August 30, 2007

More Big Picturing

An addendum to Karl’s post, courtesy Major General James E. Simmons, Deputy Commanding General for Support of Multi-National Forces, Iraq, [JS] who was yesterday interviewed by Hugh Hewitt [HH]. Here’s what he has to say about conditions in Basra, which we’ve been told by the mainstream press has been overtaken by radicals in the vacuum left behind by a British force withdrawal:

JS: [Those reports] are not accurate, and that is a fabrication at best. This was a planned turnover of the Palace and the PJCC to Iraqi control, to the Iraqi legitimate government forces. It was done to standard with, and to well-trained, well-equipped Iraqi Security Forces. There were some peaceful demonstrations that were celebratory in nature, but at no time was any Coalition forces threatened, and the local Iraqi officials under General Mohan, kept a good handle on the situation in Basra.

HH: So what is the situation then in Basra, because that Washington Post story made it sound like the Wild West without the saloons.

JS: It was a demonstration of OMS, or Shia people there that were celebrating, to the best of my knowledge, the return of an Iraqi landmark to the Iraqi government.

Let’s keep gathering these examples up, I say.

And when we’re done, we can put together our own history of the media’s role in pressuring foreign policy.

In yesterday’s post, Karl noted that he was loath to believe in any kind of media conspiracy, other than one born out of ideological sympathies, selection bias, market forces, and so on.

To a large extent, he’s right: I doubt we’d be able to turn up any clandestine meetings in dimly-lit parking garages between the editors of, say, the NYT and LAT, in which they discuss plans for a propaganda war in the kind of cryptographic signals generally reserved for bathroom cruisers and those on the radical fringe of the Deaf Movement.

Still, I think there are certain elements of an actual conspiracy here that shouldn’t be overlooked — most specifically, a kind of institutional willingness to repeat each other’s debunked stories in an effort to turn certain narratives, through repetition, into received truths.

On the one hand, such a thing is, of course, just another manifestation of professional laziness, seasoned with a healthy dose of the kind of ego gratification that comes with being self-annoited “information gatekeepers.” But when it is done knowingly — rather than merely out of some reflexive instinct deep within the progressive hive mind — it rises to the level of propaganda, and intentionally deployed propaganda at that.

The motive for such a thing may be similar to the one I ascribed to race-based affirmative action proponents who would continue to advocate for the program even were it to be exposed as having made things worse: their identities are so tied up in their beliefs, and they’ve done so much to demonize those who don’t share (or who have the audacity to question) those beliefs, that any change of course would mean, necessarily, that they’ve become that which they have long told us we should despise.

Whatever the reasons, however — be it legitimate skepticism or ideological wish fulfillment made manifest through sheer will — those who engage in intentional misrepresenting of facts in the service of an agenda are engaging in behavior that can best be described as collusive. And taken together, these individual actors — having been stamped out of the same ideological molds by schools of journalism — form a kind of de facto conspiracy, one that I’m sure they are dimly aware of, though they would prefer we called what they were engaged in advocacy.

Serving larger Truths.

Which, come to think of it, has the faith-based trappings and missionary zeal of certain religious denominations.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 9:13am
75 comments | Trackback

Comments (75)

  1. IIRC, the last resorts for those who’d pArTaYed away their first three years of college were various of the social sciences, education, and journalism. So.. could be they’re just dumb as a bag o’ hammers.

    Who was it said “never attribute to conspiracy that which can be explained by stupidity’?

  2. How would I go about identifying a narrative, I mean, I will never see a trend here. Is this enough to continue a war on? Too many have died for . . . for . . . for what? Bush lied, people died, black is white, Fiends not Friends, I am a tool and a troll . . . Okay, got that out of the way . . . .

  3. I’m going to jump in on a thread, say that there is no bias, change the subject, say you shouldn’t whine about said non-existing bias, comment on how it’s not a big deal (for not existing of course), call you a hypocrite, change the subject again, insult your writing, restate the bias doesn’t exist regardless of your many examples and state the the burden of proof is not on me, but you, even though any “proof” will be ignored as illegitimate…and then eat shit and smile, giving me the smug sensibility of a man who likes his wines expensive.

