Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ruth's Report

Ruth: By mid-week, I knew there was not much to report. By mid-week, the U.S. "kill teams" operating in Iraq had been avoided by every radio program I caught and I was streaming all over, from Pacifica to Pacifica and even NPR.

"Kill teams" were not a new development to this community. When war resister James Burmeister went to Canada and began speaking of them, they were noted here, months ago. But while Canada's CBC did a wonderful interview with Mr. Burmeister, independent media in the U.S. ignored him.

They ignored him again this week which is why the narrative is being dictated by the mainstream on "kill teams" and why the narrative is, to no one's surprise, one that does not explore but scrapes the frost off the top of the ice.

In an alleged debate this week, the press anointed front runners, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as well as former Senator and former vice-presidential candidate for the Democratic Party John Edwards, made it perfectly clear that the illegal war continuing through 2013 was not anything they would lose any sleep over if elected. They pointedly and publicly refused to pledge that electing them would mean ending the illegal war in their first term.

Pretty big news unless you were in charge of independent media radio division. If so, it was not worth exploring. In fact, the only clip I heard broadcast over Pacifica last week was an embarrassing highlight. It was embarrassing for moderator Tim Russert, it was embarrassing for Pacifica that they chose to highlight it. Mr. Russert read a blind quote and asked for responses to it. After Senator Clinton announced she disagreed with the sentiment expressed in the quote, Mr. Russert announced that the quote was from former President Bill Clinton. As if the cheap laughs over that were not enough, Senator Clinton then promised to address the disagreement at home. This, not the comments on Iraq, is what Pacifica Radio felt was news that informs their listeners.

Over the week, the number of announced deaths of U.S. service members in Iraq reached the 3,800 mark. The number is currently 3,802. Possibly I should not mention it? Independent media did not think it was news. Possibly, they are all right and I am wrong? Or possibly they wasted a week with nonsense, a week on nonsense, and should all work really hard to catch up.

"Tent City" in Arizona -- now housing soldiers who go AWOL! Not news to independent media.
On Friday, I heard a host note that Iraq had largely fallen off the mainstream media radar during the week. True to a degree, but if it fell off the mainstream's radar what is the description for what independent media was offering?

CounterSpin continued to refuse to issue a correction on Phyllis Bennis' mistaken claim. Ms. Bennis worked up a head of steam three broadcasts ago as she shared that the media was now repeating the U.S. government's claims on a body count but no one had ever asked them when they started keeping a body count. Of course someone had. Nancy A. Youssef, in her last report filed for Knight-Ridder before it became McClatchy Newspapers, reported in June 2006 about the body count and that the military was claiming they had kept the count since July 2005.

CounterSpin has broadcast twice since and refused to issue a correction. Apparently information is not their trade. Had a similar remark been made on PBS' NewsHour, we can all assume CounterSpin would have offered a pithy re-enactment and several action alerts. When it happens on CounterSpin, they work really hard to pretend it did not. Since Ms. Bennis was presented as an expert and offered that point with no correction from either host, Janine Jackson or Steve Rendall, they have allowed their listeners to believe Ms. Bennis' false claim was accurate. That hardly strikes me as either "Fairness" or "Accuracy" In Reporting.

Ms. Bennis spent the summer of 2006 addressing Lebanon. She apparently missed a great deal on Iraq in that period, to put it mildly. CounterSpin edits their interviews for broadcast. If they thought Ms. Bennis' point was worthy of inclusion, they apparently missed a great deal as well. Their refusal to issue a correction, or even a clarification, makes all of FAIR's future action alerts suspect.

They also demonstrated that C.I.'s "2006: The Year of Living Dumbly" from December 2006 was not documenting a momentary problem with independent media, but instead an ongoing problem:

Or how about the fact that the US military was keeping a body count on Iraqi deaths? Nancy A. Youssef broke that story, that the US military had been doing that for almost a year, in June. That news lost out to elections . . . in Mexico -- what independent media was all geared up to make the summer story until they dropped everything to head off to the Middle East.

"Ass on their face" may have been putting it mildly. I, for one, cannot wait to read C.I.'s year-in-review for 2007 because there has been very little improvement from independent media this year.

As Elaine and Mike each noted on Friday, CounterPunch published Roberto J. Gonzalez and David H. Price's "When Anthropologists Become Counter-Insurgents." December 20, 2006, C.I. sent up the flare on anthropologists attempting to use their scientific training to manipulate Iraqis with "When Dumb Ass Met Dumb Ass." It has been noted here regularly since then and, it needs to be noted, Elaine has regularly noted it at her site as well. Professors Gonzales and Price have more information at their website, Concerned Anthropologists, which I would urge to visit for more information because judging by the lack of attention to this very serious topic from independent media, you are going to have to inform yourself.

In a really awful week, it only got worse on Thursday. As C.I. noted, Pig was back. The warm embrace independent media continues to give him looks more and more like an open mouthed kiss. Remember that women and young girls. Once again, the media telegraphs that our safety is unimportant, that it is more important to offer the 'expertise' of a Chicken Little than to draw a line in the sand that says, "Those who are sexual predators are not welcome." Possibly The Nation can next offer up a monthly column from Robert Chambers? If they do, no doubt, Katha Pollitt will yet again find a way to cheer a sexual predator on while posing as a feminist.

Pig's advice was not called out, just reposted. His advice was that Iraq is not important, stopping a potential war in Iran was. Previously Pig had used an example of fire fighters so I visited my local fire house and asked them, "If one house is on fire and another might catch on fire today or possibly tomorrow or possibly the week after or possibly never, which fire do you put out?" Three fire fighters laughed at my question, while thanking me for the kugel, and explained that of course their job was to put out the fire that was raging. They asked me why I asked and I explained Pig's column. Then we all had a good laugh.

Possibly that is all the bulk of independent media can offer these days, good laughs.

david h. price