Friday, May 20, 2005

"DID HE WANT ME TO PRODUCE A DEAD BODY?" University of Texas journalism professor Robert Jensen offers some thoughts on his bizarre encounter with Brent Bozell on Scarborough Country this past Monday.

THE DECLINE OF RIGHT-WING RHETORIC. Dean Esmay has put together a list called - I'm not making this up - "How to Tell If You're an Unpatriotic Butt-Head." As far as I can tell, Esmay is not an obnoxious eighth-grader, but you never know.

Here is #13:

Your name is Dan Kennedy, and you work for the Boston Phoenix, and you try wrap [sic] your nasty, anti-military, kneejerk reactionary views in the cloak of "criticisms of the administration's policies."

Thank you very much, Dean, you're a beautiful audience. And here's your reading assignment for today: this New York Times report, based on internal Army documents, about how American troops tortured to death two Afghan prisoners at a detention center in Bagram. It's a long story, worth reading in full, but here's a bitter taste:

Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.

Should the media have reported this, Dean? Perhaps this is a violation of #2 on your list:

You believe that news stories which show gloom and doom and pessimism and failure for our troops at war constitutes [sic] nothing but good reporting - but that stories of heroism, major accomplishment, building friendships with people in foreign lands, and victory by our forces is "touting the Administration line."

Good grief. What are they teaching in civics class these days?

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dan,
I think that what bothers you most is that as an intelligent person, you recognize that Brent Bozell is more similar than dissimilar to you. Coming from different directions, obviously, but eerily familiar levels of stridency. War is nasty business, no question. Each of us does what we must to sleep at night. I confess that the kids on the USS JFK sitting in the harbor will enhance my sleep more than those concerned about the state of my constitutional protections. Guess I'm just one of those dullards who doesn't appreciate how much this country sucks.
Rick

Steve said...

As you probably realize, being mentioned like this by Esmay and his ilk is a badge of honor. And he even gave you a link!

Anonymous said...

Dan is strident until one of his elitist buddies goes off the reservation (see Emily Rooney.) Then he can be relied upon to sit on his hands.

Anonymous said...

Dan picks an easy target (Esmay) to make his inane point. Here's some Hitchens to even Dan's propaganda out - http://slate.msn.com/id/2118820/

Anonymous said...

"Islamic Protesters chant "Bomb New York."
http://www.thisislondon.com/news/articles/18759971?source=PA&ct=5

Let's see you condemn these people Dan.

Anonymous said...

Re: "Islamic Protesters chant "Bomb New York."
http://www.thisislondon.com/news/articles/18759971?source=PA&ct=5


Well then, full speed ahead! In the name of freedom, let's kill all the Arabs!

Just how silly are you? Because there are extremists in other countries that somehow justifies our boorish behavior? Wake up: The two are separate and wholly unrelated.

Aren't we responsible for our own actions, or is that just what conservatives use as a punchline when sentencing minorities to rot in jail?

No one is saying the U.S. "sucks"; that's just Republi-Nazi talk meant to scare the uninformed. What citizens of free nations do do, however, is articulate, discuss, disagree and yes, criticize -- sometimes even when it's not justified. (See O'Reilly, Bill.)
As for me, I'd rather take the chance that some terrorist bombs the local shopping mall than cede even a token of my constitutional rights. But I guess maybe it's my turn to be silly.

Mike_B

Anonymous said...

Hardly. The point is the total lack of perspective or reference to the evil deeds of others that turns people against you. All true patriotic Americans demand a higher standard from our government but the "left" has to, at least, offer some perspective. You use of buzz words to represent a majority of Americans doesn't help the discourse.

Anonymous said...

sorry Your use of...

Anonymous said...

I honestly don't follow the previous comment; perhaps it's not a response to mine.

Re "The point is the total lack of perspective or reference to the evil deeds of others that turns people against you ... the "left" has to, at least, offer some perspective." So let's use an example. Saddam steals, murders his countrymen, etc. The US invades and occupies Iraq under the guise of -- take your pick -- freeing the Iraqi people; looking for WMD; rooting out terrorism; avenging Bush the Father; oil, oil, oil; locating my missing NaNa, etc. So here I am, a Muslim Iraqi, and some English language magazine which I myself can't read prints a statement that turns out false and yet I go on a rampage and kill a fellow national. And somehow this is all because the left's "total lack of perspective?" Ummm, no.

Mike_B

Anonymous said...