    Follow up by pressing refresh several times to see if I received a response that insults me, wherewith I can cry “Foul…you insensitive conservatives!”

  4. Overheard at the NYTimes bunker.

    1st Reporter — Hey, your story on the mess in Anbar province made the front page. Great narrative on the going civil war in Iraq. Super!!

    2ns Reporter — Oh, yeah! I got one coming up on Basra that will blow your head clean off . . . .

  5. Well, there is some good news.

    Moody’s Lowers Outlook on the New York Times Co. to Negative From Stable

    When your product sucks out loud, this should be expected.

  6. If the job self-selects for crusading zealots who wish to make a diffeence, then you will get a certain type of storyline. If it is made up of people who have no other personal agenda or mission other than to do their job and go home, then a different type of storyline emerges.

    Nothing really sinister about it.

  7. Mikey, it doesn’t have to be intentionally sinister. The worst crimes are committed by people who are perfectly sincere, and secure in the conviction of their own Perfect Goodness™.

    Regards,
    Ric

  8. Actually, Jeff, the ideological molding doesn’t occur in journalism school. At least not in my experience (which admittedly is a couple of decades ago). What you have is a self-selection of liberals who go into journalism in the first place.

    Campus newspapers then offer the “us versus them” template in the form of reporting on the university governance, which stands in for the other forms of government, the military, Big Oil, etc. This is where the manifest distrust of authority is taught.

    The worst behavior, however, is encouraged once the bit is removed and the young Woodwards and Bernsteins are hired at newspapers. The higher up they go, paradoxically, the less supervision they receive. This is why you can trust the Daily Shopper to report the facts more than you can the New York Times.

  9. Yeah, but Mikey’s got a strong point in the self-selection angle. Since Watergate, we’ve harvested the same crop season after season: crusaders who are going to Make A Difference or Bring Low The Mighty. No longer content to work a beat and tell us What Happened, they’ve chosen instead to skim on the What Happened and go long on Why It Happened and What Should Happen Next.

    They’re not reporters, they’re advocates, and it’s only proper that they recognize and admit to it, so that the rest of us can read their articles with an eye toward the writer’s perspective.

  10. Oh, so I guess everything in Iraq is sunshine and unicorns, huh?

    Sorry, I was just surprised that there were no ‘true conservatives’ here to say that so I figured I would fill the void.
    Or void the fill.

  11. Well, I’ve called them advocates, but what IS sinister is when their advocacy supplants their willingness to grudgingly admit mistakes.

    When they are intentionally promulgating lies for the sake of their advocacy, their behavior has gone past mere advocacy and has entered the realm of aimed propaganda. And that I do find that enormously problematic, given that the public relies on these gatekeepers to set the news, and that a democracy can’t be expected to run uncorrupted if the citizenry running it has become corrupted by bad information intentionally proferred.

    FA —

    I think you’re likely right, for the most part — though I’d have to take a closer look at the coursework at some of the more prestigious journalism schools before I’d be willing to concede the point completely.

  12. I have difficulty participating in a conversation about the media that’s so considered and temperate.

  13. Jeff – When I get to southern Iraq (in the semi-near future) I will take a peek around and do that which many “reporters” seem to have forgotten how to – send pure data. Observations, numbers, facts, and the like.

    I’ll leave the interpretation to everyone else.

    Call it a useful comparison to hold up against any media reports or “analysis”.

  14. I totally think FA has a point. College newspapers are the place where “advocates” are formed. In my experience anyway. Tell me if this sounds familiar:

    High School kid is editor of school newspaper, goes to college, joins staff of campus rag. Spends entire first year writing about parking enforcement, vandalism and selling ads. Spends second year writing snarky Maureen Dowd-like columns about how great cunnilungus is and how Republicans should try it. Third year, she’s living off-campus and it’s time to investigate the local town government and police force, there’s probably some sort of homophobia involved. Fourth year, the University Administration is the target, they’re probably investing in sweatshops or involved in some kind of shady land deal. By graduation she knows all of the Administration by Christian name and half of the board of trustees since the paper has to be represented at the meetings. She’s used to that rarified air, will obviously get great references, so it’s either law school or J-school depending on the lsats. But god knows, after the summer internship at the local Shopper, there’s no way she’ll take an entry-level job at that rag.

