Friday, August 22, 2014

Grab a drink, NYT has a tale for you

The family of James Foley, the journalist beheaded by the Islamic State in Iraq, had asked for privacy and we were trying to honor that here; however, two of his siblings have given an interview to Katie Couric (Yahoo News) so we'll link to that.  There is a Foley related issue that we'll be addressing at Third.  It has to do with the government response.

One government response has been the remarks US President Barack Obama made and what followed them.

Peter Baker and Julie Hirschfeld Davis (New York Times via NDTV) try to soap opera it up in their coverage:

Unusually emotional, President Barack Obama declared himself "heartbroken" by the brutal murder of an American journalist, James Foley, and vowed to "be relentless" against Islamic radicals threatening to kill another American.
But as soon as the cameras went off, Obama headed to his favorite golf course on Martha's Vineyard, where he is on vacation, seemingly able to put the savagery out of his mind. He spent the rest of the afternoon on the links even as a firestorm of criticism erupted over what many saw as a callous indifference to the slaughter he had just condemned.

Peter Baker used to be an outstanding journalists but, as we've noted for awhile now, he's gotten seduced by the narrative.  That wouldn't have played at the Washington Post but one of the hallmarks of the departed Jill's era -- one that still remains at the NYT -- is soap opera it up, turn everything into a feature story.  Which explains the lack of reporting in the Times these days.

Like Baker, Howard Kurtz used to work for the Post. Now he does media criticism for Fox and he offers:

What is striking now is a growing sense, fairly or unfairly, that Obama is not capable of rising to the occasion, that he just doesn’t like politics, that he’s disengaged, that despite his soaring rhetoric in 2008 he has a passion deficit.
All the criticism about him playing golf and being at Martha’s Vineyard is kind of a code for his supposedly being unplugged from the job.
A Times news story opens with a killer anecdote about the president meeting with Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, which turned to Democratic complaints that the GOP was bottling up a number of Obama’s ambassadorial nominees.

“Mr. Obama quickly dismissed the matter. ‘You and Mitch work it out,’ Mr. Obama said coolly, cutting off any discussion. Mr. Reid seethed quietly for the rest of the meeting.”

Kurtz has often avoided taking on his peers.  It's really sad that an anecdote is what one takes away from a "Times news story."

While the Times traffics in cocktail party chatter, Gavin Hewitt (BBC News) observes, "In a matter of days, Europe's leaders have dropped the early assessment that the crisis in Iraq was principally humanitarian. The helicopter rescue missions of the Yazidis gave that impression but the reality is different."

It's good that it changed.  I mean, if it hadn't, governments might have had to do something other than attack inside Iraq.  They might have had to, for example, make like France and open their borders to Iraqi refugees. It's so much easier just to drop some bombs, right?

For governments, it is.  And for a silly press obsessed with snubs and sleights -- real and imagined -- of officials, the suffering of the people matters very little.

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