Sanitizing war?

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I'm likely a bit long of tooth compared to many here, but I have a few early and jumbled memories of the Viet Nam war. There were two turning points iirc, the reporting of the My Lai massacre: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Lai_massacre

And, of course, the unforgettable Life Magazine image of the screaming naked girl having just been nepalmed.

Where is this footage today? What brought this to my attention was:

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20070224/iraq_poll_070224/20070224?hub=World [Broken]

Lancet journal looked into this in a stsyematic fashion by polling survivors and found the number in excess of 100K. This appears to be a fair review:

http://www.thelancet.com/webfiles/images/journals/lancet/s0140673606694919.pdf [Broken]

I must admit I don't watch TV much, but sure seems like there's no coverage of the dark side. Old news I know, but no less relevant as GWB wants to crank up the heat.
 
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  • #2
turbo
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There is a disturbing tendency in the reporting. Atrocities tend to be leaked out in the past tense, lending them some distance, and images of casualties are routinely of anonymous male Iraqis blown up by bombs, etc. How many times have you seen any US-approved news feed showing a female US soldier with her legs blown off, or with a severe head wound? How about an Iraqi toddler cut in two by small arms fire? Horrendous injuries and gruesome deaths occur every day in Iraq, but you're not going to see them on US TV.
 
  • #3
russ_watters
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How long, exactly, did it take for news of Mai Lai to break?
turbo-1 said:
Horrendous injuries and gruesome deaths occur every day in Iraq, but you're not going to see them on US TV.
Now, see, that's just plain not true. Go to the front page of any major news source today and you'll likelly see reporting of the day's civilian deaths. Today's story: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2007-02-26-car-bomb_x.htm

Yesterday's story was bigger: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2007-02-25-iraq-analysis_x.htm

Now the fact of the matter is that there has been a number of individual crimes committed by US troops and they have been widely reported, but none of them come anywhere close to the scale of Mai Lai.
 
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  • #4
turbo
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How long, exactly, did it take for news of Mai Lai to break?
I took at least a year before enough of the story got to civilian levels of the government to prompt an investigation - all the time the military was covering it up. Similarly, the Abu Ghraib prison story didn't break until the perpetrators of the torture had already rotated out of duty and were replaced in part by members of the 152nd Field Artillery from here in Maine, who had to explain to their families that they were not the creeps who covered prisoners with urine and excrement, sodomized them, beat them, and subjected them to mock executions as well as some very real deaths.

Now, see, that's just plain not true. Go to the front page of any major news source today and you'll likelly see reporting of the day's civilian deaths. Today's story: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2007-02-26-car-bomb_x.htm

Yesterday's story was bigger: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2007-02-25-iraq-analysis_x.htm

Now the fact of the matter is that there has been a number of individual crimes committed by US troops and they have been widely reported, but none of them come anywhere close to the scale of Mai Lai.
Yes, you will see estimates of Iraqi deaths and you'll see a quick shot or two of some wounded guy being lugged off on a stretcher, but the sheer enormity of the conflict is downplayed. Can you imagine the outcry if cops in NYC found an alley full of bodies, shot through the back of the head execution-style and bearing wounds from torture, often holes made by electric drills? This is not an uncommon occurrence in Iraq, so where is the coverage and where is our public sense of outrage? Is this humanitarian crisis not more important than where ANS's body will be buried? You wouldn't know it to watch the news.
 
  • #5
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Maybe a few minutes of this on the nightly news might make a difference:
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article10907.htm

Its argued that the press is just respecting our collective sensibilities by not showing the other face of war, just as they wouldn't show a gruesome motor vehicle accident. We might see the mangled cars, but like the photo from USA in Russ's link, we get a blood stain and not body parts. Whats hilarious of course is that people flock to the cinema to see Rambo, or maybe the more tastefully rendered Saving Private Ryan. TV is a wasteland of violence.

