Spilling the water
The water carriers for Kerry assaulting Bush seem to have dropped their containers. Looking through the opinion articles there are still some trying to pretend there´s something in the CBS story, but they´re relying heavily on the so-called big picture. In other words they already know the story, they´re just looking for some detail to fill it in.
What frustrates me is that the BBC are almost the archetype of that attitude. Their story remains largely unaltered, with the admission that some have found the memos suspicious. If there was ever a time that a British news organisation could show up the US media, this might be it- but it's not in the BBC's script to do that kind of exposé.
The entire article is almost as misleading as ever- by which I mean that the CBS story is embedded within a context of a history of Bush's military documents, many of which released by the Whitehouse. It's a case of trying to spot the odd one out- Rather's photocopies don't exactly compare, but they do happen to signifcantly develop a dormant story. The only consolation might be that few will ever read it since it´s now buried.
Does it do any good to go on emphasising the idiocy of Rather's position? I think it's not going to harm Bush to have a meme up and running about the lying Liberal media. The US election will be about who the public in their hearts associate with the title of Al Franken's book. There's no doubt in my mind who better fits that description- but proof is always good.
Meanwhile the BBC go back to their favourite topic- how the Iraq war was wrong. This must be true, because even Koffi says so. Faced with Koffi and the BBC in tandem once more, I'd rather hear it from this man. The BBC though manage to make their main headline block comprise how Iraq war was wrong, how Iraq is terrible now, and how it will be worse in the future. Almost beyond parody, but not quite.
Update: the Coalition partners respond to Koffi and the BBC's manufactured moment (like a high proportion of the news the 'Koffi calls war illegal' story is a story that people -ie. the BBC and Koffi- decided was going to happen). Basic thesis from the Coalition: Koffi's got a cheek. I couldn't agree more.
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Posted by ed thomas at 8:53 AM
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
The Next Big Thing in English or Welsh rural sports?
Mark Steyn's investigation suggests to me that woodland walks spotting and snipping cables could be the next big thing.
By the way, rest assured this isn't an Oates to Scott of the Antarctic moment but I have a great deal to do at the moment and I, er, may be some time away from posting. I'll try to nip in with a post when time and opportunity allows.
Posted by ed thomas at 8:43 AM
Monday, September 13, 2004
Picking the spin
I don't know where the media term 'spin' originated, but I like to think it comes from cricket and the wiles of a spin bowler, where there are numerous recognised deliveries and many more variations that can produce unique 'spin' to outwit a batsman.
One of my favourite features of Channel Four's excellent cricket coverage is known as 'jargon-buster', where a kind of cricket boffin (Simon Hughes) takes you through the origin of obscure terms.
What we need is a jargon-buster for the media- or maybe just some old-fashioned straightforwardness.
Chrenkoff's latest 'Good News from Iraq' is up, and I notice a couple of interesting things tucked in amongst all the other generally good stuff:
'"Now that the security conditions have improved, it is easier to provide… aid," said EU Foreign Minister Ben Bot during his recent visit to Baghdad' (link)
'the government of Georgia will double its contingent in Iraq by October, from 157 to 300 troops' (link)
I think these two snippets, while naturally only part of the context in Iraq, are interesting in the light of the language the media, and notably the BBC, are using.
This report talks of fighting 'across' Iraq, and was introduced under link-headlines that talked of 'widespread' fighting.
This kind of language is commonly used and enough to keep the anti-war faithful's blood pressure nice and high in between explosions, but makes little sense when put in the context of the kind of good news Chrenkoff reports.
I included the snippet about the Georgian commitment because it shows what those who have real professional concerns think about Iraq and the direction in which it’s going. It's also interesting for the obscurity of the source: can it be that no mainstream media picked up this news? They certainly have no problem talking about troop withdrawals from Iraq, however insignificant numerically- or countries warning citizens not to travel to Iraq. It must just be that the Georgians are bribed and/or coerced, eh, Mr Kerry?
Maybe indeed the Georgian government has ulterior motives- they admit as much in very gracious terms. What government doesn't? The important point is that the US, despite its so-called false Iraq war, is a sought-after ally. GWB's strength as a steadfast war leader and faith in his armed forces has drawn many to seek advantage from cultivating his friendship. That's generally been known, where I come from, as statesmanship.
To return to the 'spin', I think that terms like 'widespread' and 'across' ought to be knocked for six by any solid middle-order journalist. What they conceal is that violence is highly localised, if vicious, and widely rejected by Iraqis. The purchase they have had on the public perception of Iraq is the kind of spin that Shane Warne and co. can only dream about.
Update: On the other hand... I noticed this- kind of an anti-Chrenkoff approach it's only fair to mention.
Posted by ed thomas at 8:59 PM
A Good Chuckle
It made me laugh a couple of months back when I read that John F. Kerry had been given this ringing endorsement by Texan liberal (some call him 'populist', others, 'humourist') Jim Hightower:
'"I don't care if he's a sack of cement, we're going to carry him to victory"'
Well, Kerry's not only heavy as a sack of cement- he's been doused in ridicule, and we all know how much heavier cement gets when it's wet. Then of course you just have to wait for the cement to harden... .
Posted by ed thomas at 8:21 PM
Sunday, September 12, 2004
Kevin Myers on the BBC:
'We really shouldn't be too surprised by anything the BBC does these days: the Dyke legacy has taken a terrible toll, and so there is no point in being angered by what we see on our screens. After all, it's only television, isn't it? Except it's not.'
Kevin Myers on the BBC and Ireland:
'One of the central and abiding problems of Northern Ireland is the role of perception in influencing politics. For the BBC to be subsidising a Sinn Fein version of the history of the Troubles isn't merely wrong in itself, but is profoundly irresponsible, a kind of down payment on further conflict in the future.'
The first paragraph explains almost precisely my views on the BBC (although I think Dyke was really the cherry on top of a problem deeply entrenched in the BBC's history). The second is so interesting because you could substitute 'Northern Ireland' in this analysis with any unstable region in the world and 'Sinn Fein' with any radical protagonist in these areas and get the same effect. It's time British people and those interested in fighting terrorism started caring enough about Northern Ireland to reject the BBC's fascination with Sinn Feinian fantasies.
See also this from A Tangled Web
Posted by ed thomas at 7:26 PM
I'm linking to Power Line's analysis of the meaning of Rathergate- which traces out thoughts similar to those I expressed yesterday (but puts them better)- before I go out. Hindrocket's conclusions? :
'Those of us who still value truth must look at the mainstream media in a new, more skeptical and critical way, taking nothing for granted... the mainstream news organs will go farther to achieve their political goals than we ever imagined.'
I'm sure he's fundamentally right about that.
Posted by ed thomas at 10:28 AM