Long Read: “Cable News Charnel”

Alex Pareene, at the Baffler, on “Mayhem as a guide for living“:

… Local television news, the only local news many Americans consume, has long reserved airtime for a nightly street grotesque. A persistent majority of Americans believe crime is worsening, even as the actual rate of violent crime falls to levels not seen since the era of Mad Men. The disjuncture is almost certainly attributable to the pride of place that local news producers grant to any and all stories drenched in blood on the 6- and 11-o’clock broadcasts. Even if the crimes are fewer, they’re more likely to be “caught on camera” than ever, thanks to the prevalence of smart phones and the modern tendency to film everything. “Shocking footage tonight” is probably one of the most commonly entered teleprompter script lines in television.

Which now means that we’re in the middle of a fascinating experiment in which we learn what happens when those images run counter to the usual crime-news narrative of cops versus thugs. If we lay the cable coverage of the Baltimore riots side by side with the same networks’ ISIS fixation, something very close to a photographic negative emerges. In the case of ISIS, the inescapable brutality of videotaped murder seems to make the case for a violent response. But when it comes to images of violence on the streets of American inner cities, that core logic gets inverted. The recent, sickening spate of videos documenting the extrajudicial assassination of American citizens by police officers has been less professional than ISIS’s “slickly produced” iMovie-edited snuff films. Though as undersecretary Stengel would be quick to point out, that’s because they’ve mainly been produced by YOU, the diligent civilian content-creator; they were shot mainly with cellphones or surveillance cameras. The victims were Eric Garner, in New York City; Tamir Rice, in Cleveland; and Walter Scott, in South Carolina. Their deaths, along with the deaths of Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, and other, less publicized names from across the country, contributed to what has likely been the biggest outpouring of racially charged domestic unrest since the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

But in diametric contrast to the ISIS coverage, newscasters urge Americans outraged by these deaths to remain calm and peaceful, and to attempt to address their grievances through diplomacy, persuasion, and (eventually) in the voting booths. There was an immediate response, from almost every corner of the respectable mainstream press, to delegitimize violence as a proper response to violence…

The moralizing pundits, like the Baltimore police, seemed to fail to grasp that this time, the nation’s silent majority may be more sympathetic to the rioters than to the police. The regular comment-section eruptions of white-supremacist angst, of the sort that fueled Matt Drudge’s regular coverage of every instance of a black person hurting a white person in the Obama era, certainly continued to operate like clockwork. But the usual disingenuous calls for restrained responses to violent aggression didn’t seem to land as nicely as they had in the past…

76 replies
  1. 1
  2. 2
    redshirt says:

    @efgoldman: I used to get the NY Times, The Economist, and the Wall Street Journal…. and now I get none of that.

    I’ve stuck with other magazines, but at this point it’s like semi-charity.

    And I gave up TV upon moving to the mountains and my gads it’s like a burst of fresh air.

  3. 3
    Chris says:

    But in diametric contrast to the ISIS coverage, newscasters urge Americans outraged by these deaths to remain calm and peaceful, and to attempt to address their grievances through diplomacy, persuasion, and (eventually) in the voting booths. There was an immediate response, from almost every corner of the respectable mainstream press, to delegitimize violence as a proper response to violence…

    I do find it fascinating that those qualities that American opinionmakers prize the most in people like Gandhi, MLK, Mandela (the saintly nonviolence being pretty much all they’re remembered for) are the exact same ones that make you a chicken, an appeaser, a dangerous pacifist who’s Objectively Pro-[whatever], as soon as there’s any hint of it from a white, Western, “establishment” figure.

    Nonviolence is for other people. Only we can be trusted to beat, kill and torture our way through problems.

  4. 4
    srv says:

    glibertarian and gliberal crusaders can fully integrate their anti-authoritarian ethos enabled through wide spectrum gidgetsets scatterpopulating the socialspheria.

    A smart politician will see new tools to break the strongest municipal unions. Thanks for playing.

  5. 5
    jl says:

    Might be nice too if white news reporters and judges did not run out first thing and ask the black victims of police violence to forgive the perpetrators.

    Why are they doing that? It might be racism. Or it might be an example of the truth of Benjamin Franklin’s maxim that it is more difficult in some deep psychological sense to accept for forgiveness than to give it, more difficult some sense to know one is of the guilty party than of the wronged. At least for anyone with a shred of decency.