What bothers me about this irony, is if we don't have the stomach to watch it, we sure as hell should not be commisioning others to do it. Or in another related area, if you can't take a tour of your local slaughter house, maybe shouldn't be eating beef. So long as they are just numbers, its abstract. Some estimates put the death toll from the UN sponsored sanctions in the decade prior to the invasion at a half million or more:
http://www.globalissues.org/Geopolitics/MiddleEast/Iraq/Sanctions.asp
 
  • #6
Astronuc
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How long, exactly, did it take for news of Mai Lai to break?
Probably about 1 year. In 1968, the US was engaged in the Presidential campaign of 1968 - Nixon vs Humphrey (since Johnson decided not to run) - and My Lai was not an issue. The US was also reeling from the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 4, 1968) and Robert Kennedy (June 6, 1968). Later in the summer of '68, riots broke out in numerous cities due to racial tensions in those communities. There was the infamous riot in Chicago in conjunction with the Democratic National Convention. Then there was the 1968 Summer Olympics.
 
  • #7
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OT, 68 was a bad year indeed. Heard Chris Hillman (bassist from the Byrds) discussing this yesterday on a local radio station as the beginning of the end and using as a metaphor--instead of the Monterey Pop festival, we had the mess at Altamont. I remember people taking up arms in Reno, NV cuz the blacks from LA were on the verge of coming over the mountains.... What a year indeed.
 
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  • #8
russ_watters
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I took at least a year before enough of the story got to civilian levels of the government to prompt an investigation - all the time the military was covering it up. Similarly, the Abu Ghraib prison story didn't break until the perpetrators of the torture had already rotated out of duty...
Ok, I thought I saw an implied difference. The title of the thread (yeah, I know, you aren't the op) certainly implies it.
Yes, you will see estimates of Iraqi deaths and you'll see a quick shot or two of some wounded guy being lugged off on a stretcher, but the sheer enormity of the conflict is downplayed.
How, exactly, would you cover the "sheer enormity" except by running a daily cumulative tally of the deaths? That's not the way news works and it never has been. As the term "news" implies, news is new stories.
...where is the coverage and where is our public sense of outrage?
As I showed, the coverage is there every day. As for the public sense of outrage... well, that's clearly out there as well. News is supposed to be impartial, but there are plenty of editorials and plenty of other things (protests, blogs, etc.) out there as well.

Honestly, I'm not sure what you are looking for.
Probably about 1 year. In 1968, the US was engaged in the Presidential campaign of 1968 - Nixon vs Humphrey (since Johnson decided not to run) - and My Lai was not an issue.
That's what I figured. I thought I saw in the OP an implication that it broke faster than Iraq stories are breaking.
 
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  • #9
russ_watters
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Maybe a few minutes of this on the nightly news might make a difference:
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article10907.htm
There is a difference between news and conspiracy theory. Sorry, but conspiracy theory is only ever news once (as a cultural phenomena, not for the content itself), as it was in Time Magazine once last year.

I mean c'mon - a [Robert] Kennedy Assasination story? That's the conspiracy theory benchmark.
Its argued that the press is just respecting our collective sensibilities by not showing the other face of war, just as they wouldn't show a gruesome motor vehicle accident. We might see the mangled cars, but like the photo from USA in Russ's link, we get a blood stain and not body parts. Whats hilarious of course is that people flock to the cinema to see Rambo, or maybe the more tastefully rendered Saving Private Ryan. TV is a wasteland of violence.

What bothers me about this irony, is if we don't have the stomach to watch it, we sure as hell should not be commisioning others to do it.
Again, it has always been that way, and rightfully so. In a movie, everyone watching knows it isn't real. In a real life incident, it is out of a combination of respect and, yes, sensitivity that they don't show gruesome images.
 
