Archive for the ‘Media Bias’ Category

Postmodern CNN

CNN had an interesting headline today that, at first, made me kind of sad:  Family learned over Internet that son was killed.  Pretty sad right?  I mean, we all know it would be tough to have a child die, let alone to learn of it on the internet.  Oh yeah, by the way, he was a Muslim extremist killed in Somalia where he joined with a terrorist organization affiliated with al Qaeda and was killed by government forces in combat.  Not so sad, now, right?

I can think of a few better headlines.   Maybe, “Terrorist Traitor Killed in Somalia” or “American Traitor Killed” or “Immigrant to US Joins Al Qaeda, Killed” or “Another Disloyal Immigrant Joins Terror Organization.”

But that would be Yellow Journalism, you know, and you wouldn’t want to think a major news organization was not “neutral” as between our national conflict with al Qaeda.  Pathetic.

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A roundup of a few interesting things from the internet this week.

Great pieces by establishment conservatives George Will and Charles Krauthammer pointing out the increasingly wide gap between Obama’s rhetoric of post-partisanship and his narrowly partisan agenda.

A scathing editorial by Robert Samuelson on Obama’s phony economics agenda.

A nice tribute to one of my favorite writers, Steve Sailer, by John Derbyshire.

An interesting power point from Natick Labs that shows the Army’s dubious universal pattern was actually a poor performer in tests.  The best performer looked a lot like old Rhodesian camouflage and, like the earth around us, was comprised of greens, tans, and browns.  It is a minor scandal that the Army has made its soldiers appear worse in garrison and endangered them in the field with its new Army Combat Uniform.  Since so many soldiers are now slogging it out like their fathers and grandfathers on Afghan hills, it’s a decision worthy of revisiting by the DoD.

South of the border, things seem to be really melting down.  It’s kind of pathetic that Obama thinks we can have an unsecured border with Mexico and is considering sending in the military to stop narco-terrorists only, as if a border without controls can easily separate illegal aliens seeking work at car washes and restaurants and illegal aliens seeking work as pimps and drug dealers.  Without a secure border, the un-uniformed, un-named, disorganized, and visually indistinguishable criminal element from Mexico will continue to flow into the US.

I was never terribly impressed with the GOP since Bush took the helm.  Michael Steele is not helping things. More of the same is a recipe for disaster:  both politically and, if we somehow manage electoral success, on policy.  The gap between concerns of the rank and file–the economy, culture, immigration, national security, and moral decline–and the guilt-ridden, beltway rhetoric of the leadership is quite remarkable.

Dick Cheney said this morning that Obama’s policies make America less safe.  I, of course, said Bush’s border policies made America less safe, though Obama may even be worse on this score.  But so what if Cheney said this?  Isn’t this what criticism of another person’s national security policy always is saying implicitly?  One of the most dangerous developments in the media’s tone under Obama has been the idea that criticizing his policies–i.e., hoping they fail or saying they make us less safe–is out of bounds and unpatriotic.  If we can’t criticize Obama without being called racist, and we can’t criticize his policies without being unpatriotic, what is left other than blind submission?

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Lawrence Auster describes the way the media obscures moral agency in criminal behavior, particularly when minorities are involved:

 But the Times lowers its own credibility by referring to the event as a “robbery gone wrong.” There should be zero tolerance for this nihilistic phrase which has the effect of removing the quality of moral judgment from both the robbery and the murder. “Robbery gone wrong” is meant to suggest that the criminals intended an armed robbery, not a murder, and that an armed robbery is not so bad, but that somehow the event got out of hand and they ended up, against their own intention, killing people. It just happened, don’t you know. It’s just one of those unfortunate things that just keep happening to people, especially to black people who never had a break. But of course when criminals commit armed robbery they are prepared to kill their victims. That’s why they’re armed. The readiness to murder, and the likeliness of murder, are even more evident when the criminals break into their victims’ residence and hold them at gun point.

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Here is a typically uninformative article at the New York Times on anti-immigrant rioting in South Africa. As screwed up as South Africa has become since instituting majority rule, it is still many times better off than its neighbors and has attracted large numbers of illegal immigrants, chiefly from nearby Zimbabwe. What’s interesting is that the Times does not want to tell us who is perpetrating the killing, even though South Africa is an internally divided society where the meaning of anti-black violence changes significantly depending upon who is the perpetrator. My suspicions were aroused because the signature crime–lighting people on fire–has an infamous history among the black ANC and its supporters.

