Saturday, February 10, 2007

The duty of reporters, the duty of the people.

A comment (not my own) in response to Washington Post article:

Al-Qaeda Suspects Color White House Debate Over Iran
By Dafna Linzer, February 10, 2007

. . . I would just like to say to the Washington Post staff that promotes this sort of propaganda and when I say propaganda I am talking about the way you are reporting this crap as newswothy - instead on jumping on the bandwagon of making this administration accountable for making a mockery out of the media including yourselves. . . . Do you not know the seriousness of the way this country is going? Please think long and hard about the way you think you have the power of the pen. . . .

-- By danders5000 | Feb 10, 2007 2:33:54 AM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this reader is blaming WaPo journalists for "supporting" the Bush regime by not opposing it. Read that sentence again; it is a very sad set of circumstances on many levels (e.g. the need to blame people for supporting our President). In any case, this accusation upon journalists seems rather unfair due to the ethics rules that are the guiding light of good journalism, which include neutrality and unbiased reporting.

This reader told WaPo journalists to use the power of the pen to create change in today's society, to hold the Bush administration accountable for what they've done. Although I agree that journalism should be used to balance the powers of lawmakers with the powers of the people, I don't agree that it should be used to spoon-feed one-sided ideas into the public's mind, even if they seem like good ideas at the time. With the continuing illegitimate behavior of the Bush administration, it may seem deserving and justified that the media cater to the anti-everything-Bush majority or even cater to the vengeance of having been deceived by the White House on many topics, especially concerning the "War Of Terror" which Borat aptly names it. There is now a sense of betrayal when one does not preach to the choir, as seen in the impassioned comments of the WaPo reader.

What the reader did not consider is that the role of journalism in a democratic society is to serve the truth, like it or not; to provide un-opinionated reports to give to the people for the people themselves to interpret, opinionate, and take action. To make liberal use of the pen would be to violate the neutrality that is useful in order for the public to respond logically and in all varieties of ways that mark us as an individualized society.

I believe that the WaPo article states the facts and sheds several perspectives from various sources on the situation, and in no way seems to support the issue on either side. In fact, they document that:
Five administration officials were made available for interviews for this story on the condition that they not be identified. Other officials who spoke without permission -- including senior officials, career analysts and policymakers -- said their standing with the White House would be at risk if they were quoted by name.
How is this spreading administration propaganda? It's true that there is no in-depth analysis of the further consequences of the situation, and the article doesn't offer suggestions as to what the "correct" future approaches could be, but isn't that what we the people are partially here for? Aren't we supposed to take the information from the journalists and use it to write our own letters to government, and our own opinion pieces? Journalists are necessarily under a tighter rein when they are blessed (cursed) with providing "just the facts, ma'am," and to let the readers judge as they wish, and react as they wish. That's proper journalism, no?

(What I was ranting about in my previous post was the incomplete analysis of a given situation, not the incomplete analysis of a possible propaganda scheme.)

Why not. So I did it.

You know how you have unresolved questions after you've finished reading a newspaper or magazine article? You know I did when I read this article on WaPo today. It talks about how ExxonMobil has turned a new leaf with regards to the way it's handling its response to global warming, including having cut funding to an unnamed Washington think tank, which the reporter seemingly implied to be the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), but we can't be sure:

Exxon Mobil Warming Up To Global Climate Issue
by Steven Mufson, February 10, 2007

So I did the previously unthinkable and actually posted a comment to the article. Now I know that usually, posts border along the side of "rant," so I'm proud to say that mine was fairly civil, and I hope that someone responds equally as civil.

If ExxonMobil claims that they cut funding for "a Washington think tank critical of climate change actions" in 2005, then why is the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) still at it with their $10,000-for-IPCC-critique solicitations in 2007?

Unless the AEI isn't the Washington think tank that had its funding cut, or the percentage cut was insignificant.

I really do want to give ExxonMobil the benefit of the doubt, but it's difficult to believe their dedication when the pro-emissions trend of prominent think tanks have not changed despite the supposed absence of the largest oil company's influence.

Can someone clarify?

--By lisalin55 | Feb 10, 2007 11:45:55 AM
That's it. Don't be surprised when I've disappeared in a week; my darkest fear of the consequences of vocalizing rational opinion, you know! ;)

Seriously, I don't particularly like it when the article writer neglects to bring relevant questions to light such as the claim of certain policymakers/corporation conglomerates as compared to the actual trend of performance and results. It's been two years since the claimed funding cut, and still no observable change? And what does "funding cut" actually mean? ($1)? A cut is a cut, no matter how you slice it. And who exactly is this Washington think tank? God forbid it's just a little league tyke.

Of course I hear and feel ongoing hatred, apathy and disbelief towards the possibility of ExxonMobil, and other related companies, starting to cater to the ever-dominating anti-emissions crowd; and that they could possibly mean well. Yes, I said that I want to give ExxonMobil the benefit of the doubt, because I really do. Me being the shiny-eyed princess that I am (that was sort of a joke), it's hard to tell what is a real effort to be genuine and what is most likely a fertilizer-coated PR campaign to rejuvenate their grease-tainted image.