Haha. I get a kick out of people like Mike up there. His entire life is possible because of the easy flow and price of crude oil but he's holier than thou when it comes down to the dirty business of keeping the price low. Typical. Let me say what most won't. Human beings have been killing each other for centuries over less than the price of oil. Most wars are about natural resources. Oil is a good enough reason to wage the "war on terror." I don't care if they hedged the war in other terms. It's a dog eat dog world. Consider that when you hop in your car today.

Dan Kennedy said...

One big difference between me and Brent Bozell is that I love my country. Bozell - as George W. Bush might say - hates our freedoms!

BTW, a lot of strange things get said about you when the right comes after you, so for the record, in case you're new to Media Log: (1) I support our intervention in Afghanistan, and regret only that we diverted our attention by invading Iraq; (2) my opposition to the war in Iraq notwithstanding, I believe we should stay as long as necessary to ensure a decent outcome, assuming that outcome is still possible.

Some radical leftist, huh?

Anonymous said...

"Brent Bozell (doesn't love his) country"? You are capable of A LOT better than that, Dan.

Tim O'Shea said...

I always love posters like anonymous, they are willing to knock other people's opinion without actually putting a name to their opinion. As a long time fan of Hitchens, he lost me some time around the period of when he took to calling Clinton "the rapist" and tried to throw Sidney Blumenthal under the bus. He still periodically has flashes of his past talent, but more than often comes off as the Brit transplant pundit equivalent to Dennis Miller: Witty but deranged.

Anonymous said...

Re: "I get a kick out of people like Mike up there. His entire life is possible because of the easy flow and price of crude oil but he's holier than thou when it comes down to the dirty business of keeping the price low."

So I guess if I live in say, Estonia, and ride my bike to work and have a coal furnace, it's OK to think like I do, since oil isn't doing shit to enhance my life, but if I live in, say, Biloxi, it's not?

If you want to be part of the solution, go grab your semiautomatic and start shooting up Orange County. Those are the folks who defaulted on billions in debt and drive more miles per day per capita than anywhere else in America.

Mike_B

John Galt said...

The puerile descent into sophistry, a tactic practiced chronically by the feeble fascists fading from bloom, is tiresome.

Dan, who the hell is Dean Esmay and why would you give him substance by repeating his drivel? Amazing.

What is Scarborough Country? A journal? A column? Another case of reverberating static? Useless in any event.

The spawn of McCarthy's adoring apologists has nothing of value to the national dialogue.

Dean Esmay said...

Oh Dan, Dan, Dan. Can you really be that clueless? No one -- including me -- said that anything like that should not be reported. What I did say was that you're an unpatriotic butthead if, as a reporter working on the war, that is all you report on.

You're also an unpatriotic butthead if you choose to view the entire military effort or the entire through the prism of such incidents.

I find it sadly unsurprising that you would try to dance around the issue and make it sound like I said you're not supposed to report bad things. It's sadly typical of kneejerk lefty reactionaries.

Anonymous said...

John Galt proves that the Staley College of the Spoken Word hasn't closed after all....(or Rush Limbaugh has gone over to the other side)....
Rick

Anonymous said...

So I guess if I live in say, Estonia, and ride my bike to work and have a coal furnace, it's OK to think like I do, since oil isn't doing shit to enhance my life, but if I live in, say, Biloxi, it's not?

Yes, exactly Mike. Under those circumstances, feel free to be self righteous. However, since you're typing on a computer, driving around in a car and living in America..shut the hell up or go chop off innocent people's heads in Iraq.

Anonymous said...

"Good grief. What are they teaching in civics class these days?"

MEMO TO KENNEDY: THEY DON'T TEACH CIVICS IN SCHOOL ANY MORE.

WHY DON'T YOU LOOK INTO THIS PHENOMENON?

AS THE HEAD APE SAID AT THE END OF "PLANET OF THE APES": "YOU MIGHT NOT LIKE WHAT YOU FIND."

Anonymous said...

Look here folks, poor guy can't stomach tough talk. He's living off the fat of the land but winces at the harsh reality of the real world. It's easy to be a self righteous, secular humanistic puke when the hardest decision you make each weekend is red or white wine.

lou crunch said...

"Look here folks, poor guy can't stomach tough talk. He's living off the fat of the land but winces at the harsh reality of the real world. It's easy to be a self righteous, secular humanistic puke when the hardest decision you make each weekend is red or white wine."
That's really rich coming from someone who is so cowardly they couldn't even leave their name.
Abraham Lincoln criticized a pseudo war manufactured by the sitting President when he was a young Congressman. Does that make him a traitor?

Dan Kennedy said...

Of course they still teach civics. It's called social studies. I've got two kids in public school, and I daresay I know more about what's going on in public education than many of its critics do.

Unanimous said...