I had to look to other sources, but my suspicions were confirmed: this is native black South African violence being perpetrated on black immigrants. Since all of South Africa’s current problems are supposed to be rooted in the “legacy of Apartheid,” the Times felt the need to suppress this fact. It doesn’t fit the liberal script. This is nothing short of journalistic malpractice and an undeniable example of liberal bias. The story gives American readers, used to tales of white Afrikaners oppressing blacks, no context about South Africa’s current troubles. Eliding over black mismanagement of Africa is a common journalistic practice, much like the way the Times tells New York readers about violent criminals on the lam wearing “blue sweatshirts” and “red sneakers,” yet never tells would-be victims what the perpetrators look like because to do so would show when the criminals are minorities, which is a very high proportion of the time (60% black and 28% for Hispanics).

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Vicki Iseman?  No . . . the media.  The media loves McCain.  He’s tough. He’s interesting.  He’s a good talker.  He helps increase their influence through campaign finance reform.  He takes on the Republicans from time to time.  He’s less scripted and more candid than the average politician.

But, when it comes to a contest between him and a real liberal, and a real liberal that is also from a preferred minority group, well, McCain has been predictably left out in the cold.  They were willing to hold their fire and let him get the lead against the robotic Romney and the scary preacher Huckabee, and they did their best to give him a leg up against Bush in 2000.  (This story is eight years old.) 

But now that he’s got open road between him and a confrontation with Obama, the media remembers again its abiding love for all things liberal. 

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The media have rightfully reported some of the setbacks, sectarian fighting, American missteps, and other bad news from Iraq.  It would be short-sighted for America and its policymakers to believe nothing but the administration’s rosy assessments.  A critical and free press is one of our birth rights.  But the media’s silence about the relative success of the surge and the miracle in Anbar is deafening.  My brother was in Ramadi in 2004-2005 during the big Fallujah offensive.  It was a tough time for him and his fellow Marines in a terrible place.  Ramadi was widely regarded at that time as the most dangerous place in Iraq.  Numerous Marines and soldiers were killed, both in Ramadi and in the surrounding areas in Anbar.

But a combination of good tactics and good luck have turned things around.  Al Qaeda overplayed its hand and alienated the Sheiks.  The Marines stuck to their forte of Counterinsurgency 101, reached out to locals, avoided excessive force, employed intensive patrols, and allowed Sunnis’ fear of Shias to persuade them that cooperating with Americans is their best bet in avoiding oppression by the Shia-led Iraqi government.

 How times have changed:

When 200 members of the 800-member 2nd Battalion, 5th Regiment extended their enlistments this year so they could accompany the Two-Five back to Iraq, it was significant. No infantry battalion has had as many Marines extend their tours as the Two-Five — Marines who were “short-timers” and could have ended their service with comfy stateside billets but chose instead to return to Iraq to help less-experienced Marines navigate the dangers.

As the Marines from Two-Five returned here early today, they had a new number to boast about: zero.

In seven months of patrolling the streets of Ramadi, once the most violent city in Anbar province, the 2nd Battalion, 5th Regiment had no Marines or sailors killed and only one injured. In its previous deployment, the battalion’s numbers were 15 killed and more than 200 wounded.

Whether this local respite from violence and apparent country-wide cooling down in ethnic tensions will lead to a long term settlement remains to be seen.  Many of the relevant events and negotiations are out of the control of Americans and the military forces on the ground.  Nonetheless, it surely is a good thing, a sign of progress, and a source of hope that violence is on the decline in what appeared to be the most hopeless part of Iraq.  This will hopefully allow Americans to draw down our forces and focus on other threats.

It’s not that hard for the media to report good news and other positive developments, but the media is not fair-minded enough to do so.  They’re not liars, per se; they are just very selective in their judgment of what is news-worthy, and this selectivity accords with the anti-war bromides these reporters inherited from the Vietnam era.  These omission are indefensible and are hurting the war effort at the very time its successes may allow for an honorable and security-enhancing withdrawal.  I am happy that my pessemism may have been over-stated in early 2007.  I am more than willing to be happily proven wrong.  But is the media and its liberal confederates in the Democratic Party?