  15. Jeff,
    You call it a “de facto conspiracy.” But, at least you have the cahones to use the “c” word. Qualified. But you use it.

    (Karl necessarily dodged accusations of direct conspiracy in his post. The word “conspiracy” itself is bait to trolls, and avoiding its use – except to state unequivocally that he was not accusing the MSM of engaging in one – added to his essay’s invulnerability.)

    We’re making progress here, and maybe, before the ’08 election heats up, we can drop the qualifiers completely and just call a spade a spade.

    If I had an ounce of Karl’s energy, I’d begin to trace message-collusion among the major domestic and foreign media between the times of, say, 1999 to the present. And I’d pay special attention to “reports” about the “Anti-war” protests in American and European cities in 2002 for three reasons: these protests were too-well funded, Operation Iraqi Freedom was a proxy for Bush and American Republicanism, and the global media’s reportage on these protests was in virtual lock-step.

    A little off-topic, but, I don’t think the $200,000 donated to the Clinton Library was Marc Rich’s only bill to pay for his pardon. A forgiven $M100 debt (back-taxes and penalties owed to NY State) and a Presidential Pardon make a formidable gift to anybody. And he just HAS to be grateful.

  16. I would also note that “pack journalism” occurs in many contexts. There is no reason for Iraq to differ on this score. Indeed, there are plenty of reasons for it to occur more in Iraq, as noted yesterday.

    As for mikeL:
    The narrative here is pretty easy to identify, as you would know had you read my post yesterday. But in short, the narrative is Vietnam, specifically the notion that any conflict the US enters bogs down into a quagmire and loses to a determined and limitless band of invincible guerillas. It’s a narrative that incorrectly characterizes Vietnam and ignores the history of insurgencies generally, but that’s what the narrative is — and has been, even going back to Afghanistan, which the New York Times was projecting as Vietnam 24 days in. Kabul fell five days later.

  17. Ric Locke – you are correct, it isn’t intentionally sinister, but it isn’t desirable either.

  18. Squid: do you remember the old “Lou Grant” tv show? I stopped watching it because I was tired of what i called “the crusade of the week”. First one cause, then another, then a different foe. all self-righteous, sermonizing, moralizing, scolds.

    Lately I’ve come to think of it as a documentary series more than fiction.

  19. Is it just me, or did the “Iraq is a mess” narrative just collide with the “if we leave there will be chaos” narrative? Because call me crazy, but from the Basra reporting, it appears that when those two trains hit each other, all the lefty media elites on the former narrative and all the righty pro-war bloggers on the latter narrative got swapped to the opposing train, and now the lefties are saying that the UK pullout left chaos in its wake and the righties are saying that the UK pullout left order and stability in its wake.

    Am I oversimplifying things there?

  20. And that [aimed propaganda] I do find enormously problematic.

    Problematic? Very nearly you praise them with faint damnation. I would call it downright mendacious, venal, cynical, or totalitarian—or any combination thereof.

    I think that these days, J-schools largely attract those who want to “Make A Difference or Bring Low The Mighty,” as Squid said. The Woodward and Bernstein narrative provides a powerful attractor to those youth who have a crusading zeal but not a more useful outlet for it.

    It is a substitute for religion for those who aren’t much interested in the traditional kind, and they feel entirely justified in preaching their causes as if they were The Gospel Truth rather than One View Among Many That We Think Is Pretty Good, But Hey, It’s Up To You.

    I was a Mormon missionary, and there was plenty of religious zeal to be had, but nobody considered us to be the sole source of information about the world, nor did we pretend to be, and if you’re not into our message, well, have a nice day.

    And we definitely were not allowed to use deception or intimidation or other tactics to browbeat people into admitting that We Were Right. That would have defeated the whole purpose. Persuasion, not coercion.