  6. 6
    Arm The Homeless says:

    As a part of {insert silly generational description} I can attest to the fact that no one I know actually watches TV news, or consumes dead tree newspapers.

    Im here and memeorandum most mornings while walking the dog, I catch clips from a few different sites, but never live. EVER. FFS, Jane Pauley is on ABC nooz, at what point in this century has she been relevant?

    American journalism is a joke, it has been my entire life. I feel like I spend more time sifting through the BS to get a kernel of truth, and frankly, it’s not worth it.

    Truth != number of upvotes.

    Now get off my lawn!

  7. 7
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    What the ever-loving blue-eyed FUCK is this?


  8. 8
    Cervantes says:


    glibertarian and gliberal crusaders can fully integrate their anti-authoritarian ethos enabled through wide spectrum gidgetsets scatterpopulating the socialspheria.


  9. 9
    Tommy says:

    @redshirt: I get none of them. I used to get all of them. Telling.

  10. 10
    FlipYrWhig says:

    The moralizing pundits, like the Baltimore police, seemed to fail to grasp that this time, the nation’s silent majority may be more sympathetic to the rioters than to the police

    Do we think Pareene is right? I doubt it. I think the nation’s silent majority still loves cops. In fact if the authorities turned fire hoses on nonviolent black protesters now, most of the audience would cheer for the hoses.

  11. 11
    jl says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Don’t have time to find them now, but I saw some polls on recent deaths where a comfortable majority of whites thought that most of the blame lay with the police. Gray death in Baltimore and Garner in NYC, IIRC.

  12. 12
    Brachiator says:

    There was an immediate response, from almost every corner of the respectable mainstream press, to delegitimize violence as a proper response to violence…

    In blasting the mainstream media, the author of this piece deftly dances around a few important points. Pareene is correct to note that many of these videos are not shot by cable news crews, but done by civilians.

    But the larger point is that the mainstream media reaction is often second or third hand. These images first bubble up on social media, where the first and most intense discussion often begins. In some cases, the mainstream media have dutifully and passively done little more than document the lies and obfuscations of police departments and government agencies, and then get tangled themselves in lies as they are confronted with material that contradicts the official version of events.

    Meanwhile, increasingly the public, especially younger people, have not bothered to watch cable or local news in the first place, and are further repelled by the slowfooted and increasingly out of date media and their hoary pundits trying to repackage and resell stale news and opinion.

    And on top of all this is the slow burning fury of people who see justice denied.

  13. 13

    @srv: @Cervantes: seriously, what? does this have something to do with the way that colorless green ideas sleep?

  14. 14
    Cervantes says:


    I miss Shel, very much.

    Two very young relatives of ours, having newly read some of his works, made a plan recently to write to him to express their bright-eyed admiration and offer some suggestions. It damn near broke our hearts to explain why the plan might not work as expected.

  15. 15
    srv says:

    These people just. can’t. stop:

    An irritated federal judge Thursday put the Hillary Clinton email scandal into stark terms, grilling the State Department on a pattern of delayed document releases that has turned a possible bureaucratic logjam into a major problem for the leading Democratic presidential contender.

    “Now, any person should be able to review that in one day — one day,” the judge said, examining a request for just over 60 emails. “Even the least ambitious bureaucrat could do this.

    And in a twist, State also revealed holes in its own federal record as officials said they were still awaiting some work-related emails from Clinton’s top department brass, including Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills.

    One of them, Clinton’s former spokesman, Philippe Reines, for example, on Tuesday turned over 20 boxes of work-related emails taken in part from a personal email account, calling into question the extent to which top aides to the former secretary of state also engaged in controversial email practices.

    Maybe if Patraeus had used a cigar.

  16. 16
    cmorenc says:

    CNN all too often follows the model of local news blown up to an international stage. For example, later on this afternoon, while other networks were still focused on developing news in the indictment of the Cincinnati police officer and the release of the body cam – CNN focused lots of air time on the finding of a “flaperon” washed up on Reunion Island that might (not definitely, just might) be from the Malaysia airline crash over a year ago. Recall how for several weeks last year while that event was still relatively recent, CNN was all-air-crash speculation all-the-time.

    Given the way CNN often mis-covers politics when there aren’t any airline crashes to exhaustively cover, maybe their easy distraction onto the cable-news-network equivalent of fires and car crashes on local news isn’t such a bad thing.

