Sunday, April 25, 2010

And the war drags on . . .

A number of e-mails from visitors and community members are coming in about something Cindy Sheehan supposedly said. As a general rule, I trust a columnist for the Wall St. Journal on the subject of Cindy Sheehan as much as I trust Laura Flanders to tell the truth about the Tea Party -- in other words, not at all. At her own site, Cindy's focused on international issues. That doesn't mean she didn't say it or she did.

But regardless of whether it was said or not, by her or someone else, it's factually incorrect. If she compared and contrasted the coverage of the peace movement and the Tea Party and arrived at the conclusion that the Tea Party's getting more coverage and extrapolated meaning from there that had to do with anything other than the media system, she's wrong. So is anyone else who does or did that.

The peace movement and the Tea Party are not the same thing, do not have the same goals. Both had a number of people in the shadows, both had financial backers. The ones in the shadow of the peace movement were seized on by the right to say, "See, it's not really a movement!" The same thing happens when some on the left rush in to discredit the Tea Party.

In terms of the media, yes, the Tea Party is getting more coverage than the peace movement did. That's not a bias. People saying that are ignorant of the way the media works. They really need to stop saying that. If they're in the peace movement, it comes off like sour grapes (whether it's intended that way or not), so they especially don't need to say it.

Let's focus on the coverage of Cindy Sheehan for a moment. When the press seized on her, they did so when they could (wrongly) paint her as apolitical, just wanting an answer from Bush ("What noble cause did my son die for?") and not attempting to make a call for the end of the Iraq War. As Cindy became more and more a part of the peace movement -- and, the face of the peace movement -- the US media lost interest in her. They would have at any rate. She couldn't continue to be in front of the media to the degree that she was in the fall of 2005. That's not how the media works.

As a mother, whose son was killed in Iraq, acting independently and calling for a meeting with a White House occupant (I will never use that "p" word for Bush), she was news. She was an interesting angle. After six weeks, if she'd continued that and not associated herself with any faction of the peace movement, she would have been a yearly update as in, "Bush Still Refuses To Meet With Mom; Mom Says She'll Continue Camping Out." That was the nature of her story in the news cycle.

Why does the Tea Party get so much coverage?

First, you need to note that it received some of the harshest coverage from the MSM. There was little attempt ever made to find out what members of the Tea Party thought, why they felt the way the did, etc. The MSM threw away every thing they ever pretended they were taught about objectivity to play what Bob Somerby would refer to as Heathers (after the Winona Ryder film). It wasn't professional. The peace movement was slammed, no question. But, when you focus only on the MSM, it wasn't to the degree that the Tea Party has been. (And click here for Justin Raimondo's column on how alarming populism is for some and how they have to attack.)

So it not only looks sour grapes when some in the peace movement state that the Tea Party is getting more attention than the peace movement ever did, it's also failing to recognize that the center held a lot better for them than it did for the Tea Party. The center held and upheld certain standards. Those went out the window on the Tea Party and you only have to examine the coverage to see that's the case. CNN, for example, is never supposed to have reporters antagonizing the subjects they cover. That's not supposed to happen. Don't give me what Fox News does, Fox News is partisan. (The same way that MSNBC is today.) I'm not speaking of partisan media, I'm speaking of the MSM.

Cindy was a story in the fall of 2005 because she was A) new, B) human interest and C) it was a slow news month and you had a lot of reporters in Crawford with little else to cover. Cindy Sheehan's Peace Mom, she kicked new life into the peace movement, she's done amazing work. I don't question that, I don't minimize that. But I'm not talking about who she is to the peace movment, I'm talking about the news cycle. Within the news cycle, she was never going to be more than a six week story in terms of massive attention.

B-b-but the Tea Party's gotten so much attention for over six weeks!

That's true and the several reasons for that.

One, they are the critics of Barack. The critics of Bush? You had Harry Belafonte for years before the press seized on Cindy. You had so many critics of Bush. Among the ones the media paid attention to in 2003: Janeane Garofalo, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore, Alice Walker, Paul Krugman and many, many more. The Dixie Chicks. It wasn't one group. It was a wave.

And the press is interested conflict. News is conflict. Something happened. If nothing happens it's not news. The peace movement had to compete for press coverage with other Bush critics -- some of whom had nothing to do with the peace movement. Intellectuals, artists, economists, there was a whole slew of public critics of the Bush administration within the US. And if you took all of their coverage -- which would include a lot of feature articles and not hard news -- and you analyzed that and counted up every word or (in broadcast) minute and compared it to the Tea Party, you might have an argument if it turned out the Tea Party was getting more. But that wouldn't be the case.

Barack Obama is president of the United States. Due to the way the MSM is set up, his every utterance is treated as earth shaking news (as the MSM does with anyone who occupies the office). His critics are news. They are the other side of the dynamic. The MSM will cover them. When so much of the left disgraces itself with their piss-ant, pathetic criticism (Allan Nairn, we mean you) of "It's wrong, what he's doing, but I know his heart is good and I know he's a real intelligent man and" whimper, whimper, whimper. No one wants to hear that s**t, not even if they're opposed to what's being done. What is that s**t?

That s**t is Alan Colmes. That crap is the weakest drivel that the left spent the last decade calling out and now they want to emulate it when 'criticizing' Barack?

