Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Iraq and our short attention span re: disasters are seriously dealt with; today it's CBS's turn for the fluff job

So you've just called customer service and, big surprise, you get an automated voice telling you to please hold and warning you that for quality control "this call may be monitored." Irritating, but, while you wait for a person to pick up the line, you use the time to have a personal conversation or argument with someone who's in the room with you. Guess what? According to Ken Belson's Your Call (and Rants on Hold) Will Be Monitored even that time before an actual person gets on the line to speak to you, someone may be listening in.

"You could have a show on Broadway just playing calls," said Mike Schrider, president of J. Lodge, a call monitoring service based in Hammonton, N.J.

Ginger Thompson and Nazila Faith's For Honduras and Iran, World's Aid Evaporated
is worth reading:

Six years ago it was scenes from Honduras that filled television newscasts and newspaper pages. Then as now, there was a public outpouring of sympathy and support. Then as now, heads of state pledged huge amounts of aid. International relief agencies committed themselves to "build back better," promising to stay for the long term and provide the tools needed to overcome the social and economic forces that make the poor so vulnerable.
. . .

But all too often when disaster strikes - from here in Honduras to Iran, where the ancient city of Bam was shattered by an earthquake a year ago, to Mozambique, which endured floods in 2000 - that mission seems to last only as long as the media attention.
After the last bodies are counted and public focus shifts, governments stop sending money, pledges are withdrawn, many private relief organizations pack their bags and the poor are left to finish reconstruction projects in the face of the same entrenched systems of corruption and neglect.

Central Figure in Iraq Abuse Goes on Trial is an article, by Kate Zernike about the current case in Fort Hood:

Soldiers also said commanders explicitly told them not to take photographs.
Mr. Womack, Specialist Graner's lawyer, said that the photos were part of a plan to force information from detainees and that government officials blamed his client only after the pictures set off outrage around the world.
Over and over, he said, military intelligence complimented Specialist Graner. "The M.I.'s and other folks came to him and said, 'You're doing a great job, keep it up,' " Mr. Womack said. The jury, all men, listened intently to the testimony.

Zernike's article is a strong one. And hopefully she'll continue to cover the trial and something will come from it that can be followed on the up the line of command. There are sections of her article that should enrage you. I've highlighted the section above because that's what I feel is a key issue to focus on -- who permitted it. I don't buy the "few bad apples" argument.

And wouldn't we have to have a record number of "few bad apples" to cover all the incidents that have come out since Sy Hersh broke this story? It's a pattern and the pattern needs to be followed on up the chain.

More violence in Iraq, more people killed, Insurgents Kill Senior Official in Iraqi Police :

Insurgents killed the deputy police chief of Baghdad and his son on Monday morning and later detonated an unusually powerful roadside bomb that destroyed a heavily armored American military vehicle, killing two American soldiers and wounding four in the latest of a string of daylight attacks.
The assassination was the second killing of a senior Baghdad official in six days and came less than three weeks before the national elections that the insurgents have vowed to disrupt.
The police official, Brigadier Amer Naief, and his son, also a policeman, were killed by gunmen at about 7:30 a.m. as the two left their home in the Dora neighborhood of southern Baghdad, an Interior Ministry spokesman said. The militant group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the killings in an Internet posting.

Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Khalid Al-Ansary's article focuses on the continued nightmare that is Iraq. Remember the Bully Boy's quote? The paper ran it yesterday: "I think elections will be such an incredibly hopeful experience for the Iraqi people."

Yeah, they're just awash with hope over there right now, aren't they?

Jaques Steinberg and Bill Carter weigh in on the CBS panel report and write the kind of valentine that no doubt will bring tears of joy to Leslie Moonves' eyes. Carter, at least, is too good of a reporter for this superficial reporting.

Is anyone going to address the review? Or is this CNN 1999 all over again?

[Note, that was blogged on. It was posted. Where it is now, I have no idea.]

When the Times wants to do more than soothe Moonves, there may be a story worth reading on this. It hasn't hit the paper yet. Maybe the fluff reporting isn't the result of a desire to soothe Moonves, maybe it's just the reporters "myopic zeal" to get this story quickly?

And maybe at some point in all the "new day at CBS" coverage that quotes so freely from Leslie Moonves, some brave reporter can ask a question key to the tone being set re: ethichs -- the tone from the top: How is it ethical for Moonves and Julie Chen to both remain working at CBS?

He's the "head honcho" calling all the shots. She's the "on air talent" for the morning "news."
There's no firewall that can be created to prevent her receiving special treatment from those who'd like to curry favor with the boss.

Lot a 'new day at CBS' talk going on all over the place but things still appear questionable at top.

[Note: This post has been edited to indicate that the first quoted section is a quote by reducing it's font to "times."]