    I would also like to point out to any trolls that may be lurking around that the MSM’s false story supports our narrative: that the Brits pulled out too fast and look what happened.

    But I, like Jeff and the rest of the PW denizens, would rather hear a hundred true things that undermine our point of view than one lie to support it.

  21. Actually considering the the amount of spin and out right dishonesty the media has engaged in on Iraq, and their absolute refusal to correct the record I begin to suspect that what they are doing is very intentional. Of course, that’s just what I suspect. Only a journalist could say so for sure.

  22. Whoa, Gabe! Beat me by a minute!

    Like I said, we’re interested in the truth, not in a particular narrative. If we find that it is TRUE that pulling out of Iraq tomorrow will leave peace in its wake, we’ll agitate for that plan of action. But not until.

    Oh, and a Spanish 101 tip: it’s cojones, two Os and a J, which provide a visual clue, if you get my meaning. “Cajones” means drawers (as in furniture), and “cohones” doesn’t mean anything at all.

  23. BTW, on the chicken-egg question, I once saw a poll of incoming j-school students (done either at or by Columbia) as to why they were choosing journalism as a career. The number one answer was “to make the world a better place.”

  24. “Am I oversimplifying things there?”

    Perhaps – the Leftie narrative has shifted, remember. No matter what the Coalition does, it’s wrong (the enduring theme). And no Iraqi can do as much as walk and chew gum at the same time (the “lack of progress” meme).

    “all the righty pro-war bloggers” (brush quite broad enough?) are saying something fairly consistent. We stay until things get better and the Iraqis can handle the load – then we go, and only then. Al-Anbar, Basra and the like are evidence that it is achievable.

  25. I think that such a switch suggests that we are sneaking towards a strikingly Seussian Sneetch scenario. Which, obviously, provides us with fabulous opportunities for sibilant alliterations.

  26. It’s the ethos in journalism, like the herd mentality.

    You stop thinking for yourself, and must “fit into” the collective (or “selective”) consciousness of the peer group.

    Same thing happens in Academia, where, in order to fit into today’s university environment, more and more you must hold certain ideas or be rejected by “the group”.

    Silicon Valley is sort of a church, where you’d better hold the “approved” political notions or learn to keep your mouth shut.

    None of it particularly all that different than the “faith based trappings of religious denominations”.

  27. They’re just mad because they write and they write and they do their little broadcasts, but they know that their work, it does not inform policy. It’s just not acceptable.

    And also they hate America.

  28. Well. MJ. the problem begins with the framing of the “achievable” construct.

    Too often have we heard the the hue and cry of !casualties! and
    !cost! and !sectarian violence! and !vacationing politicians! in such force and consistency as to browbeat any message of hope and light. I’m sesnsing just a little bit of desperation amoungst some elements of the MSM as well as the far left, concerned that the Iraq Quagmire narrative might slip away, along with the tattered rags of their credibility. the vast silence from trollong lefties on Karl’s post speaks volumes.

    For some liberals who actually want to see things for what they are and have some integrity, saying these things out loud is difficult but necessary. Too many from the left are going to hold out for failure even in the face of any level of success.

    Of course, if the political situation goes to hell in a handbasket then all bets are off and conservatives will be jumping from the Iraq ship. All that we ask is the unvarnished truth.

  29. Dicentra, I can’t find my Spanglish dictionary, but I’m pretty sure the slang “cahones” is an American bastardization (Anglicization) of the proper Spanish word, “cajones.”

    Any Spanglish speakers out there?

  30. the proper Spanish word is “cojones” not “cAjones”

    (adios)

  31. All that we ask is the unvarnished truth.

    This, ironically, would destroy what’s left of the media’s credibility. They are now so dependent on a liberal subscription base that the truth is an existential threat.

  32. Plus, the America-hating.

  33. Wrongfeet. No one subscribes anymore but businesses and archivists. It’s considered declasse.

  34. I also suspect happyfeet is right.

  35. There’s some truth to that, GF. It’s the same sensibility that has just seen us move to a minority of houses having landlines. Things are moving very quickly out there.

