Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Editor Sets Off A Firestorm

Its no secret that I heart Stephen Spruill at Media Blog!

I was reading his latest post, Editor Sets Off A Firestorm, which in turn led me to this by Jeff Jarvis.

Steven and Jeff both link to a Mark Yost column that ignited this firestorm. You may need to register to read it,but do so! It; s worth the one minute it will take!

In case you can't find the time to read ALL the comments that this generated on Jeff Jarvis's blog, I have decided to post a few that reasonated with me.

This first one from EverKarl was in response to a comment made by Steve Lovelady about how Mark Yost's opinion and honest assesment of MSM bias in reporting on Iraq was invalid because the hard on he has for Hanna Allam led him to decide that ONLY someone IN Iraq like Hanna is capable of reporting whats really happening in Iraq, and therefore ANYTHING Hanna writes is the WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH, and someone like Mark Yost who has never set foot in Iraq is NOT allowed to have any opinion that differs from the MSM Party Line and that *shudder* critisizes the MSM bias that is so prevlant to just about everyone but left wing liberals!

I've never set foot in Iraq, but this military medic says the Iraqi Army has made strides in the 9 months he has been there, adding that last Saturday in Quyarrah, over a thousand citizens and police held the first "march against terrorism," led by sheiks, mukhtars, and imams.

I've never set foot in Iraq, but Hurl is there now. He has some unkind words about the media coverage of Iraq. As I type this, his most recent post states in part: "The involvement of Iraqi army and police has increased significantly over the past few months. I have also read many reports about the lack of electricity, but from my observations there are lights on all over Iraq as far as I can see. Any power outages are due to terrorist activity, not a lack of infrastructure. Two nights ago I flew over a new powerplant under construction...."

I've never set foot in Iraq, but SPC Alex Barnes is there, writing that: "This is our war to lose, and war opponents (I'm hesitant to use the term 'liberal' because it just doesn't seem to fit the bill) are doing their best to lose it in the only way possible: on the battlefield of the media and public opinion."

I've never set foot in Iraq, but Massachusetts Army National Guard soldiers living at FOB Summerall are blogging, even photoblogging. The most recent post as I type this states in part: "It’s amazing how much the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police have accomplished thus far. These guys are just as much hero's as we are. They are why we’re here. These guys will eventually take over for us. More and more often the Iraqi Security Forces are being targeted and under the same pressures that we're under, but without nearly the level of international recognition that they deserve."

I've never set foot in Iraq, but Noah Shachtman just arrived in Camp Victory: "Who knew being a vegetarian in a war zone could be this easy? Not that I’m exactly in in the thick of battle, yet. Camp Victory, adjacent to the Baghdad Airport, is a sprawling military command center of 15,000 troops. And, despite the occasional helicopter grunting overhead, the conflict feels very far away. Yesterday, I was worried about facing bullets and bombs. Today, I’m wondering whether to have a slushie or a cookie for desert."

I've never set foot in Iraq, but Michael Yon just finished a tour from Mosul to Baghdad to a Navy ship in the North Arabian Gulf, back to Kuwait and Baghdad, to other places in the region and then to Kalsu. Some reports have been downbeat, others uplifting.

Thus, while I respect the courage of those major media journos to risk life and limb in Iraq, I do not grant them a monopoly of knowledge of the situation in Iraq. I've never set foot in Iraq, but I think that Steve Lovelady or the KR Baghdad bureau would be hard put to claim that the FOB troops I've quoted above are somehow blinded to the reality of Iraq. Heaping invective on Yost does not refute his central point, which is that there are many people reporting from Iraq other than the major media and they not only paint a different picture than the major media, they often criticize the coverage of the major media.

The Loveladys of the world can ignore them and continue to scratch their heads as newspaper circulation and network news ratings continue their erosion into oblivion. Or they can realize that their journo skills might be put to good use by reading and weighing (note I am not saying "and uncritically accepting") this substantial body of reportage and opinion from people in Iraq. Thus stated, I would suggest that the argument is about more than Iraq -- it's another version of an ongoing theme of Jeff's blog, i.e., that there is a segment of the major media that is implacably hostile to anything that is seen as challenging their now-broken monoply on reportage and public commentary.

Posted by EverKarl at July 14, 2005 01:50 AM

And this comment from Maureen reminds us how some things never change!