Tough Talk?,

From a phony? That's a laugh!

Anonymous said...

Hilarious. You're comparing Mike the poster and Dan Kennedy to Abraham Lincoln. For the record, Lincoln wasn't a self righteous, limousine liberal puke. He actually put his ass out on the line.

worldcitizen said...

It's easy to be a self righteous, secular humanistic puke when the hardest decision you make each weekend is red or white wine.

I take it that unlike the rest of us you're commenting from Iraq?

Wince and Nod said...

I will reprise a comment I left on Rosemary Esmay's blog. Not surprisingly she agrees with her husband. I will also mix in a comment from her friend Ara Rubyan's blog. He agrees with you, Dan. Perhaps I can explain what this media customer wants, and is not getting.

The commercial press is responsible to make money for its owners. The Founders recognized that freedom of the press was a fundamental right. Different press. The First Amendment applies to everyone, not just large media corporations.

The customers of the commercial press have conflicting desires, however, because they aren't a monolith. A large group of customers wants the press to tell the truth: the war was wrong. Another large group wants the press tell the truth: we should bring the boys home now. Another large group wants the press tell the truth: the war was fully justified. Another large group wants the press tell the truth: we should stay the course until we are done. Another large group wants the press to help win the war, like it did in World War II.

Poor press. This used to be handled by not trying to be objective. Press organs took particular points of view, and played to their audience.

Someone will jump in and say, "Why not the truth?" But we are also talking about which true stories are on the front page 53 times and which true stores are buried near the want ads and which true stories aren't covered at all. The media does not have infinite resources and there is only so much room on the front page.

I want a press that celebrates our military. In our local sports section we have both columns and articles which tell the wonderful stories of sports. And they are unabashedly fans of our local sports teams, even the Kansas City Royals, the worst team in baseball. Yet they have absolutely no compunction about tearing into league management, team management, coaching and players. That's what I want the coverage of our military to be like. Did the LA Times run the Kobe Bryant story on the first page of the sports section, above the fold, 53 times? Did the San Francisco Chronicle run the Barry Bonds steroids story 53 times? Do professional athletes believe that the press views them as lying thugs? Do they believe all the sports stories the press writes are negative? We have coverage of the tiny fraction of athletes who commit crimes. More than once the press has pointed out that athletes commit fewer crimes than the populace at large, and that it is foolish to believe that athletes won’t commit crimes.

The invariable reaction I get from our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines is that the press is covering some other war than the one we are fighting. They didn’t say that about Ernie Pyle. We have coverage of the tiny fraction of soldiers who commit crimes. I await the day that the press points out that soldiers commit fewer crimes than the populace at large, and that it is foolish to believe that soldiers won’t commit crimes.

I also want a press that tells the truth about the Islamic world. I want unabashed reporting on and criticism of the horrible way the governments and religious leaders in that portion of the world behave. Damn the charges of racism! Full speed ahead. At the same time, I do not want Americans to be ignorant of the beauty, truth and human dignity found in the Islamic world. The meme I'm shooting for is something like this: Look at the beautiful flower! It wouldn't be so stunted if the governments of the region, the religious leaders and the radical followers of Islam stopped trying to fertilize it with blood.

I want media that realizes that it used to act both as an intelligence gatherer and as a morale officer for the American public. No, that isn't your duty. Your duty is to your stockholders. But the media used to both give Americans the political information we needed and do it’s best to keep our morale up. Can you imagine Casablanca and The African Queen being made now?

In short, press coverage could be helping to win the war and bring our men and women home sooner. It could be doing good in the world, not unintentionally aiding terrorists. Instead, I believe the press is making things worse.

Maybe there is a way we can all be satisfied. Maybe newspapers could be tailored to their subscribers, they way they are already tailored to our neighborhoods. Maybe I could get the Republican edition, and my parents could get the Democratic one. My front page would have the SFC Paul Smith’s medal of honor, Abu Ghraib would be near the want ads, and Victor Davis Hanson would be on the editorial page. My folks would get Abu Ghraib in the front, Paul Smith near the want ads and Paul Krugman on the editorial page.

Yours,
Wince

Anonymous said...

I also want a press that tells the truth about the Islamic world. I want unabashed reporting on and criticism of the horrible way the governments and religious leaders in that portion of the world behave.

Hey, that's all I ask. Perspective, both sides, equally.

James Mattoon Scott said...

I absolutely guarantee you that the members of the United States Armed Forces know, without question, who their real adversaries are, who sends them to fight and die in just or unjust conflicts, who attempts to profit from their anguish, who defends their freedoms at home, and who will expedite their return home.