Monthly Archives: June 2009

Al Jazeera in Guantanamo

A few days ago I caught part of a report, or maybe preview, on FOX concerning how Guantanamo detainees were able to see Al Jazeera TV. Being FOX, it was presented as an outrage. However, if the cable channel Al Jazeera is anything like the website, I’d be more outraged if the detainees were allowed to watch truly anti American networks like MSNBC.

More interestingly, when I tried to perform a little due diligence to confirm my memory on the report, the search engine I used was full of links to stories about how a Guantanamo detainee used his phone privileges to call Al Jazeera. So I have to wonder…

Why didn’t the New York Times Al Queda detainees use their phone privileges to call CNN?


Newspaper Econ 101

Part of the problem with the newspaper business model is that too many journalists make business decisions. Journalists like to point out that newspapers are “giving it away for free” on the Internet. Two minutes before that analytical gem, the same journalist point out that the newspaper is such a great value that the cover price doesn’t even cover the costs of the paper and the printing.

So in another example of world class journlistic analysis, losing money on each paper is better that not getting anything for it. This is the same intellectual firepower that informs all of the journalist’s opinions.

Caveat Emptor.

Foreign Policy: Clinton and Obama

This morning on the CBS TV talk show that no watches, the President said that our policy to Iran should be to “bear witness” to the events in Iran.

Wasn’t that the Clinton policy toward the “events” in Rwanda?

Foreign Policy: Nixon and Obama

Only Nixon could go to China.

Only Obama could send the Uighurs to Bermuda.

Fat and Happy

Did I miss some of the reporting on the Guantanamo detainees? There is a lot about torture. There is a lot about hunger strikes to protest…something.

 But what about those Uighurs? They certainly looked, well, well fed.

 And pretty happy, too. There must be something genetic, or cultural, that allows them to bounce back so resiliently after 6 or 7 years of torture.

 Today’s title phrase is frequently seen with another adjective, dumb. That was left out because, today, I’m not writing about the news media.

Taking Responsiblity

The President frequently claims that he is not responsible for the economic hand he was dealt by events and largely this is true, excepting the admittedly small effect he had as Senator voting for ill advised programs that contributed to the economic crisis.

However, when promoting the ARRA (Stimulus Bill) he made very concrete claims that his bill would prevent further catastrophe which he described as including “Double digit unemployment” (at the Elkhart ‘town hall’ event). Most of the news media’s coverage was uncritical despite all of the ARRA’s obvious flaws. Now the President, along with many more knowledgeable people, is predicting exactly what he said his bill would prevent.

Experts and the Media

How does the media evaluate which experts know what they’re  talking about? Does Columbia offer a seminar on “Evaluating Experts”?

My fear is that the typical news media employee would not know why a Phd in Women’s Studies would not be qualified to provide expert commentary on gynecology.  This ignorance allows  them to report uncritically of President Obama taking over the financial and auto industries without the slightest hint of knowledge because he’s got “experts” helping him. As well as promote similar government intervention in healthcare and energy.

Who is watching the watchdogs?