Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The liberal media

I pay a lot of attention to the news, so I know what's important. The front page of the New York Times, CNN and the rest of the cable news networks morning noon and night, NPR on the same schedule, all of the corporate media web sites, have made it very clear: the most important issue before the country, and the voters, as the mid-term election approaches, is that John Kerry told a joke which some people construe as implying that if you don't study hard, you'll have to join the army.

They are so right. I was going to vote for Democratic candidates on Tuesday but now I know better. I was paying too much attention to trivial matters such as the disastrous geopolitical consequences of the grotesque failure of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq; the murdered children among the among the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis; the tens of thousands of young Americans killed and maimed; the trillions of dollars your great grandchildren will still be paying back, if the United States survives this catastrophe; the destruction of Iraqi civil society; the disgrace and shame of the United States before the world for degradation and brutal torture in its dungeons.

I thought all of this was important, and that the people responsible for it -- such as George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld -- should be accountable. But of course I don't have the wisdom and experience of leading professional journalists. They understand what really matters, what really ought to concern me, and how I should exercise my franchise. John Kerry screwed up a joke, and he's a Democrat. That's all I really need to know.

UPDATE, Nov. 2: So, how long can they keep this going? Last night, Sen. Kerry's mal mot was the lead story on all the local news stations here -- in spite of a gubernatorial debate that had happened last evening, among other options. This morning, it was the subject of a screaming front page headline in both daily newspapers. The Globe featured of photo of President Cheney, captioned with this clever quotation from the great statesman, "He was for the joke before he was against it," and three -- yes three -- long staff-written articles on the alleged "controversy." The content of the articles was defensible on its face -- essentially that this was all theater, that Republicans scour the wires for remarks by Democrats that they can criticize, taking them out of context or overinflating their importance if need be, and that the press falls for it. But, er, Globe editors -- you fell for it. That's what you told us all was the most important story of the day, that's what you assigned your reporters to write about, that's what you put on the front page. This entire story merited nothing more than a one paragraph "in brief" item in the first place. Instead, you take up half the newspaper talking about how it doesn't really matter, which, obviously, means it must matter after all, or else why are you talking about it?

Meanwhile, our old friend John Boehner blames the disaster in Iraq on the military officers in charge. Harold Dean tries to create a comparable hooplah, and the very same corporate media ignores it. The biggest idiots in all this, after all, are the sycophantic fools who went to journalism school. The profession is contemptible. Apparently a qualification to be a senior editor of a major newspaper is to be a tool, and proud of it.

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