  36. But corvan – yes – older and more liberal, is how the newspaper and broadcast audiences are changing, and quickly.

  37. I have not had a landline in 6 years.

  38. Same trend with NPR by the way, which enacted a plan to reach younger audiences about two years ago. This plan has failed spectacularly.

  39. Mine goes away 1Q next year. I think. I feel dirty using Time Warner Cable for internet, but I might just have to live with that. Hoping for a fiber alternative.

  40. Completely wireless, I use a Treo and a Sprint wireless card for my laptop, and the better half uses a Verizon wireless card. We race.

  41. Actually, it’s Italian and it’s cojones.
    I thought the Spanish was juevos or something very similar to “eggs”, I used to work in the restaurant business so I learned lots of colloquial Spanish but I’m forgetting it these days.

  42. Yes. My overlords should give me a treo in 1Q, so that would be the end of the landline.

  43. Assertion of authority is not “distrust of authority,” and displays of might do not “bring low the mighty.”

    Press cliches about the press aren’t concepts rigorously derived from self-analysis that we can adopt and use, unanalyzed, to understand the press. They’re fucking lies.

  44. happyfeet – Being untethered is nice. Very nice.

  45. Wow!

    In my embarrassment at being called out for getting the story wrong (I mis-spelled the Spanish word “cojones”), I got defensive.

    Then, as I composed a missive of what I mis-perceived (or hoped to paint) as an unnecessary scold, I discarded the core lesson in that scold.

    And that makes me look like an idiot. In fact, I feel like the MSM on Iraq, right now.

    In the future, I plan on slowing down and taking more time to ponder PW’s commentors’ words more carefully before responding.

    Thanks for the pointers, guys.

  46. “Any Spanglish speakers out there?”

    See.

  47. When your product sucks out loud, this should be expected.

    I’m not sure if it’s quite so much sucking out loud, at present, as a wide-stanced foot-tapping in the public restroom of the media.

  48. Pingback: Calling a Spade A Spade « Civilian Irregular Information Defense Group

  49. Ditched the landline in ’99. Cancelled the paper when the bird died.

  50. Jeff, I think you should seriously consider a collaborative documentation and formal study of this. This is not a sub-theme in this war. It is largely the war itself.

    And I cannot imagine that we are not on the verge of a giant paradigm shift in the world. Not only because of real and unforeseen reconciliations in the Shia-Sunni world, and the positive peripheral effects of Iraqi-American soldier relationships, but also because of the contrast that that emerging picture will generate against the fabric of so many lies and the manufactured narrative as peddled by the MSM.

    We should be ready for far more than incremental steps on the idealogical front. We should be prepared for, and be nurturing, a “throwing off” (if I may borrow the “intifada” word) of a blanket of disception. To think all of this is not on some level cyncially and consciously generated, is to be still under that blanket. You do not need secret meetings to have complicity. There is a de facto agreement amongst the purveyors of the status quo and they possess an instinctive sense of any fact or news that threatens that balance.

    But on our part we should be re-deploying ourselves on this idealogical front, because the initiative is really in our hands. And, of course, change does come in small degrees. But then there is the tipping point.

    I look forward to the continuing relationships I see developing in this internet community of guys like you and Hugh Hewitt, and a host of others. Really, really cool.

  51. http://proteinwisdom.com/?p=9684#comment-237255

    “balls” (vulgar) in Italian is cogliones

    cojones is still and always Spanish

    Maybe we should just say when praising someone’s machismo…”That guy sure has Mountain Oysters…”

    (which, of course, lacks a certain paazazz…)

    “communication” is pretty iffy these days.

  52. While it might be fair to call the media slant a de facto conspiracy, a more accurate description would be institutionalized laziness. In TV and newspaper newsrooms all over the country, the factor that overwhelmingly guides the focus and slant of the news is what appeared in the most recent edition of the New York Times. Some of these outlets actually subscribe to the NYT newswire, others just buy a single copy and use it as their guide to what they should report and how they should report it.