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  • #10
turbo
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This is a bit OT, but if the execs at CBS wanted to put a female face on the evening news, they should have left Couric on her puffy little morning show and staffed the anchor desk with a rotating contingent (depending on who was busy with field assignments) of Lara Logan, Trish Regan and Christiane Amanpour (hire her away from CNN) and give them free rein to send production teams to cover real hard news wherever it is breaking. These women are experienced and tough and can report with the best of them. That would have set CBS apart from the other networks and would have earned them some real market share. There are people like myself who like in-depth coverage of news, not just "he said, she said" sound bites from political hacks and courtroom coverage of dead rich bimbos. I think there are enough of us to make such an anchor line-up exceedingly popular.
 
  • #11
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Maybe a few minutes of this on the nightly news might make a difference:
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article10907.htm

Its argued that the press is just respecting our collective sensibilities by not showing the other face of war, just as they wouldn't show a gruesome motor vehicle accident. We might see the mangled cars, but like the photo from USA in Russ's link, we get a blood stain and not body parts. Whats hilarious of course is that people flock to the cinema to see Rambo, or maybe the more tastefully rendered Saving Private Ryan. TV is a wasteland of violence.

What bothers me about this irony, is if we don't have the stomach to watch it, we sure as hell should not be commisioning others to do it. Or in another related area, if you can't take a tour of your local slaughter house, maybe shouldn't be eating beef. So long as they are just numbers, its abstract. Some estimates put the death toll from the UN sponsored sanctions in the decade prior to the invasion at a half million or more:
http://www.globalissues.org/Geopolitics/MiddleEast/Iraq/Sanctions.asp
The Military sanitized the use of napalm in Iraq by using a technicality, napalm is jellied gasoline, they used jellied jet fuel.

The whole Iraqi scene has been sanitized compared with Vietnam where the public saw both photos and film of the results of our actions.

Fallujah was our greatest disgrace. We had a long running thread on Fallujah some time back. It was locked because some here were afraid to look at or for the truth.

The thing about Fallujah that had botherd me the most was that people were found dead in their beds with no apparent sign of trauma. I had thought that the use of white phosphorus had in some way depleted the oxygen in buildings. I was wrong.

The people were suffocated by the use of a weapon called SMAW NE, the NE standing for Novel Explosive. The weapon is essentially a shoulder fired rocket that fires a projectile containing a fuel bomb device that spreads fuel vapor and ignites it after it is inside a building.

Once the fire dies down, the mist sucks all of the oxygen out of the confined space. Those who manage to escape the thermobaric flames and pressure waves quickly expire from asphyxiation.
http://www.wired.com/news/conflict/0,2100,58094,00.html [Broken]

http://www.defensetech.org/archives/001944.html [Broken]
 
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  • #12
There is a difference between news and conspiracy theory. Sorry, but conspiracy theory is only ever news once (as a cultural phenomena, not for the content itself), as it was in Time Magazine once last year.

I mean c'mon - a [Robert] Kennedy Assasination story? That's the conspiracy theory benchmark. Again, it has always been that way, and rightfully so. In a movie, everyone watching knows it isn't real. In a real life incident, it is out of a combination of respect and, yes, sensitivity that they don't show gruesome images.
The internet provides anyone who's willing to look at such images with the chance anyway, I've seen some of them, and they are not for day time viewing.:bugeye: :eek:

I think people have seen enough of the Iraq war to know it's a sucky situation, I tend to agree it's not necessary to show the real horror stories, but if you want to see them you can.

I must admit though seeing the way geurillas take out the Arbrahams is a real eye opener, clever tactics there I suppose. So that's why they don't need AP rockets or ASM tank busters :/
 
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  • #13
turbo
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The internet provides anyone who's willing to look at such images with the chance anyway, I've seen some of them, and they are not for day time viewing.:bugeye: :eek:
Thanks for the Internet. You can get foreign news feeds and there's always www.democracynow.org that provides in-depth coverage of the wars and the political machinations behind them. Democracy Now does it's best to invite spokespersons from opposite sides of arguments to talk about the issues, and it's not uncommon to see an Israeli official and a Palestinian official (foreign-office or ministerial rank, or noted scholars representing their sides) on the same show. Today, the head of an American-Iranian group was on the show explaining that Iran's president had offered negotiations with essentially everything on the table 4 years ago. The Swiss ambassador handed the offer to Nau, who delivered it to others, including Rove. To this day, Rice says she "never saw" the dispatch. The guest says that Iran was willing to put nuclear enrichment on the table, as well as stabilization tactics for Iraq, moderation of support for anti-Israeli groups, etc, etc. The link is here.

