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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Noble Laura's It

It was time to write a tribute to Laura Ingraham for effectively carrying the ball, the water and the day on a series of major issues. It's a doity job but someone's gotta do it...

Here is a smidgen:

For months now, talk radio hosts have been hammering home the complaint that major media outlets are hampering the war effort in Iraq by reporting only the bad news. This has been a very effective argument, rallying the troops of the conservative base, and occasionally, when their broadcasts reached the front, rallying the real troops. Yet it hardly resonated beyond the echo chamber of alternative-media geeks; people who wear their Michael Reagan T-shirt and sip from a Sean Hannity coffee mug while perusing G. Gordon Liddy's newsletter.

Last week all that changed when Esquire Laura (as opposed to Doctor Laura) was a guest on the Today Show and made these same points. Suddenly the media world was in an uproar, with features everywhere on the subject. Responses ranged from denying that it was so to pleading guilty-with-an-explanation by citing the dramatic immediacy of violence to the ultimate dog-ate-my-homework excuse by the New York Times: not enough manpower to go scout out the good news. Why was Laura Ingraham's voice heard where so many of her colleagues had found deaf ears? Answer: the TV folks listened because she was one of their own.


Tlaloc said...

Does it matter at all that what she said was factually wrong? Or is it enough that she spread the chosen lie of the day?

In other words, is your commitment to truth or power?

James F. Elliott said...

I believe Tom Tomorrow puts it all into perspective.

Kathy Hutchins said...

If you look at media tendencies, you find that when violence recedes, the media rewards the place by ignoring it. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring, but the fact that it was out of the news for so long indicated some kind of success.

This is Robert Kaplan, talking about Mosul in a background interview discussing his article The Coming Normalcy which appeared in the April issue of The Atlantic. Not exactly a hotbed of right-wing paranoia. And Kaplan is no a Bush apologist. Yet even he singles out the media as blameworthy in its Iraq coverage.

Tlaloc said...

Why doesn't the media report more good news?

"...Our own editors back in New York are asking us the same things. They read the same comments. You know, are there positive stories? Can't you find them? You don't think that I haven't been to the U.S. military and the State Department and the embassy and asked them over and over again, let's see the good stories, show us some of the good things that are going on? Oh, sorry, we can't take to you that school project, because if you put that on TV, they're going to be attacked about, the teachers are going to be killed, the children might be victims of attack.

Oh, sorry, we can't show this reconstruction project because then that's going to expose it to sabotage. And the last time we had journalists down here, the plant was attacked. I mean, security dominates every single thing that happens in this country….So how it is that security issues should not then dominate the media coverage coming out of here?"
-Lara Logan

SO why isn't the 'good news' reported? Because in the middle of a civil war there is no bigger concern than the fact that every day is very much a gamble that you will survive.

A recent media group went to do a piece on a new Iraqi sitcom. And then the guy who invited them was murdered.

Why isn't the good news highlighted more? Because the reality is too busy getting in the way.

James F. Elliott said...

Tlaloc beat me to it. Lara Logan kicked Dr. Laura's and Howard Kurtz's behinds all over the place. You left out this choice bit from the same interview:

"Well, I think it's outrageous. I mean, Laura Ingraham should come to Iraq and not be talking about what journalists are doing from the comfort of her studio in the United States, the comfort and the safety ... I have been out with Iraqi security forces over and over again. And you know what? When Bob Woodruff was out with Iraqi security forces and he was injured, the first thing that people were asking was, Oh, was he being responsible by placing himself in this position with Iraqi forces? And they started to question his responsibility and integrity as a journalist. I mean, we just can't win. I think it's an outrage to point the finger at journalists and say that this is our fault. I really do. And I think it shows an abject lack of respect for any journalist that's prepared to come to this country and risk their lives."

There was a great series of articles in Salon by a reporter who's been in Iraq since 2003. Essentially, all Western reporters are bunkered in their hotels because it's too dangerous to actually leave and try and get a story. They rely upon Iraqis, who are fearful of being labeled quislings, to bring them their information. Not exactly an ideal situation for some cheery reporting, no?

Tom Van Dyke said...

Laura Ingraham did go to Iraq. That's the whole point.

tbmbuzz said...

Tom beat me to it.

Tlaloc said...

"Laura Ingraham did go to Iraq. That's the whole point."

No actualy that's an incredibly minor point. The Whole point is that what Ingraham is saying is simply a lie. She's lying about the job of journalists who face very real death in Iraq while she does her holiday excursionist tour. She lies about the job they are doing.

James F. Elliott said...

"Laura Ingraham did go to Iraq. That's the whole point."

Aside from the fact that it's not the whole point (though I am impressed she went), there's a world of difference between a military-facilitated tour and actual reporting. The rather rosey assessment she buys lock, stock, and barrel, has been widely and convincingly contradicted, not least of all by James Fallows and Orville Schell.

Tom Van Dyke said...

James, I cannot share your epistemic certainty about matters of opinion; I do not think that any view of the Iraq situation rises to the level of fact.

As with most things, I suppose we shall muddle through best we can, each according to our half-full or half-empty weltanshauungen.

(For the record, I favor Kaplan over Fallows, as the former has paid more dues.)