May 19, 2005

USA Today and the MSM Have Totally Lost Editorial and Business Sense; Help May Be on the Way

Filed under: General,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,News from Other Sites — Tom @ 8:54 pm

Apologies for the light blogging, but business priorities and a bit of feeling under the weather have taken some precedence.

Today’s USA Today editorial on Crappergate (“Koran blunder transcends media vs. White House”) is a case study in blame-shifting, and is symptomatic of what I’ve seen and others have commented on in the past two days. Partial text:

When Newsweek reported in its May 9 issue that U.S. interrogators had flushed a Koran down a toilet to try to rattle Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the item reverberated around the world in ways no one foresaw.

Radicals in Pakistan and Afghanistan seized on the report about the Koran to help foment riots that killed at least 15 people. From the White House to the Pentagon, officials denounced the magazine. Newsweek belatedly retracted the story: Its single anonymous source no longer stood by his account. By Wednesday, pundits were trading shots over who the real villain is — Newsweek for printing the poorly sourced report or the administration for trying to deflect blame from its own contributions to Islamic hatred of the USA.

In these two paragraphs, USAT reveals what they and others in the hate-America, hate-the-military, hate-Bush press have wanted to write ever since the September 11, 2001 attacks but lacked the nerve to articulate: It’s always (at least partially) America’s fault, or the military’s fault, or Bush’s fault. Always. Without fail.

In the real world, the ONLY contributions I have seen to Islamic hatred of the US since 9/11 have been irresponsible or without-perspective reports from the MSM, specifically:

  • The New York Times ran a front-page article on the Abu Ghraib abuse (please, don’t call it torture around here) on its front page for 32 consecutive days. No one died, and responsibility was isolated to a few sick individuals and some weak supervision. Total, lack, of, perspective.
  • The false-pretense meme: The MSM says that since there was no evidence found of weapons of mass destruction (which is, BTW, wrong), the MSM whines we had no reason to invade Iraq. The fact that the President and his spokespeople had several other perfectly good justifications that in hindsight have proven valid doesn’t seem to matter. Nor does it seem to matter that Saddam Hussein corrupted the world community on a massive scale in attempt to head off war. Because so many consequential nations were corrupted at high levels of their governments by Oil for Food money, the US and Britain were left to do an ungrateful world’s dirty work.
  • It also doesn’t seem to matter that a pattern of murderous behavior, even against total innocents, on a scale not seen since the Khmer Rouge was revealed (actually, confirmed) in the aftermath of the war. Saddam’s horrors, and the estimated body count, have been scandalously underreported.
  • Then there’s the Plame-Wilson “16 words” kerfuffle, the misplaced hysteria over nearly non-existent post-war looting, the false accusations of missing weapons, etc., etc. As Zell Miller would say: “I could go on, and on, and on.”

Speaking of going on and on, here’s USAT again:

But deeper in the administration, that cause has been undermined. The Abu Ghraib abuses might seem minor to some Americans, particularly in the context of the 9/11 atrocities and the brutality of Saddam Hussein. But in the Muslim world, they were the equivalent of handing arms to terrorists.

Any Muslim would identify with prisoners stripped naked and sexually degraded by female guards. They are precisely the sort of images Osama bin Laden would order up to enrage the Muslim world, which already sees the USA through a very dark lens.

Uh, guys and gals, that’s because it’s all Newsweek, USAT, Time, the networks, and the wire services ever let the Muslim world see. Zheesh.

Since this is supposed to be primarily a business-oriented blog, I have to ask: Where are the Newsweek and Washington Post Company executives in all of this? Are reporters and editors so untouchable that they can’t be disciplined or replaced, even when their performance and attitudes are (excuse the expression) flushing their credibility of their organization down the toilet? Are the MSM media corporations able to lose money and readers without limit? Is it a coincidence that I’m still getting the same junk mail from Newsweek, US News, and Time offering me one-year “Professional Rate” subscriptions for the same $20 they wanted 15 years ago?

Last year, I wrote elsewhere that until fair and balanced people are in charge of the initial news-gathering process, the New Media will always be in reactive instead of proactive mode in dealing with the news of the day. When I wrote it, I never dreamed that a palatable alternative to the propaganda of the Associated Press, Reuters, AFP, the newsweeklies, the networks, and the rest might come to pass. But lo and behold, Pajamas Media may be the long-awaited antidote to MSM news-gathering bias.

The Crappergate episode, paired with the MSM’s defensive reaction to it, proves the need for Pajamas Media. I am one of 300-plus bloggers on board for the initial efforts, and I fervently hope that this important enterprise will succeed.