The Swift Boat stuff seems to me to be a prime example of how the Internet is negetively impacting on the political process. Innuendo and annecdotal eveidence coupled with mulitple linked repetition of said evidence is perpetuating what appears to be a smear campaign. Fuck it, it doesn't just appear to be one it is one, and anyone with even half an objective mind can see that. It's tabloid plain and simple, and it becomes repeated until it becomes a truth. It's not just the Swift boat shit really. There are certain sites out there that make it their business to report story that are either deliberately politicised out of all proportion, or, are just made up in their entirety.... NewMax is a prime suspect in this.
Most of the people on this site know NewsMax, and most of them know that it is shit. True there are some people here who think that it is a wonderful site that breaks exclusive stories and is a right wing shining light in the liberal oppressed media world. To those people I say bollocks. Another of these sites is WorldNet Daily.
The other day WorldNetDaily ran the following story.
quote:Just one month after the U.N. and EU launched a furious campaign against Israel's security fence, culminating in the International Court of Justice ruling that the fence is illegal, the EU announced it's planning to build a separation fence of its own, and invited Israel to participate in the construction.
The fence is being built to separate recently added EU members Poland and Hungary from their new neighbors – Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. The EU said the fence is necessary to "prevent the free movement of migrants seeking to enter" EU territory.
Israeli companies that specialize in the construction of fences and security systems will participate in tenders to build hundreds of miles of fences along the EU's new eastern border.
"It's incredible the EU has no problem building a fence just to keep illegal immigrants out, but when the Jewish State builds a security fence as a last resort for the purpose of keeping terrorists out and saving Israeli lives, we are blasted by them and the U.N.," a spokesman for Ariel Sharon told WorldNetDaily. "Makes you think, doesn't it?"
Pretty damning wouldn't you say? It came under the headline of "EU to build wall after blasting Israel's: European hypocrisy is as rank as it is blatant"
When I saw this I was shocked. Firstly I thought to myself let's put the story in perspective. Assuming that the reporting of a "fence" is accurate let's place it in the context of the Israeli security fence (which I myself have no real opinion aside from thinking it won't really work as well is hoped). The EU has argued, rightly or wrongly, that the Israeli fence is unjust because it's route is being built outside of Israel's current border in what is pretty much internationally recognised "palestiniain territory". As I understand it the position is "build the fence on your own actual border and it's fine with us" kind of thing. Now I don;t want to get into an argument that nuaces the whole border argument, I am merely stating what the position, as I understand it, the EU is coming from in it's condemnation of Israel's fence. Placed in context with the reported story that says that the EU is planning to build a fence within it;s own territorial borders that seems to me to not be an example of hypocrisy. This is more so the case when you think about the "fence" actually being a secure border crossing between well established and internationally understood sovereign territories. Additionally, there is (aside from in Britain, and open border policy (similar to the principle of travel between US states) in the EU. That means that if you enter the EU through say Poland, you can travel all the way to Spain without crossing an actual border control and showing a passport. The concern therefore in immigration terms would be the need to ensure that illegal immigrants do not exploit the open borders within the EU by entering EU terriotry through a weak spot, and the ascension states are weak spots. When looks at calmly it seems to me that not only does the alleged hypocrisy not exist, but also the original artcile becomes tainted by an obvious political prejudice in it's purpose. However I digress slightly.
Upon reading this article I decided to search out the sources. I don't know why I did this but I did. A quick search on Google news for "EU fence" (not in quote when I searched to increase the hits), I discovered no more than about 8 stroies about this. What became apparent was that they were all in the Israeli press and a couple of right wing and openly pro-israeli "news sites". I could not find a single mention of the project on a west european news site, an english site or anything. Nor could I find it mentioned in any of the multiude of EU sites that details policiy and projects. What struck me as most odd was the lack of the story being reported in the British press. Why?
