The Daily Howler is almost always at least good. Today, though, the Daily Howler is great: Brit admits that Bush is 'stretching.' But at the great Times, he's just “shrewd”.
Bob Somerby's discussion of Kerry's comments about his Vietnam service, and about Kerry's views on Iraq are so much more straightforward than most of what one sees elsewhere that one wonders what part of the Unthinking Depths inhibit many parts of the major media.
Yet, what Bob Somerby does isn't really rocket science. It's called “basic research”, and “reading”, and “spotting the obvious”. So here's the mystery: why is this sort of relatively simple exposition so rare? And why when it happens is the rest of the world so resistant to it?
I’d have to say people resist any expression of truth in the major media in part because the major media has aligned on party lines to such a drastic degree that there can no longer be a question but that the news is skewed to present not information, but an agenda. See Fox News for confirmation.
But even so, I think an examination of Kerry’s ’71 statements could still be made clearer by including the context Kerry himself refers to. This was a discussion of the My Lai massacre. For Kerry to be saying that by the letter of the law even he himself committed atrocities has a different meaning when you realize he’s comparing himself to William Calley, the courts martial being less than a year in the past at this point. To me, Kerry’s letter/spirit of the law conception is more frightening in the fashion that it seems to relieve Calley of responsibility than as an indictment of that war.
But how far have we regressed when any time is spent in the media assailing a politician for being against a war that any student of U.S. history would have to question? I’d be more frightened if a candidate ever suggested the Viet Nam war was a valid and well thought out military and foreign policy endeavor…
The Howler is unusual because he takes the time & energy to research & reference quotes, reports & other sources without relying upon the publicity handouts that are given (all too often) as ‘news’. He also parses people’s statements and does the anaylysis that should be done by reporters, editors & TV ‘news’ producers but are not done due to time/money constraints, laziness & sheer ineptitude (& you are allowed to alter those 3 problems any which way). But the main problem seems to be the American public who seem satisfied with just a simple answer to a complex world and rarely probe behind that answer. All too often I have heard & seen that ” ‘they’ know more than me & I’ll can trust them to do their best”. A healthy dose of critical thinking/sceptism is needed so that more that mere platitudes are expressed.
Briefly, there’s far more “credit” to be obtained in being a parrot than being a scholar.
Consider the infamous Al Gore Internet hatchet-job.
That was a case where the reporter involved fabricated a story by willfully misparsing a quote. What did he care? What downside was there?
Propaganda to the contrary, there’s little reward for being accurate, and plenty of risk in being outside the talking points.
The way the media handles stories today is a direct result of the endless drumbeat of attack by the right for years about “the liberal media”. Rather than simply continuing to analyze and report honestly (and taking a close look at themselves to see if maybe sometimes they were biased), they found it easier to switch to “balance”, interpreted as giving equal time to the opposite extremes on any issue and substituing “he said, she said” for analysis of the facts. And we let them do it. The idea that either OReilly or Michael Moore must be correct on every issue and everybody in between is not only wrong but irrelevent makes me ill.
“But the main problem seems to be the American public who seem satisfied with just a simple answer to a complex world and rarely probe behind that answer.”
Hate to tell you, but the majority of Americans have priorities in life that come before playing monday-morning politician. Family, work, community, etc.
Good leaders and great thinkers are able to do so clearly. Kerry is a mess that requires far too much time and effort to figure out for the average joe, let alone a passionate liberal.
A classic example is abortion. He says life begins at conception, but is pro-abortion. I have never read or heard any attempt by him to reconcile this position, i.e. no weighing of protecting innocent life (as one assumes an ex-prosecutor would do) versus privacy.
Why should the average joe waste his time trying to figure out where Kerry’s moral compass is, if Kerry lacks the capability to make it clear?
Just imagine a modern U.S. TV reporter covering past events. It might go something like this:
“Critics of the administration have been harsh, but defenders point to the dramatically improved economy, record-low unemployment, and rapidly improving transportation infrastructure. And while administration officials acknowledge some errors with regard to a few bad apples in the police force, they assert those issues have been addressed. Furthermore, the administration claims that their critics are funded by wealthy elitists who are unhappy with the administration’s attempts at a fairer distribution of government contracts.
“So who is right, the administration or its critics? Only time will tell.
“This is Dan Rather, and that’s the way it was, October 1, 1938.”