....LMB: "Dissecting the War News"....

February 10, 2004

Two really insightful pieces about the news media and war.

Now They Tell Us- after David Kay's testimony that there were no WMD in Iraq, the press suddenly got somewhat aggressive, digging up the facts and pointing fingers. Well, just so long as none of those fingers point at themselves. But this article squarely aims dozens of fingers in their direction. Where the hell was all this skepticism and energy before the war started, when it, y'know, might have mattered? I mean, it wasn't hard to find the flaws in all the intelligence claims. I saw them somehow, and I don't have a fraction of the resources of a New York Times or a CNN. It wasn't just my skepticism or a nutty conspiracy theory; I looked at all the public evidence, thought about it, and realized that it didn't add up.

The article above describes the (print) media heroes, villains and victims in the drive to war. Mentions the pressures put upon journalists by the White House to fall in line, and the way that many newspapers actually covered the important stories, but buried them in the back where they wouldn't have any impact.


Judith Miller, one of the journalists criticized in the above piece, says that she was "misquoted and misrepresented" in the piece. For some reason, Miller's rebuttal appears solely in Women's Wear Daily. No, really.


A Lieutenant's Story- an anonymous letter sent to a pair of bloggers. The author claims to be a 1st Lieutenant with the Army, stationed in Baghdad, who sometimes works as a "public relations officer." I can't verify the truth of any of it, but let's momentarily take it at face value. The author's most interesting point is his claim that the media come to the event with their news story already written in their minds; they just show up to fill in the blanks of dates and names, and to capture video footage to go along with it. He says that Fox News was the worst about this, with a vary narrow and politically-biased list of topics that they wanted to cover, and considered everything else "not newsworthy." It sounds like a close runner-up for this biased newsgathering was Al Jazeera.

But jeez, coming to the frontlines with the stories already written? The concept of journalism is to find out what's going on and report it, not to shoehorn reality into your pre-formed mold. I remember some years back a reader wrote to me for an academic paper, and asked if I thought that journalists were really just "information packagers." I think I've got her answer.

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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

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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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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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