September 25, 2005

BLACK SANDS OF PROTEST

I've been reading through official reports and blog posts about the anti-war ralley in D.C., and I've been getting increasingly grumpy. The google experiment posts really chap my hide. Are reporters really just glossing over Brian Becker's credentials, or saying that Cuddy is a "novice"? Aren't there any internet connections in newsrooms? All it took was ten seconds on google to show these people's true colors.

But what got me the most was this acute statement at Protein Wisdom:


[from the original AP article]

While united against the war, political beliefs varied in the Washington crowd. Paul Rutherford, 60, of Vandalia, Mich., said he is a Republican who supported Bush in the last election and still does except for the war.

“President Bush needs to admit he made a mistake in the war and bring the troops home, and let’s move on,” he said. His wife, Judy, 58, called the removal of Saddam Hussein “a noble mission” but said U.S. troops should have left when claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction proved unfounded.

“We found that there were none and yet we still stay there and innocent people are dying daily,” she said.

Only in a story that is desperately trying to hide its bias would the author find, foreground, and quote, as her initial interviewees, a couple who are surely the least politically representative of all those attending this rally: a pro-Bush Republican tandem so unversed in the Administration’s reasons for being in Iraq that they believe we should pull out before the mission is completed, and are basing that belief on a tired liberal talking point that conveniently ignores all the other reasons the Bushies outlined for the Iraq campaign. So, while Ms Kerr is certainly correct to note that political beliefs among the rallyers varies, her choice to highlight the most unrepresentative of the variants to open the story betrays her own rhetorical agenda—and does so in a way that is so obvious I’d be surprised to learn she thought it might actually fool anyone.

That is just the thing that might slip by an unperceptive reader like me, but Jeff Goldstein is a top-rate grokker. Out of the thousands (maybe) of people at the protest, this reporter handpicks the one middle-aged Republican couple. As if they're even representative of the type of folks there in D.C. Come on, they're thrown in the article with Brian Becker and Cindy Sheehan, for pete's sake. You know this AP reporter had to interview dozens of people before she got this money-shot couple. Oooh, look, they used to support Bush!

God, this reminds me so much of Whittle's fable of Noam Chomsky and the Black Sand:

Let’s say we stand overlooking the ocean along Pacific Coast Highway. From high atop the cliffs, we look down to the waves and the sand below. I ask you what color the beach is. You reply, reasonably enough, that it is sandy white. And you are exactly right.

However, there are people who cannot see the beach for themselves because they are not standing with us on this very spot. This is where Noam earns his liberal sainthood. Noam takes a small pail to the beach and sits down in the sand.

If you’ve ever run sand through your fingers, you know that for all of the thousands upon thousands of white or clear grains, there are a few dark ones here and there, falling through your fingers. With a jewelers loupe and an EXCEEDINGLY fine pair of tweezers, you carefully and methodically pluck all of the dark grains you can find – and only the dark grains – and carefully place them, one by one, into your trusty bucket.

It will take you a long time – it has taken Chomsky decades – to fill this bucket, but with enough sand and enough time, you will eventually do so. And then, when you do, you can make a career touring colleges through the world, giving speeches about the ebony-black beaches of Malibu, and you can pour your black sand onto the lectern and state, without fear of contradiction, that this sand was taken from those very beaches.

And what you say will be accurate, it will be factually based, and you will be lying like the most pernicious son of a bitch that ever lived.

This Republican couple was the black grain of sand at this anti-war ralley, but they're put in the article to create a fake sense of balance. Yeah, sure, the Mall is teeming with patchouli-smelling, underarm-hairy hippies, but hey, there's also a Republican couple from a blue state there! It's completely sneaky and false to claim that "political beliefs varied in the Washington crowd" because you found one couple who wasn't wearing a Rachel Corrie shirt or raving about how it's all the Jooooooos fault.

It all goes back to the premise of The Argument Culture: take every issue and show that it has two sides. But if there were 2000 protesters in D.C., and even 50 of them were former-Republicans, they're a small minority. Don't interview one moonbat and one Republican and then say that the anti-war rally represented a wide spectrum of beliefs. That's completely disingenuous, because the sands of this anti-war protest were not black.


UPDATE:

Nearly everyone in the comments section is missing the point. Yes, I'm aware of the President's approval ratings. I do not deny the fact that some people who voted for him might not support the war. What I said, however -- if you actually listened to my words and didn't infer whatever you wanted so you could rant about approval ratings and WMDs -- was that those people are likely not representative of the folks who attend anti-war rallies. Look at any collection of photos from the rally and you'll see folks waving Palestinian flags and wearing keffiyeh and crap. That's the face of the hardcore anti-war protester, so it's journalistically dishonest to seek out the most mainstream protesters and paint them as the norm.

My post was about the journalist's manipulation; it had nothing to do with President Bush's approval ratings. Please stop taking my writing off into tangents I never intended.

MORE TO GROK:

Here's another example of "lying like the most pernicious son of a bitch that ever lived"...

Posted by: Sarah at 05:40 AM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
Post contains 1057 words, total size 7 kb.

September 18, 2005

HA

I got a big smile when I heard these evacuees on the radio Friday night. I'm glad Newsbusters got the story online. (And I'm thrilled with Hawkins' Conservative Grapevine, where I often find such gems.):

ABC News producers probably didn't hear what they expected when they sent Dean Reynolds to the Houston Astrodome's parking lot to get reaction to President Bush's speech from black evacuees from New Orleans. Instead of denouncing Bush and blaming him for their plight, they praised Bush and blamed local officials.
[...]
Not one of the six people interviewed on camera had a bad word for Bush -- despite Reynolds' best efforts.

Go read the transcript and see how bamboozled Reynolds was that these evacuees have faith in our president.

Posted by: Sarah at 05:22 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
Post contains 125 words, total size 1 kb.

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