Friday, January 26, 2007

Community reactions to the silence on Watada

Brandon notes that GNN posts about the reporter and not Ehren Watada -- "they don't even include a link to his name but there's one for Olson so we can sign a petition to save her. This is pathetic." It is pathetic. We've already got art work for a planned feature on this nonsense at The Third Estate Sunday Review. And Phil Donahue's rushing in with the 'big story' as well. You know that the nonsense has reached critical mass when Donahue has to weigh in.

There was a time when Donahue (the others, who knows) could have taken the time to weigh in on Ehren Watada. Those days are gone. It's all naval gazing. As Rebecca's noted, it's very interesting, especially, to see some of the same voices once screaming: "Judith Miller must testify!" now showing up to say, "This reporter shouldn't have to confirm that her reporting is accurate!"

I think we're all tired of the useless. Isaiah's in DC and has already prepared his comic for Sunday. This one aims at independent media and he may or may not continue that. He's inked it and still has to do the colors but he was concerned that I wouldn't care for it, so he insisted I look at it. (I like the person who's the focus of his upcoming The World Today Just Nuts.) That's his space, he doesn't have to clear it with me. It's always been his space and it always will be.

Keesha's copied and pasted Donahue's article. I'll note this from it:

The Watada case is about to become front page, his court-martial at Fort Lewis, Washington is sure to be covered by the networks, the wire services, the major dailies and all the grandees of big journalism.

So it's not necessary to cover Watada? You'll note Donahue's list (networks, the wire services, the major dailies and all the grandees of big journalism) doesn't include independent media. And let's correct him because "the wire services" -- they have covered Watada. AP's been on the story, filing updates repeatedly. The New York Times covered him during the summer (when independent media couldn't make time for Iraq). The Washington Post ran a story on Carolyn Ho this month. CNN interviewed Watada. It's not big media that's the problem here, it's independent media.

And the ignoring of Watada, the failure to address his story and then suddenly wanting to rush in to cover Olson, is a huge indictment of independent media. True or not, the message being sent is that the stories don't matter, just the ones covering the stories. That's all the non-stop Olson nonsense is sending.

John Nichols, Norman Solomon, Phil Donahue, Matthew Rothschild, go down the list. All these people who couldn't be bothered (month after month after month) to write one damn word about Ehren Watada now rush in to cover a reporter. It sends a message and maybe this will effect how some of these people are seen? Watada himself has not been an issue to them. The Nation's printed no article on him (they had a sidebar to an article -- an article in which he was called a coward), The Progressive hasn't. There's been no editorial in support of him.

And it's really interesting to watch how Dahr Jamail has conducted himself. He talks about Watada. He doesn't make the story about himself. He's not doing one interview after another of "What will I do? What will I do?"

But for many that's their only way 'into' the story, what will Olson do. We know what Watada will do, what he's been doing for months, with no coverage from Nichols, Solomon, Doanhue, Rothschild, et al.

It is navel gazing. And as they rush in to cover Olson, they find themselves in a pickle -- how much space must they spend on Watada? Will a single sentence ("first officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq") do? There are countless stories in Watada's stand and independent media has largely elected to ignore them all. When Olson's big day comes will some of them feel as foolish as the New York Times?

I don't know.

But as the yammering goes on about free speech two things to consider:

1) Watada's statements, out of uniform and on his own time, beg free speech questions and we went through this during Vietnam

2) How important is free speech if independent media won't use it? They sat on their collective asses for how many months, six? They showed no interest in covering Watada.

It's a shame that Ehren Watada didn't think to work in independent media before taking his stand. If he did, I'm sure he could have Solomon and others marshalling support for him right now. Instead, he's still fighting a battle with little attention.

Independent media has soiled itself and I don't know anyone that wants to clean them up. They'll have to do it themselves. There are easily over 200 e-mails this morning on this topic, on this disgust with independent media. Like Brandon and Keesha, most are providing examples. Liang writes that she'd call the silence racism "if it weren't for the fact that independent media won't cover war resisters of any race." And if a Donahue, Solomon, et al, had covered Watada at any point before they made Olson their pet cause this month, I don't think anyone would mind the current coverage. But they all ignored him. And they continue to do so. He's facing a court-martial on February 5th. That's ten days from now. He went public in June. They've had six months to cover him, if they were interested. They didn't bother.

Reading the Donahue article, you wonder if he even knows Ehren Watada's story? He gives no indication that he does in his writing. He brings up AWOL and Watada didn't self-check out. He calls Watada's story "a great story" but it's not one he's interested in recounting or sharing. And, again, you have to wonder if he even knows what it is? (I'll hear about for that remark but I'm not going to sit here and act like that glaring detail isn't obvious for all to see.) Maybe he should have spoken to Ann Wright (to name another person who gets why Watada's stand is important)?

Marcia notes that The Nation has "just sent out an e-mail alert on tomorrow's rallies and, they add, check out our site. Why bother? They're not going to cover tomorrow's rallies anymore than they have in the past."

