Thursday, July 01, 2004

Sound Advice, Brent, But It's Two Years Too Late 

1. Brent Bozell doesn't like the press:
Conservatives across the country decry news coverage of the war as relentlessly and unfairly negative. Last week Brent Bozell, a conservative activist, launched a $2.8 million advertising and talk-radio campaign to discredit the "liberal news media."

Such complaints are escalating - and increasingly conveyed in e-mails to journalists, letters to the editor and even in social settings with news executives - a phenomenon that appears to have been aroused in part by the Republican Party, President Bush's campaign and leading conservatives on talk radio, the Internet and cable TV.

"The bias that's been there is now simply out of control," said Bozell, whose conservative Media Research Center is running newspaper and billboard ads accusing the press of lying. The ads show a stern-faced Uncle Sam warning: "Don't believe the liberal media!"
2. Matt Taibbi doesn't like the press (link courtesy of Zemblan patriot M.D.):
Courage is a willingness to face real risks—-your neck, or at the very least, your job. The journalist with courage would have threatened to resign rather than repeat George Bush's justifications for invasion before it began. I don't remember anyone resigning last winter. The journalist with courage would threaten to quit rather than do a magazine piece about an advertiser's product, his fad diet book or his magic-bullet baldness cure. It happens every day, and nobody ever quits over it . . . .

I'm off on this tangent because I'm enraged by the numerous attempts at verbose, pseudoliterary, "nuanced" criticism of Moore this week by the learned priests of our business. (And no, I'm not overlooking this newspaper.) Michael Moore may be an ass, and impossible to like as a public figure, and a little loose with the facts, and greedy, and a shameless panderer. But he wouldn't be necessary if even one percent of the rest of us had any balls at all.

If even one reporter had stood up during a pre-Iraq Bush press conference last year and shouted, "Bullshit!" it might have made a difference.

If even one network, instead of cheerily re-broadcasting Pentagon-generated aerial bomb footage, had risked its access to the government by saying to the Bush administration, "We're not covering the war unless we can shoot anything we want, without restrictions," that might have made a difference. It might have made this war look like what it is—pointless death and carnage that would have scared away every advertiser in the country—rather than a big fucking football game that you can sell Coke and Pepsi and Scott's Fertilizer to.

Where are the articles about the cowardice of those people? [Christopher] Hitchens in his [Slate] piece accuses Moore of errors by omission: How come he isn't writing about the CNN producers who every day show us gung-ho Army desert rats instead of legless malcontents in the early stages of a lifelong morphine addiction?

Yeah, well, we don't write about those people, because they're just doing their jobs, whatever that means. For some reason, we in the media can forgive that. We just can't forgive it when someone does our jobs for us. Say what you want about Moore, but he picked himself up and did something, something approximating the role journalism is supposed to play. The rest of us—let's face it—are just souped-up shoe salesmen with lit degrees. Who should shut their mouths in the presence of real people.

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