Thursday, November 15, 2012

Media Equivalency is No Public Service


We've just concluded one contest wherein the mainstream media felt an obligation to practice equivalency, a bizarre belief that meant it could not point out factual mistakes of one candidate without noting miscues of the other, no matter how egregious the former’s lies were and how insignificant the latter’s were. Brazen and emboldened by a comment from his pollster, Neil Newhouse—"We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers"—Mitt Romney constructed a campaign of lies and innuendoes, confident that for every whopper he told, the mainstream media (I know, I sound sooo Fox Newsy) would soften the correction by pointing out one of President Obama’s misstatements. 

We’ll return to Romney shortly, but first let’s consider another media mess, the current conflict between Israel and Hamas.  Last night CBS News aired video of an Israeli air strike assassination of Ahmed al-Jabari, the military leader of Hamas. It also mentioned other air strikes within the Gaza Strip. Aside from marveling at the precision of the takeout of al-Jabari, the report left the uninformed wondering just why Israel had sent its planes into Gaza at this time. CBS failed to mention the rocket and missile attacks Arab terrorists had launched over the last month, 1,000 in all, according to Israel’s U.S. Ambassador, Michael Oren. Anyone listening to Scott Pelley might have concluded Israel was the aggressor when it simply was retaliating for repeated attacks no nation would tolerate.

CBS was not alone in its under-reporting. NPR’s All Things Considered program today said “fighting began” after the Israeli air strike. Doesn’t NPR think indiscriminate rocket fire amounts to fighting? Do we really think Hamas and its more evil cousins launched those missiles with no hope or expectation they would murder or at the very least maim Israeli civilians? Are we expected to admonish Israel because its military is more precise and effective? 

Tensions along the Gaza frontier could escalate into a mini-war or a full scale affair there, as well as in the north with Hezbollah. I hope not. One thing to remember is that Israel's Iron Dome missile defense is not impervious and by that I don't mean infallible. As I explained six months ago after spending time with trauma care providers who live and work in the border settlements near Gaza, Iron Dome is meant to protect larger cities, such as Ashkelon, Be’er Sheva and Tel Aviv, not the small kibbutzim and moshavs adjacent to the Gaza Strip. 

Residents of the districts near the border have about 15 seconds’ warning of incoming rocket fire to seek shelter. Homes within four and a half kilometers (2.7 miles) of the border have been outfitted by the government with “safe rooms” built to withstand a direct hit. In communities four and a half to seven kilometers (4.2 miles) from the border, no safe rooms are retrofitted to existing homes. The only government funded security is a shelter for kindergarten children. Beyond seven kilometers, everyone is vulnerable. No safety measures are provided.

For a modest depiction of conditions in the border settlements near the Gaza Strip, read this post from May 2011: http://nosocksneededanymore.blogspot.com/2011/05/well-deserved-rest-relaxation.html

Now back to Romney. We found out Wednesday just how much of a scuzzball the Mittster really is. After disavowing his infamous “47%” comments during the campaign, Romney exposed himself once again as a bigoted, boorish man. In a telephone call to donors and supporters, he explained away his loss as a natural outcome after President Obama gave away stuff to buy votes. Free contraceptives (because college girls like to have sex). Free health care for children until they are 26, (presumably because they like to get sick). Tuition loan relief (because not everyone has millionaires for parents and can afford to pay for college out of pocket). Romney took no responsibility for running a lousy campaign, one that essentially wrote off half the country as “victims” who only want to take handouts from the government (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/romney-blames-loss-on-obamas-gifts-to-minorities-and-young-voters/). 

Though Romney showed he is beyond redemption, GOP governors apparently comprehend the shallowness of his and their party’s appeal to young people, women, Latinos, Asians and Afro-Americans. During a meeting Wednesday of the Republican Governors Association, several rebuffed Romney’s representation of the election results as a gross misrepresentation (http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/11/15/republican-governors-put-blame-on-romney.html). 

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