Durham Gal got the same e-mail and she went to the site and reports that, "The cover is insulting. [She's referring to the cover of the latest, not yet in stores or mailboxes.] Christopher Hayes just got in another jab at southern states and now there's an article that might be okay [Bob Moser wrote the article] but the cover is so insulting. I'm not sorry that I don't live on the east coast. I am sorry that bigots at The Nation do." The cover is supposed to depict the south via a blue pickup truck with the word "DIXIE" on the tailgate. That's all I can say on that because, when I heard about the cover mid-week, we already agreed we'd address it at The Third Estate Sunday Review. It is insulting. Stereotypes frequently are. But that's independent media for you, willing to reach out to southern audiences (including their own subscribers and listeners) just long enough to insult them. (Before someone alerts that a UT prof gets an article in the same issue -- that article is a joke and even some of the staff think so -- and it helps to appear in the mag if you do visiting stints at Eastern colleges.) (If I'm biting my tongue on any of the above, it's because I've heard about it, I haven't read the issue -- which will no doubt arrive in two to three weeks.)

On the last parenthetical, we will be doing The Nation stats and noting their continued disgraceful practice of under representation of women. Two issues arrived this week and we'll be grabbing both on Sunday. When last we checked in, for every four males published, one female could be published. The situation hasn't improved.

When independent media wants to slam big media for not presenting enough people of color and women, they don't have to hard sell me on it. I'm in complete agreement. But it is interesting that with all the carping about big media, the power that they themselves have in independent media is rarely used.

The entries went up late today, partly because we're trying to figure out why Mike can't log in (why anyone using the beta version of Blogger/Blogspot can't) and also because (a) there roundtable was early this morning and (b) I'm hitting the e-mail accounts because I may not get back into them until Sunday night. I'm not any highlights (ones members are praising) so let's wrap up this entry by noting Paul von Zielbauer's "G.I. Gets 18-Year Prison Term For Killing 2 Captive Iraqis" in this morning's New York Times. If the sentence doesn't strike you as underwhelming for someone who's confessed to two murders, note that "Private Clagett will be eligble for parole afer roughly five years". Corey Claggest, von Zielbauer notes, is the third of four to plead guilty to . . . There's not even a date given for the crime.

Carl's forwarded an e-mail and will note that in full:

Help The Declaration of Peace at the January 27th "End the War" Mobilization
Meet us at the National Museum of the American Indian to distribute Declaration of Peace cards.
The Declaration of Peace will be in full force in Washington, D.C. this weekend for the "End the War" Mobilization, January 27 - 29, 2007.
We are excited that many of you will be in D.C. with us, to raise your voices to deliver a bold message to the Bush Administration and the U.S. Congress:"Defund the War ~ Declare Peace!"
We look forward to meeting fellow organizers and activists from across the country!
We are also eagerly anticipating recruiting newcomers to our crucial campaign to cut all funding for the U.S. occupation of Iraq, implement the safe, rapid withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq, and establish a comprehensive Peace plan for Iraq.
To that end, The Declaration of Peace seeks your help in promoting our national grassroots-driven campaign.
We will be distributing thousands of cards promoting The Declaration of Peace, and particularly our meeting on January 28th to plan nationwide nonviolent civil disobedience to end the U.S. quagmire in Iraq.
Please help us spread the word about The Declaration of Peace by passing out our cards at the Rally on Saturday.
Pass out 40 or pass out 400 cards.
Come and meet us in front of the National Museum of the American Indian between 10:00 and 10:30 a.m., Saturday.
The National Museum of the American Indian is located on the National Mall between the Smithsonian's National Air & Space Museum and the U.S. Capitol Building. (See information below.)
Location:4th Street and Independence Ave., S.W.Washington, D.C. 20560
Metro:L'Enfant Plaza Station (all lines except Red); exit Maryland Avenue/ Smithsonian Museums
Bus:Lines 30, 32, 34, 36 Friendship Heights/Southern Avenue
See the map of the Rally at the National Mall:
The Declaration of Peace will also have a literature table near the corner of 4th Street NW and Madison Avenue NW.
Meet us at our table anytime after 9:00 a.m. to get the promotional cards, the 2007 Congressional Declaration, and other literature.
Meet Declaration of Peace organizers and sign the Declaration of Peace Pledge!
We will see you in D.C.
More information about The Declaration of Peace and downloadable material can be seen at:
The Goal of The Declaration of Peace:

Carl writes: "I'm making 2007 about organizations working to the end the war, not an independent media that doesn't seem to care." Which seems the perfect note to go out on. Saturday, in the gina & krista round-robin, I'll pull together more from today's e-mails on this topic. Krista asked me to pass on that all roundtables are now full (and then some, I'm sure) but if you would like to write something for Sunday or Monday's round-robin or you have photos please e-mail her or Gina. (They're working on tomorrow's already. And I'll start working on my column for it as soon as this goes up.) The roundtable for tomorrow's round-robin was done early this morning. Mike, Elaine, Charlie, Kayla, Keesha, Shirley, Zach, Marci, Eli, Ruth, Kevin, Gareth, Polly, Dominick, Francisco, Ava and myself participated along with two guests (and of course Gina and Krista moderated it). Eli addresses the topic we're covering in this entry so be sure to check that out Saturday morning for his thoughts.

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