Well "immigration" and particularly illegal immigration is a big hot potato issue in the UK. Asylum seekers and immigrants from eastern european countries that border the EU are largely demonised an hated by the British press. Not a day will pass without some story in the righgt wing media about these "baby eating", "beneift cheating scum". The right wing press is forever bemoaning the fact that the eastern borders of the EU are so insecure that people wander in and then make a beeline for Britain. So, you would have thought that were a fence, spanning the entire eastern border of the EU, to be built the right wing press would be shoting from the rooftops about what a wonderful thing it was, and the left wing press would be calling it racist and so on. Yet bizarrely they wer not and are not. So I decided to email the author and ask him to source the story for me. I also suggested that I was concerned at the lack of reporting of such a story outside of Israel and particularly in the British press which would like a fence to be built. His reply was interesting.
He said that he had sourced the story imbeccably. It had first appeared in the Israeli Globe, which he referenced. He then said he confirmed it with the Israeli government and linked the Foreign Ministry that commented on it. The problem was was that the Foreign Ministry cited the Globe as it's soure. I politely asked him if he had thought of confirming it with the EU itself (as a good journalist would do), he has not replied.
Ok, so I rambled off the point a bit but back to it. The above is another prime example of a story perpetuated through the internet that appears on the face of it to be absolute nonsense. It appears that the truth is is that it was a politically motivated story designed to combat and tackle the position the EU has over the fence in Israel (that position is not in question here, whether it is right or wrong is irrelevant, the fact remains that the story is political in it's purpose).
Before the internet we just had newspapers that had small circulations. Now we have the internet lies can become truth so much quicker don't you think?
Actually, Phil--I first heard about the Swift Boats stuff on TV, and most of the better rebuttals to it I;'ve encountered through the internet. In the absence of the net, I would be inclined to take it more seriously, not less.
Most of the excitement over this stuff I have also seen on the internerd. I would imagine that the biggest effect has been on those people who get television (and see the ad) and don't watch the news or search stuff out online.
Thats good work phil. I dont see how some people...adults...can take themselves seriously as journalists when they act as a mouthpiece...I just wonder whatever happened to integrity...or maybe the only people reading their bullshit already chose their side so they dont get much, if any, criticism or peer review so they just keep on trucking...whatever...
The internet, after 9/11, has manufactured a whole lot of half informed people with very strong convictions and now they have links to 'back it up'...
It has also made the posting of an editorial or a slanted news article grounds for proper discussion...I dont like this. I dont like going into a thread and its like
'read this I thought X about it'
quote:some crap from some guy who writes for some outfit saying some things
The medium is not the message. Theres too much focus on the news, 'spin' and how the media handles its presentation...people should be discussing issues, not the reporting on issues...also, lots of people are really poor readers and are unable to seperate fact from fiction on the printed page...I notice more and more each day how truly inept some people are at simply reading for comprehension...its also quite obvious that the majority of peoples reading is done on the internet and that most couldnt tell me the last book they read(yeah Im generalizing about the masses now)...
Anyways, after 9/11(I know, I hate saying it too but its proper) youve got this renewed interest in foreign policy and world affairs...problem is theyre complex issues that take years to understand properly and even longer to solve and most people have done little to nothing to fill in the gaping holes in their knowledge on these subjects. Maybe in time this newfound interest will be fashioned into informed opinions...but I doubt it...
I was going to do a treatment on this very topic (but I got busy yelling "Chavez! Chavez!"). It was going to be "The internet as a nervous system metaphor" or some bull shiite. You soiled my topic Phil... and I will never forgive you! (Japanese throw down, not my words)
Anyways, this article was kind of interesting: http://www.esquire.com/features/art...e_reagan_1.html
It may have been the guy in the hood teetering on the stool, electrodes clamped to his genitals. Or smirking Lynndie England and her leash. Maybe it was the smarmy memos tapped out by soft-fingered lawyers itching to justify such barbarism. The grudging, lunatic retreat of the neocons from their long-standing assertion that Saddam was in cahoots with Osama didn't hurt. Even the Enron audiotapes and their celebration of craven sociopathy likely played a part. As a result of all these displays and countless smaller ones, you could feel, a couple of months back, as summer spread across the country, the ground shifting beneath your feet. Not unlike that scene in The Day After Tomorrow, then in theaters, in which the giant ice shelf splits asunder, this was more a paradigm shift than anything strictly tectonic. No cataclysmic ice age, admittedly, yet something was in the air, and people were inhaling deeply. I began to get calls from friends whose parents had always voted Republican, "but not this time." There was the staid Zbigniew Brzezinski on the staid NewsHour with Jim Lehrer sneering at the "Orwellian language" flowing out of the Pentagon. Word spread through the usual channels that old hands from the days of Bush the Elder were quietly (but not too quietly) appalled by his son's misadventure in Iraq. Suddenly, everywhere you went, a surprising number of folks seemed to have had just about enough of what the Bush administration was dishing out. A fresh age appeared on the horizon, accompanied by the sound of scales falling from people's eyes. It felt something like a demonstration of that highest of American prerogatives and the most deeply cherished American freedom: dissent.....
