Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Other Items

Thom Shanker wrote an awful article that ran in yesterday's New York Times. It's awful. It ran on A13 and it's hard to image anything more awful ever being run by the paper. It's entitled "For Pentagon and News Media, Relations Improve With a Shift in War Coverage."

The title alone tells you that it's naval gazing which right away means it doesn't belong in the news section -- if it even needs writing.

It's an embarrassment to reporting and to the journalism field.

It's dubbed a "Military Memo" which must, according to the Times style book, mean it's not bound by facts.

It's hard to know where to start with this nonsense.

Let's go with this:

At the start of the Iraq war, decades of open hostilities between the military and news media dating from Vietnam were forgotten, if only for a brief and shining moment.

Yeah, Shanker, we get that you've just slimed someone by swiping from them. But it is laughable to any media critic on the left (read Norman Solomon for one) that there were "open hostilities between the military and news media" -- laughable because it's not true. The military and the press were in bed long before the embed program of this illegal war. It is a right-wing talking point, it's just not reality.

Shanker embarrasses himself throughout and seems to think that the what the press covers (whomever and what ever the subject it) is supposed to be thrilled and approving. He's giddy that Lt. Col. Roger Lemmons says, "The media in general is doing a pretty good job portraying the situation."

Of course, it needs to be noted that the military brass is pleased with the latest selling of the illegal war. "The military"? When we use it here, we try to use it appropriately. Shanker doesn't. He confuses the brass, the command, the rank and file and just about everything else, tossing them under the same umbrellas making for bumping reading.

Shanker waxes over the embed program, "Soldiers and correspondents shared tents, meals and risks, and both sides said that perhaps their differences were not irreconcilable after all."

That is such crap. What are their "differences"? Shanker offers nothing but stereotypes and the feeding of them. What are readers to take away from "irreconcilable" differences?

There are differences. One group is there for combat and the other is supposed to be there to report the truth.

But Shanker's a fool if he thinks most readers will grasp that. They will go to the lie that the media has been against the illegal war, that they've undermined it.

They don't have to search their brains for false charges in order to do that, Shanker provides the ammo himself. He quotes torture czar Ricardo S. Sanchez (Lt. Gen.) declaring, "The death knell of your ethics has been enabled by your parent organizations who have chosen to align themselves with political agendas. . . . What is clear to me is that you are perpetuating the corrosive partisan politics that is destroying our country and killing our service members who are at war." Then he inserts a quote from Petey Pace (former Joint Chiefs of Staff) making similar claims.

But he never tells readers what the role of the press is. He doesn't tell them, he doesn't quote a journalist explaining that role. Giving Shanker a benefit of the doubt he doesn't deserve, you could argue he assumes that readers know that. Has Shanker not seen the polls on journalism? Shanker feeds every false stereotype with this article so it's offensive to all journalists (including some at his paper).

We've dealt with the journalism aspect as much as we're going to. What we're going to do now is note the basics: the paper sold the illegal war. The paper is reselling the illegal war.

The paper is far from alone.

A poll that everyone wanted to ignore (All Things Media Big and Small) at the end of last year found the journalists for the MSM reporting from Iraq knew that their editors or producers back home didn't want to hear about the ongoing violence in Iraq. It's no surprise that those reports disappeared.

Vanishing them also allows the reselling of the illegal war.

I noted Shanker uses "military" as a catch-all. It's not. While I'm sure the brass is thrilled with the crap the paper churns out these days, the Times still has the same problem with the rank-in-file that it's always had. The current crop of reporters in Iraq were a little better but the paper's image was sealed long ago. If you were enlisted, they didn't want to talk to you, they would go out of their way to ignore you. If forced to be face to face with you, they'd mutter a few words, act like they'd be in touch later, and then blow you off.

That didn't happen once, that happened repeatedly, over and over.

That didn't concern them in the days of Dexy and Burnsie and it obviously doesn't concern Shanker. His article should be entitled, "How I Learned to Please Military Brass and Stopped Worrying About My Profession."

It is an embarrassment on every level, Shanker's article. It fails the truth test, it fails basic journalism concepts.

I was hoping someone else would grab this garbage and we could just link to their commentary (audio or text). But the article ran yesterday and it's still not being called out. It's offensive. It's offensive to journalists in the mainstream media. (And there's not one friend in the press who hasn't called to scream about this article.) It's offensive on every level.

In the New York Times today, Gloria Steinem offers "Women Are Never Front-Runners," a column which runs on A23.

So why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one? The reasons are as pervasive as the air we breathe: because sexism is still confused with nature as racism once was; because anything that affects males is seen as more serious than anything that affects "only" the female half of the human race; because children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman; because racism stereotyped black men as more "masculine" for so long that some white men find their presence to be masculinity-affirming (as long as there aren’t too many of them); and because there is still no "right" way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what.

Also recommended strongly is Kat's "Sexism pardes through America, who notices?" and Rebecca's "missy comley beattie attempts 2 find sense in the senseless."

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.