Friday, April 14, 2006

Logan Pulls Claws. Snikt.

Here's something interesting for all of you interested in the concept of media "bias."

The following video features CNN reporter Lara Logan slowly losing her cool over criticism on the kind of journalism coming out of Iraq right now. I especially love the part at the end where the interviewer points out that vocal media-critic Laura Ingram was in Iraq "for eight days," and Logan practically smirks.

Watch it here.

Now come back and click that little "comments" button.

If you've done that, then you're on another page and can't read this anymore - but let's assume you're stubborn.

"F--- you, Codemorse!" (you say, with surprising venom) "I'm not just pressing a button 'cause you say so! Trust no one!"

All good points. But surely that venom is better distilled into a blisteringly intelligent and thoughtful comment?

Tell us what you think about why there isn't more good news coming out of Iraq, what sort of news sources you tend to trust, and answer the following question honestly: Is Lara Logan just, like, smokingly hot or what? (Answer: Yes. Yes, she is.)


At 8:47 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

First, yes, she's hot. Although the nature of the connection (a little scratchy) makes is sound like she's in the verge of tears, and is mildly grating.

Two, while I do, as a general matter, think the media trend liberal, and therefore, sometimes evident a certain liberal bias, I am not sure that the reporting challenged here (i.e., overwhelming reporting on bombings and the killings, etc.) is evidence of that. The fact of the matter is: Killings make headlines. Period. It's an unfortunate fact that terrorists take advantage of, but it is simply an unbiased truth. If it bleeds, it's on the cover. Let's take Somalia, for example. There was no virtually no reporting on the good done by the military there until the military was dragged through the street. And the President was Clinton. If there's a school being built and a bunch of dead bodies lying around, the bodies make the news. Sure, the reporting helps the terrorists and the murderers (and their perceived agenda), but it's not a bias issue.

Three, her empassioned plea acts as a reminder of the bias inherent in all people. Of course she's biased. We're all biased. We like to think of our media is simply reporting back what they see, but of course that's rarely the case. Each individual comes with his or her own impressions, and they see evidence that either contradicts or supports that impression. Which is to say, her empassioned plea, while comforting to those who want to believe the media isn't bias, is actually evidence of bias.

I know one reporter for CNN, who I imagine tries to be as fair as possible. She happens to be one of the most liberal people I have ever met. [She's also hot.] And while I imagine she tries to leave her biases at the door, she's human, and is likely only so successful.

All of which is to say, we're all biased, and all media is biased in some way. That's fine. I cannot imagine any reasonable person would think that the media is not more liberal than conservative, but that's my perception. My bias, as it were.

At 9:48 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

All very good points, Jabs.

But what's "bias" as you deploy it? If her impassioned pleas are, in fact, in support of a real situation in Iraq (ie: ongoing security issues that dwarf the progress), then is it bias she's displaying? Or is it professional indignation?

I happen to agree that each individual person brings with them bias into any occupation. But where I get fuzzy is in the concept of an industry being biased. Because the word "bias" loses effect to me when it's applied to something as wide-ranging and as multi-faceted as a corporation.

What bias does, say, CBS have? Is it a bias toward airing "liberal" coverage? Is it a bias toward airing the most sensational news, to seize the larger viewer share? Is it a bias toward their advertisers and sponsors?

And aren't all three of these possibilities sort-of inherently contradictory to each others' interests? Isn't the desire to report a certain political stripe of story fundamentally at odds with a desire to please network advertisers?

Lara Logan, why do you torment me so with esoteric questions and your flaxen hair!

At 9:49 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

And just so my constant Devil's Advocating doesn't get in the way of my initial statement: I think your points are excellent.

As always, just trying to throw light onto all sides of an issue.

At 11:27 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Flaxen hair. Sweet.

I understand what you're saying. And you are basically right.

When people say the "media" is biased, it's a broad generalization. When I think of the media as "biased," I guess what I'm thinking is this:

It appears to me (just my perception, although I'm hardly the only one to hold it) that a majority of individuals you see (broadcast journalists, print journalists, etc.) in the mainstream media (CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, NY Times, Wash. Post.,) are more liberal than they are conservative.

It really shouldn't come as that big of a surprise. Let's say that a substantial majority of the larger corporations running those media outlets are based in New York, D.C. and L.A. And let's also assume that the employees of these corporations the market to the entire U.S. are also based in those urban centers. These are the liberal centers of the United States, proportionally. As the new ombudsman (he's not that new anymore) of the New York Times said, (and I'm sort of paraphrasing), "our perceptions are not universal, we're based in New York, and most of us live here. It's not the Kansas City Times."

But of course, these are corporations. They are not individuals, although individuals run them. A corporation is no more "liberal," than it is "greedy." It's a fictional entity created to facilitate market efficiency.

And a corporation's shareholders, officers and directors will, absent extraordinary circumstances, focus almost entirely on the bottom line.

Meanwhile, you know what's weird. The whole "Devil's Advocate" thing sort of creeps me out after the Keannu Reaves movie. I didn't like that at all, and have since had a not-so-good feeling about the phrase, while I appreciate the sentiment.

At 9:06 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

I'll leave the term out in the future, and replace it by saying "You know, I'm just being a prickly, argumentative sonofabitch here..."

At 1:14 PM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

"You know, I'm just being a prickly, argumentative sonofabitch here..."

Truth in advertising right there! ;-)

At 2:00 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

I can hide my crotchety old-manness no longer.

At 2:37 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Saw another Keanu movie last night, The Replacements. So, I'm feeling a little better about Neo right now.


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