February 03, 2005

News or Not?

I had a considerably fun time chortling over the "hostage" action figure named Cody. It really was, and still is, a good laugh.

But, it also got me thinking about what news organizations believe passes as news.

I mean, here we have a mass media that is typically almost allergic when it comes to the Internet and blogs, saying that it's difficult to fact-check stuff from the Web. Yet, that same mass media acts like a starving dog under a buffet table when it comes to postings on militant Islamic fundamentalist Web sites.

The whole hostaged doll thing speaks volumes about a media that has unwittingly become a compliant gear in the Islamic militant PR machine. There's no way the likes of CNN would think that the musings of a pro-KKK Web site would qualify as news. No, it would be shrugged off as crazy fringe lunacy.

And, I'm not saying that there isn't actual news coming from those Islamic Fundamentalist sites. The beheading of Nick Berg, after all, was widely reported, although I still wonder if the disgustingly cruel beheading of a man really should qualify as news.

Still, I don't think it's particularly healthy for the mass media, and those it serves, that the media is so quick to run with the postings of militant lunatics.

Posted by Ryan at February 3, 2005 02:05 PM

Ryan, be honest: you and Mitch are totally sleeping together, aren't you?

Posted by: Joshua at February 3, 2005 02:49 PM

Just a little fondling under the sheets.

But, why? Did he post something similar? I must run and check.

And, also, do you disagree with this post? I'm sure you do; you disagree with everything. But, I'm interested to hear your take.

Posted by: Ryan at February 3, 2005 02:51 PM

I don't see anything over at Mitch's site about this? You just doing a little oratory from your posterior orifice?

Posted by: Ryan at February 3, 2005 02:54 PM

And, also, do you disagree with this post?

As is often the case with your posts, it's less that I disagree with the substance (though that happens often enough) then that I disagree with the assumptions built into your perspective.

One of the first things I learned about history—and this is something I learned before high school—is that no position can be written off as illogical for its own sake. The history of the United States is full of radical opinions that were accepted as undisputed truth. Ditto the Middle East, Europe, etc. In 2005 we can look at witch trials and go, "Ooh, whackiness." In 1600, it was something people believed in: grown-up people with the same brain chemistry as you and me believed in it.

My point in mentioning that is that you seem to take the philosophical irrelevance of radical Islam and Middle Eastern terrorism as givens. It's "crazy fringe lunacy". You compare them to the KKK; but you know what the difference between the KKK and Islamic fundamentalism is? Millions of people believe in Islamic fundamentalism. And not because they're brain damaged or ignorant: it speaks to their cultural experience in much the same way that "Fuck the Police" speaks to the inner city African American experience: getting radically fucked around leads to radical counter-cultural movements.

All through history, the main stream has marginalized the radical by calling it crazy. And the main stream has been misdirected over and over again: those crazy round-earthers, those crazy Darwinists, those crazy brothers out there in that field trying to build an airplane. If God had meant us to fly he would have given us wings.

I look at this action figure thing, I see the initial release being about news organizations trying to scoop one another, and the dissemination being about a destructive system of information syndication; too many newspapers don't even have international correspondents. They just license and re-print the agency feeds.

You look at it, you see news organizations getting punked by Islamic fundamentalism. And why should the news organizations know better? Because Islamic fundamentalists are ca-razy. Crazy fringe lunacy.

That baseline assumption—that there's some objective TRUTH, and that the TRUTH is on your side—is something you and Mitch and Michele all have in common.

For my part, I recognize that Islamic fundamentalism is a threat to me, and I want to deal with it for that reason. But I don't choose to believe that the basic precepts of my own culture are any more valid. I don't need to believe that in order to defend myself.

Every time I bring this up with any of you guys, I get this whole line of crap about how I'm all PC and touchy-sensitive and want to give the terrorists a hug and shit. What I want to do is reduce the threat to rational levels and I believe that making assumptions about the relative sanity of the players impairs one's ability to evaluate the threat rationally or optimize one's response to the threat.

Posted by: Joshua at February 3, 2005 04:27 PM

Joshua, I'm well aware that there are millions of fundamentalist Muslims out there. I'm fine with that. Whatever. It's the militant and terrorist fringe of Islamic Fundamentalism that is, for all intents and purposes, ca-razy. You can chalk it up to cultural differences if you want, but detonating a mentally handicapped boy at a polling station strikes me as an act of LUNACY, and MOST non-militant Fundamentalist Muslims are probably sufficiently horrified by acts like that.

