_


  • Marccooper5_1

Back To Home Page

« Flash: Pinochet Indicted on Operation Condor Crimes | Main | Sticking With The Gary Webb Story »

Monday, December 13, 2004

Comments

jim hitchcock

It's funny you mention that...happened to turn on the tube after reading your Pinochet column earlier. Got maybe thiry seconds on Pinochet...then CNN went directly to a ten minute analysis on, guess what, something really important, S.P. Puts the Wolf Blitzer
commercial into context, doesn't it?

steve

I watched it for about 45 minutes, the best spectacle of the year, no doubt. makes for a lot more interesting news than pictures of soldiers and civilians with torn out limbs, chopped up faces, early deaths in mass numbers, hunger,...in Iraq.
I stated to my class the other day (just one more instance of persecution that the rightwing can cite in exhibit # 1==the man uses The Spitting Image by Lembcke--need we say more??) "Ya see, Scott Peterson is guilty, the crowd roars, hip hip hooray, American democracy at work!! There is justice in this most important of cases!!"

jim hitchcock

Well, I guess it a matter of consuming your drug of choice, Steve...CableNewsBlather or...and on that note, I'm heading out to try my first pisco sour (thanks to Randy for broadening my horizons!).

Michael Turner

Too bad about Webb. I don't know about the quality of his reporting on the CIA-Contra-cocaine connection, but there's nothing fundamentally incredible about this sort of thing. One of the better books on the subject of CIA complicity in the drug trade during the Cold War is Alfred McCoy's The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia. In the most recent edition (which I haven't read), McCoy makes the case that U.S tolerance of the Afghanistan heroin trade gave the Taliban their head, and helped create the conditions that made Afghanistan a safe haven for Al Qaeda.

I haven't followed the Scott Petersen case closely, except to note that the case against him appeared to be seriously circumstantial. I suspect he's going to be put to death not for being a murderer, but simply for being an asshole, about which there seems to be little reasonable doubt. However, being an asshole is not a crime, much less a capital crime. Yeah, he *probably* killed his wife, but "probably" isn't enough, folks.

If it bleeds it leads ... unless the blood is being shed by people Americans don't care much about, half a world away. Scott Petersen's wife's blood was *quality* blood. And Scott's blood will be quality blood too. Hapless villages slaughtered by drug-funded militias - whether left, right, nationalistic, islamofascist, whatever - well, that's just *quantity* blood. Shrug. Page 10. At best.

steve

"Yeah, he *probably* killed his wife, but "probably" isn't enough, folks."

uhm, yes it is, unless you're super duper rich. now,that is the interesting thing here, a guy who could afford to pay for a superstar lawyer beats the odds and makes history!!

jim hitchcock

Uh oh, Marc...see what you have (unintentionally) wrought...?

John Moore (Useful Fools)

Sigh. First the OT. Peterson had a top-class lawyer. If you make enough headlines, a top notch lawyer will do it for free for the publicity. I think the guy is guilty as sin. There was a lot of evidence. Contrary to those who watch TV crime shows, juries rarely have a clearcut provable to the level of a math proof set of information. Besides, he's an asshole - that should be enough to fry him (just kidding).

Regarding the serious topic.

Our culture is a reflection of human nature. In the US as in many countries, there is a wide variety of choices in most areas of culture and information. But I think a very large number of Americans during the day watch TV for entertainment. The European TV I've watched when living there was no better (although their reality game shows were at least a decade ahead of ours).

The big media trials are a way to do soap operas on the cheap. They are daytime "reality shows" with, well, real reality. And they are what many people want to see.

It is also true that most (by which I mean enduring and influential) great novels and plays were written for the masses. Shakespeare was writing the pulp fiction of his day. It's how he made his money.

I'm not telling you anything you don't know... just a context.

Now, let's consider coverage of the suicide of an investigative reporter. With all respect, how is this newsworthy? Obviously it's important to his friends and family.

But does it teach us anything we didn't know (except about this one person)? Does it have any major impact on our world?

Maybe there are things about him I don't know that would cause the answers to be yes, but I doubt it. My family doctor died two weeks ago. He was a compassionate and skilled man who gave away his services to those who couldn't afford it. Thousands of people have directly benefitted from his services, and many of us grieve. Does that earn him more than a normal obit?

So I guess its up to you to make this guy important, or different, or special, or his life a lesson or parable, or whatever. Because otherwise, sadly, he is "merely" a statistic and merely an obit. But you are a pro, and you care, so I would guess you can do him justice.

Good luck and please accept my condolences.

steve

"The European TV I've watched when living there was no better (although their reality game shows were at least a decade ahead of ours)."

Yes, but the Euros tend at least to differentiate news from entertainment, if for no other reason than news has not come to be the near sole monopoly of corporations that wish to merge news and entertainment.
Thus we are entertained more during our news, but we also tend to not know basic facts, like, say, 'the US occupation of Iraq has not found any weapons of mass destruction'...

