Sunday, April 12, 2009

Editorial: No time and no interest is the message


Saturday's New York Times carried a lot of trash on the front page. You had, for example, the 'newsie' article on city service fees, you had the article on the new stadium for NYC, you had Rachel L. Swarns' ridiculous article about what church Barack and Michelle Obama might go to on Sunday. You had a lot of garbage. But real news had to hide inside the paper.

A4 is where the paper saw fit to run Sam Dagher's "Suicide Truck Bombing Kills 5 U.S. Soldiers and 2 Iraqis at Northern Base." Five US soldiers killed in one incident in Iraq Friday -- two more wounded. And it can't get on the front page because Rachel Swarns is fingering herself and gasping over what Barry might do? What someone might do is NEVER news. What someone does may or may not be news.

Years from now, especially during peace time (or what passes for it), let's hope the country remembers that when five U.S. soldiers died, when it was known they were dead while Friday's New York Times was still being delivered to subscribers, the paper couldn't make room for that news on the front page.

As events in Iraq repeatedly demonstrated last week, the illegal war is not over. Try finding that out from the network news, trying finding it out from most of the media. For laughs you can even try going to Panhandle Media. You won't find much of anything because the media has no interest in Iraq. They just don't give a damn.

A recent CBS News - New York Times poll [PDF format warning, click here] found people were 'up' about Iraq. That happens all the time, whenever the coverage of Iraq falls by the wayside. Whenever Operation Happy Talk replaces reality.

In November of 2007, when The Myth of the Great Return took place, the result was a similar bump in 'positives' for the Iraq War. That bump was based on lies. There was no great return by refugees to Iraq.

By the same token, the recent bump is not based on what people know about events on the ground, it's based on the fact that they no longer see Iraq on TV or in print most days. And since it's not there, they assume things must be better because, surely, if things were going badly in Iraq, the media would be covering it, right? They would be leading with it, they would be rushing it onto the front page, right?

5 US soldiers died in Iraq on Friday. The New York Times had time to front page nonsense about user fees in cities around the country (the sort of crap Erma Bombeck used to pass off as a humor column), they had time to get giddy over where Barack might go to church, they had time for stadiums and even for a photo of George W. Bush tossing a baseball. They just didn't have time for the fallen US soldiers.

Didn't have time?

Try didn't make time.

Remember that if you find yourself thinking, "The lack of coverage must mean nothing bad is happening in Iraq."

Today the US military announced another death in Iraq. Don't expect to hear too much about it either.
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