purpose of being killed by U.S. soldiers because the insurgents said they'd kill his family if he didn't and they wanted the bad PR his death at American hands would get. Speak of the accounts of terrorists trying to use the mentally handicapped to carry out suicide bombings. These are evil people we're talking about. Why doesn't the MSM desire to talk about and display these deeds?

It’s interesting, actually. One of the facts about violent crimes committed by blacks is that the vast majority of the victims of those crimes are also black. Black-on-black crime is far, far greater than black-on-white crime or white-on-black crime. Whenever police forces act harshly against, say, black gangs, there’s always an uproar about police brutality and the media happily plays along with it. They neglect to mention that acting against the gangs is to benefit of the larger black community. That is, instead of wailing that the police are acting poorly towards minorities, they might consider that not acting forcefully against criminals would be the greater sin towards them

In the same way, the MSM is concentrating on the acts of U.S. soldiers against Iraqi insurgents, even though the Arab-on-Arab terrorism is so great and the destruction of the insurgents would be to the benefit of the Iraqi community. Why be so willing to side with the criminals? Why be so narrow-minded as to think that the criminals are somehow representative of the community?

5/18/2005

Huff ‘n Puff

Filed under: Media — Dangerous Dan @ 2:06 am

I really do find the Huffington Post to be an amazing place. The sorts of people blogging there are a real assortment. Among them: Kathy Ireland.

The Evil and the Stupid

Filed under: Media,Politics — Dangerous Dan @ 2:02 am

The latest conspiracy theory coming out of the lefty tinfoil hat crowd is that the Newsweek story was purposely planted. By whom? Pentagon, Bush, Evil Genius Karl Rove, Dr.Evil, the bad rat from the Rats of Nimh, or others. This is similar to the theory raised about Rathergate, that Rove made and planted the Killian memos so that when Rather and CBS reported on them, his bloggist proxies could jump out and cry foul and thereby discredit the MSM. The theory this time is that malevolent beings, via the anonymous Pentagon source, planted the Koran flushing story and now refuses to confirm it, thereby discrediting the MSM.

The interesting thing about these theories, as I previously noted about the memo one, is that it's predicated upon liberals being stupid and gullible. They implicitly say that Rove (or whomever) knew we couldn't resist such a juicy story and that we'd report it despite inadequate verification… he used us against ourselves!

Of course, there was no reason for planting such a story. Why would the Bush administration or the Pentagon want a story published that would inflame Muslim anti-American sentiment and set back years of effort and fortune? The only way to answer that is through further conspiracy theories.

It's not just the moonbats at DU making this claim either. It's also coming from Keith Olbermann (a moonbat in his own right) and Norman Mailer.

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More Media

Filed under: Media — Dangerous Dan @ 1:45 am

As long as we're talking about liberal media bias, I'll point you to this Powerline post that has some of the questions asked of White House spokesman Scott McClellan at a press conference. I expect the press to be adversarial (ideally), but it's clear from many of the questions that the reporters asking them don't really care what McClellan has to say. They've already made up their minds about the truth and just want McClellan to admit to it.

Take this gem:

Q. Q Let me follow up on that. What — you said that — what specifically are you asking Newsweek to do? I mean, to follow up on Terry's question, are you saying they should write a story? Are you going that far? How else can Newsweek, you know, satisfy you here?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, as I said, we would encourage them to continue working diligently to help repair the damage that has been done because of this —

Q. Are you asking them to write a story?

MR. McCLELLAN: — because of this report. I think Newsweek is going to be in the best position to determine how to achieve that. And there are ways that I pointed out that they can help repair the damage. One way is to point out what the policies and practices of our United States military are. Our United States military personnel go out of their way to make sure that the Holy Koran is treated with care —

Q. Are you asking them to write a story about how great the American military is; is that what you're saying here?

MR. McCLELLAN: Elisabeth, let me finish my sentence. Our military —

Q. You've already said what you're — I know what — how it ends.

The reporters are mortally offended that the White House has publicly complained about Newsweek's reporting. Thing is, the White House has a reason to chasten Newsweek. The magazine printed a false story that has had serious foreign policy implications for America in the Muslim world. If a false story in a news magazine set back years of hard, dangerous, and expensive work I had done, I'd be a little miffed too.