Ah yes--"freedom of speech" as really practiced by the pseudo-liberal press. Freedom to say whatever you want--as long as you say exactly what the powers-that-be want you to say. And if you dare to be critical, why then you immediately threaten their job &/or make comments that you're "ashamed to be in the same building with" the individual. Nope, wouldn't want to allow actual free speech & exchange of ideas. Can't have that. Much too dangerous.

Reminds me of my father's days as a Penn State professor (universities also being bastions of free speech for those dissenting with pseudo-liberals). At a discussion formally sponsored by the university on the Sandinistas in Nicaragua (back when they held power), naturally the professors (none of whom had ever lived in Nicaragua under the Sandinistas) thought they were just swell peachy-keen guys. When an actual Nicaraguan pointed out that living under their brutality wasn't all it was cracked up to be, he was immediately denounced by all the all-wise professors. When my father (who consulted for US AID & worked in Latin America for decades & was thus very familiar with life in Nicaragua) came to his defense, the predictable response from the other professors was that he had no business being a professor & should be stripped of his position. Yup, free speech at its finest--& as practiced by the MSM.

We are not afraid? Actually, there is a tremendous amount of fear. It's coming from the MSM, & the people like Lovelady & those who support him. They're terrified that they can no longer hijack the national agenda to their means. The Post & the Times & CBS & other organizations can no longer make up claims (I'll swap you one Koran in the toilet for my faked documents from Kinkos) & dominate the landscape. The rest of us have gotten wise to them & their agenda--& have plenty of other alternate means of discussing issues. You can smell the fear--& the only way for them to try to stop the wave is to attack anyone who disagrees with them. Forget discourse, they're too afraid.

Posted by Maureen at July 14, 2005 01:37 PM

And here is another comment from EverKarl that serves to put the facts into context..something the MSM seems strangely incapable of doing:

Lovelady's e-mails refer to a number of rebuttals of Yost by KR colleagues, including "Clark Hoyt, KR Washington bureau chief (who addresses his remarks not only to Yost but to the editors of all 33 KR papers, which tells you something about Mr. Yost's future)."

Hoyt's rebuttal is currently available through Yahoo! News, so I thought it might be worth looking at it in a little bit of detail. For example, Hoyt writes:

"Yost asks why you don't read about progress being made in the power grid, which the colonel oversaw. Maybe it's because there is no progress. Iraqis currently have electricity for an average of nine hours a day. A year ago, they averaged 10 hours of electricity.

Just for giggles, I checked the Brookings Institution's current Iraq Index, which was updated this very day.

The estimated prewar level of the average amount of electricity generated nationwide is 3,598 megawatts. The average amount of electricity generated nationwide is estimated at 4,153 megawatts for June 2005 and 4,583 for July 2005. Indeed, for the prior year for which there are actual fgures, generation exceeded the prewar level in 8 of 12 months. The figures are consistently below the prewar level in Baghdad, where most of the major media are.

Hoyt writes:

"Iraq's oil production is still below pre-war levels. The unemployment rate is between 30 percent and 40 percent. New cases of hepatitis have doubled over the rate of 2002, largely because of problems with getting clean drinking water and disposing of sewage."

Iraqi oil production is only 80 percent of the peak prewar levels (though as another commenter noted, this is due to insurgent attacks). Hoyt doesn't mention that production has been very near the prewar peak level in a number of months prior to this one. Hoyt also fails to mention that the goals for other fuel supplies, such as diesel, kerosene and gasoline, are being exceeded and that overall fuel supplies are running at about 94-97 percent of the goal figure.

New cases of hepatitis have doubled from 2002-04, largely due to probalems with the water and sewer systems; Hoyt is correct on that score. On the other hand, Hoyt does not mention that the water and sewer systems were falling apart due to neglect under Saddam and that the coalition is fixing them. For example, in October 2004, Baghdad got a new water-pumping station. Iraq's Health Ministry and UNICEF officials distributed water-purification tablets and health-education literature; only a few cases of hepatitis E were reported since, according to Nima Abid, director of the Health Ministry's Public Health division. Hoyt must be unaware that we are upgrading the knowledge base of the entire Iraqi healthcare system, as he doesn't mention it. Arthur Chrenkoff's April 25, 2005 round-up of good news from Iraq quotes an article from the NJ Star-Ledger in part as follows: "Iraq's health care industry has access to far more funds and better supplies than it did under the last dozen years of Saddam's rule. Doctors no longer have to smuggle under the radar of United Nations sanctions black-market cancer drugs or the latest equipment."

