Friday, November 03, 2006

Stop the presses!

I was so going to keep my mouth shut for the last few days before the election, but I just couldn't resist. This has been a week that could only be called bizarre.

First, John Kerry makes a gaff in a speach and seems to insult American troops. Despite the fact that it's obvious that he meant no such insult, Republicans jumped back on their soapboxes, eager to grab hold of anything they could use to stay afloat in a sea of anti-Republican sentiment.

And, it worked - for a couple of days. Until Kerry apologized.

Now it's some Evangelical high priest that's in the spotlight. It appears that will he's been banging away at the sin of gay marriage, he's been busy banging a gay man behind his wife's back. Guess what's getting a lot of play in today's news?

While I do believe that it's another example of a hypocritical church leader using his position to push forward a message of hate and intolerance, I don't think it deserves to be a top-of-the-fold, lead-the-newscast kind of story.

But what do I know? It's not like I was ever a journalist or anything. Oh wait...yes I was.

As much as I would personally love to see the smarmy bastard buried under a pile of the kind of hate he helped create and perpetuate, I would never argue for the huge play this story has received.

On the other hand, I would shine a spotlight on some of the real stories that have been lost in the last week.

First of all, why is our government posting top-secret information on nuclear weapons programs online? If this isn't the stupidest thing I've ever heard, it's definitely high on the list.

The administration, in a rush to prove - well, I'm not sure what actually... - posted a whole bunch of technical papers gathered after the invasion of Iraq on a government website set up for the purpose. They were spurred by pressure from fellow Republicans.

Problem is, they never went to the trouble of even checking them out before they did it. Call me a worry wort, but it just seems less than bright to put nuclear weapons information online - in Arabic even - while claiming that you're making the world safe from those crazy Muslem extremists.

I'm also pretty sure that further evidence joins the mountain of evidence of war crimes committed under the orders of the president - the decider in chief. This came in the form of foreign journalists digging into the secret torture facilities run by the U.S. in Europe and other countries and the complicity of those countries in the crimes.

The big story appeared in the German weekly 'stern' but was in German. Deutsch-Welle had a story about the story in English. It chronicles the U.S. torture program and identifies one of the bases as being located in Bosnia.

Going along with this story is another that chronicles the lavish lifestyle that the pilots of the planes and the men charged with transporting these terrorist suspects to torture facilities. The Guardian ran a story on the extravagant spending done by the CIA agents operating the torture transfer program. All on our dime, by the way.

Or, perhaps I would top the page with a story about the missing U.S. soldier abandoned by the administration and high command in Iraq.

I wonder what his family thinks when they know he was just left behind and the top story being covered is a sleazy high priest of the temple of Evangelical or a tongue-tied bumble by a former presidential candidate.

All I can say is that not all of us who have ever been in the journalism field would make such bad calls.


I would, if I were an editor at a major metro paper, run a copy of my friend Josh's excellent scientific explanation of his dragon bones theory. Risking the wrath of flat worlders and anti-science creationists, he explains in simple terms one of the world's most Thank god there's at least one sane voice in this wilderness of babble.


dbackdad said...

That's it. "Dragon Bone Theory" has supplanted evolution for me. Nice.

Shawn said...

All credit goes to the fine scientific mind of Josh. It takes clear thinking to come up with such an incisive theory.

SME said...

Good theory, but the earth's still flat. And hollow. And 6000 years old.

Creepy news stories this week, eh? I was going to post about that myself. BIG BIG stories just aren't making the news...

Josh said...

Thanks for the props, man. It's important to remember that science is really about how many people agree with you.

The news situation is terrifically shocking. I watched The Constant Gardener with Kelly last night—which, for those who haven't seen it, is about a British diplomat who discovers a high-level conspiracy in Africa while investigating his wife's murder—and Kelly was like, "Why wouldn't he just go to the press?"

Which led to a brief polemic on my part about the unfortunate blurring of the lines between the press, big business, and the government, and how unless you had solid evidence of something, basically most news outlets would either dismiss your claims as laughable or go as far as contacting a government official and then letting them dismiss your claims as laughable.

Which is not a bad thing in that the news media certainly doesn't have the time to investigate crackpot theories, but is dangerous in that scary stories can be ignored based on little more than a chuckle and a friendly word from people who are paid to be good at chuckling and offering a friendly word.

One of the great hopes of the electronic revolution is that, if the Web ever becomes truly worldwide, increased access to communication across all walks of life could make for enforced transparency of institutional activities. It seems to be starting to happen, but the Man ain't gonna loosen his grip that easily.