If Wishing Made It So

If wishing made it so... this is probably what the news would have looked like this morning (at least for some of us):

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Instead, it looks like this:

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For more wishful thinking, click here. Fair warning though, it is more likely to cause despair than to inspire hope.

Afghanistan or Annie Leibovitz

afghannewsweekWhile reading this story on the British Labor Party's impending transition in leadership from Tony Blair to Gordon Brown, I noticed a rather curious sidebar next to the story. Apparently, since I was reading a story from Newsweek's "International Edition," the sidebar was intended to allow me to pick which regional version of the magazine I wanted to read. But in this case, it also revealed an interesting contrast between the domestic U.S. version of the magazine and the version available abroad.

The cover story in every other region is an indepth look at the post-Taliban realities in Afghanistan titled Afghanistan: Is Victory Turning to Defeat? Acknowledging the apparently different tastes of its domestice audience, the American edition features Annie Leibovitz's Amazing 'Life in Pictures', a feature on Leibovitz and her latest book.

There spring to mind multiple explanations for this dichotomy, each likely playing some role, more or less, in why global politics and terrorism make one cover while a celebrity photographer makes the other. I am sure that the international English-speaking Newsweek-buying audience is, on average, quite a different market from the grocery store checkout-lane audience that Newsweek targets (at least in part) here at home. There may be some political pressure in the month before an election not to run bad news about the War on Terror on the cover every single week. It may be that Afghanistan really is essentially forgotten domestically, though this weekend's visit by President Karzai and the facts of the article itself suggests a responsibility to bring this to the forefront of the debate. Whatever the reason, I would say that these four pictures are worth at least four thousand words.

NPR

nprThe bulk of my commuting time is still spent listening to the lectures offered by The Teaching Company: I just finished Ancient Greek Civilization, which was excellent, and am moving on to the 48-lecture History of Ancient Rome. But when I've finished a lecture and don't have time to start another, or am just in the mood for something different, my alternative is always the same: National Public Radio.

My taste for public radio has only recently emerged, but the seed for my devotion was planted years ago, in the classroom of John Krenkel, a social studies teacher at Park City High School and one of my best friends. I used to eat lunch with him, and eventually several other teachers and students would join us, and there would consistently be a hot debate on some topic or another. But in the quieter moments, you could here KPCW, Park City's public radio station, in the background, often playing the contemporary folk that John loves.

While the contemporary folk habit kicked in while I was in college, it has taken a few more years for me to really appreciate public radio itself (and the education it provides). But between the national programs produced by NPR and the local programs offered by Georgia Public Broadcasting, I've got a new fixation. As soon as I get a chance to fiddle in Photoshop, I'll be adding NPR and GPB to the "giving" section of my sidebar.

Breaking News.... in England?

I said it after Justice O'Connor's retirement and I'll say it again. I think it is very strange that individual Supreme Court retirements/nominations make headline news at the BBC. I'm quite sure virtually no American can name a single Law Lord (neither could I until I took a class with Alan Ryan):

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UPDATE, Via Brett, I see that there have been efforts made to educate the world about the Law Lords. For what it's worth, Lord Hoffmann is my favorite.

Biased Cutting

fnc_logo.gifI gather that it is not at all unusual for publications to edit some of the stories they get from wire services. And insofar as this is done for space, efficiency, or any other relatively neutral reason, it is probably entirely unnewsworthy. But this effort by FOXNews is just so transparently biased that it is silly. They have cut several paragraphs out of the middle of the story on this year's presidential debates, thus rendering later lines nonsensical:

Presidential debates are traditionally preceded by delicate negotiations and attempts by both campaigns to manage expectations. By accepting the commission's recommendation, Kerry has opened the bidding for this year's debates.

Bush's staff could not be reached immediately.

[CUT]

Cahiment [sic] continues another debate tradition: campaign aides setting the bar high for their opponents.

So not only does this last line have an egregious typo, it is entirely unsupported by the story (which is how I noticed something was wrong). That's because the statement in question was cut. The cut paragraphs look like this:

Cahill accused the Bush campaign of waiting until the last minute to agree to three presidential debates in 2000, which she said was a tactic designed to �lower expectations about Bush�s debate skills and performance. In the end, Bush was declared the winner of each of the three debates against Vice President Al Gore.�

There was no formal winner declared after the 2000 debates, though most strategists from both parties believe Gore hurt his prospects.

Cahill�s statement continues another debate tradition: campaign aides setting the bar high for their opponents.

