Tag: Mainstream Media

El Spicoli

Good grief:

When El Chapo was arrested (again) I didn’t pay all that much attention to the story. That’s not to say that it wasn’t important or that both Mexico and the DEA didn’t have a good reason to hunt him down, but it’s not the sort of thing that’s going to change the world in a substantive, positive way. When you take out a cartel kingpin like that there are plenty more ready and eager to take his place. Even if you could identify, locate and take out his entire army, all you’d manage to do would be to cause some momentary confusion and turmoil in the market and a new group would rise up to fill the demand. That’s just the dark side of capitalism on the black market.

But now we’ve seen another low point in “journalism” which popped up in relation to the story and it will come as no surprise that it once again features Rolling Stone magazine. In case you missed it, actor Sean Penn managed to arrange a day long meeting with the drug lord back in October and it turned into a feature “scoop” for Rolling Stone. The real question here is, if you knew where a mass murdering drug lord was when the entire civilized world was hunting for him, wouldn’t you call the DEA instead of your editor? That clearly wasn’t the route that RS and Penn chose, instead preferring to help Guzman fluff up his reputation.

The Rolling Stone article is pretty jaw-dropping, giving lip service to the suffering El Chapo has caused but mainly talking about how charming he is and how he built himself up from nothing. Really, I can distill it for you in one fact: they gave El Chapo final edit of the article. It’s also poorly written, with a very turgid “style”.

The one good thing to come out of it is that Mexican authorities are saying that Penn covered his tracks so badly that they were able to find and arrest El Chapo.

I don’t know who comes off worse: Rolling Stone or Penn. Combine this with last year’s UVa rape fraud, and I’d say Rolling Stones’ reputation is rolling around the rim of the toilet bowl right about now.

As for Penn, it does give me an excuse to link to one of my favorite Best of Lee posts, about Penn covering a rally in Iran:

Check out the picture of this wormy fuck. He’s crouching in that position so you can’t see the erection he got when he heard thousands of Muslims chanting “Death to America.”

I think the greatest way to finish this post is to refer to Team America. In that film, Trey Parker and Matt Stone had Sean Penn say: “Last year, I went to Iraq. Before Team America showed up, it was a happy place. They had flowery meadows, and rainbow skies, and rivers made of chocolate where the children danced and laughed and played with gumdrop smiles.” Penn angrily shot back by inviting Parker and Stone to take a trip to Iraq with him. Their response?

“I went to the Grand Canyon once, but that doesn’t make me an expert.”

Brian Williams Caught Out

For years, NBC anchor Brian Williams has been claiming he was in a helicopter that was shot down in Iraq in 2003. Today, he had to admit that he lied.

“I would not have chosen to make this mistake,” Williams told the newspaper. “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.”

In a post on Facebook, Williams wrote:

“I feel terrible about making this mistake, especially since I found my OWN WRITING about the incident from back in ’08, and I was indeed on the Chinook behind the bird that took the RPG in the tail housing just above the ramp. Because I have no desire to fictionalize my experience (we all saw it happened the first time) and no need to dramatize events as they actually happened, I think the constant viewing of the video showing us inspecting the impact area — and the fog of memory over 12 years — made me conflate the two, and I apologize.”

Williams, the newspaper said, most recently made the claim about being on the helicopter last Friday when presenting his network’s coverage of a tribute to a retired soldier who provided security for grounded helicopters.

Williams is saying he mis-remembered. But I have to agree with Ace. It’s really hard to imagine how someone could confuse being brought to a crash site with having been in the crash, especially as it appears NBC and Williams were making this claim almost immediately.

This is who we get our news from, guys. These are the guys who inform us the economy is good and Obama is awesome. And they wonder why we don’t believe them.

Our Incompetent Media

August was a very slow news month, as you may have noticed. Congress is on vacation — again. We’re all bracing for the trainwrecks of Obamacare implementation and the next budget fight. Syria was pretty much the only big news (well, that and some washed-up child star reminding people that the MTV music awards still exist).

But our media abhors a vacuum. So they’ve blown up Syria in a mega-criss that will define Obama’s presidency. Seriously:

Syria coverage in America’s newspapers is the latest example of purportedly neutral, “objective” press coverage that’s bursting with contestable assumptions, often without the reporters and editors involved quite realizing their biases. The core news: President Obama asked Congress to vote on intervening in Syria. The way it’s being framed in accounts billed as straight news?

The New York Times cast it as a roll of the dice:

“In one of the riskiest gambles of his presidency,” they wrote, “Mr. Obama effectively dared lawmakers to either stand by him or, as he put it, allow President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to get away with murdering children with unconventional weapons.” But Obama is a lame duck, few Americans care about Syria, no one is going to take to the streets if the U.S. doesn’t intervene, and striking Syria’s regime without Congress while flouting public opinion was a far bigger gamble. In fact, you could easily write that Obama averted one of the riskiest gambles of his presidency by postponing a strike and consulting the Congress.

