Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

On Shooting the Messenger

As many bloggers will readily admit, we can be a rather insular bunch - a bit of an echo chamber, if you will, although I would imagine no less so than any other loose confederacy of folks engaged in the same basic interests or functions (like journalists or comic book readers or whatever). We often believe that everything going on in the world outside our particular sphere of activity revolves around said activity, rather than the other way around. Now, it's true that political blogs and real-life politics sometimes converge, but it always helps to retain some perspective on things.

For instance, when I got up this morning I had no idea who Eason Jordan was or what he did that had the blogosphere abuzz. Then I find out he heads up CNN's news division and made some remarks at a World Economic Forum panel last week which were clarified pretty much right away but still apparently served as fodder for a whole bunch of right-wing bloggers who, from all accounts (I don't read any right-wing blogs; I barely have time to keep up with all the writers I like and admire!), have their panties in a bunch out of a sense of guilty conscience. After all, as Jeanne from Body & Soul illustrates so well, there has been a consistent pattern of journalists being targeted for harrassment or even death when they don't report what the targeters want them to report. It happens on all sides; just today, Abdul-Hussein Khaz (correspondent for the U.S.-funded television station Al-Hurra) and his 3-year-old son were shot dead by unknown gunmen in Basra. But it's like these guys are figuratively shooting the messenger over perceived accusations of literally shooting the messenger! Or, as Jeanne puts it much more eloquently,

You don't have to buy any theories about the military deliberately targetting journalists to recognize that there's been a clear pattern throughout this war of indifference to the deaths of reporters, mixed in with a good deal of harrassment. In a truly democratic country, with any interest in freedom of the press, that would call for investigations and a serious look at what could be done to make sure reporters aren't killed by soldiers who are stressed or who haven't been given information they need. In the country we live in, it invites the vultures to circle around our moribund press.

The other insular story making the rounds has to do with a fake journalist for a fake news service being given unprecedented access to the White House (under a fake press pass name!) for the apparent purpose of lobbing softball questions at the President and Press Secretary, until the left blogosphere did a little digging to uncover his lack of credentials and his hypocrisy (not to mention that he's one of the people under investigation in the Plame treason case) and, thus discovered, he runs sobbing homeward and the rightie bloggers once again engage in shooting the messenger (in this case, the amateur sleuths) instead of discussing how this happened in the first place and how it can be prevented from recurring.

Not for nothing does Barbara at Mahablog call this the Alternate Universe, asking, "Which story, do you think, will most likely break through to dead-tree and network/cable media?" Good question - they're both about the media, and the media loves self-proctology as much as the blogosphere does. We are, after all, sort of a microcosm of what's out there in TV and newspaper land. But I'm not sure they'll be able to fit either story in, what with waiting breathlessly for the latest development in the Michael Jackson saga...