  17. 17
    Duane says:

    Our local TV news leader has become so misleading I have started calling them out for it. They apparently don’t know Google.

  18. 18
    jl says:

    So many people to hate and fear for no reason, or the wrong reason, and so little time…

    Drudge Report Asks Whether Pope Francis Is The ‘Antichrist’

    Edit: I take back ‘hate… for the wrong reason’, if they are wrong, just just argue and work to fix it, not hate and call names. But I am not a reactionary, so what do I know?

  19. 19
    Culture of Truth says:

    Don’t forget media demands for forgiveness. Only when a cop kills someone, of course.

  20. 20
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: He’s such a lovable guy! Look at that grin!

    You know who else had an infectious laugh?



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    srv says:

    No fear, AP History is strong:

    The College Board official did confirm that “American exceptionalism” was added to the new document. The official said that the phase didn’t appear in the 2014 edition because the organization assumed it wasn’t something it needed to spell out as part of what would be taught in an American history course.

  23. 23
    Suzanne says:

    Speaking of news and sensationalism.

    So when I was in graduate school, my little group of classmates became friends with one of our instructors. She was working on her PhD while we were doing our MArchs, and she was very much an advisor and friend to us during the four years I was there. She was a single mom, and she extended me a lot of kindness and praised some of my work, since I was a single mom at the time, too.

    So then I see, all over our local news, she’s been arrested. Apparently 25 years ago, when her daughter was a toddler, she was divorcing her husband and she reported to CPS that her daughter was being molested by her husband. CPS investigated but didn’t find anything. So she found some group of people that helped her go underground, changed her and her daughter’s names, got new Social Security numbers, the works. She’s facing three years in prison.

    The news is being grossly sensationalistic about it. One article even reported her scores on ratemyprofessor.com and quoted some of the reviews, as if that matters in the slightest. I don’t know her all that well, but I have the hardest time thinking that she would do anything like that unless she was just absolutely out of options.

  24. 24
    Chris says:


    Had a somewhat similar conversation a couple years ago with a relative (Jewish and Zionist) casually asked me (as the Middle Eastern Studies person in the family, I get such questions from time to time) why we hadn’t bombed Iran’s facilities yet, or at least given Israel the green light to do so.

    Blame it on having spent too much time overseas, having too many foreign friends, or having spent too much time reading about the region, but there’s something absolutely terrifying about the casualness (and regularity) with which so many Americans are happy to consign people outside their borders to death. And this guy wasn’t even particularly right wing.

  25. 25
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @efgoldman: I heard a tiny bit of that hearing live on C-Span radio today. As horrible as Graham was, you will be unlikely to be surprised that Ted Cruz was much worse.

    C-Span has the full hearing.

    Cruz’s “questions” (4:42)

    What a “brilliant” man. :-/


  26. 26
    sigaba says:

    Pareene’s one of my favorite writers, and he’s a brilliant genius, but, damn doesn’t he love his parentheticals and long-ass sentences.

    The current State Department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs is none other than former Time editor Richard Stengel, the man who, in 2006, named “YOU”—as in the diligent Everyman creator and curator of user-generated Internet content—Time’s person of the year. (If we are to concede the notion that ISIS has ingeniously subverted the Western canons of social media branding to serve its own sick propaganda aims, then it’s only fair to ask just how many of its founders may have seen that infamous Time cover and thought to themselves, Indeed, Mr. Stengel, I am the hidden hand driving the course of world history!)

  27. 27
    redshirt says:

    @Chris: We’re the Empire. Of course we’re supposed to be bombing someone.

  28. 28
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @redshirt: Who did the Romans bomb?

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    Brachiator says:


    Howkum nobody ever asks: What’s winning, Senator? How many American deaths constitute a “win?” More than Iraq? Fewer? How many young Americans are you prepared to sacrifice in order to put us in another war in the Middle East, and likely create the Iraq chaos cubed? Give us a number, Senator.

    To be crass for a second, I don’t think there would be that many American deaths, or that is just one part of the picture. And I assume that the US could kill Iranians all day and all night.

    But would the point of this war just to be to spank Iran because they dare defy us? Would we occupy the country? Would we try to install a friendly or compliant ruler (good luck with that).

