Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Monkey Media Shines 

Busted, down on newsweak street, set up, like a bowlin’ pin. Knocked down, it get’s to wearin’ thin. They just won’t let you be, oh no.

Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News - read Fear and self-loathing in American journalism - gets right to the point with respect to the great Newsweek "tempest in a toilet bowl" scare of 2005:
Newsweek did make some mistakes. But its biggest one was retracting the story, instead of going back and building on the existing reporting from a half-dozen papers -- that there really was Koran desecration at Guantanamo, that the real damage to America's image came not from an aggressive and free press but from official misconduct.

At some point, one would like to believe, "the media" - you know who I mean (those in "the media" who still can't seem to figure out what Bunch is talking about) - would finally shake off the chains, remove the collar from around their collective necks, and run screaming from the madman who yanks on that chain. Like organ grinder monkeys, again and again and again, they dance to whatever looney tune this cynical manipulative dishonest administration cranks out. A continuous cacaphony of carefully keyed notes, tuned lies, misinformation, disinformation, propaganda, distortion and semantic hocus pocus. But, alas, no. The dancing monkey-show must go on. Because, presumably, good monkeys who bang the Right tambourine and dance on cue are rewarded with cigars and a shiny tin cup of coins to rattle and allowed to ride a tricycle around the ring with the wurlitzer king. What's a simple chained monkey to do?
Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me; Other times I can barely see. Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.

Will Newsweek's Michael Isikoff run from the leash or jump back on his trike and follow the Rove ringmaster around in circles obediently aping the official score and tooting a surrender-monkey kazoo?
Truckin’ got my chips cashed in. keep truckin’, like the do-dah man. Together, more or less in line, just keep truckin’ on.

I dunno. So far Newsweek is behaving like a good little scolded redheaded step-monkey. Sigh. But that doesn't mean there can't be a monkey uprising elsewhere. Rise up captured monkeys, rise up! Take back the organ! Smash the tin-pot money cup and cast away your nose rings. Don't be beaten back into that Dobson Cage. Chew the fingers off the Rove Nation zookeepers who bind you to a crooked hurdy gurdy and crank a crooked tune. Don't be surrender monkeys! Run amok. Run fast and run hard. Run for your lives you simple simian bastards!

Live free or die.

Thanks to Will Bunch for mention of Corrente in his post linked up top.

Update: Attention please. The monkey uprising will not be televised.

And, thanks to dr sardonicus in comments, Brian Montopoli at CJR explains why:
"The issue of how prisoners are treated at Guantanamo has not gone away. Now they want to deflect that by talking about how irresponsible Newsweek magazine was."

What's harder to explain is why reporters covering the story have swallowed this red herring. But let's try: Producers, it seems, would rather stir viewers' emotions that provide them with the truth. The story, in its oversimplified form, plays well into television news' longstanding bias towards conflict. It's Newsweek vs. the government, the liberal media vs. conservatives, and, for some, overeager advocacy journalists vs. America.

The reality is much muddier, of course, but also less likely to drive our emotions -- if viewers realize that the riots aren't necessarily Newsweek's fault, and that the desecration might actually have happened, it's harder for them to become fired up about the story. And producers fear that means lower ratings. So they keep the story simple, and they keep the story wrong. That is the reality of our journalistic environment today -- a serious examination of the truth simply isn't a priority for bottom-line oriented, unapologetic executives who would rather hook viewers via emotions than honest reports.

Read the rest of The Story of the Story Isn't the Story At All


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