Monday, February 27, 2006


Charles Bird, Media Visionary

Charles Bird catches CNN taking the loser-defeatist position:

CNN provides another perfect example of the mainstream media talking down the war in Iraq and trying to transform spin good news into negative news. The scary title:

Pentagon: Iraqi troops downgraded

No Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support

Followed by the ominous first three paragraphs:

The only Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support has been downgraded to a level requiring them to fight with American troops backing them up, the Pentagon said Friday.

The battalion, made up of 700 to 800 Iraqi Army soldiers, has repeatedly been offered by the U.S. as an example of the growing independence of the Iraqi military.

The competence of the Iraqi military has been cited as a key factor in when U.S. troops will be able to return home.
To be clear, CNN is talking about Level 1 troops only, and by focusing on Level 1 they are being factually accurate but misleading. Also, dare I say, biased. The real measure of Iraqi troop quality is Level 2 or better.
Biased? CNN? Please, Charles, continue to peel the scales from our eyes vis-à-vis this “ominous” report:
The good news – and the most important news – is that the number of Level 2 battalions has nearly tripled since last May, from 18 to 53. That means there are 40,000± Iraqi troops capable enough to competently fight and defeat terrorists and militant Sunni rejectionists, with the U.S. there to provide a little logistical support. But apparently to CNN, important information such as this is not important to them. Level 2 progress doesn't get mentioned until the 9th paragraph, fourth to last from the end. And we wonder why so many Americans believe not just that we're losing, but that we've already lost.
Damn you, CNN! Damn you for holding out on the “good news” until the 9th paragraph! Not that this sort of propaganda ploy is new, mind you. On the contrary, it might as well be an American literary tradition.

Who can’t recall the pain and rage upon discovering, after nearly finishing Huckleberry Finn, that the biased author has kept from us until the end the pretty darn important fact that Jim has been a free man all along? I daresay Charles would agree that Mr. Samuel Clemens provides another perfect example of the mainstream media talking down the mercy of conscience-stricken slave owners and trying to transform spin good news into negative news.

And we wonder why so many Americans believe not just that slavery was bad, but that we can't be proud of any aspect of it.

But reading between the lines, I think Charles is making a much broader point than just criticizing a single, if instructive example of mainstream media perfidy. In fact, I believe he is doing nothing less than ushering in a paradigm shift of immense proportions that would radically alter for the better the way we as a species take in new information.

If I may be so bold, I believe that in criticizing CNN – not for omitting the “good news” from Iraq, but rather for merely waiting until the 9th paragraph to report it – Charles is in fact arguing for the development of non-sequential data-dump technology by media brokers that, combined with a radical genetic modification of the human organism’s cognitive process, would allow for the total absorption of large packets of data all at once and without the need for bothersome, time-wasting conventions such as reading articles to the very end.

I’m with Charles on this one. I mean, how great would it be if total information transfer occurred instantaneously when you decided to pick up a newspaper or turn on Fox News? And just think of where this technology, if developed, could take us: Right out of the gate, there would be no more holding in that piss while you wait for ESPN’s Sports Ticker to crawl by until it finally gets to the score you care about. As the process is honed, weighty, difficult tomes like Finnegan’s Wake could be absorbed completely by simply drinking a pint of Guinness. Finally, in this brave new world, readers would be able to comprehend the complete works of Ann Coulter merely by entertaining a passing thought about raw sewage.

Linear progression is so Old Media! And we have Charles Bird to thank for waking us up to the inherent bias of reporting the facts in order of newsworthiness.

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