People were treated to a side-by-side comparison—Ronald W. Reagan versus George W. Bush—and it's no surprise who suffered for it. Misty-eyed with nostalgia, people set aside old political gripes for a few days and remembered what friend and foe always conceded to Ronald Reagan: He was damned impressive in the role of leader of the free world. A sign in the crowd, spotted during the slow roll to the Capitol rotunda, seemed to sum up the mood—a portrait of my father and the words NOW THERE WAS A PRESIDENT.
What makes Bush less of a president than Reagan? Was Reagan not tied to big buisness? Did not lies and war mongering infest his presidency? Did Reagan not have questionable allies (Osama Bin Laden, Sadaam Hussien). Did scandals not accompany his presidency? Did his administration not wreak environmental havoc, devestate labour, support human rights violations across the globe, defy congress, lie about the threat capabilty of certain nations (Nicarugaua, Grenada), incur a massive deficeit, etc etc etc... Did the press not carry these stories?
Much like the press today, the media fawned over Reagan. The issues weren't explored. The shadey details of his government were supressed. "Let's talk Star Wars!" "Let's talk human rights in Russia!" "Let's CUT SOME TAXES!!"
People could not discuss/share information in a massive way and, over the bull horn of the media, no one could hear dissent.
The internet changes all of that. The cost of distributing digital content is near zero. People networks/share information and conclusions. Material which would never have seen the light of day (Abu Grahib) leak out of control from digital plumbing.
These days the media is in damage control mode because the individual, and not the media network, is in control of the material. We can see for ourselves for once.
So yeah, I think that the internet has been good for debate, as much, if not more, then Fox News has been bad. There will never again be a Ronald Reagan, though I pray there won't be too many more G. W. Bushes.
NEW YORK, August 16, 2004 -- As more mainstream media outlets admit to failures in covering the Iraq War, a question must be asked: Are we seeing a real coming to grips by a media that helped "sell the war" to the American public? Or could the recent mea culpas be something more insidious, more like what the CIA used to call a "limited hang out?" That phrase translates as "you concede a little to hide a lot."
I am delighted to see some acknowledgement of errors and omissions on the part of media outlets that, when it really counted, become transmission belts for unsubstantiated government claims and pro-war propaganda.
It does give media critics some faith in the capacity of media outlets to acknowledge wrong doing, correct mistakes and admit they drank the White House Kool-Aid. Bear in mind that many of these same outlets were often arrogant and self-righteous at the time, impervious to war critics who they treated as lepers in denial about real threats and the need for a preemptive strike.
It has taken a long time for these admissions to surface, alas, well after they can do any good in terms of influencing policy.
Playing Politics with the Facts
In fact, some prominent politicians including a presidential candidate is saying in effect, that none of this matters, that, knowing what they know, they would still have supported the war even if all of its rationalizations were invented and/or deliberately deceptive.
To this day, they won't let the facts get in the way of a politically popular opinion.
That may be because the emerging media debate remains narrowly focused, avoiding deeper questions about the media's performance.
Last week when I was asked to appear on a national TV news program as part of a panel on these issues, I was told that we would talking about the pre-war coverage of WMDs. That call came, predictably, after The Washington Post carried a story second-guessing its coverage focusing entirely on the run-up to the war. Once again TV producers were following a newspaper's lead
Post Media critic Howard Kurtz reported that a story in his paper challenging the evidence on Iraq's weapon stockpiles, "ran into stiff resistance from the paper's editors." The Post's Managing Editor Bob Woodward, author of two insider books largely positive about President Bush, admitted, "We did our job but we didn't do enough, and I blame myself mightily for not pushing harder."
