Sunday, May 01, 2011

TV: Blather

There is information and then there is blather. Tonight, the networks broke into prime time for approximately 15 minutes of blather. On the East Coast and in the Central Time Zone, it was the last hour of prime time. On the West Coast, it was the first hour and then it all fell apart as the blather continued non-stop because Barack Obama was supposed to be addressing the nation and no one wanted to go back to regular programming. The New York Times immediately posted "Live Video of President Obama's Address" -- with a note "Beginning Shortly." ("Shortly" translated to over 25 minutes later.)

At the same time the paper was posting that online, ABC viewers heard -- mainly from George Stephanopoulous -- that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan.


bin Laden is considered to be the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001 attacks on NYC and the Pentagon. For those who've forgotten, the Afghanistan War started over these attacks. The US government asked Afghanistan to turn over bin Laden and Afghanistan responded that they would if evidence of his involvement was shared with them. Then Secretary of State Colin Powell responded that they would recieve "proof" after they handed him over.

Afghanistan refused. They were correct legally. Extradition's require that the government requesting a person present certain paperwork. Why the Bush administration didn't want to do that is a question that's never been answered.

A few years later, it became news when it was learned the FBI did not list 9-11 on their most wanted poster of bin Laden. Even today, the FBI does not list 9-11 in connection with bin Laden.

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Key point in above screen snaps: "Usama Bin Laden is wanted in connection with the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. These attacks killed over 200 people. In addition, Bin Laden is a suspect in other terrorist attacks throughout the world."

On ABC, on NBC and on CBS they blathered on and on. They never addressed the above.

They didn't really address anything because they didn't have anything except for a headline: "bin Laden dead."

While we agree running that as a crawl across the bottom of the screen wouldn't have been enough, we do think that running it as a crawl with "President to address nation shortly. . . We will broadcast President's address" would have covered it. Barring that, a quick interruption to toss to someone stating that onscreen would have been fine.

But blather serves no one. And watching a network attempt to tease a headline into 15 minutes of coverage only demonstrates how sorry the state of news is today.

If you thought a presidential address would expand on the death or answer the above confusion regarding why the US wouldn't provide proof to Afghanistan or why the FBI didn't list 9-11 on their Most Wanted poster, you were wrong.

"Good evening. Tonight I can report to the nation and to the world," Barack declared at the start of his address, bearing down on the term "report," while, in fact, reporting nothing.

bo bl

It never got deeper than that greeting. There were kind words for the Bush administration. There was no analysis and there were no real information.

Near the end, he declared that "justice has been done."


Justice is bringing someone before a court to faces charges.

Vigilantism is what took place.

You can cheer that or boo it or shrug.

But you can't honestly claim justice -- in a legal sense -- took place.

In the lead up to the 2008 elections, much was made that a Constitutional professor in the White House would lead to a renewed respect for the law. In fact, Naomi Woolf was fond of insisting that repeatedly (including in her endorsement of Barack during the Democratic Party primaries). But that respect for the rule of law -- so absent during the Bully Boy Bush years -- never arrived in the Barack years.

The targeted killing only demonstrates that further.

And as a result, look for the White House's anonymous press feeders to begin stressing in the coming days that, actually, there were attempts to bring Osama bin Laden in alive so that he could face charges; however, the situation didn't allow for it and US forces were forced to take him out.

It'll be a cute little add-on or upgrade to the narrative and, the press being what it is, no one
will bother to ask why that wasn't noted in the original statements?

Osama bin Laden's dead. If you're ignorant of the way terrorism works, that's a great thing. If you have any background at all in what breeds terrorism, you're aware that the 'triumphant' movement ABC, CBS and NBC couldn't stop yacking about actually just made things worse.

Again, blather never helped anyone. After giving no details in his address, Barack asked for God's blessing on the United States. He'd have been wise to have also asked a deity to provide a better press.

A better press would have asked questions we've outlined above. A better press would have presented their anchors delivering the news if they were going to break into programming -- that is the standard practice though ABC apparently couldn't rouse Diane Sawyer -- or was it that someone at the network felt the news had to come from a man?

A better press would've noted what a contradiction the presidential address was. After all, it was only last week that Barack was addressing the nation about his birth and, at the top of that televised event, he declared, "I was just back there listening to Chuck -- he was saying, it’s amazing that he’s not going to be talking about national security. I would not have the networks breaking in if I was talking about that, Chuck, and you know it." So what was tonight? Was bin Laden's death about national security or not? And if bin Laden was the reason the US went to war with Afghanistan (that has always been the stated reason), does bin Laden's death mean US forces finally (and immediately) leave Afghanistan?

A functioning press would have a ton of questions. Instead, ABC served up Spring Break DC! very MTV style.
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