    The warmongers see war with Iran as the end of something. But it would only be the beginning of a mess nastier than the Iraq War and its residue. Or maybe these boneheads want a declared American Empire founded on the bones of Muslims.

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Brachiator: There would be a lot of American deaths. Just look at a topographical map. How do you invade and conquer that country without a lot of deaths?

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    Culture of Truth says:

    Good lord. Iran is a big country. To occupy and install a new ruler would be all but impossible.

  32. 32
    srv says:


    Western canons

    Our canons are better than theirs. Some liberals may disagree.

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    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Frankly, the “free market” has failed, utterly, except in the most narrow of economic senses (that of printing money for the owners) in the case of news, particularly local news. They chase the most sensational footage they can find, and they warp the perceptions of the viewers, most of whom have not developed “critical viewing” skills.

    Let me give you an example from my own personal experience. I was stationed in Seoul in 1987. Every spring, right after exams, students poured out of the schools and into the streets to protest whatever nonsense the government was pushing. Both sides did this very selectively, in that they chose particular places with good lines of sight for TV cameras for their clashes. A block away from the ruckus, everything was normal.

    My parents saw this footage of “riots” back in the streets and were concerned for my safety. All they had to go on was what the networks showed, and the networks quite willingly went along with the charade of both the protesters and the riot police who would wait patiently for the camera crews to get set up before the action chalkboard was clicked. I had to explain to my parents that what they saw on the TV had nothing at all to do with just about every aspect of everyday life in Seoul in the spring, except on that one street where the “riot” was being staged in a kabuki manner (although the Koreans would never call it that, of course…) for the benefit of audiences domestically in Korea and internationally.

    We saw the lies that television told in Baghdad…the closeup of the jubilant Iraqis, and then the long shot showing an empty square except for a knot of jubilant Iraqis around a camera. TV news has been manipulated from day one as a propaganda device, and that has not changed. There is no honesty in it. There was a brief period in the 60’s where it almost broke out, but that was squashed and reined in. Now with cell phones doubling as cameras, we’re seeing another change. The old gatekeepers are losing their power.

  34. 34
    Culture of Truth says:

    Invading an occupying Iran would be a big deal. Not big like Benghazi, but still.

  35. 35
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @efgoldman: GRAHAM: Could we win a war with Iran? Who wins the war between us and Iran? Who wins? Do you have any doubt who wins?
    CARTER: No, the United States…
    GRAHAM: We win!

    Good Christ, as Twitter Nixon likes to say. The Beltway considers this man a moderate and one of their smartest voices on foreign policy. Tweety had a round-up of GOPers calling for bombing Iran, including Louie Goehmert, who didn’t sound as stupid as Graham does here.

    I only caught the tail-end of what Cheney spewed, but it sounded like he said Barack Obama doesn’t get that military force works. These people seem to have convinced themselves that we won(!) the Iraq War, because the “Surge”.

  36. 36
    NotMax says:

    There’s always been a percentage (albeit small – and variable amongst channels – but more or less constant) of threads of gold dispersed amid the dross of TV newscasts.

    With the hyperactivity and sensationalism cranked up in a 24/7 broadcast environment, it’s sad to say less and less of the audience either doesn’t or can’t recognize the dross for what it is.

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    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @jl: Mark Halperin still worships the ground Drudge walks on.

    Which is just one of many reasons why his name is in indelible ink on the tumbrel manifest.

  38. 38
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: May I ask a question? Why the French method and not the Russian?

  39. 39
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Sentiment. The French version made an honest multiyear attempt at reform before succumbing to tyranny. The Russian effort at that only lasted 6 months.

  40. 40
    NotMax says:


    Small point, but CNN has next to no physical presence here. What they did was pick up and show feeds from the local Hawaii stations (and those stations have next to no permanent presence on the islands other than Oahu – they will grudgingly fly over a token crew to the neighbor islands for a big unfolding story like that, though.).

  41. 41
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Danton as a more appealing figure than Trotsky…

    ETA: The French tyranny came from a brilliant gunner. I am persuaded.

  42. 42
    Brachiator says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    There would be a lot of American deaths. Just look at a topographical map. How do you invade and conquer that country without a lot of deaths?

    I don’t object to Graham’s reverie just because it would put American lives at risk. I object because the idea of America invading and conquering Iran is fundamentally absurd. It would be absurd and futile even if no American died. That Republicans so cavalierly ponder the notion of waging war where ever they want and whenever they want is insanity.

