. . . Friday May 20, 2005

Shock, Awe and Flushing

Kevin Drum has some interesting takes on the ripping of newspapers from both sides of the aisle:

But here’s what the public hears about newspapers from the blogosphere:

- From the right: newspapers suck because they’re too liberal.

- From the left: newspapers suck because they’re craven apologists for the Bush administration.

We can kid ourselves all we want that our toughlove approach to media criticism is aimed only at “making them better,” but that’s not what the public hears. They hear a group of squabbling teenagers who both agree that newspapers suck. So they tune out. And all that’s left is network news with its 90-second “in-depth” segments, 20/20 and A Current Affair, talk radio, and blogs.

Even if you can be irritated by the press or you feel some kinship with the nonsensical fixation with this blog vs mainstream media debate, it probably pays to be reasonable in one’s critique of the news, especially the written news.

The reaction to the Newsweek story about the Korans being flushed down the toilet really fits into a much larger and absurd yet effective strategy.

Just think about it for a second. The mouth foaming and gleeful attacks on Newsweek by the administration were focused on the idea that suggestions of the Koran being put into the toilet hurt America’s reputation in Muslim countries.

Uh, maybe, but didn’t we just bomb the hell out of a Muslim country and haven’t we spent the last few decades providing financial support for the region’s worst dictators?

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a piece about how bad the war was. It’s just insane to suggest that the flushing sound sealed the deal in terms of our international rep.

It’s almost as insane as the notion that showing Saddam in his underpants will strike a blow against the insurgency or hurt our reputation among those who already hate the West.

These moments fit into a trend that’s been going on for a long time. The media is in the way and one side of our political equation wants them out.

Don’t see it that way? Then consider your own response when these kinds of things go down.

Concentration is important!