Woody

Marc, from your posts it is clear that you're understandably upset about the death and the hell that some caused Webb. My advice on the obituary...keep to the high road and don't lower yourself to the level of those who hurt him.

It's okay to vent your anger, but after you write that initial version then tear it up. I don't know the words. I'm just an accountant. But, I'm sure you can come up with something that demonstrates class and points out Webb's finer qualities--and, those may go far beyond work and include the family that he raised and the positive influence he had on others. It may be about his sincerity or his faith or his commitment to his beliefs. Maybe...about how he endured many years of hardship that weighed on him like only someone who has lived his life could really know, but he no longer has that pain.

Anyway, let Webb be remembered with dignity, as displayed by the way you remember him.

rosedog

Marc... Thank you for bringing all this up. I hadn't really apprehended the full story on Webb until now.

(By the way, is it just me, or is the LA Times obit of Webb startlingly vicious and petty?)

Best of luck as you wrestle with words tonight. For what it’s worth, I disagree with Woody on this. Go ahead and be righteously angry. The more I read about Webb’s last few years, the sadder and angrier I become.

Here's a quote from Webb that appeared in "Into the Buzzsaw," a book profiling 18 journalists who found themselves discredited or censored (Hat tip to Daily Kos):

“If we had met five years ago, you wouldn't have found a more staunch defender of the newspaper industry than me ... I was winning awards, getting raises, lecturing college classes, appearing on TV shows, and judging journalism contests. So how could I possibly agree with people like Noam Chomsky and Ben Bagdikian, who were claiming the system didn't work, that it was steered by powerful special interests and corporations, and existed to protect the power elite?

"And then I wrote some stories that made me realize how sadly misplaced my bliss had been. The reason I'd enjoyed such smooth sailing for so long hadn't been, as I'd assumed, because I was careful and diligent and good at my job ... The truth was that, in all those years, I hadn't written anything important enough to suppress."

Rest in Peace, Gary Webb.

Cridland

> How stupid of a culture can we create?

We're not "creating culture," are we? We're just doing our jobs.

> How shameless and empty are these supposed
> "news" outlets?

Shame is not a force at work in those people's hearts. That's not a slam, it's a fact.

I threw out my TV after the riots. You should consider doing this too, especially since the web is such a good source for news. A lot of the repellent forces at work in television, from Rather to O'Reilly to the entire commercial enterprise of it, simply cease to exist when you don't pay attention to them.

rosedog

"I threw out my TV after the riots. You should consider doing this too,"

What????!!!! And miss the season premier of "24"????!!!

Okay, I admit it: you're a stronger, better, person than I am, Cridland. Although, in all seriousness, I think it was worth keeping the stupid, commercial box just to see Mike Nichols' production of "Angels in America."

Most of the cable news programs, however, might actually cause cancer. I have no proof of this, of course, but I wouldn't entirely rule it out.

steve

Every Friday night, Bill Moyers. The TV is worth it.
And there are dozens of great programs on PBS that convince me that the Creationists are right, the world is only about 4400 years old!
And of course, there is Maizy Mouse, which my son thinks is what the world is all about . He might be right.

jim hitchcock

In reverse order: RoseDog, for sure it causes brain rot, whether that correlates to btain cancer I don't know, but the damamge would be thw aame.
Cridland: I, for the most part find T.V. as abhorrent and worthless as you, but while we can minimize the effect it has on us, the role it plays in the thinking of those around us still does impact us enormously.
Woody: I guess it boils down to whether an obit is meant as a testament to be read by people whose lives were never personally touched by the person it was written for, or whether it is just a statement as to how the atributers life was affected by the person it was written for.
Steve: Forget about trying to copmpare news here and news there.
It's a meaningless argument. It all boils down to the fact that to be even reasonably informed, you have to work at it...and that is just too hign a price to pay for too many. Nothing you can do or say will change that.
John: While I've not doubt we have ideological differences, it doesn't bother me at all that we agree on certain fundamental truths. What Webb meant to Marc, or what your doc to meant to those he treated, can never be passed on to the masses, but so what. They made a difference to you, and that's got to be good enough.

Cridland

> Okay, I admit it:

Look, I'm not sitting at home reading Shakespeare, but it's amazing how much annoyance people put up with from television. AS IF THERE WERE NO CHOICE. As if when asked they could convincingly --and not defensively-- list three good things it brings into their life. But they never can.

So cut it loose!

jim hitchcock

Steve: the creationists are right? Maybe, if only to those who major in Creation Science and minor in oxymoronics.

Michael Turner

Jim Hitchcock writes: "It all boils down to the fact that to be even reasonably informed, you have to work at it...and that is just too hign a price to pay for too many. Nothing you can do or say will change that."

