Early a.m. radio blog from the doughnut shop. You have to hand it to NPR and the BBC. Biased they may be, but they are also superb reporting organizations.
This morning, about 4:00 a.m. Eastern time (an hour ago as I write), the BBC ran a long, uninterrupted interview with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. One delicious exchange occurred. After eliciting a highly satisfying put-down of the United States and George Bush from Chavez ("He has emotional problems. We need a new American President..."), the BBC interviewer found his next question blocked by an insistent statement from Chavez (from memory):
Chavez: I am friends with one U.S. representative.
It took ABC Radio's Martha Raddatz only two sentences to report the vote on the Iraqi constitution. In the first, Raddatz allowed as how the referendum probably passed. In the second, Raddatz said (my memory),
"It cannot be denied, however, that thousands and thousands of Sunnis will be living under an Iraqi government they did not want."
Yes, Martha, in elections, that's the way it works. One side wins and one side loses.
Hurricane Katrina gave New Orleans a head fake on Monday, then slammed a right hook into Mississippi instead. But just as the Garden City thought it had gotten through the worst, the storm-created floods began -- 24 hours later. That day-long gap accounts for most of the bitter griping about inadequate preparation and aid. And the floods hurt worse than the storm, far worse.
So what could have been done better? Only one thing occurs to me: As early as last Friday and Saturday, the situation looked like it was going to be dire in New Orleans. It called for a complete evacuation -- complete. It is now evident this was not accomplished.
The Governor and the Mayor should have dragooned every possible vehicle into the evacuation effort. The Guard should have been involved. Last week's reports said that the New Orleans police, which number only 1,500, were knocking on doors and having refuseniks sign waivers. Not good enough. People had to be moved by force.
Columnist Matt Towery, writing today on townhall.com, lays out a compelling – and, once you see the time line, plainly true – case that Big Media, stuck in its Eastern coastal elite attitudes, failed to provide anything like proper coverage of Hurricane Katrina.
"…If New York City were underwater, and thousands were presumed dead with countless others' lives still hanging in the balance, these same networks would have suspended regular programming to cover every developing second of the disaster's unfolding events."
That was the case in New Orleans by Wednesday. Yet most networks continued regular programming.
Network execs, Towery says, "just can’t get a handle on the South."
Today’s Boston Globe op-ed page carries a blast of propaganda so undiluted it makes you look around blinking and wonder how you strayed into a teach-in. "Katrina’s Real Name," by Ross Gelbspan, author of "The Heat Is On" and "Boiling Point," builds on a rhetorical trope: The "real name" of various disasters, including Hurricane Katrina, "is global warming."
"When the year began with a two-foot snowfall in Los Angeles," Gelbspan begins, "the cause was global warming." My mother lives in L.A. I think she would have mentioned it.
"When 124-mile-an-hour winds shut down nuclear plants in Scandinavia…" "When the worst drought on record triggered wildfires in Spain and Portugal…" "When a lethal heat wave in Arizona kept temperatures above 110 degrees and killed more than 20 people in one week…" "Culprit…villain…blistering…heartbreaking…terrifying…" Like Ol’ Man River, Gelbspan just keeps rolling.
Lucianne.com’s home page subhead probably caught the attitude of most conservatives best when Pat Robertson said the U.S. ought to assassinate Venezualan President Hugo Chavez: "Rev. Pat’s off his meds again." Of course, the MSM didn’t see it that way, trumpeting the TV preacher’s stupid remark far and wide as emblematic of conservatism as a whole.
The Rev. Pat episode reminded me of political conversations I’ve had with my old college roomie, sweetest guy in the world, very liberal. Virtually the only "conservatives" he can name are Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell. He might throw in Bob Novak in a pinch. He watches CNN.
Not until the fifth paragraph does one quoted participant give the game away.
"Robert Kraig, state political director of the Service Employees International Union, said, ‘…Allowing all workers some paid time to attend funerals, care for sick family members or recover from illness is a moral obligation that companies must face.’"
John Tierney, who has taken over the retiring William Safire’s op-ed slot in The New York Times, weighs in today with a http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/20/opinion/20tierney.html column comparing golf to other Pleistocene interests of men. A self-confessed golf-hater, Tierney spends his 800 words ringing through a series of "men are from Mars" cliches. His sole insight, from a round of playing disc (or Frisbee) golf? Men like to look down on a savannah-like landscape and shoot something at it.
The answers.com bio for Tierney says, among other things, "Like Safire, Tierney writes from a conservative point-of-view; he has exhibited some signs of libertarianism." I haven’t seen much of his work. I hope the rest of it exhibits some signs of originality.
ABC’s quick-cut radio news broadcasts, two minutes or less of content dropped in at the hour and half hour on thousands of stations across the country, reduces the key content of any given media day to one or two stories. That’ll be the message most of the country gets, because that’s how most of the country gets its news. So language is significant.
Yesterday, I heard ABC describe the Japanese surrender as having taken place on "a battleship in Tokyo Bay." That may be the first time I’ve ever heard the occasion described without a reference to "the battleship Missouri." Don’t have to go into a lot of detail about the Mighty Mo, just a nod to the name will do. But at some news desk somewhere up in ABC New York, some writer or editor took a blue pencil to "Missouri" – or never wrote it in the first place.