BBC

Filed under: Media — Dangerous Dan @ 1:31 am

Regarding that last post, we can see what happens when the public funding of media bias really runs amok by observing the BBC. The British broadcaster is entirely supported by licensing fees assessed on the consumer every time a TV or radio is purchased. Yes, if you buy a television, you must license it and pay the BBC for the privilege of having it. It's quite absurd and the BBC is another broadcasting entity that should be privatized. See Melanie Phillips's post on the shocking bias at the Beeb.

CPB

Filed under: Media — Dangerous Dan @ 1:26 am

I previously noted here and here how the CPB is looking into liberal bias at PBS. Well, it's also looking at bias at NPR. Not surprisingly, NPR executives are resisting any meddling in their editorial affairs.

I don't blame them for that. Any reasonable entity that feeds off the government wants the government's money but otherwise wants Uncle Sam to stay out of its business. Many have a valid complaint, though, that their tax dollars are going towards funding media with whose editorial line they disagree. Why should a conservative help fund liberal radio or TV? I suppose I don't see why they should receive federal funds at all and why they shouldn't just be privatized.

I remember when PBS ran its slogan, "If PBS doesn't do it, who will?" Well, Nickelodeon, Discover Channel, History Channel, TLC (and the various permutations of the above) will and do. If NPR doesn't do it and there's a viable market for its material, then somebody else will or NPR will be able to stand on its own. If the systems are privatized and the government gets out, then the stations can have whatever bias they like and nobody can tell them differently.

I’ve heard a few of the arguments against privatizing PBS and NPR, but I’ve found them unconvincing. If somebody can tell me why they shouldn’t be privatized, I’d be happy to hear it.

5/17/2005

Newsweek

Filed under: Media,World — Dangerous Dan @ 10:46 pm

I suppose I’m required by the blogosphere to talk about the Newsweek-Koran flushing story, but I don't think I can possibly add anything that hasn't already been thoroughly hashed out elsewhere. I’ll just add my own thoughts for the record.

Newsweek… excuse me… NEWSWEEK was clearly wrong in their reporting. I think Belmont Club said it best:

Newsweek is admitting to starting an international political firestorm, which got actual people killed, caused civil disturbances, endangered the lives of American troops and significantly set back US efforts in the war on terror because they ran a story from an anonymous source who cannot even remember if he told them what they said he told them. Their efforts at "confirmation" yielded a denial and a non-denial from Defense officials, but no confirmation. In predicate calculus, Newsweek asserted P. Their attempts at confirmation yielded ~P and Null. Hence they concluded P, which is wrong, wrong and wrong. It is wrong from the pont of view of elementary logic. It would be wrong anywhere, even in the Andromeda Galaxy. But apparently it is right at Newsweek.

Newsweek's defense so far has been that the Pentagon didn't issue vehement full-throated denials when the paragraph was run by a spokesman at the last minute and that means it was reasonable to believe that the story of Koran flushing was true. Of course, had the Pentagon spokesman denied it, that defensiveness too would have been taken as confirmation. The item still would have run, but it would have added the little blip that the Pentagon denies the charges.

I also agree with the folks saying that Muslims who have gotten their knickers in a knot over this incident are, well, idiots. Even if the story were true, it doesn't justify all the indignation, protests, and deaths. Some manner of indignation would be ok, but not to the degree that we're seeing.

Others claim that we shouldn't put so much blame on Newsweek because we shouldn't racistly think that Arab Muslims can't handle such an affront as Koran flushing. That's true, but nevertheless they should have known that some would and the results would not be pretty. One blogger, I forget who, made the point that the MSM refused to show or replay the more graphic scenes of 9/11 on account of not wanting to build American anti-Muslim sentiment, but the same MSM has no problem carpeting papers and TV with images that will foment Muslim anti-American sentiment.

One caveat: I don't think that all Muslims are off their rockers over this story. From what I've seen, the most Muslim noise has been made by a minority who already have vested interests in anti-Americanism and will latch onto anything that furthers that sentiment among others.

Anyway, if you want more, just click on any one of those links on my blogroll to the right and you're sure to find plenty of commentary on this subject.