    To be certain, the mainstream media has been self-identified as left of center, but if the NYT suddenly made a rightward shift tomorrow, somewhere between 90% and 95% of the nation’s media outlets would have no choice but to follow, because they haven’t had any practice in exercising their own editorial judgment in nearly half a century.

    I can remember back in the late sixties, hearing folks in the media biz referring to the evening news as “Walter (Cronkite) reads the New York Times,” and this was back when there were actually still a few professionals in the mass media. It certainly hasn’t improved since then.

  53. One of the basic narrative tactics is illustrated by Veeshir, who sneers, “I guess everything is sunshine and unicorns, huh?” Use egregious hyperbolic strawman standards of perfection to establish that failure is inevitable, and take off from there. Incremental change and direction of change and learning how to do stuff better are ignored, distorted, or disparaged. Blech. Booorring.

    The recent mea culpa by the retired BBC-er who described the 60s takeover by the young and liberal characterized the mindset as “underdog vs. the System” (paraphrased). All attacks on Systems are Good. This leads to horrible results when they become the System; the paradox and self-loathing are fatal. Some of the horrible paradoxes are the result of having to choose your underdogs: SH was a military underdog to the US, while his oppressed populace was his underdog. We all know which one the Left chose to support. And here we are. It’s the nuances that trip them up, you see!

  54. Yo tengo huevos muy grandes. But penicillin is fixing that.

  55. Comment by Gabriel Fry on 8/30 @ 11:21 am # A little alliteration never hurt anyone.

  56. Mitchell:

    “[…]I think you should seriously consider a collaborative documentation and formal study of this. This is not a sub-theme in this war. It is largely the war itself.

    The truth of your comment bowls me over, dude. Very well put. I bolded my favorite line.

    bour3, Elephantiasis may require repeated treatments. But hang in there.

  57. No dammit, you’re all missing the point.

    The left isn’t trying to undermine the war because they are opposed to the war per se. The left is opposed to those controlling the government.

    Leftists have no problem with war and violence, and would be very pro-war right now were the Democrats in power. The ethics on this are entirely situational and partisan. That’s what no one gets about the Left and the Media.

  58. “All attacks on Systems are Good”.

    Assumption accompanied by a culture at (for example) the BBC that “…regards all challenges to its warped worldview as beyond the moral pale, it follows axiomatically that the truth goes out the window altogether…”

    “…our public service broadcaster (in this case, the BBC) is abusing its position by systematically presenting events through a distorting ideological prism.”

    And that’s “the BBC”. Sound like any news outlets/newspapers in the US ?

    How about “…arrogance and a false sense of moral superiority combine with gross ignorance of the real world to spread an ideology…’based not on observation and deduction but on faith and doctrine’…and into which all events are wrenched to fit.”

    Christiane Amanpour anyone ?

  59. “All attacks on Systems are Good”

    Alternatively, it seems to me quite correct to observe that…

    “The liberal mind has been brainwashed into not making judgments except against your own culture.”

    Dennis Prager
    July 16, 2007

  60. “… think you should seriously consider a collaborative documentation and formal study of this. This is not a sub-theme in this war. It is largely the war itself.“

    Well said, indeed. This has been a PR battle from Day 1. There is no military or militia or insurgent or freedom fighter than can stand up to us. This is all about changing public sentiment, and trying to manipulate public opinion to believe that losing 3000+ in over 4 years constitutes a failure, but losing 3000+ an hour in WW2 was a success. At 1000 per year, it would take us 47 more years to even reach the Viet Nam figures.

    The left isn’t trying to undermine the war because they are opposed to the war per se. The left is opposed to those controlling the government.

    Leftists have no problem with war and violence, and would be very pro-war right now were the Democrats in power. The ethics on this are entirely situational and partisan. That’s what no one gets about the Left and the Media.

    This statement is accurate, and powerful. Take Bosnia. The Left will give a Dem president a pass on placing our troops in harms way, provided no American interest is at stake, and our troops do not actually get to fight. That is why they get so fired up about asking the UN for permission.

  61. think you should seriously consider a collaborative documentation and formal study of this. This is not a sub-theme in this war. It is largely the war itself

    Book deal! Jeff and Karl! And anyone else who wants to Google stuff.

