Saturday, January 26, 2008

Polarized, paralyzed, chastized, dramatized

By Carol Gee

The current affairs news these days has me "bewitched, bothered and bewildered," as the old song goes. I am bewitched by the stories of the presidential primary season. It seems I have to know the latest "dish" about the two beauty contests. Who's ahead, who's withdrawn, who's the victim, who won the latest race? I am bothered that I get taken in by the mainstream media's poor coverage this political season. Knowing that I watch far too much television. And I am bewildered about making my own voting choice. I have February to decide. And I am conflicted about whom to choose.

Conflicted -- In fact we live in an incredibly conflicted time. And it is not the kind of conflict that makes me merely uncomfortable. Too much of it is actually killing people; Wikipedia authors cannot agree on the numbers. Iraq is in civil war. Pakistan is a tinder box. Gaza, the West Bank and Israel have been shooting at each other for decades. Africa has experiencing a major AIDS epidemic and repeated genocidal episodes.

Polarized -- I first posted about the death toll of Iraqi civilians in August of 2005 and very recently here. Yesterday the Iraqi government announced a major offensive against Al Qaeda in Mosul, northern Iraq, "after two days of deadly bombings killed nearly 40 people. . . the fight "will be decisive," according to Yahoo! News.

Paralyzed -- At about the same time as the Iraqi civilian death toll story in 2005, I posted about the Middle East peace process being at a critical point. Where is the Middle East process today, three years later? On January 15 the U.K.'s Guardian Unlimited reported on the Bush trip to Saudi Arabia: "Hopes low as Palestinians and Israel argue key issues." Gaza militants recently blew up a portion of the huge wall between Egypt and Gaza. Egypt moved to close the border with military troops. According to CNN, "The United States and Israel have pressured Egypt to close the open border areas, worried that terrorists with weapons could travel undetected from Egypt into the Palestinian territory." CNN also reported on the big meeting this week in Davos, Switzerland, where "Fears of world recession briefly took a back seat Thursday at the World Economic Forum, where leaders from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq focused on how to establish security in their volatile regions." CNN is a crucial element of the mainstream media, but, as always take what they say "with a grain of salt."

Chastized -- The MSM has been roundly criticized recently for its failure to question the 935 lies told by the current administration in the run up to the invasion of Iraq. As of a week ago, Glenn Greenwald's feud with Joe Klein continued. His post is an extensive examination of the veracity of Klein's reporting in Time Magazine, including his and other MSM stories about the current political races and earlier about the war. Of particular interest to me was a tiny link about what happened to Ashleigh Banfield, of whom I had lost track, contained in the following quote. [See "get fired (like this)."] To quote:

The establishment press works as a group-think wolf pack. Now, the only ones who are invited on with Chris Matthews and Tim Russert are the ones who chirp endlessly about every conventional horse race wisdom of the moment or the latest gossipy item from the traveling press corps. Reporters who do actual journalism -- like this or this -- never get anywhere near the television, and the ones who meaningfully criticize media coverage get fired (like this).

Dramatized -- Media Matters reported on Chris Matthews' victimization of Hillary Clinton on 1/18/08. Matthews is a dramatic pundit. His show is called "Hard Ball." His on-air style is dramatic and bizarre at times. And I do not seem to be the only blogger that sees him this way. A "Chris Matthews" search on my Bloglines news aggregator. It turned up 39,100 "hits." With this I am back to my opening observation in this post. I watch far too much television. It is hard on my head. The effect of it is polarizing, paralyzing, chastising and dramatizing.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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