5/13/2005

Mavericks

Filed under: Media,Politics — Dangerous Dan @ 9:31 am

John McCain should be worried… the media is dubbing some other Republican senator a 'maverick.' Michelle Malkin notes four different articles using the term in reference to Sen. George Voinovich after he bucked the party line and challenged the nomination of John Bolton to the UN. You see, whenever a Republican goes against his party, he's a maverick. Whenever a Democrat does the same, he's… well, I'm not sure, but the media sure as hell don't call him a maverick and they don't paint his dissension favorably like with the Repub.

Visit Right Wing Nut House for more on this topic.

5/12/2005

Good From Bad For PBS

Filed under: Media,Politics — Dangerous Dan @ 1:53 pm

Last week, I mentioned how the head of PBS's parent organization is trying to even out the station's liberalism with some conservative programming. Now Congress is taking notice and a couple of representatives don't like it:

In a letter released Wednesday evening, Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., and Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., asked CPB Inspector General Kenneth A. Konz to investigate the contracting, hiring and policies of the corporation, which distributes federal funds to public television stations. Both congressmen are ranking Democrats on committees that have oversight of public television.

It seems to me that this issue can play well for both parties. The Dems will portray this as an attempt by conservatives to turn PBS into the propaganda arm of the GOP and that it's only a matter of time before Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes are put in charge of programming. Republicans will portray the Dem defense as proof that they don't want nor believe in diversity of opinion, and that, furthermore, it’s improper for publicly funded broadcasting to be ideologically monolithic when more than half the taxpayers don’t agree with it.

The real winner of this will be PBS itself. Except for maybe its children's programming, PBS is largely irrelevant to the public discourse and nowhere on the cultural radar. Any sort of controversy that might get people watching out of curiosity will be good for it.

5/9/2005

The Huffington Post

Filed under: Media — Dangerous Dan @ 11:20 pm

(A 9/9/05 sidenote first… in my statsI keep seeing people visit this post, but I don't know how they're finding it. It's not a big deal, I'm just curious how you got here… search engine or what. Leave a comment if you feel like it.)

I haven't had a chance to really delve into The Huffington Post, but thus far I'm unimpressed. It practically screams, "We're like Drudge, but different and better! Well… different anyway!"

Frankly, I don't much care about what Ellen Degeneres has to say about horse slaughtering or what Elaine from Seinfeld thinks about gay marriage. If you're going to have a group blog, you've got to have the occasional long substantive post and you need the personalities to discuss different topics such that they respond and debate with one another. As it is, the blog section now has 21 entries by 21 disparate personalities that are completely unrelated to one another. This means that you have a site where a bunch of folks post something short and insubstantial. It's a comments section, people, only they're not talking about the same topics.

As a group blog, 21 people is far too many. It's unwieldy and involves too many personalities to preserve interest. The Corner is an excellent group blog because it's big enough for good debate but small enough that its participants post often and you get a good idea of what the posters stand for and what they're like. Many are the people who love Derb posts, Jonah posts, or Ramesh posts. You're not going to get that with the Huffington blog. I could yet be proven wrong, but I doubt it.

Most of the news stories aren't anything special. One interesting headline was this: Prairie Home Curmudgeon: Keillor Raps Right-Wing Radio. It links directly to a column of Keillor's on thenation.com. Even Drudge rarely links to stories or columns in the blatantly partisan media. At least not unless he's pointing out something indelicate the author has said. And it's nothing new. Saying that Keillor dislikes conservative radio is a bit like reporting that the pope is still Catholic.

One innovative feature of the news section is the comments. I don't expect it to last long because while it's innovative, it's also annoying. You have the usual "me too" and "you suck" comments and I think that whichever side manages to dominate will be the one that spews the most invective. Currently, the liberals have the lead. The other side will ignore the feature unless they want to troll around and push others' buttons. In short, pointless and annoying.

If you want others' takes on THP, go to Wizbang, Howard Kurtz, Michelle Malkin, Outside the Beltway, Media Girl, LA Weekly for a truly scathing MSM review, and other. If nothing else, check out Huffington is full of crap, which is keeping a detailed, unkind eye on THP.

5/4/2005

Screed

Filed under: Media — Dangerous Dan @ 10:42 pm

I was thinking about extensively responding to this editorial (maybe even a fisking) by Jason Miller, but decided it wasn't worth the trouble. It's essentially one long Marxist screed in which conservatives are corporate whores, mainstream media is all about corporate interests (and, therefore, clearly not liberal in any way – a really bad argument many liberals make), and corporations are, of course, utterly evil. All journalists are in thrall to the corporate beast unless they're blatantly liberal and challenge conservative government on everything.