http://www.democracynow.org/

As Seymour Hersh reports the Pentagon has created a special panel to plan a bombing attack on Iran, we examine how the Bush administration ignored a secret offer to negotiate with Iran in 2003. We speak with the National Iranian American Council's Trita Parsi, a former aide to Republican congressman Bob Ney. [includes rush transcript]
 
  • #14
Amen to that, it's in large part because of the internet, that I take a more moderate stance, It's amazing just how wrong your media can be, even in my country where it's held to a very high standard, well in theory. Bias can creep in to all media, now with a newspaper you expect this and you can read between the biased lines, but TV news should be impartial IMO.

My biggest revelation was the Israel should be wiped off the map fiasco from the New York Times, I still see this oft repeated and erroneous phrase even now, even though it's been thoroughly debunked.

For anyone who isn't aware the translation in Farsi is as Astronuc showed us:

http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/print.asp?ID=5866 [Broken]

"The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time".

While the false "wiped off the map" extract has been repeated infinitely without verification, Ahmadinejad's actual speech itself has been almost entirely ignored. Given the importance placed on the "map" comment, it would be sensible to present his words in their full context to get a fuller understanding of his position. In fact, by looking at the entire speech, there is a clear, logical trajectory leading up to his call for a "world without Zionism". One may disagree with his reasoning, but critical appraisals are infeasible without first knowing what that reasoning is.

In his speech, Ahmadinejad declares that Zionism is the West's apparatus of political oppression against Muslims. He says the "Zionist regime" was imposed on the Islamic world as a strategic bridgehead to ensure domination of the region and its assets. Palestine, he insists, is the frontline of the Islamic world's struggle with American hegemony, and its fate will have repercussions for the entire Middle East.

Ahmadinejad acknowledges that the removal of America's powerful grip on the region via the Zionists may seem unimaginable to some, but reminds the audience that, as Khomeini predicted, other seemingly invincible empires have disappeared and now only exist in history books. He then proceeds to list three such regimes that have collapsed, crumbled or vanished, all within the last 30 years:

(1) The Shah of Iran- the U.S. installed monarch
(2) The Soviet Union
(3) Iran's former arch-enemy, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein

In the first and third examples, Ahmadinejad prefaces their mention with Khomeini's own words foretelling that individual regime's demise. He concludes by referring to Khomeini's unfulfilled wish: "The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time. This statement is very wise". This is the passage that has been isolated, twisted and distorted so famously. By measure of comparison, Ahmadinejad would seem to be calling for regime change, not war.

Totally different from the popular view. Don't take your media at face value, even if they don't realise it they are subject to bias.
 
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  • #15
russ_watters
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The internet provides anyone who's willing to look at such images with the chance anyway, I've seen some of them, and they are not for day time viewing.:bugeye: :eek:

I think people have seen enough of the Iraq war to know it's a sucky situation, I tend to agree it's not necessary to show the real horror stories, but if you want to see them you can.
I actually agree - I think it is ok that that stuff is on the internet. It is, after all, history. And people can go looking for it if they want. But I also think it is right to not put it on tv.
 
