SCLM Award of the Day

ABC wins this one hands down:

Below the "Bush bashing" headline, there is a picutre of Bush next to a headline that says "winning ways," and another about turning destruction in Iraq into HGTV.

Saturday Afternoon with Google News

No telling how long this will last, but the story about Ben Barnes getting Bush into the Texas Air National Guard has easily passed the Swiftboat story on Google News:

"Ben Barnes", 8/28-8/29: 128
Swiftboat, 8/26-8/29: 134
Swiftboat, 8/27-8/29: 39
Swiftboat, 8/28-8/29: 1

Of course, the Israeli spy story dwarfs both stories, with 863 hits from 8/28-8/29.

Straight Outta the West Wing

Eleanor Clift writes about Rove, the media and the attacks on Kerry: The Kerry campaign thinks it has succeeded in discrediting the scurrilous attack on Kerry's military service, but Rove got what he wanted. Instead of talking about a failed war in Iraq and a new report that shows 1.3 million more Americans living in poverty, we're debating what happened in the Mekong Delta in 1968. The strategy "came straight from the West Wing," says the GOP staffer. "Nobody should be confused." Asked to explain, this Republican says Rove is smart enough to keep technical distance. But all it takes is a well-placed wink to activate a web of Bush family hit men, confidantes and deep-pocket donors. "They know what to do--it's like sleeper cells that get activated," he says, likening the players to "political terrorists." Actually, Clift is wrong. This strategy is straight out of the precursor to the West Wing, Aaron Sorkin's The American President:INT. THE LIBRARY - NIGHT

The look and feel of old money. Rumson is holding court with a half-dozen political insiders. Some smoke cigars; others sip their drinks.

RUMSON (continuing) Voters aren't interested in how to achieve economic growth, and they don't want to hear our plans to strengthen foreign policy.

STAFFER #1 So it comes down to character.

STAFFER #2 The press like him, Senator. The networks, the newspapers, they're--

RUMSON Reporters like him. Networks and newspapers like ratings and circulation. For all the bitching we do about liberal bias in the press when it comes down to a character debate...

STAFFER #3 The press is an unwitting accomplice.

This works because the press is a failed institution. To demonstrate this, I just did a few Google News searches, always restricting my search to news sources from the United States:

"Scott Peterson": 6,690
Darfur: 6,330

Genocide is taking place in Sudan, and the American media gives more coverage to the Scott Peterson trial. Sudan is not a partisan issue, as prominent Democrats and Republicans have called for intervention in Sudan. Instead of ideology or party bias, this instead demonstrates how the "news" media in America is actually more interested in character driven, real-time, "reality" TV narratives than actually reporting news.

How can it ever be justifiable for an editor or news director to give more time to Scott Peterson than ongoing genocide? How is can it ever be justifiable to even give close to the same amount of time to these two stories? How can it ever be justifiable to focus on what a bunch of guys who hate John Kerry have to say / lie about his military record when the poverty rate is rising in America and overtime rights are being slashed?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

The cable news networks set upon the Swift Boat Liars's offerings like ravenous gourmands at a card table with one tray of snacks remaining, and the print news, reduced to janitorial status, follow the fat boys around, sweeping away the detritus and pointing out that what the gluttons thought was a full meal was, after all, nothing more than stale cheese puffs.

Meanwhile, at the lonely buffet, the red meat lies rotting, virtually ignored: Despite the claims of the Bush Administration that the so-called "handover of sovereignty" to their newly installed puppet government would turn the tide in Iraq, Americans continue to die.113 Americans have died since that "handover" some 60 odd days (very odd days, indeed) ago.

That brings the total of Americans killed in Iraq to 971, though the number is difficult to pin down, since not a single day goes by without at least one and usually several more deaths to add to the tally. These numbers, of course, do not include the 131 "coalition" deaths, let alone the over 11,000 Iraqis killed.