  62. Still, I think there are certain elements of an actual conspiracy here that shouldn’t be overlooked — most specifically, a kind of institutional willingness to repeat each other’s debunked stories in an effort to turn certain narratives, through repetition, into received truths.

    Interesting example of that today in the WSJ, where Daniel Henninger bemoans the public’s loss of trust in the media, citing several examples of bad reporting that have contributed to this situation. Along the way he makes this interesting statement:

    Similar smelly bubbles reached the surface of the media swamp here during the 2004 election, when CBS and Dan Rather were unable to verify the authenticity of documents questioning George W. Bush’s National Guard service.

    Yep, they were “unable to verify the authenticity of the documents”. The TANG letter wasn’t a blatant and clumsy forgery, it was simply “unverified”. And this in an OpEd wailing about how bad reporting is spoiling the brand.

    I stick to my original assessment: That’s dumber than a bag of hammers.

  63. Summation of the CBS position, in Dan Rather-ese…

    “Fake, but accurate.”

  64. “…unable to verify the authenticity of documents

    How can they write that? Actually, it is wrong. CBS verified that they were forgeries, but used them anyway.

  65. Pingback: A Second Hand Conjecture » Bias in the Media

  66. “We should be ready for far more than incremental steps on the idealogical front. We should be prepared for, and be nurturing, a “throwing off” (if I may borrow the “intifada” word) of a blanket of disception. To think all of this is not on some level cyncially and consciously generated, is to be still under that blanket. You do not need secret meetings to have complicity. There is a de facto agreement amongst the purveyors of the status quo and they possess an instinctive sense of any fact or news that threatens that balance.”

    The danger of this tack being, of course, that if the motivation for the actions you despise is other than what you contend it is, such as, for instance, sensationalism and oversimplification in the service of entertainment and thus market share and thus profit, as opposed to, say, ideologically-motivated activism, then you will gird yourself for this intifada with the wrong weapons. You could find yourself perpetrating a full makeover of the media in the service of your chosen ideology but, having left the sensationalism and its attendant motivators unaddressed, you could end up with a media culture that is just as shallow and dysfunctional, only in the service of a different narrative. Which would breed revolt, and the process would repeat itself. The quality of the news, unfortunately, would continue its downward slide.

    Sound plausible?

  67. Plausible in theory, sure. But one would expect the evidence to show less of a consistent bias leftward.

    And of course, there’s no reason why BOTH motivations (along with some not named) can’t be operative in differing degrees.

    Tell you what: you deal with the sensationalism angle, and I’ll continue to look for bias that I suspect to be ideologically motivated, based on my ability to tease out the requisite markers, and to separate out sensationalism from advocacy.

    Fair enough?

  68. Well said, indeed. This has been a PR battle from Day 1. There is no military or militia or insurgent or freedom fighter than can stand up to us. This is all about changing public sentiment, and trying to manipulate public opinion to believe that losing 3000+ in over 4 years constitutes a failure, but losing 3000+ an hour in WW2 was a success. At 1000 per year, it would take us 47 more years to even reach the Viet Nam figures.

    I assume you’re not actually advocating we stay in Iraq for 47 more years, though nothing would surprise me from a pro-war advocate.

    That being said, simply being able to kill militia members and insurgents every time they dare fight us (except when they use IEDs of course) does not victory make. Thus, while manipulating the public to convince them that four years of war and increasing American casualties is the path to “victory”, it won’t actually produce victory in Iraq (whatever that would be.) Withdrawal is not a failure of will; it is an exercise of rationality.

  69. So the path to “victory” is withdrawal? And killing insurgents and terrorists isn’t defeating them.

    Hmm. Maybe we just have a different notion of “rational.”