    Obviously American soldiers would die in any invasion. And there would be deaths and reprisals as long as there was an occupation.

    But if Graham were a serious contender for the GOP nomination, or if regime change became a consensus proposal of the nominees, Iran would have a powerful incentive to rush to develop nuclear weapons as quickly as possible. And this would be just the beginning of a long string of problems.

  43. 43
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Brachiator: I get that. You made your point clearly. I am saying that your throwaway comment about not many American deaths was wrong. And crass as hell.

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    John Revolta says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: How do you invade and conquer that country without a lot of deaths?

    John McCain (and the Beach Boys) have that all figured out……………………..

  46. 46
    sigaba says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    Good lord. Iran is a big country. To occupy and install a new ruler would be all but impossible.

    It’s about three times the size of Texas.

    Devil’s advocate: the CIA and the British installed the Shah with $20 worth of protestors and a well-placed coup. This was back when Republican warmongers were the Dulles brothers, who could actually deliver half the time. Notwithstanding the fact that everything they fought for and believed in was a huge crock, and ended up working against us in the long run.

  47. 47
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    Devil’s advocate:

    Not an available option. Our current options are the current deal that kicks the can down the road fifteen years or so or no deal. In fifteen years, Iran may be the world’s vacation paradise – who knows? The deal puts off war for years without the Western nations risking a thing.

  48. 48
    srv says:

    @sigaba: Urban folks will complete the Green Revolution with our assistance. Plenty of ex-pats to send back to help. Rural folks will be tougher, but we just have to get them to kill each other. Azeri, Kurds, Turkmen, Balochi and Pashtun will be helpful there.

    6000 KIA, tops. Removes the nuclear threat, bleeds out Hezbollah and prevents the Saudis from going nuclear too. Winning.

  49. 49
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    6000 KIA, tops.

    Even though you are a pure troll and all that, that is obscene.

  50. 50

    I want a late-night thread for west coasters :(

    And better trolls D:

  51. 51
    srv says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    NCRI – The Iranian authorities are believed to have executed an astonishing 694 people between 1 January and 15 July 2015, said Amnesty International today, in an unprecedented spike in executions in the country.

    “This is equivalent to executing more than three people per day.”

    Sweet dreams, Omnes.

  52. 52
    Brachiator says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I get that. You made your point clearly. I am saying that your throwaway comment about not many American deaths was wrong. And crass as hell.

    We disagree. And it wasn’t a throwaway comment. And you got my main point.

  53. 53

    Nobody ever talks about invading North Korea. What could it be about Iran…

  54. 54
    Brachiator says:


    Devil’s advocate: the CIA and the British installed the Shah with $20 worth of protestors and a well-placed coup.

    The Middle East has wised up to authoritarian puppets installed by the West. This is one of the reasons you see the rise of people like bin Laden and Islamic fundamentalists. Strangely enough, some Republicans claim that they are hard-eyed realists, but don’t understand how the situation has changed.

    And the US has often been played by puppets who claimed, for example, that they were loyal pro-American anti-communists, even as they simply lined their pockets with American aid and settled scores against their enemies.

    The Dulles brothers and their ilk often deluded themselves as to how effective they were as masters of the universe.

  55. 55
    Brachiator says:

    I don’t know Alex Pareene’s work and tried to read more of the long piece. Is the author advocating a kind of facile neo-isolationism?

    The fiction that ISIS—a band of fanatics currently engaged in protracted battles and occupations half a world away from the United States—poses an existential threat to the best-armed nation in the history of the world both burnishes the group’s credentials with would-be jihadis and gives weight to Fox’s critique of a Democratic president as soft on terror.

    I don’t think that ISIS poses a direct, immediate threat to the US, but that is only part of the bigger picture. The snide dismissal, that they are just a ragtag band of fanatics underestimates their ability to disrupt the Middle East and suggests that the author doesn’t understand the region. And the fact that the US is the best-armed nation in the world, or how Fox abuses stories about ISIS to attempt to discredit Obama are irrelevancies.

  56. 56

    @Brachiator: Pareene works at Salon for a reason.

  57. 57
    Tommy says:

    @Major Major Major Major: I kind of like much of what he writes.

  58. 58
    sigaba says:

    @Major Major Major Major: I don’t think Pareene’s written for Salon in at least a year.


