Wednesday, April 24, 2024

TV: The media -- can't deliver an honest laugh, can't deliver the honest truth

As the '00s began, media outlets decided that they didn't want to do comedy.  Sitcoms were hugely popular but they didn't want to do them.  They wanted whimsy.  They wanted easy-ass, cheap-ass single cam 'comedies.'  The ones no one laughs at and the one no one laughed at in the 50s and 60s -- or didn't you get that you were supposed to be laughing out loud when you watched such abominations as LEAVE IT TO BEAVER.  

The number one sitcom was FRIENDS.  A multi-cam.  The sitcoms that were top ten hits in the years that followed?  Multi-cam.  EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, THE BIG BANG THEORY, ROSEANNE.  In fact, after ABC took over Roseanne and turned it into THE CONNORS, it still managed -- in its watered down form -- to outperform every single-cam sitcom on the network.

But media outlets are really stupid and they struggle to adjust and, most of all, to learn.

We were reminded of that last week as we saw one news outlet after another display the basic inability to walk and chew gum at the same time.

Maybe you missed it but, as the breathless media largely reported, Iran shot missiles -- hundreds -- at Israel.  And, still panting, they informed us that the combined super-group of Jordan, Israel, the UK and the US (and, like the letter y, sometimes Saudi Arabia managed to halt the plot.

The plot was halted?  Let's come back to that.

Already the outlets were struggling.  Maybe they needed a smoke break?  April 1st saw Israel launch an attack on Iran's consulate in Syria.  Somehow that got left out of the media narrative.  As Marjorie Cohn (TRUTHOUT) notes:

On April 1, Israel mounted an unprovoked military attack on a building that was part of the Iranian Embassy complex in Damascus, Syria, killing seven of Iran’s senior military advisers and five additional people. The victims included Gen. Mohamad Reza Zahedi, head of Iran’s covert military operations in Lebanon and Syria, and two other senior generals.

Although Israel’s attack violated the United Nations Charter, the UN Security Council refused to condemn it because the United States, the U.K. and France exercised their vetoes on April 4.

Iran considered this attack on its consulate “an act of war,” Trita Parsi wrote at Foreign Policy.

On April 11, the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations stated: “Had the UN Security Council condemned the Zionist regime’s reprehensible act of aggression on our diplomatic premises in Damascus and subsequently brought to justice its perpetrators, the imperative for Iran to punish this rogue regime might have been obviated.”

Then, on April 13, in response to Israel’s attack, Iran fired more than 300 drones and missiles at the Israeli air base from which the April 1 attacks had emanated. Only two of them landed inside Israel and no one was killed; a Bedouin girl was injured. The U.S., U.K., France, Jordan and Israel intercepted the remaining Iranian missiles and drones. A senior U.S. military official said “there’s no significant damage within Israel itself.”



What followed the missile attack was a week of speculation and supposition and chatter and gossip and gasbaggery.  With all that going down, there wasn't time for actual reporting.

Gaza was completely lost.  There were days when the western outlets didn't even publish online about death tolls in Gaza.  

Monday, for example, THE WASHINGTON POST published Ishaan Tharoor's "As Israel-Iran clash cools, Gaza crisis remains."  Yes, Ishann, it did.  And it remained all last week as well -- even if often fell of the media radar.  In fairness, online THE WASHINGTON POST did a better job than most -- such as CNN and ABC NEWS -- in covering Gaza last week.

Someone would say, "Well, in fairness, media outlets have faced serious cuts."  Yes, they have.  For that reason, it certainly isn't justified for the same outlets to refuse to utilize their employees -- Mohammed Tawfeeq at CNN, to cite one example -- who do cover the assault on Gaza.  Instead, real reporting got shoved aside for daily Iran-Israel coverage.  In fact, this morning, ABC NEWS (the worst offender) published their 'latest' on Gaza -- 'on Gaza' -- which was their 'breaking news' on Iran from last week with one new item at the top which was about Gaza today.  They call it news coverage.  They call it that.

