Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Press Fails in Their Duty to Inform Us

            Editorials of the kind William F. Buckley and I. F. Stone wrote have become rare in today's news media.  In fact, investigative news has become nearly as rare, opinion having trumped both policy analysis and editorials.  While one may argue Opinion as Editorial, it wouldn't be called an Op-Ed page if they were the same.

            When the first Bailout package was pushed through Congress under the Bush Administration, the Republicans wanted few strings attached and their President urged immediate passage.  So did the nation's editorial pages.  Now that the shoe is on the other foot, the Democrats want quick action, but they want to attach strings to avoid the hapless squandering of more hundreds of billions of dollars.  Again, the editorial writers agree.  What is the value of editorial writing when the writers do not analyze but parrot the feckless Congress or Wall Street.

            Republicans in Congress are now outraged that a President would dictate salaries and other forms of compensation to private concerns who so eagerly take what the government is willing to give.  Didn't they tell the UAW to take salary and benefit reductions when considering the Auto Bailout?  Were management caps suggested at the same time for the auto industry executives? 

            Editorials across America favored union concessions, but few favoring them also advocated management salary caps.  We all know that's a "class thang" don't we, and the press is part of the ruling class—just look at salaries the talking heads earn as compared to the laboring line reporters who deliver them the news they deign to read to us.  George Will v. Paul Krugman arguing economics on a Sunday news show!  It's a testament to his egomania that Will was even on the set!

            Republicans opened Guantanamo to detainees from their Middle East campaign, and that was apparently okay with the American press, who seem rarely to understand where the story is.  Now they're just as eager to write about the positives of closing Guantanamo.  The same applies to the war in Afghanistan.

            Hasn't one editorial writer stopped to consider that problems with the cross-border Pashtuns could have been predicted by observing the problems with the Kurds, who complicated policy with Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey?  How about the fact that the Brits and Russians have both faltered in Afghanistan?

            Why is the Vietnam analogy seen as only peripheral?  Haven't we been losing and taking lives in Afghanistan for six years now, and aren't we planning to increase troop numbers significantly?  Do we think we can win the hearts and minds of the Pashtuns by killing them, even in what a "tough guy" would call relatively small numbers?  What do we want in Afghanistan, anyway?  Osama bin Laden's head on a pike, like "Chinese" Gordon's was in late-1800's Khartoum?  Can that be all we want?  Who has defined the war in any other terms?  Certainly not the press.

            Where can I read these things in America's newspapers?  Where have the Times and the Post and the Tribune and the Herald and the Sentinel, let alone the TV news outlets, been when the news has been breaking?  Der Spiegel, out of Germany, has been pretty smart, as have other print media in countries like India.  Stop telling us what we know—tell us what we need to know to fulfill our roles as informed citizens.  Who cares whether you do it in script or in pictures.  Educate and inform us.  Do your jobs, or step aside and let others lead.  Investigate, analyze, think, write, and inform!


February 10, 2009


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