If you’re someone who personalizes politics, fetishizes disagreement, and intends to treat a Congressional rejection of a strike on Syria as a “humiliation” for Obama, the Times frame makes some sense, but make no mistake: its assessment of the Syria debate’s impact is self-fulfilling prophecy from an insular, status-obsessed elite. Obama’s approach is “a gamble” because and only because other insiders imagine that a president being denied by Congress — gasp! — is embarassing, rather than a healthy manifestation of Madisonian checks.

The executive is more prone to war than the legislature or the people. This was foreseen.

And come January 2017, when Obama leaves office, it’ll be hard to find an American outside D.C. who’d treat failure to intervene in Syria as a defining moment. The economy, health care, the end of the war in Iraq: those are his legacies, for better or worse.

You should read the whole thing, because it gets far far worse. The media seems to be ignorant of the Constitutional limts on Obama’s authority, oblivious to the text of the War Powers Act, unable to read their own archives on past debates over war and obsessed with making this the MOST DRAMATIC DECISION EVER! The belief that we must do something about the atrocities in Syria (even though we haven’t done anything for two years and there are atrocities going on elsewhere) is not to be questioned.

The media doesn’t want a political debate; they want an episode of The West Wing.

Out of Touch with Being Out of Touch

Expect a lot more like this:

MSNBC aired footage today that inaccurately portrayed Mitt Romney’s remarks at a campaign stop in Pennsylvania.

Discussing how the public sector suffers from a lack of competition, Romney told the audience about an optometrist who wanted to change his address and subsequently received 33 pages of paperwork from the federal government, which begat a months-long bureaucratic nightmare during which the optometrist in question wasn’t receiving his checks. “That’s how government works,” Romney said.

Then, to illustrate the advantages of competition in the private sector, Romney shared an anecdote from his visit to the local WaWa chain store. “I was at WaWas, I went in to order a sandwich. You press a little touchtone keypad — you touch this, touch this, go pay the cashier — there’s your sandwich. It’s amazing. People in the private sector have learned how to compete. It’s time to bring some competition to the federal government.”

PMSNBC cut the quote so that it just highlighted the Wawa part to make it seem that Mitt Romney — chuckle chuckle — had never seen a touch screen before. We had a similar “substantive” incident over the weekend when Lawrence O’Donnell had a five minute segment pretending that Mitt Romney had never seen a doughnut. And, believe it or not, the issue of the Romney’s interest in horses is coming back again, since this supposedly makes him out of touch with … the millions of Americans, mostly of modest income, who enjoy dressage and horse-riding.

(The horse issue infuriates me every time it comes up. It’s East Coast city slicker bullshit. Outside of New York, Washington and Los Angeles, lots of people have and ride horses. I looked into signing Sal 11000 Beta up when she gets old enough and it’s just not that expensive to get involved on an entry level. It’s not a rich man’s pursuit and hasn’t been for a very long time. Talk about out of touch.)

Look, I’ll be the first to admit that Mitt Romney’s interaction with the public is about as smooth as that of Dr. Frankenstein’s monster. But this is getting ridiculous. We have the mainstream media — in a time when we’re under threat of possible war, Euro collapse, China implosion, double-dip recession, permanent structural unemployment and fiscal apocalypse — talking about whether Mitt Romney knows about Wawa and doughnuts and whether the voters will perceive that he’s out of touch. Of all the things they could go after Mitt Romney about … this? Give me a fucking break. Mitt Romney could be as in touch with modernity as Mr. Burns. I don’t care if he has good ideas.

Does he? Or is he recycling bad ideas from Bush 43? Or is he just saying whatever gets him elected? And are his ideas better or worse than Obama’s. That’s what’s relevant.

All The Bullshit That’s Fit To Print

You know, there’s a lot of shit journalism out there and a small amount of good stuff. Would it be much of an effort to recognized the good stuff instead of the disgusting factually-challenged panic-mongering bullshit?

Congratulations to Brian Ross, America’s Wrongest Reporter, for winning a coveted Edward R. Murrow Award honoring his coverage of the Toyota unintended acceleration story. The award, oddly, is for “Video Continuing Coverage” rather than “Fostering Global Panic Based on Bullshit Story.” Still, a Murrow is a Murrow, right? Let’s go to tape.

Ross, you will recall, was one of the driving forces behind the Runaway Toyota Panic of ’10, which was later determined by NASA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to have been largely the result of idiots stepping on the accelerator when they intended to step on the brake, and of other idiots talking about it on TV. Ross was one of those idiots. For some reason, ABC News submitted four of Ross’ Toyota reports to the Radio Television Digital News Association for award consideration.

Ross’s coverage was disgusting. In addition to staging sudden acceleration footage, he presented an associate of trial lawyers as some kind of expert in auto safety and neglected to mention that one horrific accident involved a manual throttle. Moreover, we now know, thanks to NHTSA, that the entire thing was garbage. It’s like presenting an award to CNN for the coverage of the balloon boy.

But … to the media what matter is creating a sensation, not accurately reporting.