Monday, December 29, 2008

Media practices wilful negligence

The major news networks are effectively closing down their Baghdad bureaus. Nevermind that there are still some 130,000 US troops in Iraq, they say they can't afford the manpower. Of course they can't. They sent all their reporters to stalk Obama in Hawaii.
Joseph Angotti, a former vice president of NBC News, said he could not recall any other time when all three major broadcast networks lacked correspondents in an active war zone that involved United States forces. Except, of course, in Afghanistan, where about 30,000 Americans are stationed, and where until recently no American television network, broadcast or cable, maintained a full-time bureau.
Not that they were doing much coverage anyway. "The three network evening newscasts devoted 423 minutes to Iraq this year as of Dec. 19." I'd love to see a comparison to how many minutes they gave such issues of import as flag pins, 'terrorist' fist bumps and William Ayers who you know, almost killed somebody forty years ago.

And I suspect a fair percentage of those 423 minutes were devoted to the Iraqi shoethrower, a made for tabloid coverage event. Fun visuals on that one and I enjoyed every minute of it as much as the next guy, but the daily carnage that still goes on there every single day is never, or at best barely, covered. As Angotti put it, "stories that require knowledge of Iraq, like the political struggles that are going on" don't get any play. Apparently real news is so boring people won't watch it and the networks don't want to pay for analysis when tabloid coverage will do.

I guess it's much easier to dutifully parrot GOP talking points about how the 'surge worked' even as most of the costs of mantaining an Iraq presence went "for the security teams that protect each bureau and travel with reporters. Iraq remains the deadliest country in the world for journalists."

The worst part is, if they had been reporting the truth instead of the Pentagon press releases from the beginning, they wouldn't be worrying about an Iraq bureau. Americans would have demanded an end to the occupation and a lot of good soldiers, journalists and thousands of Iraqi citizens would still be alive today. Not to mention, we would have hundreds of billions of tax dollars still in the Treasury instead of the pockets of corrupt private contractors.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News.]

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