Thursday, May 19, 2005

Provoke Americans, not Arabs -- right?

Editorial staffs that consist of journalists who all think the same and rely on left-wing information sources rarely produce writing of interest. So it goes with this morning's Roanoke Times' editorial.

Predictably, the Roanoke Times attacks the administration of Bush McHitlerburton and the Republinazis for using Newsweek's slip-shod journalism to "stifle every last vestige of political dissent in the United
States." In support of its argument against this "crass political exploitation," the Times cites crass political exploiter and race-baiter John Conyers, and prominent Bush-Derangement Syndrome victim Bill Moyers. Good grief. How long before Tommy Denton starts demanding to know what happened to the strawberries and clacking little steel balls together in his hand?

It's the VAST RIGHT WING CONSPIRACY! Bush McHitlerburton and the Republinazis want to burn the Constitution!

Meanwhile, more thoughtful commentators such as Johah Goldberg offer real analysis and insight, cutting through the kind of surface issues that evoke hysteria in self-referential journalists. His thoughts ring true given the Roanoke Times' repeated statements that its mission is "to provoke" conservatives at the same time it downplays facts supporting their opinions.

Which gets me to my real problem with Newsweek. At this point nobody disputes that Newsweek messed up. The only arguments are about the magnitude of their mistake and the motives behind it. I can’t know their motives, but my guess is that Michael Isikoff was more motivated by a reporter’s desire to break a story than by some Left-wing anti-Americanism.

But what on earth was gained by Newsweek’s decision to publish the story — whether it was true or not? Were we unaware that interrogators at Gitmo aren’t playing bean bag with detainees? To me the similarities with the Abu Ghraib are greatest not in terms of the abuse but in terms of the media’s unreflective willingness to undermine the war on terror. We saw the photos from Abu Ghraib on the nightly news and in the newspapers far, far more than we saw video of American leaping to their doom from the top of the Trade Towers. Why? Well, according to the Brahmins of the media, it would be irresponsible to stir American passions with such inflammatory images. But the relentless gray strobe light of images showing Arab men in dog collars and black hoods was necessary to inform the public — even though the abuses were already being investigated by the proper authorities. In other words, American passions are to be feared and tamped down on whenever possible, while there’s nothing too worrisome about inciting Arab and Muslim passions, even when that attitude plays perfectly into the hands of the people we’re fighting.

I just can’t help but think the media’s priorities are backward.