A Reflection On Media Coverage Of Japan

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

It is rare to see a country more advanced than the United States. Americans like to bemoan about how other countries always do things better, but in fact most of this is just talk. When it comes down to it, America is usually still ahead of a given country in most measurements of development.

Japan is one of the few exceptions to this pattern. In the media coverage of its earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters Japan has often been characterized as more advanced than the United States. Its buildings are built to higher standards against disasters such as earthquakes. It is far more successful in discouraging crime and looting. Its nuclear regulators are more accountable than those in the United States. In many ways life in Japan is nicer than life in the United States.

A generation ago such acknowledgments would have been tinted by a hint of fear. Japan was supposed to be the rival of the United States, an economic threat that warned of American decline. Today that role has been taken over by China, in the wake of Japan’s economic stagnation.

Thus coverage of Japan has been generally quite positive. Indeed, sometimes the tone of media coverage has verged upon awe. If a nation with as much technological prowess as Japan was so badly damaged by the tsunami, a reporter might write, what would a similar event do to the United States? The implication is that Japan’s technology is just plain better than America’s.

Interestingly, this type of coverage is reminiscent of the coverage America’s media gave to another (totally unrelated) event. This was the South Ossetia war in 2008. At that time America’s media adopted a similar tone of awe towards Russia’s military. Russia’s army, after all, is one of the few that can legitimately challenge America’s. It is one of a very few states – perhaps the only one – that might actually win a conventional war with the United States.

The American media’s awe of Japanese technology today sounds quite similar to its awe of Russian arms in 2008. Very few countries can arouse the wonder of the American media. It is refreshing to see it happen.



More of this, please, John

Sen. McCain the other day:

"If I am elected President, I will work with anyone who sincerely wants to get this country moving again. I will listen to any idea that is offered in good faith and intended to help solve our problems, not make them worse. I will seek the counsel of members of Congress from both parties in forming government policy before I ask them to support it. I will ask Democrats to serve in my administration. My administration will set a new standard for transparency and accountability. I will hold weekly press conferences. I will regularly brief the American people on the progress our policies have made and the setbacks we have encountered. When we make errors, I will confess them readily, and explain what we intend to do to correct them."

[Sorry for the lack of block quotes, I'm programmatically impaired.]

I applaud this sentiment from Sen. McCain and I see it as an effect that Obama is already having on the General Election.  Since the beginning of the primary season, I have hoped that we would see a McCain v. Obama match up in the fall, because I trust both senators to finally start the long, hard process of stitching up the partisan divide.  Some argue it's unstitchable; I'm not so sure.  But moves like this and his rebuke of the NC party's Wright ad are a step in the right direction.

That's why I feel like it's incumbent on Democrats and progressives to encourage McCain to use this kind of language, and to call him out strongly when he tries bullshit moves like tying Obama to Hamas.  A lot of the right already hates McCain because they see him as too bipartisan, too willing to reach out to the Democrat enemy.  There will be strong pressure on him to allow the party's machinery to undertake dirty, Swift-boat attack campaigns.

I hope the public pressure stays on him to resist.  The party's hardcore have already indicated that they plan to ignore his calls for temperance and a moderate tone.  He remembers South Carolina in 2000.  The more we can encourage him to match Obama in raising the tone, the better an election we'll have.  

I'm expecting a tough fight from McCain.  He's a politician, after all, and I'm sure this fall campaign won't be free from the usual bullshit.  (Hamas, McSame, etc.)  Both sides will distort and paint their opponents in unflattering colors.

But encouraging this kind of talk from our politicians is what we want to do.  We just need to be on them to live up to it.

There's more...

The tone here and on DKOS is ridiculous! (with poll)

It's really over the top now.  I haven't found posts as negative and counterproductive on right wing sites, who must be sitting back and reveling in our circular firing squad.  Rove is laughing all the way to the bank.

Fortunately the candidates are showing leadership.  They snipe at each other, but neither has really crossed the line since the days before New Hampshire.  You can see that they admire and respect each other, and if I were to place bets they are probably going to be running mates.  So it's up to everyone else to get over it and accept what follows, and at this point it looks like Obama for president.  

There's more...


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