Monday, December 12, 2005

The Liberal Media

Here's Sam Donaldson on CNN's "Reliable Sources," from December 21, 2003:

DONALDSON: Let me tell you something. I think Howard Dean deserves the bad press. And I'm not against him. I'm not making a case against him.

That one phase, "America is not safer because of Saddam's capture," in context you know what he's saying, which is the war on terrorism is a wide-ranging war in the future and this will not really affect that. But someone on his staff should have said, "Don't use that phrase because every headline and writer, every Donaldson, everybody on television will stick it out, and it's just the wrong message.

So here we have Sam Donaldson resolutely refusing to do what he's presumably paid to do, which is to report the days' events in context. Better still, he's admonishing Dean's staff for not spinning the shit out of every sentence the candidate uttered. He's all but acknowledging that because Dean's statement was at odds with the triumphalist predictions surrounding Saddam's capture, it was the corporate media's duty to slather themselves in unctuous patriotism and act as an attack dog, armed with the RNC's talking points du jour (OK, he's far from acknowledging that, but let's just say that his alter-ego is yearning to admit this, whether he knows it or not...).

I think that the Chairman's recent statement, in context, will ultimately prove correct, just as most reasonable people would agree that the one referenced above proved accurate. But this is a defect of the media that transcends liberal/conservative slants. I happen to believe that the current media narrative surounding the war--that it's going poorly, and that this is largely the fault of the Bush administration--is much closer to the truth than a lot of the cheerleading that went on before, but I wouldn't deny for a second that such a narrative has taken hold, and that narratives like these act as crutches for lazy or cowardly news organizations/individuals, and ultimately harm the public because they impede the flow of important information.

However, I wonder if it's possible to have it any other way, and if so, what structural changes would have to be made in order to change it. Given the speed at which modern societies operate, and the lack of time/desire that most people have to reflect on current events, maybe all most people want is the kind of go-with-the-flow soundbite that will keep getting Sam invited to This Week with George Stephanopolous.


Blogger Germanicu$ said...

Best. Post. Ever.

7:35 AM  

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