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CSotD: Current Events

Jimmy Margulies (KFS) is as much on the money as possible with this commentary. It’s a bit unclear how he feels about the situation, but that’s also on target, because Biden is behind the eight-ball and the question is why?

This isn’t simply my question — It is being asked by a lot of knowledgeable people, in response to the flood of news and commentary hastening to blame Biden for the last three percent of the war that has occurred under his watch, mostly based on the first 24 hours of actual withdrawal.

Nicolle Wallace noted the disconnect between major media and the American people early on, and Ari Melber took a break from his normal job of interviewing rap artists to ask her about it:

 

It may be that, after four years of continually attacking the president, reporters and commentators are simply habituated to it, but Wallace isn’t the only observer to suggest that they’re running on impetus and not on professional judgment.

 

Dowd, like Wallace, has been on both sides of the fence, and I agree with his assessment of the circular nature of current coverage.

This, I would note, is not limited to Biden and Afghanistan: I have long reported working for an editor who, if she saw an article in Newsweek that said kids were shaving their heads and painting them green, would assign me to find a local example, and that the kid I found would turn out to be someone who had read the same article.

It’s more serious when the topic is national politics and potential death, but the phenomenon remains the same, and it filters down from assignment editors and reporters to the copy desk where headlines are written.

My recent gripe:

And this, from media critic Eric Boehlert:

Is it simply sloppy work or an actual attempt to gin up the reality in order to attract eyeballs?

Lord knows I often saw my stories run under heds that suggested the editor hadn’t read the whole thing, and it is populist nitwittery to take the paranoid view that ‘they’re doing it for $$$.”

Sometimes it really is an issue of chasing eyeballs, more often it’s hasty, sloppy work, though sometimes it’s a case of being influenced by the prevailing zeitgeist in your own newsroom, which may not reflect public sentiment.

But Rupert Murdoch does not prowl any of his newsrooms demanding that particular headlines be changed, although he hires the people he wants and the people he hires know whom they’re working for.

In any case, the result is what matters, and Charlie Pierce criticizes the phenomenon of what I’d call “predictive journalism,” in which the news stories seem written to produce an effect rather than to report what’s happening.

He condensed that most excellent rant into this pointed tweet:

 

And poor Tom Tomorrow struggles to satirize reality, given how much that is actually happening already stretches the bonds of logic and professionalism:

As noted above, it is silly and a bit paranoid to talk about the media only looking to make money, but the view from inside, from those who understand the process, isn’t much more uplifting.

 

I suppose this Tayo (Cartoon Arts International) piece is encouraging, in that it suggests Americans aren’t the only people who stereotype Muslims and assume that the refugees seeking asylum are terrorists, though, to be fair, his native Nigeria has had serious issues with Boko Haram and other terrorist groups.

He has more excuse than any of us.

 

My concern for later refugees is that there are a lot of low-level people like drivers who helped Americans but don’t have the standing to demand transportation out in the current chaos, and that, while the Boat People of Vietnam had a long seacoast from which to escape, the friendliest neighbor for fleeing Afghans may be Uzbekistan, which, as you can see, is a tough shot.

 

In a Twitter thread well worth reading, former Trump Homeland Security Administration member Olivia Troye notes the work done by that administration in choking off and delaying visas, her testimony countering the way the MAGAts have “forgotten” the past four years in the interests of gaslighting their fan base.

Another way in which Afghanistan is not Vietnam: There was prejudice against the Vietnamese refugees, certainly, but nobody in any positions of influence was spreading lies about them.

As for the decent people, having curated their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds to eliminate bigots and unreasoning fools over the past four years, it’s hard to say how much they will be able to stem the hate by spreading their truth where it will likely not be seen.

Still, silence is collaboration.

(Read that last sentence again)

 

Meanwhile, 150 miles north of the center of the universe

Granted, Bill Bramhall draws for the NY Daily News, where the doings of the state’s now-former governor are relevant, and it’s fair game to have a little fun with the local news, but, even so, Cuomo’s efforts to kennel his dog while he goes on vacation seem thin gruel for all the chatter that ensued.

It does fit in with today’s theme of newsrooms deciding what people should care about, mind you, and I will confess that I was particularly struck by this because on the same day the cartoon popped up in my feed, I was waiting for a phone call back to make sure I had a reservation for my dog so I could visit my kids in Minnesota in November.

We were lucky to get in with 12 weeks notice, so I’m sympathetic to someone who had 14 days to get all his stuff into his next crashpad and find a place to stash his dog while he took a break to reset his entire life.

Particularly since he apparently went the popular route and adopted a dog, which is noble, but runs the risk of you finding out the hard way why the dog was available: Captain apparently has a tendency towards biting people, which may be why the staffer who agreed to keep him for a few days returned him to the Governor’s Mansion after only one.

Anyway, in these fraught times, we could all use a little more love:

 

Community Comments

#1 Solon Manney
August/24/2021
@ 12:32 pm

Headlines: “Stocks rose/fell on .” One wonders if that is, indeed, accurate.

Mr. Biden inherited a political mess, and would have displeased people no matter the decision. Aside from talking to the nation sooner, I think he handled a rapidly-evolving crisis as well as he could.

Making a possibly unpopular decision that benefits the nation as a whole–rather than a select constituency–and following through with it shows good leadership.

#2 Mike Peterson
August/24/2021
@ 3:50 pm

Finding cause for the vagaries of the stock market is largely a fool’s game. Sure, there are major events that can precipitate a shift, but most of it is guesswork.

It’s a lot like declaring that such-and-such a referee’s decision caused the outcome of a game — you’re choosing one of a mountain of factors and 90% of the time, you’re just blowing a lot of hot air.

#3 Mary McNeil
August/24/2021
@ 4:48 pm

Thanks for saying what I’ve been thinking. Seems like several thousand a day isn’t too bad…even though I wasn’t shocked when all the “Afghan Forces” ran away.

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