  • #16
turbo
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I actually agree - I think it is ok that that stuff is on the internet. It is, after all, history. And people can go looking for it if they want. But I also think it is right to not put it on tv.
Wrong. It may be right to self-censor if the material is explicitly made available otherwise and reference is made to it, but to act as if the whole story (or even a balanced portion of a part of the story) is being told while substantial truths are buried is disingenuous at best, and is at least dishonest in the most generous view. The most even-handed assessment of the US administration's war against the Iraqi people cannot fail to note the many tens of thousands of Iraqi casualties, the lack of basic essentials, like accessible food, water, electricity, and sewage systems, etc. The Bush administration failed to provide even the most rudimentary planning for the after-invasion administration of Iraq and the US taxpayers will be paying the toll for decades, not to mention the death and suffering of the Iraqis who cannot afford to escape the hell that Bushco has made of their country.

Millions of people have fled Iraq. Millions more cannot flee and will suffer and die for the sake of US dominance in an oil-rich region. Iraq had no WMDs, no nuclear enrichment programs, no Al Quaida cells, no connection to the 9-11 attacks, nor any of the other faked-up "reasons" that Bushco sold the invasion with. Now, Buscho are pumping up similar charges against Iran and are driving us toward war with Iran. These creeps are NOT conservatives! They are warmongering radicals, and they are willing to risk the health, wealth, reputation, and well-being of our country to advance their agenda of war, boost the profits of war-based industries, and diminish the rights of our citizens. Real conservatives do not support the agenda of the warmongering neo-cons, and it is time that the country recognized the difference! Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, et al, are not conservatives. They are radicals that foment war for the financial gain of their backers. Please Google on the words "Prescott Bush" "Carlyle" and "Nazi" to see if there are any historical parallels. The Bush family are not people you would break bread with unless you are without scruples.
 
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  • #17
russ_watters
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Wrong. It may be right to self-censor if the material is explicitly made available otherwise and reference is made to it, but to act as if the whole story (or even a balanced portion of a part of the story) is being told while substantial truths are buried is disingenuous at best, and is at least dishonest in the most generous view.
Well, maybe we are talking about two different things, then. I'm talking about things like the beheddings and plain old body parts. To actually not show a story because it is objectionable would be wrong. But I don't think that's going on. I think you are looking for the news to actually be a constant political protest and that's just not what "news" is. Just be happy that it has a liberal bend to it. Imagine if every channel were Fox!
The most even-handed assessment of the US administration's war against the Iraqi people....
Funny sentence. That's where we diverge.
Please Google on the words "Prescott Bush" "Carlyle" and "Nazi" to see if there are any historical parallels.
The dislike for Bush over the Iraq war I can handle. The conspiracy theory - rediculous, whether it is 9/11, Kennedy assasination, or the Bush-wants-to-take-over-the-world crap (or how 'bout the Clinton-wants-to-take-over-the-world crap?). That stuff is just plain stupid. Yah, Bush is a rich guy who invested in defense funds. That is surprising, why...? Yah, German companies worked for the Nazis. That doesn't keep people from driving "the people's car".
 
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  • #18
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I still disagree. Imagine a jury trial of a murder, there are almosst invariably photos of the victims. If the American public is to have an honest debate about the war, then it needs to have the images associated with war. If Johnnie and Sara need to be sent to their rooms, so be it. We get non-stop coverage for several days durig the "shock and awe" campaign with all our fancy guided weaponry--all very abstract, but then to avoid the "viet Nam factor" we get sanitized war coverage when things get close up and gritty strikes me as most hypocritical.
 
  • #19
russ_watters
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I still disagree. Imagine a jury trial of a murder, there are almosst invariably photos of the victims. If the American public is to have an honest debate about the war, then it needs to have the images associated with war. If Johnnie and Sara need to be sent to their rooms, so be it.
Swearing and nudity are also not shown on tv. That's just the way it is and it always has been. Perhaps, now with the V-Chip being required on all tvs, that can be changed.
We get non-stop coverage for several days durig the "shock and awe" campaign with all our fancy guided weaponry--all very abstract, but then to avoid the "viet Nam factor" we get sanitized war coverage when things get close up and gritty strikes me as most hypocritical.
People make [mostly wrong] comparisons to the Vietnam war quite often as well and direct criticisms are in the news on an almost daily basis. There is certainly no hypicrisy in the coverage - just the typical mild-liberal bend.