Gaza is a war zone and people are suffering but western outlets felt very comfortable ignoring it for a full week to dish all the 'hot goss' on Iran last week.

The inability to do two things at once, the thing we said we'd come back to.

A development this week: Some militias in Iraq are attacking Israel.  SKY NEWS notes:

At least five rockets are launched from the Iraqi town of Zummar towards a US military base in northeastern Syria, security sources tell Reuters. The attack against American forces is the first since February, when Iranian-backed groups in Iraq stopped targeting US troops.

Is that a surprise, really?

The same media that let the people in Gaza fall off the media radar for much of last week largely ignored Iraq's Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani making his first trip to the United States.  On last week's trip, he met with various business officials as well as US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and US President Joe Biden.  It was covered in the Iraq snapshots last week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday).  And what happened face to face with Joe?  

Mohammed faltered.  US troops?  Sure they could remain in Iraq.

For those unaware, the prime minister of Iraq had been making public statements for months leading up to this visit insisting to the Iraqi people that US forces would be leaving Iraq.

The cease-fire the militias (which are part of the Iraqi military) had agreed to was dependent upon Iraq expelling US forces.  

If the fact that some militias have resumed the attacks on US forces is a surprise to you that's largely due to media failures.  The minute Mohammed began back pedaling last week on US forces must leave Iraq, this attack was a given.
Apparently, it was also a given that the US media would fail to inform the American people of this likely outcome.  Just like the media all looked the other way last week except for AP when new truths emerged about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.    Matthew Barakat (AP) reported a new revelation, that long before the scandal broke in the press, all the way back in 2003, a military contraactor had been informed of the abuses and crimes taking place at the prison:

A civilian contractor sent to work as an interrogator at Iraq’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison resigned within two weeks of his arrival and told his corporate bosses that mistreatment of detainees was likely to continue. 
Jurors saw the October 2003 email from Rich Arant, who worked for military contractor CACI, during testimony Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by three Abu Ghraib survivors. The former prisoners are suing CACI, alleging that the Reston-Virginia based company shares responsibility for the mistreatment they endured. CACI had a contract to supply interrogators to the Army after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and scrambled to supply the needed personnel. 
The first CACI interrogators arrived at Abu Ghraib on Sept. 28 of that year. Arant sent his resignation letter to CACI on Oct. 14. He informed his bosses about his concerns over the handling of prisoners, including what he described as an unauthorized interview of a female inmate by male interrogators. He wrote that "violations of the well-written rules of engagement will likely continue to occur."

As we wind down this piece, we're aware some of you may be confused about any link between bad TV and war.  YOUNG SHELDON is thankfully ceasing production.  It's ratings have dropped significantly.  It's doing lousy in syndication.  CBS can't justify the cost of another season.  It was never popular like THE BIG BANG THEORY.  It was never funny like THE BIG BANG THEORY.  It was a single-cam 'comedy' that was as lifeless and bland as the non-performance delivered by Iain Armitage.

"Ava and C.I.! He's a child."

He is.  He's 15-years-old.  And it sure has been nice of 'liberal' Hollywood to give the grandson of War Hawk Richard Armitage (who exposed Valerie Plame as a CIA agent to the press) the lead role in YOUNG SHELDON.  So very nice.  Others, they might get hung up over the fact that not only can the kid not act but that his father is responsible for the deaths of over a million dead Iraqis or that granddad has been accused of many more War Crimes (including being part of the Phoenix Program) during his long career or that he spent the 90s lobbying Bill Clinton to declare war on Iraq.  Clearly, CBS, WARNER BROS TELEVISION, Chuck Lorre and Jim Parsons weren't bothered by that.  You have to be pretty shallow to think none of that matters but you have to be pretty shallow to mistake crap like YOUNG SHELDON for an actual funny sitcom.
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