It's been two years, where are the results?? Perhaps the reporter should have found this out, as a journalist.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Surface Analysis of Obama Announcement Preview

The eve of the anticipated day has come. I just got an e-mail from Barack Obama's campaign committee telling me to go to this link for a special video message. (Yay)

I was excited to see what the promise of Obama had in store for us all, but again, there was a curious feeling, one that furrowed my eyebrows and got my head in a tilt while I clicked on "Play."

He looks tired. It's expected of all people campaigning for any highly publicized role, especially President, to spend "150%" on the role, to rally the people, to exude confidence and utmost determination, friendliness and understanding. All while trying to spar and elude the viciousness and unprecedented attacks from the opposition and its minions (we all know what I'm referring to), and to look good while doing it, goddammit! In other words, it's known that they'll be exhausted in the process.

So why does it shock me so to see a paler, hesitating, soft-spoken, slightly thinner Obama than I was expecting? It really does look like he's gotten the air knocked out of him with all the uh-'s, and the absence of, well, passion!

"uh- Obviously, uh- I'm extraordinarily excited about ... uh- the possibilities of this campaign..."

Did you notice that he didn't smile or look excited through the whole thing? Did you notice that he got slower and slower as the video went on?

I wonder if he trying to be serious-and-determined, or if he wasn't feeling-it, or if he was just nervous? I'm worried. Clinton can get away with layers and layers of foundation and makeup to round out her features, but she has always been consistent with the strength and confidence behind her stance and voice. She emits infallibility, especially through times when even the strongest women were susceptible to running over their husband three times with their Mercedes... or driving from Texas to Florida non-stop while wearing a diaper...

Surely Obama's team could have done a better job in preparing for his special and very significant rallying video with a little more makeup to warm his appearance, a suit jacket to give him more bearing and presence, a scripted and practiced dialog to convey confidence and security, and a more upright head posture so he doesn't look so lax and ... tired.

Not that I'm being picky or anything, but I want him to mean it all the time! It's not bedtime yet! Well anyway, I'm not going to go into a rage about this man. We'll see how he does tomorrow.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

I admit that he might be right... "maybe"...

I just read a rather calm and level-headed article on how people have settled into a partisan mindset of either "you're with us and therefore against every idea that the Bush administration puts forth" OR "you support a policy issued by Bush and therefore you are against us," which, I admit, I was very much heading towards. Anyway, it was a wake-up call for me to be more complete in my assumptions and judgment of the state of things, though "completeness" is something I've found particularly difficult to, well, judge.

See for yourself and let me know! Here's the article: Don't Think I'm Defending Bush, But..., by Clive Crook (National Journal Group, Wealth of Nations).

RANT: Jumping the climate gun

Global warming is a fact. That's good to know. Now the question is, what's the cause?

Something bugging me today. The Washington Post (and many other news groups) are still using the word "probability" to suggest the "possibility" that global warming and climate change "may" be caused by human activities.

Alright already! Despite the IPCC's report that gives us the supporting evidence we need, the public world, for some reason, is still in wishy-washy mode. Granted, the actual report came out only yesterday, but I'm on the edge! And I have a feeling that many journalists are too. Reading the WaPo article, it seems to me that this writer uses numerous "maybe"-type words painstakingly, as if each was a deliberate term that was inserted over much unwillingness and fretting against the writer's conscience; terms such as "overwhelming probability" and "90 percent certain."

I'm excited and frustrated at the same time. How much longer do we have to wait until the media start treating our contribution to the Earth's pollution as fact, not theory? Let's face it, nd humans have caused significant increases in global warming, and that is a fact, whether we contributed to it 60% or 90%, it still dictates that we need to change our way of "doing business around here." If it is indeed on the lower percentage side, all the better for us to start "early" and avoid sea level increases of 23 feet over the next 100 years, wouldn't you say?

And of course, we haven't been let down by the critics of the IPCC report, may I mention, with obvious conflicts of interest:

... the George C. Marshall Institute, a think tank that receives funding from Exxon Mobil, ... issued a statement urging "great caution in reading too much" into the report until the panel releases its detailed scientific documentation a few months from now.

... adding that "the underlying state of knowledge does not justify scare tactics or provide sufficient support for proposals . . . to suppress energy use and impose large economic burdens on the U.S. economy."

(from WaPo article)

So, the U.S. economy should be held above the well-being of all living things on Earth. I expect that they would be all in favor of Bush's request for an additional three-quarters of a trillion dollars (yes, you read that right) for the purpose of defense and war spending. That does a great thing for the U.S. economy, yes it does!

To explain Bush's superb request, I go to U.C. Berkeley professor, George Lakoff, who explains that neoconservative thought promotes the idea that creating a national deficit is good because it prevents the development of democratic social reform groups, for example: government assistance for health care, education, social security, well, basically the managed well-being of its citizens. In other words, neoconservative rationale is that all deserving citizens should be able to fend for themselves. And the government should be able to take the strict-father position of sitting in a recliner with a belt. "Be home by 11! ... and bring me back a paper!"