Jul
01
2007

SoundBites

O’Reilly: NBC “Jazzed” About Kids’ Deaths

A new study from the Project for Excellence in Journalism (5/25/07) found that over a 10-week period in 2006, Fox spent less time covering the Iraq War than either CNN or MSNBC—half as much time compared to the latter. In response to the “big deal” that “the liberal press has made” out of this finding, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly retorted (6/19/07), “I want the USA to stabilize that country and deal a huge blow to terrorism worldwide, but not everybody in the media feels that way.” As an example, O’Reilly claimed NBC Nightly News (6/19/07) was so “jazzed” about a U.S. attack killing seven Afghan children that they spent more than the 15 seconds ABC News and 10 seconds CBS News allotted the story. “‘Talking Points’ asserts that showing pictures of terrorist activity purely for the visual helps the terrorists and doesn’t advance the Iraq story,” O’Reilly said. “What about President Roosevelt setting up the Office of War Information in 1942, which censored, among other things, the results of enemy action and American casualty lists? Roosevelt did that to prevent the erosion of morale here in America. Now we don’t censor the news on the Factor.” But it sure sounds like O’Reilly wishes the government did.

Invisible Victims

Declaring “the plight—and massive number—of refugees and displaced citizens in Iraq” to be “one of the great under-reported aspects of the war,” Editor & Publisher (6/18/07) wondered whether “that will change in the wake of a report by the Iraqi Red Crescent today.” The report found that “the number of internally displaced people in Iraq has quadrupled since January and is up eight times from a year ago,” sparking a rise in “rape, armed gangs, theft [and] drug addiction” that constitute a “human tragedy unprecedented in Iraq’s history.” But E&P’s hopes were not met: Aside from Democracy Now! (6/20/07), not a single U.S. outlet reported the story.

Not the News

Retired Army Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez had some harsh criticism of the Iraq War; as the June 3 Agence France Presse story led, “The man who commanded U.S.-led coalition forces during the first year of the Iraq war says the United States can forget about winning the war.” The next day (6/4/07), Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace said that Sanchez “is in the papers today saying that you can’t hope for victory anymore, the best you can do is stave off defeat.” But Sanchez’s quote was hardly “in the papers” at all; one of the more prominent newspapers to quote him was the San Antonio Express-News (6/5/07), which noted that he was the highest-ranking former military leader yet to criticize the administration’s war effort. Despite the media’s general fondness for retired military experts, some opinions are apparently more publishable than others.

An Unsubstantive Law

In a front-page New York Times story (6/13/07) on the Iraqi government’s “political limitations” and its “failure to meet U.S. benchmarks,” reporter Damien Cave wrote that “the deadlock has reached a point where many Iraqi and American officials now question whether any substantive laws will pass before the end of the year.” Just one week before Iraq’s “deadlock,” however, Iraq’s Council of Representatives did manage to pass one significant piece of legislation: a resolution that would refuse renewal of the U.N. mandate that allows for the presence of occupation forces without parliament’s permission. But that vote got next to no coverage in U.S. newspapers, meriting only one sentence in the Times (6/6/07), tucked into an article on page A10 about a roadside bombing in Fallujah (6/6/07). Apparently only laws the U.S. has designated as “benchmarks” are deemed to be “substantive.”

Labor: Seen and Not Heard?

In an editorial, the Washington Post criticized Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.) for her opposition to the U.S./South Korea trade agreement (6/13/07). Praising the deal, the Post wrote, “As a democracy with a strong trade union movement, South Korea doesn’t pose the workers’ rights challenges that vex unionists in agreements with poorer countries.” It’s true that South Korea does have a strong union movement—one that strongly opposes the free-trade agreement. As Young Koo Heo, vice president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, told the AFL-CIO (AFL-CIO Weblog, 6/13/07): “This agreement is simply to maximize profits. Its whole effect is to put the working class in poverty and exploit us.” But that’s the beauty of making a deal with a democracy: You don’t have to care what its people say.

Smells Like Whatever

“Can you smell the English Leather on this guy, the Aqua Velva, the sort of mature man’s shaving cream, or whatever, you know, after he shaved? Do you smell that sort of—a little bit of cigar smoke? You know, whatever.”

— Chris Matthews on Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson (MSNBC’s Hardball, 6/14/07)