May Day Media
The New York Times (5/2/12) summed up corporate media reaction to Occupy Wall Street’s May Day protests: “At May Day Demonstrations, Traffic Jams and Arrests.” ABC’s Good Morning America (5/1/12) talked about the protests causing “a potentially brutal morning commute.” “Occupy Wall Street Resurgence a Dud” was Reuters TV’s headline (5/1/12)—though after thousands marched in the afternoon, Reuters’ Twitter feed clarified: “Occupy Wall Street resurgence far from being a dud.”
Don’t Worry—Be Occupied
Reporting on President Barack Obama’s May 2 trip to Afghanistan, the New York Times’ Alissa Rubin (5/2/12) wrote, “The trip communicated something of vital importance to the Afghans: reassurance that the United States is not in an all-out scramble to get away.”
A poll taken in 2010 on behalf of the Washington Post, ABC, BBC and the German broadcaster ARD (GlobalPost, 12/9/10) found that 55 percent of the Afghan public supported the rapid withdrawal of foreign troops. A 2011 poll by the International Council on Security and Development (5/11) found that 76 percent of respondents in the north of Afghanistan believed NATO military operations were bad for the Afghan people, as did 87 percent of respondents in the south. A March 2012 poll by the German Institute for Social Research and Statistical Analysis (PressTV, 4/17/12) reported 60 percent support for early withdrawal of U.S. forces.
Based on available evidence, news that Americans plan to stay in their country would indeed be of vital importance to Afghans. But that news will be far from reassuring.
Chris Matthews’ Lost Decade
MSNBC host Chris Matthews (Broadcasting & Cable, 5/22/12) told a cable industry conference that the rise of 24-hour cable news networks meant that a U.S. administration today couldn’t fool the public the way George W. Bush did about WMDs in Iraq:
I would like to think there would be a reckoning we didn’t have then because of modern media…. 24/7 is good because it’s not only breadth, it’s depth. Without cable, it is just network [TV] thinking, embedded thinking, which is dangerous in a democracy.
It was as if Matthews were unaware that by 2002, 24-hour cable news had been around for more than 20 years, and that he himself has had his own cable show, Hardball, since 1997. Neither cable news in general nor Matthews in particular did much to scrutinize Bush’s Iraq claims; Matthews’ analysis was more along the lines of “I think we like having a hero as our president” (Countdown 5/1/03). There was one strong anti-war voice on cable: Phil Donahue, who had the highest-rated show on MSNBC. Matthews reportedly joined the successful internal effort to get Donahue taken off the air because of his anti-war perspective (New York, 10/11/10).
Today’s claims about Iran’s nuclear program strongly resemble the allegations about Iraqi WMDs, and Matthews, along with the rest of MSNBC, is doing little to challenge them (Extra!, 6/12).
Could an ATM Replace George Will?
George Will on ABC’s This Week (5/27/12) provided an example of the kind of useless debate about the economy media have so far offered during the 2012 campaign. He said of Barack Obama:
He’s made clear what the choice is this fall, and it really became clear, I think, this week. The president wants capitalism without casualties. He wants dynamism but no dislocations. Now, remember, this is the president who says that ATMs and airport ticket kiosks cause
unemployment. That gives you his grasp of the economy.