Friday, July 8, 2005

The Mass Media Feeding Frenzy Enters New Depths

Cover your keyboards and get your vomit bags out and at the ready, ladies and gentlemen—it's time to review media reaction to the London bombings. First up, and worthy of my 5 vomit bag rating, FOX News, starring Brian Kilmeade and Stuart Varney:

KILMEADE: And he [British Prime Minister Tony Blair] made the statement, clearly shaken, but clearly determined. This is his second address in the last hour. First to the people of London, and now at the G8 summit, where their topic Number 1 --believe it or not-- was global warming, the second was African aid. And that was the first time since 9-11 when they should know, and they do know now, that terrorism should be Number 1. But it's important for them all to be together. I think that works to our advantage, in the Western world's advantage, for people to experience something like this together, just 500 miles from where the attacks have happened.
VARNEY: It puts the Number 1 issue right back on the front burner right at the point where all these world leaders are meeting. It takes global warming off the front burner. It takes African aid off the front burner. It sticks terrorism and the fight on the war on terror, right up front all over again.

Next up, with a 4 v.b. rating, comes the New York Post's editorial page, which actually found cause to criticize President Bush for what it felt was a rather weak response to the latest opening of the "Global War" in "Battleground London":

Yes, it is easy to conflate the War on Terror with Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the related fighting in Afghanistan. But Iraq is simply a theater in a global war — another front of which was opened in London yesterday morning....So President Bush, eloquent in the past, must once again preach the gospel of resistance to global terror to the American people. This will require considerably more than an occasional speech peppered with what are becoming platitudes about staying the course.

Returning to the fair and balanced network, we have Brit Hume's initial reaction to the news of the attacks, which rates at least 4 v.b.'s with a dry heave to boot:

I mean, my first thought when I heard -- just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, "Hmmm, time to buy." Others may have thought that as well. But you never know about the markets.

Well, on a more positive note, it would appear that Thomas Friedman of the New York Times is beginning to learn. After writing, in 1998, that "the U.S. has to make clear to Iraq and U.S. allies that America will use force, without negotiation, hesitation, or U.N. approval," today Mr. Friedman is calling on the "Muslim Village" to start policing itself:

Because there is no obvious target to retaliate against, and because there are not enough police to police every opening in an open society, either the Muslim world begins to really restrain, inhibit and denounce its own extremists - if it turns out that they are behind the London bombings - or the West is going to do it for them...And because I think that would be a disaster, it is essential that the Muslim world wake up to the fact that it has a jihadist death cult in its midst...Only the Muslim world can root out that death cult. It takes a village.

And finally at last, a little relief for the nausea: some truly practical advice, which each of us can adapt personally, from Arundhati Roy.

There is...a brighter side to the amount of energy and money that the establishment pours into the business of "managing" public opinion. It suggests a very real fear of public opinion. It suggests a persistent and valid worry that if people were to discover...the real nature of things, they might act upon that knowledge. For this reason, they must be guarded against reality, reared in a controlled climate, in an altered reality, like broiler chickens or pigs in a pen. Those of us who have managed to escape this fate and are scratching about in the backyard, no longer believe everything we read in the papers and watch on TV. We put our ears to the ground and look for other ways of making sense of the world...Perhaps things will get worse and then better. Perhaps there's a small god up in heaven readying herself for us. Another world is not only possible, she's on her way. Maybe many of us won't be here to greet her, but on a quiet day, if I listen very carefully, I can hear her breathing. (from War Talk, South End Press, 2003).

I can't promise or prove to you that opening our inner ears to the voice of the small god will bring peace to the earth; but I can tell you that the principal alternative, which the rulers of nations have relied on for thousands of years now—the cults of violence, death, occupation, slavery, and the monotonic devastation of war—has failed. It has brought us to an age of a spreading pall of terror on one side and organized mass destruction for profit on the other; it has brought our planet to the brink of environmental collapse and our human race to the abyss of inescapable moral and economic poverty.

The choice for change lies before us, within us, in this moment. It begins within the heart of each individual—there is no place else to look for help but within yourself. You are connected to the Source of help that will heal this madness; you can tap the energy of transformation, right now. From the depths of your being, and with all the strength your soul can muster, ask to hear the voice of the small god, breathing Life into the stiffening corpse of a world at war.

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