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February 28, 2003
"The Bigfoot Got You..."

From Bill O'Reilly's novel, Those Who Trespass:
"I saw the story you filed from Uruguay," Wayne said, "and it was damn good. But the bigfoot got you. Costello liked your report and stole it. This happens all the time. Some genius at GNN has decided that a a few big-name correspondents should get all the important stories, whether they personally report them or not."

From Daniel Ruth of the Tampa Tribune:
O'Reilly, the Joe Isuzu of journalism, has essentially ripped off eight years of reporting by The Tampa Tribune's Michael Fechter while claiming to be some sort of moralist arbiter of professional ethics...After the federal indictment last week of the University of South Florida's Sami Al-Arian, O'Reilly, who's like William F. Buckley with rabies, insisted he was the first person to break the story of the professor's alleged ties to the terrorist Palestinian Islamic Jihad...What the Bubba the Love Sponge of Self-Promotion always conveniently forgets to tell his viewers is that he used material from years of reporting by Fechter about the USF/Palestinian Islamic Jihad connection to prepare for his interview with Al-Arian.

In O'Reilly's novel, O'Reilly's alter ego Shannon Michaels punishes the guy who bigfooted him by driving a spoon through his brain.

Posted by Greg Beato at 04:46 PM
Follow the Money

The Washington Post addresses a question I'd been wondering about the impact of war on media: is it good or bad for business? Obviously, a war attracts more viewers/readers. But it also costs more to cover than a presidential press conference and theoretically it can discourage advertisers. (In the wake of 9/11, though, it seemed like there was quite a bit of patriotic advertising, so if the nation's marketers can turn the horrible and senseless murder of thousands of innocent civilians into a branding opportunity, I think they'll be able to figure out how to spin a war as well.)

In any case, here's the money quote from CNN's president of sales and marketing: "The longer the war lasts, the more money we can make...we don't want to capitalize on the war. We're not out there saying, 'We're going to sell you higher ratings for March and April.' The Persian Gulf War lasted nearly three months and we ended up making a significant amount of money over the time period."

(Link via Romenesko.)

Posted by Greg Beato at 10:22 AM
February 27, 2003
War is Peace

Are we still at Code Orange? Or now that Donahue's been cancelled, are we downshifting to Code Chartreuse, or even Code Blue?

I don't know about you, but I am feeling safer than ever these days. Why? Because the conflict that was once being advertised as a dire effort to save American lives from Iraqi terrorism is now being billed almost exclusively as an effort to liberate long-suffering Iraqis.

"If we have to use force, it's going to be to liberate Iraq, not to occupy Iraq," explained Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz to Fox News.

A few days ago, pre-emptive peacenik Glenn Reynolds concluded that to be anti-war is to be anti-liberation. Apparently, a pro-liberation movement has broken out across the land, as suddenly, the main objective of a country that until a few minutes ago was preoccupied by a terrible economy, duct tape, and reality TV, is to help suffering foreigners.

And terrorism and homeland security don't really appear to be issues anymore. Instead of killing in the name of defense, or even pre-emption, we kill only to liberate.

Can the world survive that much freedom? Only if we can keep our pacifist urges in check. In the Los Angeles Times, Max Boot suggests that anti-war protest is actually a violent form of aggression that somehow leaves protestors with blood on their hands: "The record is fairly clear: When the demands of protesters have been met, more bloodshed has resulted; when strong leaders have resisted the lure of appeasement, peace has usually broken out."

Or to put it another way: when you destroy a nation via awe-inspiring airstrikes, the blood gets on the bombs, not on your hands. Your hands will be free from the taint of pacificist aggression. Protesters have bloody hands; Max Boot has jazz hands, ready to celebrate the snappy, well-choreographed liberation of Iraq.

And, of course, if war equals peace, then you know how that equation plays out: more war must equal even more peace. Onward to Syria! Onward to Iran! Onward to France! We liberated those bastards once already, but apparently once was not enough.

Posted by Greg Beato at 08:16 AM
February 26, 2003
Cultural communism...

Michael Wolff on the free fall of content's value: "Ubiquity became the main media standard. So this is elemental: The more available content is, the inherently less valuable it is. In some sense, the anomaly of music and movies is not that they are, suddenly, in free circulation but that they have existed for so long, against the trend, as paid, premium items." In Friday's Guardian (I think), I'll be saying similar things, as I defy the physics of the digital media economy and repurpose some past Soundbitten content for commercial consumption.

More Wolff: "But paying for content - at least content for content's sake - has become an un-American trait. We believe in getting it all. A bigger and bigger bundle for a lower and lower price. The flat fee rules (we don't even pay for long-distance telephone calls anymore). And a flat fee is very close in function and perception to no fee."

I like flat fees as much as anyone, but will probably never completely accept the idea that all content should be free. It's both a notion that favors corporate content over independently produced content, and at the same time, a kind of cultural communism that to me, patriotic capitalist that I am, seems downright un-American...

More Wolff: "The thing that I always try to say to the movie and music executives frothing at the mouth about this stealing issue (accusing my children and, one might fairly suspect, their own) is that everybody can't be an outlaw. If everybody does it, it's normal rather than aberrant behavior. It's not so much the consumer who is on the wrong side of the law, but the entertainment industry that?s on the wrong side of economic laws."

This line of thinking probably makes good business sense, but I've never understood why it's so widely accepted on an ethical level as well. Millions of people cheat on their taxes. Thousands of people (or maybe millions) drive drunk. Millions smoke marijuana and use other drugs. Does everyone shrug and say the IRS, the nation's police forces, and Ayatollah Ashcroft are on the wrong side of economic laws? If only it were so...

Posted by Greg Beato at 10:55 PM
February 24, 2003
Liberal Oasis Interviews Greg Palast

Palast's book, The Greatest Democracy Money Can Buy, sounds pretty interesting - I'm going to buy a copy. Read this interview and maybe you will too.

Posted by Greg Beato at 11:04 PM
February 23, 2003
Anti-American Media...

Have you noticed how much coverage the Weekly World News has been devoting to the Iraq situation?

It's not online yet, but the current issue reports that inspectors have found a secret arena in Iraq where Saddam feeds Christians to lions. In a previous issue, aliens pledged their support to Bush: "The aliens have committed troops and resources because they are fond of Earth, especially America and its ideals...While the Bush administration is elated over the aliens' willingness to help overthrow Saddam, some critics remain skeptical about America's newest allies. 'It sounds like Bush is getting desperate,' says one skeptic. 'Little green men wanting to fight side by side with America? It's like Bush can't get the support of the other countries on our world, so he's counting on getting help from other worlds.'"

In another issue, the tabloid held a contest to name the war with Iraq: "In recent years, the military has realized the importance of catchy, dramatic names. The Gulf War was known as Operation Desert Storm, the invasion of Afghanistan was titled Operation Enduring Freedom and the hunt for Al Qaeda holdouts was given the powerful name Operation Mountain Sweep. 'Yes, it's important -- a lot of people think that if Vietnam had a better nickname than 'Nam, there might have been more support for the war,' confirms a Pentagon insider."

Some might call this humor - I call it vile left-wing propaganda bordering on treason...

And don't tell me they have Ed Anger for balance. Ed Anger is a commentator, a pundit, a news analyst. All the straightforward reporting, the stuff that's supposed to be done "objectively," is pure liberal ventriloquism. The company that publishes the Weekly World News calls itself American Media, but I suspect that Carville's involved somehow.

UPDATE: In the comments section, Greg Knauss points out that the Carville connection is really quite apparent.

Posted by Greg Beato at 04:55 PM