Indeed, that's one of many things Hoyt's rebuttal doesn't mention. For example, telephone subscribers in Iraq have gone from 833,000 to over 3.8 million.

Internet subscribers have gone from an estimated 4,500 to almost 150,000.

Commercial TV stations went from 13 to 23.

Independent newspapers and magazines went from 8 to 170. You would think that the DC bureau chief for a newspaper chain would be interested in those figures, but you would be wrong, apparently.

Wheat production went from 1.9 million tons pre war to 2.6 million tons in 2003 (the most recent figure) -- a 37 percent increase. Hoyt didn't mention it.

Primary school enrollment was 3.6 million in 2000; for 2003-04, it went up to 4.3 million. All that unsexy reconstruction of and building of schools appears to have added up over time, not that Hoyt has noticed.

The relative amount of car traffic has quint upled from prewar levels. Hoyt didn't mention it.

Two-thirds of Iraqis think their country is headed in the right direction, including 40 percent of the Sunnis. Eighty-two percent of Iraqis think their life will be better next year.

I wonder what Clark "Sadly, there is little good news to report from Iraq" Hoyt's explanation for those figures is.

Posted by EverKarl at July 14, 2005 11:06 P

And this comment by The Pontiff:

.....one of my best friends, Alex Barnes, was quoted in a comment by EverKarl. I'm here in Iraq with Alex, we are both in the same Signal Company out of Minnesota.

I just wanted to comment about something that Barnes and I have noticed while being here. It appears to us that in today's generation there lacks a certain stomach for tough work. Barnes refered to it as a type of inflation, what he called Social Inflation.

While I've been in Iraq I've been studying the History of the Civil War as a class offered by the University of Minnesota. Now before some of you begin to say "Don't compare the Civil War to Operation Iraqi Freedom!!" Let me point out that people's civil liberties have been stifled here countless times. I'm not saying that its like the antibellum South here, but I will say that many Iraqis could identify with the tortures that slaves were subjected to, as well as the conflict that they found themselves in when the Union came to put down an insurrection. You see, the slaves saw it as their chance to put an end to that peculiar institution even when whites on both sides wanted nothing to do with the slave question.

By 1864, most Union soldiers had changed their opinion on the freedom of the black race. By the end of the bloodiest conflict in American history, over 300,000 had died for the cause of Union and Liberty (over 600,000 had died if you count the losses on both sides, but it cannot be said that the Confederates fought for liberty of the black man).

What is my point? My point is, since when did we lose the stomach to see things through to the end? When Peace Democrats called for the end of hostilities and nominated George McClellan for President in the '64 elections and called for the restoration of blacks to slavery, President Lincoln said he could not, in any form of good conscience, break that promise to the black warrior. Yet today, nearly 150 years later, I wonder if he would be disappointed to see that people of his own country still call for the forsaking of friendships. And don't say that the Iraqi people are not friends of ours, or the other way around, because although you can freely speak for yourself, you cannot speak for me and my friends. My friends and I are here, and we have made new friends thousands of miles from our homes, ones that we will not forget even if the American public wants to.

Posted by The Pontiff at July 15, 2005 09:51 AM

And this one by Greyhawk:

...and I find Yost's claim rather silly, in fact, because soldiers are, after all, too busy being soldiers and establishing security to constantly be worrying about checking up on human interest stories around Baghdad."

Actually they're just as busy rebuilding Iraq - schools, power, water, local government - in other words, living the human interest stories you thought (because those stories aren't often reported) they were too busy to worry about.

And yes, that's precisely the point most soldiers are making when they say the media isn't getting half the real story. Thanks for demonstrating the extent of the impact of the failure.

Posted by Greyhawk at July 15, 2005 10:23 AM

Here comes my rant:

The MSM has lost any sense of why they exist: HINT- it is to provide the entire picture on all issues be it abortion, war, homelessness, social security - not a biased left wing POV.

