Monday, March 5, 2007

Rant! Hit pieces that suggest that US forces don't show restraint.

Here is the perfect example of the GROSS and OBVIOUS media bias against the US.

Recently the US was attacked by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. They were simultaneously attacked by small arms fire. (standard guerrilla ambush) The Americans returned fire at anything that looked suspicious and many civilians were killed. None of this is in dispute.

What drives me NUTS is that the only reason the incident receives anything above the standard mention is that the US killed civilians. The slant and angle of the stories (story is such a good word for these pieces) suggests that the US doesn't use restraint. WTF! I am sorry that civilians get killed. If it were my mother or brother that was killed I would be pissed as well at the US. But do you know who would have the lion's share of my anger....the suicide attackers. But no. Can't say anything bad about those that purposefully engage US forces in crowded places so that as many civilians get killed as possible. No. We can't do a full expose on that phenomenon. Can't talk about the remarkable restraint the US military shows on a daily basis. If the US wanted to we could cut the number of our dead in half or more by being less discriminant in our work. But we don't. We risk our soldiers lives so that civilians are protected. Certainly not targeted. We can however focus on "news worthy" events that impassion an audience that is not aware of the fact that this story as told is void of the needed context and perspective. The result of which is biased public debate about important issues.

Here are some interesting stories I would like to see presented in depth.


US invasion brings women's rights back to Afghanistan

US invasion brings education back to Afghanistan

US invasion brings music back to Afghanistan

Afghanistani people stop trying to undermine their own freedom. (wishful thinking)

US forces' job hard enough without being undermined by the media.

International media decides to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem, report on successes for once.

We are all aware that the media gives us what we want. Not what we need. We do not need to hear that a truck caught fire on the interstate. We want to hear that. Cause if it were in perspective. The report would say that millions of trucks made it home today. One didn't. The media's bias for reporting the trivial as news infuriates me. Trivia does not equal news.

You know what else is trivial by comparison...the successes reported from Iraq and Afghanistan. They are not trivial in number...only by comparison in number reported. Sad.
The picture painted by the media has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Where did this unrealistic deadline of 3,4,5 years come from? Who in their right mind thinks that Iraq or Afghanistan could ever be much further along than they are now in terms of democracy, freedom and economy? What precedent is there to suggest otherwise. Please let me know. In fact, the precedent is that this is the work of decades. Not years. That is the investment that must be made.

This is NOT to say things have gone well in Iraq. Or that things couldn't be improved in Afghanistan. Far from it. This is about viewing things from the proper perspective. If you are the media...providing the proper perspective. Which it has failed at miserably.

Please tell me you see the contradiction in advocating intervention in Darfur and denying it in Iraq or Afghanistan. The scholarly argument is that countries progress on their own time. Iraq would have eventually found democracy on its own. That is bullshit and is intellectually dishonest. First is suggests that Iraq evolves on it own in a vacuum. Not the case for any of us. The world has never been more connected and in the business of its neighbors. What is more likely is that without pressure of one kind or another (read intervention) countries that are not liberal in the conduct of their economies and governance have very little incentive to change. We are talking about an intervention being the work of decades compared to "lets wait and see" being the work of generations.

Where is this perspective in our darling media? Does this perspective not fit into a 24 hour news cycle? Can't encapsulate this in a sound bite? Can't quite squeeze it in before the commercial? Perhaps this kind of perspective requires too many words and doesn't fit the cookie cutter mold of an online or printed piece?

Or perhaps the media just gives us what we want. The "highlights" or the "basics". When what we need is in depth analysis of the context and perspective. Media by nature plays to the masses. It needs to play to those that want the context and perspective. Perhaps thereby lifting the standard of the masses with it? Who pays for that? Advertisers play to the masses. That is just good business. I don't think enough Advertisers will pay money if the average Joe is turning the channel because he is bored with the context and perspective. Joe just wanted the highlights before dinner not the reasons behind the attacks and the back story that spans decades.

If the media is going to be the fourth estate it needs to be included in the checks and balances system. Who checks the media? Who balances it? The answer is finally here. It is imperfect and raw...but it is slowly refining itself. It is the new media. The problem is that this is still a VERY NEW media. The New Media does not yet reach a critical mass of people. It also is without editorial restraint. That on the one hand is a good thing (relieves institutional bias) and is also a bad thing (promotes personal bias). Luckily no one bias is in charge. As access to information penetrates new and "affected" areas we hopefully will see a change in the standard coercive dialog, that in my opinion is woefully misreported and even instigated by the legacy media, to a more attractive dialog that is not constrained by news cycles or column length.

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