Okay, so, now, that lunatic fringe element, the ones promised 72 virgins in heaven for blowing themselves up in a crowded market, they get their message out via amateurish Web pages. They brag when a beheading occurs. They revel in it. They're like sadistic versions of Rambling Rhodes, without the Dirty Mushroom. And the media takes them seriously. The media actively troll those sites for news items, as if those sites even remotely have their finger on the true pulse of Islamic Fundamentalism. Face it, such sites should be given about as much media exposure as a S&M porn site, yet the media dutifully continues to unwittingly spread the terrorist message to a world audience. Seriously, is it too much to ask that the media kindly pull back from giving terrorists so much free fucking advertising? Jeez.

The doll kidnapping was pretty fucking funny though, so there's that.

Posted by: Ryan at February 3, 2005 04:46 PM

Its the Rather-effect in action. The dogged pursuit of the scoop is making some members of the press lose their ability sniff bullshit.

And then there's the fake members of the press working in the White House Press Corps issue.

Funny, I haven't noticed you blogging about Jeff Gannon yet. Especially in light of your many posts about Rathergate and how terrible that was.

By the way, I do appreciate the conversation about Dean over on IP. I think you're wrong but that's cool, I still love ya, you big smoking hunka hunka. And I thought Chinless Joe was pretty funny on Letterman or the Daily Show when I saw him, doesn't mean I have any respect for him though.

Posted by: Johnny Huh? at February 3, 2005 04:57 PM

The problem with your analogy - as with most analogies - is that it really isn't accurate.

Remember in the mid-90s when the "militia movement" was considered a threat? Their ideas got a lot of press. The Unabomber got his manifesto published.


Because of the whole "if it bleeds, it leads" thing. If the KKK blew up a couple federal building, killed lots of cops, soldiers, and mercenaries you can damn well bet that the MSM would be reporting on any news that the Klan had kidnapped a U.S. soldier.

Hell, they'll waste time showing me car crashes in Wisconsin if there are no car crashes here. You expect standards or integrity from these people?

Ryan, I want to ask you something seriously. Do you really not realize what a whiny fucking crybaby you sound like every time you bitch that the media is either covering something too much (Islamists), not covering something enough (swiftvets accusations about Kerry and Cambodia), or writing headlines that you would have written diferently (Saddam calls Bush a criminal).

Do you realize its made about a billion times worse by the fact that you are so fucking obviously biased (evidenced by selective outrage and selective memory, as well as the different standards applied to conservative vs. liberal writers) yet you try to pretend you are not, and you hide behind some phony-baloney "professional cred" because you work at what you yourself described as a "marketing arm of IBM."

I mean, if you want to say you disagree with something, say you disagree with it. If you want to pretend to be an unbiased media critic upset about the damage done to your profession... well you're not fooling anyone.

Or, I should say, you're not fooling us. My questions is whether or not you are fooling yourself.


By the way, if you want me to go back and find all the instances where you *have* said those things, I will. So spare me the "that's not what I said here" evasion you so often like to employ.

And while you're at it, shove "Gobble Gobble Gobble" up your dirty mushroom. As far as I'm concerned "Gobble Gobble Gobble" is an admission of defeat.

Posted by: David Grenier at February 4, 2005 08:56 AM

David, little harsh brother? Keep in mind we'll all visitors in Ryan's Carnival of Lunacy.

While I would agree with you as to Ryan being a critical person keep in mind this is his space for that. I believe (could be wrong and I'm sure he'll correct me if I am) it stems from his close involvement with the system (i.e. media and journalism). I work in music production, and truth be told I can and do criticise every piece of music I listen to. The basis of Ryan's complaint in this case is valid. There have been nummerous other f*ckups by the media when they have relied on the militant Fundamentalists as an information source. Personally I believe it stems from media and news outlets becoming so engrossed with finding information to share instead of scrutinizing available information.

That being said, you've been fairly quiet on the issue of governmental "commercials" with paid media members reporting paid advertisment as fact and news. I'd love to hear you rant on about that.

Posted by: e. at February 7, 2005 10:20 AM

e., I have, actually, opined about columnists and what not getting paid by the White House to promote their programs. I do think it's wrong, and I'm all for disclosure in such cases. But, it's hardly unique to this administration. Also, there is, in my mind, a slight difference when it comes to conservative mouthpieces who are known and understood to be conservative mouthpieces, taking payouts to promote a message and, say, an "unbiased" news source churning out a piece of hitman journalism during an election cycle.

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