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I think this sober round up of the facts about the Jena Six case by a local reporter is pretty telling. Essentially, most of the myths, images, and interpretations proffered by the mainstream media in this case had little to do with reality, just as in the Duke Lacrosse case, e.g.:

Nowhere in any of the evidence [implicating the Jena Six], including statements by witnesses and defendants, is there any reference to the noose incident that occurred three months prior. This was confirmed by the United States attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, Donald Washington, on numerous occasions.

The culture is sick.  It is sick with misplaced guilt, alienation, disregard for standards, and confused priorities.  The Jena Six is a great example.  Two of their members, whose claim to fame consisted of pummeling a white boy who “dissed” them at school, were recently honored by BET and given recognition at a music awards show. At the same time, down the road in New Orleans, the District Attorney’s office in this crime-ridden city has been paralyzed by a huge judgment against the (black) DA for firing almost all of the office’s white workers some years ago.

And yet in the face of these offenses–ranging from the violent to the merely venal–the media persists in its hoary view that white racism is still a major problem in this country. This aversion to unpleasant facts unfortunately enables an endemic culture of corruption and violence among the very Black Americans that the media is trying to help. This stupid denial of reality fuels a demoralized, cynical, and alienated division of blacks and whites even though most of the major evils of yesteryear–slavery, Jim Crow, lynching–were abandoned before most of us were born.

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Unfortunately, with an impending Democratic presidency, we can expect more calls for gun control.  Horrible shootings like the schoolyard shootings in Stockton and Columbine were widely discussed in the national media and given front page treatment.  It’s not surprising that the recent tragedy involving a mass shooting by a police officer in Wisconsin is buried on the New York Times’ website today.  And why?  Well, it doesn’t support gun control, because even anti-gun types believe police should have guns.  The gun control agenda depends upon manipulating images rather than dealing with facts.  Accidental and mass shootings receive saturation coverage, while uses of guns in self-defense and the misuse of guns by officials are generally relegated to the local news, if they are covered at all.

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One lesson is clear from Jena: Ignore the media at your peril. The military, prosecutors, Ken Starr, and many others have learned this lesson repeatedly. Talk to the media and they may distort what you say, but say nothing and you’ll get run over by opponents. CNN’s melodramatic focus on the “schoolyard fight” and the “wrong side of the tracks” in its special report on Jena, Louisiana added to the smokescreen set up by the defendants to distract us from what this case is really about: a brutal beatdown of a young man for “dissing” that had nothing to do with the infamous “noose incident” months earlier.

Prosecutor Reed Walters finally had something to say in today’s New York Times. Clearly, if he had been more forthright and persuasive earlier, his town might not have been inundated with pissed off protesters:

Conjure the image of schoolboys fighting: they exchange words, clench fists, throw punches, wrestle in the dirt until classmates or teachers pull them apart. Of course that would not be aggravated second-degree battery, which is what the attackers are now charged with. (Five of the defendants were originally charged with attempted second-degree murder.) But that’s not what happened at Jena High School.

The victim in this crime, who has been all but forgotten amid the focus on the defendants, was a young man named Justin Barker, who was not involved in the nooses incident three months earlier. According to all the credible evidence I am aware of, after lunch, he walked to his next class. As he passed through the gymnasium door to the outside, he was blindsided and knocked unconscious by a vicious blow to the head thrown by Mychal Bell. While lying on the ground unaware of what was happening to him, he was brutally kicked by at least six people.

Imagine you were walking down a city street, and someone leapt from behind a tree and hit you so hard that you fell to the sidewalk unconscious. Would you later describe that as a fight?

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CNN’s Heroes

CNN has a collection of profiles portraying truly good people and citizens. These are folks that have fought diseases in Africa, helped the poor in Peru, and genuinely done something meaningful with their lives. But it’s notable to me that their version of the “heroic” has no place for its traditional sine qua non:  physical courage. After all, we’re at war.  Tales of such exploits are not too hard to find.  But notably absent were any profiles of Marines and soldiers battling it out in the mountains of Afghanistan and the streets of Mosul.  There are truly amazing stories in the alternative press of brave men taking out the enemy at great risk to themselves, something that most people have a visceral fear of. We have redefined heroism that reads physical courage completely out of its definition. Are we afraid this type of courage is too primitive? Or perhaps it is too arbitary and gendered a dimension of human excellence?