At Thanksgiving, I listened in to a conversation in which one friend remarked to another that all - yes, ALL - 15,000 employees of the United Nations had delivered a vote of no confidence in Kofi Annan, but, hey, we're not hearing about it in the news, and that just goes to show you that ...

OK. Enough. I made a mental note to check on this story.

And when I did, just today, I found out that *some* U.N. employees, in response to the exoneration/pardon/dismissal (take your pick - I read all three) of charges of sexual harassment against a high level U.N. official (with the most damning "evidence" being an *unsigned* letter), had drafted (but not finalized) a resolution criticizing the decision and voicing concerns about high level officials in the U.N. - specifically leaving Annan unnamed, but with the option of mentioning him - and that the U.N. staff union council had considered bringing it to a vote, but finally decided against it, opting instead to voice its concerns about the decision.

Now, it took some real looking around to find out all these details. Some news sources even reported the story as a simple vote of no confidence. Other spoke of the vote being impending, but offered no followup.

I'm back in Japan now, but one of my last images of the U.S. comes from sitting in a snack bar at Honolulu airport, watching the scrolling newsfeed on Fox News, and counting the typos. If your journalists can hardly spell, what kind of fact-checking can you expect from them?

DennisThePeasant

How stupid of a culture can we create? How shameless and empty are these supposed "news" outlets?

Hmmm....

Call me a picker of nits, but I would note that you spend your time writing books about Las Vegas as well as writing about "news". And while I'm sure that you Vegas tome reads well, and your tome's insights into "culture" match your insights into "news" here and at The Nation, let's not lose sight of the fact you could have taken the time to wrestle with weightier matters. If you can make a buck writing about shameless and empty culture, more power to you...but understand that the fact that you are biting the hand that feeds you is not lost on us.

Cridland

> let's not lose sight of the fact you could
> have taken the time to wrestle with
> weightier matters.

Don't be a priss! That's not even worthy as nitpicking. What makes you think that Las Vegas is not a weighty matter?

There's a certain class of irritant, plain even to Reagan, who spends life worrying that someone, somewhere out there, is having more fun than they are. This irritant had his/her hand on his/her hip in high school, one knee flexed, chin jutted, mewling: "Guyyyyyyyys, this is SERIOUS!" Shameless indeed.

We *admire* Cooper because although he's an indisputably credentialed lefty, he doesn't let others do his thinkin' for him. In particular, he doesn't worry too much about whether his "insights match."

Cridland

> let's not lose sight of the fact you could
> have taken the time to wrestle with
> weightier matters.

Don't be a priss! That's not even worthy as nitpicking. What makes you think that Las Vegas is not a weighty matter?

There's a certain class of irritant, plain even to Reagan, who spends life worrying that someone, somewhere out there, is having more fun than they are. This irritant had his/her hand on his/her hip in high school, one knee flexed, chin jutted, mewling: "Guyyyyyyyys, this is SERIOUS!" Shameless indeed.

We *admire* Cooper because although he's an indisputably credentialed lefty, he doesn't let others do his thinkin' for him. In particular, he doesn't worry too much about whether his "insights match."

Hitchcock:

> the role it plays in the thinking of those
> around us still does impact us enormously.

Agreed, but I think there's a particular hazard in worrying about how the world presents itself to third parties. It's human nature to acquire a nugget of news, and then wonder how the mob (aka the Little People) will interpret things.

Nonetheless -

> to be even reasonably informed, you have to
> work at it...and that is just too hign a price
> to pay for too many.

Exactly.

Listen, I want Marc to throw out his teevee because it seems to be getting on his nerves. We need not worry that he'll fail to stay informed. And as the markets for cable chatter continue to gel, we should not expect that Fox/MSNBC/CNN are going to improve.

Hitchcock:

> the role it plays in the thinking of those
> around us still does impact us enormously.

Agreed, but I think there's a particular hazard in worrying about how the world presents itself to third parties. It's human nature to acquire a nugget of news, and then wonder how the mob (aka the Little People) will interpret things.

Nonetheless -

> to be even reasonably informed, you have to
> work at it...and that is just too hign a price
> to pay for too many.

Exactly.

Listen, I want Marc to throw out his teevee because it seems to be getting on his nerves. We need not worry that he'll fail to stay informed. And as the markets for cable chatter continue to gel, we should not expect that Fox/MSNBC/CNN are going to improve.

Cridland

Sorry about the doubles, can't explain it.

Cridland

Sorry about the doubles, can't explain it.

rosedog wrote: "...I disagree with Woody on this. Go ahead and be righteously angry."

Marc has certainly finished with the notice, and I'm curious how it came out. My feelings, which may not be the same as his, are that obituaries are not places to make "statements." Save those for the editorial page. The last published remembrance about a person should be something nice for the family and without controversy. However, I know the urge to do otherwise is overwhelming.

The comments to this entry are closed.