Here's the most recent reference to the Vietnam war in USA Today (yesterday): http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-02-26-democrats-iraq_x.htm
It doesn't exactly compare the wars, just discusses the war powers issues. Since most references seem to be backhanded (ie, referring to 'past mistakes'), it is tough to find them with a boolean search.

This article (also yesterday) is about Democratic criticism of the war (yes, that gets almost daily coverage as well): http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-02-26-democrats-iraq_x.htm

I like the part about failure (by the Democrats to change anything) being success. :uhh:
 
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  • #20
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Swearing and nudity are also not shown on tv. That's just the way it is and it always has been. Perhaps, now with the V-Chip being required on all tvs, that can be changed. People make [mostly wrong] comparisons to the Vietnam war quite often as well and direct criticisms are in the news on an almost daily basis. There is certainly no hypicrisy in the coverage - just the typical mild-liberal bend....
Russ we really are on different planets--the myth of the liberal press. My friend, I know its a matter of perspective, but the press is anything but "liberal" in the US. :rofl:

We could likely devote an entire thread to this subject alone, maybe you could give me an example....USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, the wire services, Newsweek, NY times, Wash Post, US News..., Fortune 500, Wall Street Journal, SF Chronicle? None of these come anywhere close to what I would consider a progressive viewpoint, much less liberal, but instead tend to be mealy mouthed, don't offend anyone too much, etc.

Or maybe you could name some "liberals"--certainly not Clinton, not even Kennedy comes close to embracing what I would consider progressive. Dennis Kucinivich comes as close to an elected torch bearer as any in the congress or senate, and he's considered an outlander.

I'm not criticizing your perspective whatsoever, only that the debate is so narrowly defined. We hear from crackpot rightests all the time, often on a daily basis on AM radio or like Bill O'Reilly, but rarely do we hear from anyone like Noam Chomsky, Arundati Roy (sp?), Gore Vidal, or any of a couple other dozen gifted speakers advocating an entirely different viewpoint. Its taboo.
Heck I'd like to get subtitled Al Jazeera news--in some respects its more balanced than most anything we get in the US. (that is when we are not bombing their station). That aside, any of the international press, including the int'l CNN feeds (which is considered unfit for domestic coverage) is far broader than anything that sees the light of day here in the land of liberty and free press.

Please check out this resource: http://www.fair.org/index.php

Granted they have a "leftist" bias, but after listening to their critiques a few times, its hard to believe anymore in the liberal press myth. Oh and that reminds me the lather that folks got worked up over seeing Janet Jackson's tit, when 2/3rd's of the stuff on TV shows mayhem and death as the main course, really leaves me to wonder whether this coiuntry has lost its collective mind. I don't buy the defer to sensibilities in the service of respect or good taste; its a self serving argument for censorship.
 
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  • #21
russ_watters
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Russ we really are on different planets--the myth of the liberal press. My friend, I know its a matter of perspective, but the press is anything but "liberal" in the US. :rofl:

We could likely devote an entire thread to this subject alone, maybe you could give me an example....USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, the wire services, Newsweek, NY times, Wash Post, US News..., Fortune 500, Wall Street Journal, SF Chronicle? None of these come anywhere close to what I would consider a progressive viewpoint, much less liberal, but instead tend to be mealy mouthed, don't offend anyone too much, etc.
People tend to see themselves as moderate - perhaps there are few that are more liberal than you or, at least, more liberal than how you wish the US was, but several of those that you listed have very strong reputations for being left of the actual center of the country. In order from most to least, SF Chronical, NY Times, MSNBC. These are certainly to the left (SF Chronical, very far left - heck, that paper is just plain nutty) of center in the US. And you forgot a biggie for TV: CBS. It has likely improved somewhat with the marginalization of Dan Rather, but his strong and vocal liberal slant got him and the station in some trouble last year, if you remember.