No one cares. No wants to hear their whiney ass bulls**t. The news media isn't interested and the news consumers aren't interested. Pack up your pathetic asses and stop wasting all of our time. No one gives a damn.

By contrast, the Tea Party isn't offering modifiers and qualifiers to every half-sentence. They're outright objecting to policy proposals. And since they're the only ones out there doing so, they get the attention.

"Why didn't we get attention for single payer!" whine the candy asses. You didn't get it because you didn't demand it. "Hey, Barack, don't forget single payer!" isn't news. It's a whiney ass attempt by the meek and the weak to curry favor. It's disgraceful.

Single-payer wanted attention, it should have been protesting in large numbers, it should have been loudly saying f**k the public option. The left couldn't get it's act together -- big surprise. That's been the story of much of the left for some time now.

When did Cindy Sheehan start getting some attention again?

Not for running against Nancy Pelosi. That was a headline on the national scene. She got attention -- from the MSM, not from Panhandle Media -- when she went to Martha's Vineyard and protested. Events made her call off her protest (Ted Kennedy died, Barack left the island). But she was getting attention. It was building. And it could have remained. If it had, if she'd been out there with that and other activities, she'd be one more critic of Barack that the MSM would pay attention to. The Tea Party would be competing with her (and possibly others) for media attention. I don't want to give Cindy's critics ammo so I won't detail it but beginning with calling off that Martha's Vineyard protest, some of the things she's done (or not completed for various reasons) have led her to appear inconsistent in the eyes of the MSM. A big and sustained event will wash that away but another effort that is cancelled or ended before it's supposed to will pretty much render her actions no longer part of the news cycle. Is that fair?

I'm not talking about what's fair. I'm talking about the nature of the news cycle.

Here's currently how the left appears to the MSM.

Reporter: You said this morning that Barack Obama is making a horrible mistake with his proposal to ____ and that millions will suffer and die. Could you explain that?

Lefty: Well, it's wrong and, I know he has a good heart, but it's, I know he's a smart man, and he was a law professor and he speaks so well and it's so great to have someone in the White House who feels like I do, but I just really wish, well, maybe, that he would stop a moment and look in his heart. I know his heart will tell him what to do.

With the exception of a reporter filing a piece on raving co-dependents, no one's ever going to use that s**t, not even on a b-roll.

Nobody wants to see that, nobody respects that. Nobody fears that. Nobody gets angry by that. No one is inspired by that. In no way does it qualify for entry into the news cycle except as the source of some cheap jokes. And you don't have to take my word for it, you just have to look at two careers. Michael Moore and Joan Baez were both achieving under Bush. Both were having personal career highs. Both are now dead and dying when its come to the career. No one cared about Joan Baez's last album and Moore's films gross less and less (to the point that they're now not making back their money). No one wants to hear their whiney ass bulls**t, no one respects them anymore. They're not only not news, they've destroyed their own careers. Because just as the news media doesn't give a damn about them, their one time audience has also lost huge interest in their pathetic asses.

Both grandstanded against the Iraq War. Neither's called Barack out for continuing it. No one gives a damn what either of the hypcropties does or says now. The only thing worse than being a joke is being a tired one. Meanwhile the Iraq War continues.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4391. Tonight? 4393.

In some of today's reported violence, Reuters notes a Falluja roadside bombing which left five people injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing on a police car which injured four people (including two bystanders) and a Baghdad roadside bombing on a Sahwa checkpoint which injured two of them and three bystanders.

I'm sitting here debating whether to include other things in this (a resignation where the DoD official feels forced out, for example). But if we don't treat the peace movement like news, we can't be sad when others don't. This entry is about the peace movement and was prompted by e-mails from community members and visitors. It's a serious effort about the peace movement and the news cycle and that's more than enough. It does what's needed.

New content at Third:

Kat's "Kat's Korner: My Best Friend Is Kate Nash" went up this morning and Isaiah's latest goes up after this. Pru notes "Party leaders hide from the reality of war" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

The televised leaders’ debate this week was scheduled to be on foreign policy.

We can be sure it won’t include a meaningful discussion of the war in Afghanistan.

While Nick Clegg may try to claim that the Lib Dems are different to the other main parties on the issue, it is the narrowness of the debate between them that is the most startling thing.

They all support a war that has added to the misery of one of the world’s poorest countries and caused the death of countless Afghans and occupation troops.

Millions of people continue to be oppressed, under a Western-backed government.

A new poll this week revealed that 77 percent of people in Britain want troops withdrawn from Afghanistan.

None of the major parties speak for them.

The leaders will debate the supposed lack of equipment for the military and the war strategy. They won’t discuss its imperialist nature, that makes the conflict fundamentally wrong.

The authorities have tried to close down discussion of Afghanistan during the election.

The Ministry of Defence has even stopped journalists embedded with the British army from reporting on the war for the duration of the election campaign.

Our leaders fear what will be unleashed if the real reasons to oppose the war are debated fully.

But we can grab hold of any crack in the monolith to allow the anti‑war feeling through.

Socialists and anti-war activists should use the next two weeks to expose all the main parties’ backing for an unconscionable slaughter.

Only troop withdrawal and real self-governance can improve the situation for ordinary Afghans.

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.

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