Yost critisism and frustration with his MSM collegues and their biased reporting was greeted with the same vitriol that met Bernie Goldberg when, as an insider at CBS, he too had the "audacity" to openly question and point out the NUMEROUS OBVIOUS EXAMPLES of Bias at CBS. I suggest all Lovelady's supporters read both his books..if you can actually stomach the truth!

As for his obvious infatuation with "Hannah Allam, KR's brave and brilliant Baghdad bureau chief, who daily lives a life that would turn Mark Yost into a sniveling worm hiding under his bed" I have to wonder if he simply has a hard-on for this woman!

He spews out his vitriol at Mark Yost from the comfort of his own office and then uses his infatuation with Hanna as a means to prove that Mark Yost is in no position to openly critisize the general left leaning agenda of the majority of the MSM. Yet Hanna herself is hardly in a position to offer the complete and unbiased picture of daily life in Iraq.

I suggest Lovelady read Michael Yon's blog. Michael was the ONLY reporter who had the balls to travel through Iraq in a humvee with CSM Mellinger. So who do you think offers us a more balanced picture of Iraq -an independent voice like Michael Yon who has actually been out on missions and travelled the countryor Hanna sitting in the green zone planning how to access water?

Let me put this into perspective:

In 1994 when the LA quake struck I was unable to secure water or food in my neighborhood which had been hit bad. Had I been blogging or reporting from my crumbling apt, in the same manner as Hanna and most of the MSM, this is what I would have put forth:

I'm holed up in a fast decaying apt building, no air conditioning, what little water I have from the taps appears unsafe to drink or wash in, I have no electricity, the walls are creaking, there are cracks in the floor, I have to move about carefully as I'm not sure how safe the floor is, I might fall through. I am slowly and lightly crawling over to the window. I see nothing but darkness, the clock has stopped, I have no idea what time it is, its quiet very quiet. I think I am the only one alive...I hear no other sounds..no one crying out for help. This must be the BIG ONE...dear gawd.....I may be the only one alive....I m in the hall...I have to walk carefully...I'm blinded because it's so dark and no lights are working.... where are the BACK UP GENERATORS??? They aren't working...I wonder what failure of the gov't has occured that our back up generators don't work???....I have to a get out of here...but where will I go....I am sure there is no place with power, food, water after all if I am experiencing this surely I'm not alone...everywhere else must be the same. I smell gas leaking....and I smell smoke...there must be a fire nearby....I'm out on the streets now..it still very dark and I smell more smoke...I smell more gas leaking....I see no one on the street...dear gawd I am alone...wait...I see someone now..limping.... This is HORRENDOUS...I have to believe that the "Big One" has struck!

Imagine someone reading that and ONLY that description of my experience of the 1994 Northridge earthquake and now imagine that description multiplied thousands of time by other people in my neighborhood, with no other reporting from anywhere ELSE in California.

Readers living elsewhere in the world, would begin to believe this represented the conditions across all of California.

Then imagine finding out that only a small radius near me had in fact been affected and that 20 blocks in either direction and life was normal; people were cooking, people were talking on cell phones, and most people were oblivious to the extent of the damage that had occured in my neighborhood.

By now you all get the point I've made and hopefully Lovelady, Hanna and the rest of the MSM will be able to grasp what Mark Yost, Jeff,Bernnie Goldberg, myself, and a good majority of Americans already know:

The MSM doesnt just lean left - IT IS LEFT - and it continues to skew and frame the majority of it's stories on our most important social issues, especially on Iraq, the military and this President, from its biased, arrogant, myopic, self serving, left wing, unbalanced, POV.

It's elitist members do not welcome honest critisism from outside and even less so from within, and they attack with vitriol anyone who dares NOT to tow the party line.

These self appointed guardians of liberal values are anything but openminded and diversified in their POV(standard hallmarks of any true liberal) instead they are closed minded, arrogant, and suffer from a group think that permeates all that they write and report.

As print circulation drops, as viewership shifts away from the MSM towards talk radio and Fox News, as advertising revenues drop, they still hold onto their delusional belief that they alone represent all that is good, right, fair, honest, and American. Denial is a river in Egypt! They should be careful as they continue to wade in it because it's filled with crocodiles that take no prisoners!


  • At 7:27 PM, July 17, 2005, Blogger H2SO4 said…

    Once again you've hit the nail right on the head. Thanks for giving us the Readers Digest version on this post and comments over at Jeff Jarvis's blog.


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