    6000 KIA, tops.

    “…depending on the breaks.”

  59. 59
    sigaba says:

    @srv: America’s #1 asian trading partner has certainly executed twice that number since January 1st, and even better, has efficiently redirected all of the remaining organs to worthy recipients. It’s definitely not laudable behavior but it doesn’t justify invasions. We don’t even sanction China.

    Why is this exactly? Is it because their behavior is somehow less heinous? (Maybe on a per capita basis I suppose.) Or is it just because China offers us lots of opportunities to make money, and Iran doesn’t?

    Do we even have to go into Saudi Arabia’s systematic execution of criminals and political dissidents? They’ve killed 88 this year, one for every 350,000 people; Iran has executed one person for every 120,000. Is this what separates our closest middle eastern partner from our sworn enemy? Why don’t we invade Saudi Arabia? Because they only executed 88 people this year and not 150?

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    Cervantes says:


    Isn’t realpolitik edifying?

  61. 61
    Joel says:

    @Major Major Major Major: I think he was at Gawker briefly but his half-researched work would get torn apart by commenters.

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    Another Holocene Human says:

    @efgoldman: Sure, it’s not conscious racism. It’s that white privilege backpack that means never having to conceptualize how that would feel from the other side. It’s like “religious blah person forgave Roof, let’s ask this religious blah person if they forgive Tensing”. Which kind of boils down to “all Hewmons look alike” again.

    It was a really, really inappropriate question, and it seemed to throw DuBose’s mother a bit off her game. She ends up saying (maybe in not so many words) “I don’t/Man doesn’t forgive, God forgives” and “I know God’s wrath”. Didn’t sound like a lady ready to forgive anybody.

  63. 63
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Is it funny? Does he come off as human?

    All of the GOP candidates are trying this. They must go to the same seminars. (Also, Obama, “That One”, does funny social media bits successfully.)

  64. 64
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Brachiator: Well said.

  65. 65
    Another Holocene Human says:


    Local affiliates, if they choose to, can also be good on local corruption stories. Our local (Providence) CBS affiliate caught a small-town fire chief not only using his department SUV for personal use (hardly a major sin) but going drinking and then driving it away from the bar (a different problem altogether).

    I hate that shit because they hang lesser employees out to dry for that, even if it was a simple, fast pit stop. Hey, people need to pee and drink fluids, it’s a fact!

    At my employer they just flat out said it’s policy that supervisors can use their vehicles for personal business. We had a dirty one who did just that, run around to the bank, do errands, even ran his personal business on company time which was against the rules but for some reason he didn’t get canned for. (He got canned for a vulgar remark that was caught on tape. Standards!)

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    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Suzanne: My question is, what else did that guy do, and is that exculpatory?

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    Chris says:


    The CIA and British could do that because Iran at the time was still a democracy, a very fragile one, and one where foreign influence on the government was a very real thing (Iranian politicians who were the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company’s bitches weren’t hard to find even after Mossadegh’s election). Nowadays, it’s an authoritarian regime (that’s had thirty six years to entrench itself), with a secret police worth of the Iron Curtain there to make sure that that doesn’t happen to the current rulers.

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    Another Holocene Human says:


    And the US has often been played by puppets who claimed, for example, that they were loyal pro-American anti-communists, even as they simply lined their pockets with American aid and settled scores against their enemies.

    Or Whitey Bulger.

  69. 69
    boatboy_srq says:

    @redshirt: Fascinating thing about living in the media hell that is Beltway territory: the local news is an embarrassment. All the buy-ins to the old memes (Southeast and PG County are hotbeds of drugs/muggings/stabbings/shootings but hoocoodanode the ammosexual wingnut in exurban NoVA would shoot anyone?; roads svck but Metro is whining about insufficient funding again; plus the local interest stories about how cute it is some people are planting vegetable gardens in semi-empty lots when there’s a Whole Foods not two miles away), all the BSDI BS, kowtowing to the WaPo and other insider rags. My first apartment was too far out to get more than six channels on broadcast: the new place probably gets far stronger signal but I never put up the antenna and just went straight to FiOS for BBC/PBS/movies/documentaries (and fvck the news). The closer in I get to the District the less I watch. I think I get less than five hours of TV time a week.