And we say virtually nothing of the tens of thousands of "injured." What a poor word it is, when it cannot conjure in the minds of a listener the reality of those injuries - severed limbs, lost eyesight, permanent nerve damage, brain damage, pieces of metal lodged forever in the flesh of the survivor - and the attendant physical, emotional and spiritual suffering of the injured. Yet another generation of U.S. soldiers will return to their country hopelessly dependent on morphine and other painkillers, only to have the pain of their injuries compounded by the agony of withdrawal from the drugs - or the horror of an addiction to those drugs that cannot but be exacerbated when they discover that heroin will do the trick once the docs stop giving them their prescriptions.

Don't kid yourself that this time it will be different; the Bush Administration's cuts to the Veterans Administration and callous refusal of full health benefits to reservists guarantees a whole new batch of drug addicts and homeless souls who used to wear a United States uniform.

So the media drools in deluded ecstasy over the scraps that the Bush campaign calculatedly threw at them, scraps the campaign knew full well would distract the hapless pseudo-journalists from the reality in Iraq. The public, knowing only what they hear on television and, to a much lesser extent, what they read in the newspapers, is only vaguely aware that things aren't going so well in Iraq. But they hear "Najaf" and "Imam Ali shrine" and "al Sadr" and "Iraqis killed." They don't hear, "Americans are dying and it doesn't look like it will stop anytime soon."

We are not reminded - so we are not aware, for our attention spans are short and our memories shorter - that every day their fellow Americans are dying at a steady pace. The numbers are not put up on the screen, the tally curtailed at 800 on June 28, the day when Americans in Iraq magically stopped dying in the eyes of the media. Certainly, each day's two or three or five dead Marines or soldiers is dutifully reported, thrown in with a "Meanwhile, in Iraq, four Marines died in heavy fighting blah blah blah - but now back to this group of trained monkeys and their organ grinder, and how is their rabies-infected siege on that other guy in the suit going?"

971 Americans have died in Iraq. Many more have died in Afghanistan. Oh, and that 971 number? It doesn't include the Americans who died after leaving Iraq from injuries too severe from which to recover - or suicide, which is happening at an impressive clip.

So, media, you feast on the junk food your evil stepdaddy gave you to distract from the meal he somehow convinced you was bad for you and bad for America... and the maggots come in droves, quietly eating the evidence. Eventually you'll turn in desperation to the last vestiges of rotting meat and wonder why you didn't see it before.

Unfair and Unbalanced Media

There is one significant and, as yet, unremarked upon difference between the anti-Kerry 527 ads and the anti-Bush 527 ads. While the Bush Administration, its surrogates and even the media have repeatedly pointed out that MoveOn.org and other 527s have outspent their side, to the tune of over $63 million, one glaringly obvious fact: Only the anti-Kerry ads have received widespread coverage and free airtime.

I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen even a small portion of an anti-Bush ad played on any of the news networks, and not once have I seen any of the content of those ads analysed even briefly by the pundits. Contrast that with the cacophony of media coverage and analysis of the Swift Boat Veterans's two ads and it becomes plain that the cries of being "outspent" are hollow, indeed.

Sometimes it really does seem that there is a widespread conspiracy in the so-called liberal media to give heavily weighted coverage to the ads that criticize Kerry and virtually ignore the ads that criticize Bush. Perhaps not outright collusion with the corporate powers that be; perhaps it's merely a case of the rich and powerful in the media slanting their coverage unconsciously toward the candidate who best represents their financial interests. In better moments, I consider the possibility that the media, wary of being labeled "biased," bends over backward to counteract that charge - and in so doing presents an unintended but still egregiously obvious bias in the other direction.

What I would like to see is a little more balance in the coverage of the 527 ads. I doubt it will happen, because the charges leveled against Bush in those MoveOn.org ads are factually accurate and not at all as glamorous or sexy as the baseless and blatantly false charges of "lying" and hints of cowardice thrown at Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans. Still, if what the media is attempting is a portrayal of themselves as "fair and balanced," it would behoove them to put those anti-Bush ads on the air with the frequency and attention paid that they have thus far given the anti-Kerry ads.

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