Please check out this resource: http://www.fair.org/index.php
See, that is exactly the point. It isn't just you: the media defines "fair" or "unbiased" as liberal! It says so right in the "about us":
We work to invigorate the First Amendment by advocating for greater diversity in the press and by scrutinizing media practices that marginalize public interest, minority and dissenting viewpoints. As an anti-censorship organization, we expose neglected news stories and defend working journalists when they are muzzled. As a progressive group, FAIR believes that structural reform is ultimately needed to break up the dominant media conglomerates, establish independent public broadcasting and promote strong non-profit sources of information.

Uniquely, FAIR works with both activists and journalists. [emphasis added]
Heck, they are essentially arguing that the media needs to be more liberal and that pushing the media in that direction is their reason for existing! "minority and dissenting viewpoints" means anti-government/anti-"establishment".

What's even worse is publications that should be, by their nature, apolitical. But publications like Wired and Rolling Stone are among the worst, largely because they can sneak their political commentary in under the guise of apolitical news.

Another good indicator is what candidates get endorsed by newspapers. It's funny, but whenever the Philadelphia Inquirer calls to ask if my boss wants a subscription (we used to work out of his house), he says 'sure - as soon as you endorse a Republican candidate just once'. And that's a paper that I consider relatively fair. That just means they do a reasonably good job of keeping their bias in check - but it is still there and still comes out especially at election time when for some reason papers decide it is ok to wear their bias on their sleeve.

There are a few in the media who are open about their and the media in general's bias. I respect that a great deal - to be biased without being open about it is dishonest. And everyone has a bias. Here are some quotes pulled from an anti-Rather site:
"I think Dan is transparently liberal. Now he may not like to hear me say that. I always agree with him, too. But I think he should be more careful."
--CBS 60 Minutes Commentator Andy Rooney on Larry King Live, July 28, 2002

"Everybody knows that there's a liberal, that there's a heavy liberal persuasion among correspondents."
--Walter Cronkite, former CBS anchor, at the annual Radio and Television Correspondents Association dinner, March 21, 1996.

"I believe that most of us reporters are liberal...we are inclined to side with the powerless rather than the powerful. If that is what makes us liberals, so be it."
--Walter Cronkite in his syndicated column, August 6, 2003.
Here's a general study of the phenomena that quantifies it: http://www.newsroom.ucla.edu/page.asp?RelNum=6664 [Broken]
The bias can be detected with a simple survey: http://www.mediaresearch.org/biasbasics/biasbasics.asp

Look, I don't blame the media for being biased. We have discussed this before (not recently...), that different mindsets go with different professions. People who join the military tend to be conservative, for example. Academics tend to be liberal. As Cronkite said, the media will always be, by its very nature, liberal.
 
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  • #22
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Interesting. Well I actually consider myself a "conservative" when it comes to protection of the constitution and civil liberties. I suspect some, maybe most of these labels have lost any real meaning.

Again, I would suggest that on the majority of issues we are talking about liberal has no meaning, except perhaps relative to the population as you suggest--which is a fair yardstick for some purposes. My complaint is that the news from whatever source in the US (small local papers like The Village Voice excepted) tend to present views that run from say on a scale of 0 to 100 (left to right) between 35 and 90. You may say that on average its 45, my complaint is there is nothing between 10 and 35. AM radio talkshows likely average 75.

As a for instance, duiring the run-up to the invasion, folks who used alternative media were well aware of several things missing from the debate on mainstream media: that the aluminum tubes being used for enrichment was impossible, that the deal for uranium was a complete fabrication, that Sadam and Al Queda were as unlikely an allegiance as there ever was, and that Hans Blix and team were doing a very credible job, and there wasn't a shred of evidence for WMD. Knowing this I watched in disgust as Colin Powell told his pack of lies, and watched all the networks interview general after general. I don't think at any single time I saw someone with a contrary view. It was at that point in my life I decided never to trust mass media again. Who can forget Judith Miller and the "liberal" NY Times playing toady toi the pentagon/Bush administration with one false allegation after another, planted by the admin, and then the same news, used as support for their position.