In his story, Kurtz intimated that The Post's performance was understandable since its chief competitor, The New York Times, was just as bad. He took a subtle swipe at The Times, noting, "The New York Times ran an editor's note last month saying the paper's aggressive reporting on WMDs was 'not as rigorous as it should have been' and overplayed stories with 'dire claims about Iraq,' adding: 'Editors at several levels who should have been challenging reporters and pressing for more skepticism were perhaps too intent on rushing scoops into the paper.'"
In an apparent response, The Times last week cast a skeptical ours-was-better-than-yours eye on The Post expose, noting: "For all of its contrition, Mr. Kurtz's article does not represent an official statement on behalf of The Post. In an interview yesterday, Steve Coll, the paper's managing editor, said that the idea for the article had been Mr. Kurtz's, and that he and [Executive Editor Leonard] Downie had recused themselves from editing it. 'We did not make a determination from our offices that we needed to commission an investigation into these issues,' Mr. Coll said."
There you have it, no investigation needed. None!
The Real Problem at The Post and The Times
To contrast his paper's efforts, Jacques Steinberg of The Times explained that The New York Times published a 1,220-word article in which the newspaper's editors acknowledged that in the run-up to war they had not been skeptical enough about articles that depended "at least in part on information from a circle of Iraqi informants, defectors and exiles bent on 'regime change' in Iraq whose credibility has come under increasing public debate."
So here we have The Times using its news columns to put down The Post. But both papers and most of the TV coverage are guilty of far more than what has so been conceded. Complicity and collusion are two words that come to mind. As the conscience of the Senate Robert Byrd put it on CNN last week, "The media fell for the war hook, line and sinker."
A real investigation of the media role would probe deeper questions not only about the run-up to the war but the ongoing coverage up to the present day.
Is the conflict in Iraq being covered well? What's missing and why?
Why the War?
Why did we stage a pre-emptive war in the first place? What was the real agenda? And why aren't the media investigating this? On August l0, former war commander General Tommy Franks -- in a talk only reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and not picked up by major media -- said:
"The reason we could not afford to give up time is because we wanted the water infrastructure to remain in place," Franks said. "We wanted the oil infrastructure in Iraq to remain in place. We did not want to subject ourselves and Israel to the potential consequence of a long-range missile being fired into Tel Aviv or Jerusalem."
How much media time and energy was spent investigating the Israeli connection to the war? How much time on military preparedness or the "plan" that got us into Baghdad quickly and then stirred a hornet's nest of resistance? How many of our media experts, pundits, experts, prognosticators and Mensa Men prepared us for what was to happen next?
To Whom Go the Spoils?
What about the real conduct of the US military operations, the less than "pinpoint" bombing that took out the infrastructure including electricity, the widespread civilian casualties, the use of cluster bombs, napalm like fire bombs, and weapons hardened with radioactive depleted uranium? What about the privatization of the war -- who is getting what and why?
What Are the Media Ignoring?
Third, what about systematic war crimes and human rights abuses -- the atrocities in Abu Ghraib prison were known as early as June 2003 but only exposed in April 2004. How could we justify the bombing of civilians in Falujah and, just last week, in Najaf? How is it that outlets in other countries can report on Iraqi protests against US military practices in Iraq and ours cannot? Why did Mr. Murdoch's newspaper "The Australian" call U.S. military operations in Najaf a "slaughter" while our media focused on a raid on a dissident cleric's home.
In short, most of our media, with the exception, perhaps, of excellent reporting by Knight Ridder and some exemplary dissenting journalists, still largely support the war including the government's rationalizations and narrative. ("Support" can be measured in what is covered and what is not, what experts we hear from and which we do not, and how many thoughtful Iraqis themselves make it into our news.)
These larger media failures have still not been admitted, much less debated. That's why the term "weapons of mass deception" still applies to a media that are at war with their own uncomfortable truths.
When you have such stories making their rounds online they're faced with an active cynicism. The experience is interactive, that is, you have thousands of people fact-checking. With a static medium, such as television or a newspaper, fact-corrections are rarely prominently displayed even remotely near the original story. Online those corrections become the story.