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    boatboy_srq says:

    @Brachiator: It doesn’t helm MSM outlets that they don’t get their cameras out to the neighborhoods where this stuff happens without sticking out like a sore thumb. “Reporters” are hardly the low-profile individuals capturing stuff “as it happens” anymore: they’re followed by a crew, with oversize cameras and recording equipment (complete with additional lighting, makeup/prop persons and occasionally a teleprompter) and in a full-size van with the station logo splashed gaudily across every side. They’re not a sight you miss, and they’re not something people who would misbehave without the cams rolling will ignore. Aside from that, though, the stuff they should be covering is in places they don’t seem to want to go unless there’s a crime scene complete with perimeter tape, or some massive spill/leak/explosion for background; so naturally there’s nobody from the crew out there observing how things go and they wind up onsite well after the fact (Nobody gave a hoot, for example, when Freddie Gray got picked up; and nobody showed until the massive unrest got “interesting”). They’re far more interested in lawless gangs throwing stuff at cops, or the distant aftereffects of some violent incident, than they are in cause or precursor events, and only pick those up when the ordinary-citizen footage gets widespread attention or the body/dash cam video is released and highlighted.

    In a way it’s not the reporters’ fault: they’re career journalists in a market going down the tubes, where visibility and the big safe scoop with lots of visibility is the key to promotion, so doing the dirty work without the lights/camera/retinue is not only unglamorous but unnoticeable to the people who would give them their next job or big assignment.

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    boatboy_srq says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Similar story here. I was in Northern Ireland when the IRA was active, and in SoCal during a fairly “quiet” period. Every time a bomb went off in Belfast the whole world knew within an hour; but in Los Angeles, on the morning radio, along with the weather-and-traffic-on-the-Ns info there was a body count by district, and that information never left the Bowl much less garnered national or global attention.

    ETA: journalism has rarely been an even-handed enterprise. What’s happening is as much increased availability of the stories as increased sensationalism. Read the big papers from 1898, or 1800, for examples: there was just as much scoopchasing then as now – the only difference was that the language was somewhat different (better?) because the target audience was different.

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    boatboy_srq says:

    @redshirt: Economist and WSJ went Reichwing a while back, and now WSJ is a sNoozecorp property they’ve gone fullblown wingnut. NYT still has its moments. I used to pick up the first two occasionally but couldn’t stomach the BS: my NYT sub dropped over a year ago. I miss it but not enough to subscribe again. I sometimes read the Portland Press-Herald, SF Chron, SJ Mercury News or St Pete Times, but that’s a rarity these days.

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    Cluttered Mind says:

    @boatboy_srq: Krugman’s blog isn’t behind the paywall, and that’s the best stuff you can find affiliated with the NYT, so I never bothered with a subscription myself. 10 free articles a month is enough to read the good stuff.

  74. 74
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: no, their belief is the Dolchstosslegende: they believe that the surge put us on the track to winning in Iraq but Obama stabbed the troops in the back and made us lose. If he’d only hung on for one more Friedman unit, or twelve or twenty.

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    Cluttered Mind says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Excellent analogy. I have often wondered what it must have been like to be a German civilian at the end of WWI. Nothing but positive reports coming in from the front, military generals promising victory any moment now, tight control of the news by the military leadership…and then all of a sudden total defeat and crushing economic collapse. I imagine it must have felt like how wingnuts who only got their news from Fox and other right wing sites felt when Obama crushed Romney in 2012 after months of reporting promising the exact opposite.

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    Brachiator says:


    In a way it’s not the reporters’ fault: they’re career journalists in a market going down the tubes, where visibility and the big safe scoop with lots of visibility is the key to promotion

    Of course it’s the reporters’ fault, along with the editors and publishers.

    And it’s not just about camera crews sticking out like a sore thumb. Often some of the most compelling video is captured by people who just happened to accidentally be where something was happening. And instead of giving or selling the video to a news outlet, these people can post it immediately on a social media site without an editorial filter. When the news crews later come out, they are often filming an empty street and an empty headed news reporter who is late on the scene.

    And as another poster noted, the golden age of honest journalism was actually relatively brief. Here in Southern California, talk radio is still very profitable (because of the morning and afternoon drive time market), but the reporters who cover the police beat are hacks who happily kiss up to the police in order to get access, and the news editor and management have clearly decreed a strong “pro police” stance with respect to coverage and commentary.

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