Wednesday, March 19, 2008


A Note to the PBS NewsHour

While I no longer have to watch 24-hour newsbabble from the cable networks, I do tune in to the PBS NewsHour once in a while. It always opens with a news summary, and I found yesterday's brief coverage of Iraq quite breathtaking [RealAudio at 4:17]. Had to dash off a note this morning—

Thank you for your pro-occupation coverage of Iraq in yesterday's news summary.

It was refreshing to hear you repeat the reassurances from Iraq's foreign minister that "the danger of civil war has past," though we were left to wonder why "he warns of the danger of U.S. troops leaving too soon." As he put it himself, "I think that the consequences would be disastrous. All the gains, the achievements would evaporate." By gains and achievements, was he referring to the return to the 2005 level of violence?

It was also comforting to know that "Vice President Cheney insisted today that the U.S. would complete its mission in Iraq." We seldom have the opportunity to hear from the Bush administration on the war.

It must be very difficult for the NewsHour to find spokespeople holding different views--either among the Americans or the Iraqis. That's just as well, since they could only confuse the public.


Monday, March 17, 2008


While I was away...

I didn't mean to extend my vacation, but a little contretemps with my ISP produced the same result. I watched a great deal more cable news than is healthy, and it's simply appalling what they serve up as daily fare.

After getting through NY Governor Eliot Spitzer's resignation in the wake of the prostitute scandal, we of course had to know everything there was to know about his friend "Kristin." Perhaps as a sop to its upscale listeners, NPR even did a segment on "the upper-end market" in prostitution under the title "Sex trade economics." For most of us this is as vital as how to shop for a yacht. File it under "Life styles of the rich and horny" or "What I would do with all that money."

Then there was the matter of some old sermons by Barack Obama's now-retired pastor Jeremiah Wright in which he unashamedly told the truth about the black experience in America. Commentators on Fox News and CNN were livid because, as you know, they can't bear comments that might "disunite" us. Obama dutifully made his disavowals of Wright's remarks, but that wasn't enough for the righteous folks at Fox. They wanted to know if he would have stormed out of the church had he actually heard the remarks. Obama is going to have a hard time establishing just the right amount of "blackness" for cable news.

The country's first large bank failure, Bear Stearns, was dutifully covered as shallowly and as quickly as possible. The explanation of the Fed's intervention to save it was tossed off as "it was too large to fail." I've yet to hear anyone ask how and why we have allowed private institutions to reach the size that they are too large to fail. It certainly doesn't say much for the promise of the free market, which is a good reason, I suppose, for not asking.

Well, gotta go. Now that I'm internet-enabled, there's some really appalling news to catch up on.


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