The solution to the corporate-centered presentation of the media? The thing that can break the bourgeois capitalist media power structure's hold on the proletariat mind? The internet – a fact he explains in a rather orgasmic paragraph about how all the information is out there to assemble. Just as long as the corporations and the conservatives don't get their hands on it! Anyway, read it in full if you like and be prepared for plenty of eye-rolling.

(link via Michelle Malkin)

5/1/2005

The Crusade Movie

Filed under: Media — Dangerous Dan @ 11:38 pm

I've discussed the Crusades several times (do a search) and now they've made a movie about them, Kingdom of Heaven. I don't have much to say on it, but Zombietime does and he claims that the film was purposely made to be as p.c. and non-anti-Muslim as possible, to the point of wild historical inaccuracies beyond even the limits of wild historical inaccuracies that are to be expected in such movies. I don't expect or encourage anti-Muslim bias in films, but don't think any noble cause is served by cowering to sensitivities at the expense of historical accuracy. Drama, maybe, but not sensitivities.

I especially liked this quote:

Sir Ridley's spokesman said that the film portrays the Arabs in a positive light. "It's trying to be fair and we hope that the Muslim world sees the rectification of history."

The "rectification of history." Dwell on that.

Reforming PBS

Filed under: Media,Politics — Dangerous Dan @ 11:11 pm

It appears the Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (the entity in charge of PBS) wants to reform PBS so as to lessen its liberal bias. Personally, I think it should be left well enough alone. PBS has slowly sunk into public irrelevance so I don't know that revamping it and confronting its status quo matters that much. It will, however, surely energize liberals as they rally around a battle cry of keeping conservative meddling out of taxpayer funded broadcasting. That liberal views have a de facto hold on PBS can't seriously be questioned. Taking a de jure approach to challenging that situation isn't helpful.

One fun point, though, is this:

But Mr. Tomlinson's tenure has brought criticism that his chairmanship has been the most polarizing in a generation. Christy Carpenter, a Democratic appointee to the board from 1998 to 2002, said partisanship was "essentially nonexistent" in her first years. But once Mr. Tomlinson, a former editor in chief of Reader's Digest, joined in September 2000 and President Bush's election changed the board's political composition, the tenor changed, she said.

Hmmm. Shocking how there could possibly be a lack of partisanship in a group of like-minded individuals sharing the same ideology. In most boardrooms, this would be considered a bad thing as you wind up with groupthink and nobody to question what you're doing. Having somebody with a fresh perspective is good. At PBS, though, it's polarizing. Go figure.

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4/30/2005

Sigh – Bias in Movie Reviews

Filed under: Media,Politics — Dangerous Dan @ 10:02 am

I can't even get past a simple movie review without the writer including his biased political opinion. An excerpt from CNN's review of The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy (which I plan on seeing – I just got done reading the six part trilogy):

And then there's Sam Rockwell, playing the incompetent galactic president, Zaphod Beeblebrox, in a way Adams couldn't have imagined back in 1978. Rockwell is doing an impression of President Bush — or he's doing an impression of a parody of Bush, with his breezy jokes and smug twang — but he's dressed like the lead singer of a '70s glam-rock band.

4/29/2005

Loaded Questions

Filed under: Media,Politics — Dangerous Dan @ 11:24 pm

MRC has a selection of loaded questions reporters asked President Bush at the press conference last night. Here's my favorite:

Sir, you've talked all around the country about the poisonous partisan atmosphere here in Washington. I wonder why do you think that is? And do you personally bear any responsibility in having contributed to this atmosphere?

This would be like asking an environmentalist, "Sir, you've talked a lot about greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide leading to global warming. Do you personally bear any responsibility in having contributed to this atmosphere?"

The answer, of course, is yes. He's a CO2 emitting lifeform, after all. Likewise, with Bush, the answer is yes. He's a Washington politician. Of course he's contributing to partisanship. The point, though, isn't just whether he's doing so since that answer is so obvious as to be useless. The real question is to what degree he's doing it comparable to others. There are other things out there producing far more and consequential amounts of CO2 than the environmentalist and there are other politicians contributing much more to partisanship than is Bush. So, essentially, the reporter asked a catch-22 question, along the same lines as "When did you stop beating your wife?" Real fair.

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