Thus the reference to "Cahill's statement" rather than "Cahiment"... and thus the blatant attempt by FOXNews to ensure that President Bush is able to repeat his low-expectations effort without being caught playing the same card twice.

What?

I read it twice and can not figure it out. Please excuse my language, but what the fuck is Frank Rich talking about?

The extraordinary popularity of [Spiderman] on the Fourth of July weekend might give partisans on both sides of this year's political race pause. As a man locked in a war against terror, Peter Parker could not be further removed from the hubristic bravura of Mr. Bush and his own cinematic model, the Tom Cruise of "Top Gun." There's nothing triumphalist about Spider-Man; he would never declare "Mission Accomplished" after a passing victory, and his very creed is antithetical to the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war. But neither is he a stand-in for John Kerry. Whatever inner equivocation he suffers over his role as a superhero, he stops playing Hamlet when he has a decision to make. Nor does he follow Mr. Kerry's vainglorious example of turning his own past battles into slick promotional hagiography.

For God's sake. It's Spiderman! Maybe, just maybe, it has absolutely nothing to teach us about this year's election. Goddamn columnists.

TV News v. Entertainment

I do not watch a lot of television, but I have to side with the critics who charge that Dateline NBC "may have besmirched its reputation with its series of shows about the network's entertainment fare."

I come at it from a perspective rather hostile to the entertainment side of television, so it should not be surprising that I find the blurring of news and entertainment to be regrettable. But I am not the only one:

"The 'Dateline' brand is cheapened every time it's prostituted to shill for other NBC shows, and the last thing anyone at the network should want is to drag down the reputation of NBC News," wrote columnist Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Sun-Times.

What's disappointing is that each hour represents less time that NBC News could be digging into the fragile state of the world, said Marquette University professor Philip Seib, author of "Beyond the Front Lines: How the News Media Cover a World Shaped by War."

Of course, it is hard to place the blame entirely on the network when it is the public at large which is clamoring for this pap:

"The shows we did that people have issues with, the audience certainly watched," Shapiro said. "There's no doubt about that. The ratings speak for themselves." (Each of the shows, which ran as specials, outrated the typical fare in their time slots).

Though normally I would take this as yet another sign of America's intellectual decline (and I am rather tempted to do so here), perhaps I can put a positive spin and suggest that the Internet (including blogs, but particularly journalistic websites) is filling a large portion of the pure news demand that previously might have been attracted to television news. Of course, as a non-television viewer, I have always thought (and still think) that one is better off with a good old greasy newspaper than anything on NBC. So maybe I am just being proven correct.

And I Thought Instapundit Was Hard on the Media

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Blast From the Past

I'm sorry for the lack of blogging, I'm knee-deep in putting together my ConLaw outline. I just wanted to mention how odd it was to see stories about both Rodney King and David Duke on the front page of CNN.com today. Rodney King crashes his car and the story somehow gets put between SARS and NY's billion dollar budget cuts. How long is 15 minutes supposed to last, anyway?

FOX Patriotism

The Road To Surfdom brings to our attention a rather strange offer from FOXNews:

During the Iraq War, to help families obtain video of their loved ones overseas, we will be providing footage of the "imbedded" journalists at a discounted rush price of $34.95 + S&H for rush delivery (instead of the usual $49.95 + S&H). Please use the 'IRAQ Soldier Coverage' line on the menu below.

How generous.

Mainstream Media

Compare and contrast the coverage on CNN with that of the Agonist.

Is it just me, or does the mainstream media coverage of this war seem downright pitiful?

Come Again?

Why is this the headline at the Drudge report??

OSCAR AUDIENCE OFF 23% FROM LAST YEAR; LOWEST-RATED IN HISTORY

I mean, who the hell cares? I never did like award shows (always seemed like artists just getting together to celebrate each other), but could anything be less relevant right now?

Speech Prep Live

I did think this was rather strange:

The White House is vowing a strong retaliatory response after the BBC aired live video of President Bush getting his hair coiffed in the Oval Office as he squirmed in his chair and practiced on the teleprompter minutes before Wednesday night's speech announcing the launch of military operations against Saddam Hussein.

Yglesias Misquoted

Matthew Yglesias had a run-in with the creative quoting habits of the media (in this case, the Harvard Crimson). Matthew, I share your pain. The topic of my last post (ROTC and Harvard) became quite a hot topic after September 11, and I don't think the Crimson ever properly quoted the ROTC cadets they interviewed.

I'd be interested to hear whether Matthew thinks the misquoting was intentional or merely incompetent. (UPDATE: his response is in the comments).