....LMB: "Fair and Balanced and Contextless"....

March 22, 2003

I spent two hours in a doctor's office waiting room yesterday, forced to watch the war coverage on the Fox News Channel. No matter how I turned my seat or tried to distract myself with a magazine, I had to inevitably watch at least some of it (I appreciate your condolences).

Lots of coverage of the aerial bombardment, AKA "shock and awe." Footage of Baghdad aflame in color, and in grainy green monochrome. But all from a distance, a blazing skyline, people-less, as though the footage was of a model a young boy had set ablaze for his own amusement.

You know what would have made all this coverage worthwhile? One little phrase:

"People live here."

Thousands of tons of explosives had been dropped on a city of 5 million people, with roughly the same population density of Seattle.

Imagine a natural disaster in any major world city--an earthquake in Mexico City, an inferno in Delhi, a tsunami in Melbourne-- and this would be a major catastrophe. The Red Cross would fly in. People around the country would take up donations for the victims. Even if it was the capitol city of a tyrannical, hated governments--floods in Pyongyang, locusts in Riyadh, tornados in ... Paris?-- and the sympathy would still remain.

But this sort of disaster in Baghdad is okay. Because Saddam Hussein is a bad man, you see.

As I write this, the "official" casualty count is 3 dead and 207 wounded in Baghdad, a figure that I simply cannot believe. Of course, many of the city's 5 million certainly fled as war approached, and I'm sure that the city does have bomb shelters and the like for people's protection. I certainly hope its true, that these bombs are miraculously finding targets free of human beings, and that such miracles continue. But I fear that the death toll will rise when and if searches are made, unburying the bodies in the rubble.

I also couldn't help but notice that the Fox News Channel anchors kept saying things like "the war to liberate Iraq is on" and so forth. I must be getting old, I remember back when this was a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Then a war to force Iraq to accept weapons inspectors. Then a war to enforce UN resolutions. Then a war to disarm Iraq. And now, finally, a war of liberation. What a difference six months make.

Posted by Jake at 09:41 PM | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Bombs were dropped on the fascist government's buildings.

Posted by: Mark Bernadiner at March 22, 2003 09:47 PM

what was wrong with you buddy?

Posted by: at March 22, 2003 09:51 PM

I can't get too breathless over the current count of civilian causualties. Given the tonnage of explosives dropped on the city, these numbers are tiny. Of course it's bad that ANYONE gets blown up, but at some point you have to respect the relative bloodlessness of the air campaign.
There are many reasons to dislike the perpetrators of the war and the slipperiness of its justifications, but if in fact you accept any of them you can accept all of them: liberation, regime change, disarmament, pre-emptive self-defense, etc - they're not exclusive of each other. I don't believe that Hussein was an imminent terrorist threat to the U.S., but his Bio/Chem weapons are ugly, he's a ruthless prick, and I don't doubt his country trains Islamic fanatics. The hawks might actually be right about the nexus of weapons and terrorists. It doesn't excatly add up to a justification for a "defensive invasion", but I accept the proposition that having started, everyone, including the Iraqis, will be better off for our having done this. But then we gotta vote these dickheads out.

Posted by: Daniel at March 22, 2003 11:47 PM

The Iraqis are better off for us having done this??? What if the situation was in reverse? What if the US was a third world country (with Bush being the evil dictator in question, of course), and Hussein's Iraq was the prominent superpower?? Would you really like some foreign invader to come in, throw out 2,000 lb. pounds on your city? Would you really like to be victim to a "shock and awe" campaign?? The media and government are making killing look sexy, but innocent people are more than likely dying. This isn't an episode of GI Joe - there's probably immense suffering over on our created enemy's side. Is this really for the greater good? We're fighting a country who's army has been severly crippled ever since the first Gulf War. I cannot see how any Iraqi would be thankful for having their cities decimated. The reasons for this millitary campaign brings up too many questions and not enough concrete answers.

Posted by: Screaming Hindu at March 23, 2003 04:20 PM

I think whether someone is perceived as a liberator or invader depends on how proprietary and empowered feels about one's land and situtaion. If my country had been impoverished by the actions of a dictator who'd effectively and violently suppressed all political dissenters (including, most likely, some of my relaltives) over a period of 20 YEARS, I might very well like someone to come in and blow some ugly government shit up if I couldn't myself. Don't we want cops to intervene in the cases of abused children, spouses, and animals? It's not that I think our government is necessarily motivated by sympathy, but shit, if the effect is the same I don't care for now. Methinks you underestimate how disabling a totalitarian a government can be.

Posted by: Daniel at March 23, 2003 11:55 PM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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