Now FAIR counts these things--iirc, there were 250 something experts presented during the run-up and only 3 of them questioned the invasion. This is "liberal"? Who you trying to kid?
 
  • #23
russ_watters
Mentor
19,453
5,639
Interesting. Well I actually consider myself a "conservative" when it comes to protection of the constitution and civil liberties. I suspect some, maybe most of these labels have lost any real meaning.
There are conventions regarding such things. Making up your own labels is a hallmark of being very far off the mainstream. My boss does it all the time. He's very right wing and yells at me every time I suggest that Bush is a conservative! :surprised

I strongly suggest that if you want to have meaningful conversations about these things that you use the accepted terminology. Otherwise, we aren't speaking the same language.

Ie, to say something is "left" or "right" (or liberal or conservative) means left or right of the center of the population, not to the left or right of you.
My complaint is that the news from whatever source in the US (small local papers like The Village Voice excepted) tend to present views that run from say on a scale of 0 to 100 (left to right) between 35 and 90. You may say that on average its 45, my complaint is there is nothing between 10 and 35. AM radio talkshows likely average 75.
Again, you are choosing your scale based on you as the center. Though AM talk radio is dominated by a single person (which makes it a useless standard to look at), there are plenty in the media that are far to the left of the general population. If anything, Rush Limbaugh is popular among the right wing due to his uniqueness. I recently drove to Boston from Philly and when scrolling through to find a traffic report, I found that the airwaves were simply saturated with left-wing talk shows.
Now FAIR counts these things--iirc, there were 250 something experts presented during the run-up and only 3 of them questioned the invasion. This is "liberal"? Who you trying to kid?
FAIR is quite up-front about doing precisely what you do: define a "center" that is very far from the actual center. You are kidding yourself (and allowing FAIR to kid you). FAIR isn't any more "fair" than Fox is "fair and balanced".

For the specific issue, in the run-up to the invasion, the media were handicapped by two issues:

1. The job of a news reporter is to report the news, not to comment on it. So when the news is the Colin Powell speech itself, there is no dissenting opinion.

2. Historical precedent made most of the allegations seem reasonable.

Remember, UN 1441 passed - it isn't like there was serious dissent in the world community over the issue of Hussein's threat at the time (only on specifically whether to go to war). What you are suggesting is that it is the job of the media to be activist. Surely you must see that that is the antithesis of "FAIR"!
 
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  • #24
turbo
Gold Member
3,077
45
The job of a news reporter is to report the news, not to comment on it. So when the news is the Colin Powell speech itself, there is no dissenting opinion.
Do you think this is true, Russ? It used to be that reporters not only reported on what people said and did, but that they would look for the motivation behind the actions so the story would be reported in context. Nowadays, that work seems increasingly relegated to "investigative reporting" as if front-line reporters are otherwise expected to be nothing but transcription machines through which our politicians address us. I see a great deal of erosion in the quality of the reporting we are fed, whether the reporter is left, right, or center. Any "insights" we get into the motivations of our politicians through such reporting is suspect, since the reporters are being spoon-fed the information through carefully controlled "leaks" from "anonymous sources."

I believe the workings of our government should be transparent to "we the people", at least to the extent that the openness does not endanger our national security. Increasingly, the operations of our government are becoming less transparent, and this leaves us wide open to abuse of power, graft, sweetheart deals, and other contaminating effects that reduce the role of the public in policy-making. If reporters do not accept the responsibility to find out what's happening behind the scenes and report on it, we citizens do not have the information necessary for us to make well-reasoned decisions.
 
  • #25
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I don't believe in the news media being politically slanted. But I sure as hell miss the type of investigative reporting that we used to have. And the investigative reports that we do see are always labeled as being politically motivated when that is not usually the case. If it is true it is true and that does not comprise a political motivation.
 

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