It seems to me we are missing out on an important dimension of life by downplaying the physical courage of cops and soldiers and ordinary people who physically confront evil men. It appears that the media at least collectively view oursleves as “having grown up beyond such matters.” We profile the wounded, for whom we feel sorry, but rare is the glowing profile of the specifically military hero so common in earlier wars.  Yet so long as there are wolves in the world, this trait will be needed. Entire civilizations have disappeared for want of courage, both moral and physical.

I do not begrudge CNN for highlighting these extraordinary people. But I do feel it shows something wrong in their moral and aesthetic judgment, something weak and unmanly, to have excluded from praise the unique heroism of soldiers and others who must tangle with the most deadly threat: an equally brave, though evil, human being.

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I think the defense of Dan Rather by Mary Mapes–his partner in crime in promoting a dubious account of Bush’s National Guard service–is nothing short of remarkable. Her argument boils down to the assertion that these forged documents should have been taken seriously, along with the rest of the story, because this hodge-podge of forgeries, hearsay testimony, and the irrelevant were internally consistent. To her, it does not matter that the documents (on which the hearsay and self-interested griping of others depended) were definitively proven to be frauds. She writes:

Instantly, the far right blogosphere bully boys pronounced themselves experts on document analysis, and began attacking the form and font in the memos. They screamed objections that ultimately proved to have no basis in fact. But they captured the argument. They dominated the discussion by churning out gigabytes of mind-numbing internet dissertations about the typeface in the memos, focusing on the curl at the end of the “a,” the dip on the top of the “t,” the spacing, the superscript, which typewriters were used in the military in 1972.

It was a deceptive approach, and it worked.

These critics blathered on about everything but the content. They knew they would lose that argument, so they didn’t raise it. They focused on the most obscure, most difficult to decipher element of the story and dove in, attacking CBS, Dan Rather, me, the story and the horse we rode in on — without respite, relentlessly, for days.

Soon, traditional media began repeating some of the claims and joining in the attack on the story. They didn’t do any real work on the substance of the story; they just wanted to talk about typeface.

As I said two years ago, “Mapes in particular seems to live in fantasy-land, forgetting that once documents are definitively exposed to be frauds, it’s not important to examine their content, however damning.”

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We’ve all heard about the gruesome allegations coming from West Virginia: a black woman was held against her will by a white family straight out of Deliverance and then raped and beaten over a period of days. Worse, these criminals–most of whom have criminal records and all of whom look like meth-heads–taunted her with racial epithets.

And we’ve even heard about the “Jena Six” a group of model young black men who decided to pummel a white boy for dissing them in a series of escalating racial incidents in a rural Louisiana town. In that case, the criminals kicked their victim repeatedly, even when he was unconcious. The local D.A. at first decided to file attempted murder chargers against them, which struck critics as disproportionate. These charges have since been reduced to battery. How do I know of these things? Why, they were prominently reported on CNN and in the New York Times. But these same papers did not feel it fit to report about the savage black-on-white double rape and double murder of Channon Christian and Chris Newsome. Nor did they feel fit to report much about the recently apprehended black serial killer, Matthew Macon.

Why is this? It’s really very simple. The whole edifice of liberalism depends upon a false premise. That false premise is that America is still as racist and unjust as it was in the past. The evidence of racism’s demise in the form of things like affirmative action and polling data is downplayed as a subterfuge that conceals invidious racism lurking just beneath the surface of American society. This focus on white racism is important because much of the modern liberal’s view of things depends on demonizing the Western World and its past. If we were to take notice of the atrocious ways minorities treat both one another and white people in the form of violent crime, this would undermine the “white guilt” on which so many liberal policies and attitudes depend. In other words, these omitted stories don’t t fit the script. So the media obligingly and cheerfuly makes national stories out of things like the Duke LaCrosse hoax and real (though unusual) crimes like the Matthew Shepard murder and the West Virginia rape-torture case. But it doesn’t tell us about horrific black on white and black on black crimes, even though they are far more common. Consider how little we’ve heard about the Newark murders as soon as it went from a story of youthful victimhood at the hands of an unknown offender to one of minority criminality.

The bias in the form of selective reporting in these cases is so transparent, it has no parallel.

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