  70. Okay, deal. But the rush to identify things as evidence of left-wing bias when they can be much more convincingly explained as the hapless flailing of “journalists” who would be out of their depth in the Parade section is pet peeve of mine. Explaining war coverage and sex scandal coverage through partisan cabals seems to require one to ignore the market value (in terms of papers sold and programs watched) of explosions and blowjobs. The fact that the explosions and blowjobs are occuring primarily at the behest of one party, while it may contribute to coverage that appears one-sided, puts complainers about that coverage in a bit of a bind, in my opinion, and if said complainers are going to organize and actually DO something about the situation, I would suggest that the slide towards tabloid irrelevance and the misperception that news organizations are supposed to make money are of more pressing concern than allegations of narrative reinforcement. Given that allowing those problems to fester will limit the achievable gains to “changing the narrative.” Which leaves those who would actually like intelligent and effective news coverage stuck in the same camp as the partisan hacks who just want their brand of spin to get its day in the sun.

  71. So you are saying blowjobs sell better than, say, bribe-taking?

    if said complainers are going to organize and actually DO something about the situation, I would suggest that the slide towards tabloid irrelevance and the misperception that news organizations are supposed to make money are of more pressing concern than allegations of narrative reinforcement.

    Like I said before, then. You keep an eye on that, and I’ll keep an eye on ideological slant and the bias it both produces and reinforces. Together, we can CHANGE THE WORLD!

    [cue: “Ebony and Ivory”]

  72. Isn’t “changing the world” the reason a lot of journalism students gave for entering that realm ?

    That’s pretty god damn grandiose.

    I won’t be holding my breath. The writers I admire (cue trumpets) just write about stuff because they are so impelled.

    They have no choice. They don’t write the book for purposes of earning the big bucks, they write the book because they can’t think of anything else but writing the book.

    And if the $ flows, that’s icing on top of the cake.

    But they’d never dream of thinking they were going to “change” this increasingly absurd human realm.

  73. Gabriel isn’t in denial, he’s in SUPER DENIAL!

    One can only assume that, having grown up in the world as decribed by the MSM, he hasn’t yet clicked on how the argument is that that world doesn’t quite line up with the actual world.

    Incompetence may be assumed by default to be “more convincingly” explanatory than ideological bent, but the problem is we are WAAAAAY past default here. The MSM clearly and consistently (though not invariably) slants their coverage in a particular ideological direction. We have that from comparative coverage of scandals across the aisle, from identifiers thrown at sources in articles, descriptive language variances based on ideology, positive and negative coverage given to candidates and advocates, and self-admission by the press corps of their biases, party affiliations and donor habits.

    And Gabriel says, “But what about this molehill over here, it’s LIKE a mountain!”

    In other words, you’re using the slanted version of reality presented to you by the MSM as evidence that reality is slanted. That’s wrong. And historical review (a truly unfavored activity among the MSM) shows us that the explosions and blowjobs are most definitely NOT occurring in any ratio approaching how they are reported.

    The difficult part is getting past the ASSUMPTIONS your worldview is built upon and the filtering effect they have on what you see.

    Part of the problem is that people tend to see themselves as middle-of-the-road, even if they’re significantly off to one side.

    But 89% self-described lefties? Come on, who can look at that and say there’s no bias? And a “rush” to identify left-wing bias? For crying out loud, this stupid conversation has been going on since before I was born, there’s obviously no freaking rush.

    The closest thing to a rush that’s been going on is the fact that interactive radio and internet discussions have allowed a greater and more diverse population to get their voices out, and thus past the filters put up by the MSM “gatekeepers.”

  74. In case you haven’t been paying attention lately,the majoity of major news outlets ,including television, don;t have the reader/viewrship they enjoyed before the advent of the internet. So. Speaking market forces wise; we ain’t buying it. Explaining war coverage and sex scandal coverage through partisan cabals seems to require one to ignore the market value (in terms of papers sold and programs watched) of explosions and blowjobs. The fact that the explosions and blowjobs are occuring primarily at the behest of one party, while it may contribute to coverage that appears one-sided, puts complainers about that coverage in a bit of a bind, in my opinion,”

    In case you haven’t been paying attention lately,the majority of major news outlets ,including television, don;t have the reader/viewership they enjoyed before the advent of the internet. So. Speaking market forces wise; we ain’t buying it. So much so that more conservative news commentary blogs are far more popular than left wing blogs.

  75. w47dZ5 comment6 ,

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