Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Reporting without context

The media really has to do better than this brainless, context-less, "he said, she said" pseudo-"balanced" journalism that led them to treat the libelously false Swift boat allegations of the 2004 campaign, disseminated by the campaign of a deserter and draft dodger, as a straight-up news story.

This time around, the White House is gleefully, desperately jumping on Kerry for having said that, if you don't get an education, you could end up in Iraq. This supposedly insults the troops.

Let's start by noting that, beyond any possible dispute, the statement is objectively true. With less education you have less opportunities, and signing up for military service becomes much more relatively attractive. The military option, in turn, looked better in the days when it seemed that one would only risk combat if a genuine miliitary problem arose in the world, as opposed to an Iraq-style war of choice. So the Administration has taken one of the better options that people with low education previously had, and made it far less appealing.

Now we have Bush smirking about how Kerry has insulted the troops and needs to apologize, and the media report it straight up. Bush is the guy who sent the military to Iraq without a plan to establish security, and has had them there as sitting ducks, for several years now, without even giving them adequate body armor. Kind of him to be so protective of their dignity when Kerry makes a true statement about how he has wrecked one of the better opportunities that young people with limited high-wage employment prospects previously had.

Is it too much to ask that the media place this charge in proper context?

If Bush said that Kerry's statement was a code signal to warriors from the planet Zircon, telling them that it was time to invade Earth, and Kerry then denied this, would they report this, too, as he-said-she-said without pointing out that the Bush position was preposterous? No? Then we have established that judgment is needed at some point about which charges are too preposterous to report straight up without context. We are quibbling only about degrees. But degrees are quite important, and the Bush accusation is only a scintilla, if that, distinct from the planet Zircon scenario.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Several problems with this post: First, is this your idea of reporting a story 'straight up'?

"President Bush last night accused Sen. John F. Kerry of disparaging U.S. troops in Iraq, echoing the 2004 strategy of ridiculing the Massachusetts senator to raise anew questions about Democratic leaders and their commitment to the troops. The highly coordinated White House effort came as Republicans sought to shift the focus away from an unpopular war and GOP scandals that are putting their congressional majorities at risk."

No editorializing there!

Secondly, Kerry has apologized for the botched joke and that may be plausible. However, you aren't defending the fact he misspoke in public. You are defending what he literally said. Paraphrased, 'Stupid people and slackers are in Iraq'. I'm sure you 'support the troops' though.

Thirdly, even if Kerry is given the benefit of the doubt. How is it that he and the President attend the same university, perform roughly the same academically (Kerry was actually a grade-point or two worse)and Bush is Kerry's intelectual inferior?

Finally, maybe you should look for some news coming from your own State's Senator. Her take on Kerry's statement? "What Senator Kerry said was inappropriate" Yet there is no comment from you on whether she is gleeful, desperate or part of the highly coordinated White House effort.

Certainly much of this is not put in its proper perspective but that is no fault of the Bush administration. Mainly, that is the fault of bloggers like you.

Hopefully, your teaching is not as incoherent as your political commentary or else there is no hope for the trial lawyers of the future!