My Poor Wife was watching Antiques Roadshow this evening when I finally made it out of the garage and returned from showering off the urethane dust. I plopped down on my guitar chair (it was a clip show, with big winners, including the woman who'd hung the still life with strawberries sideways for thirty years). My wife's religious about the Mute button. So she'd hit it at the end of the show and gone upstairs to get ready for bed, and I grabbed the guitar and was running scales with the picture still on. Up comes the one-minute news update and...gee whiz, the Newsweek story is the Big Story of the Day.
Now, I'm not going to question the news judgement here, and the hypocritical hysteria has been well-covered by Digby, The Poor Man, and
With our present level of public discourse it's enough for me to learn that Michelle Malkin and The World's Greatest Bloggers are flogging a story to know there's something hinky about it. But I'm fifty years old, and I remember within my adult lifetime when that was neither the case with the Right nor with every political discussion. What has happened, and why it has happened, is a long and complicated story. So let's focus on something simple: Why can't we keep things in perspective? Why isn't the story limited by what's actually there, instead of what political hoopla someone's trying to make of it? Don't we all--whatever our political leanings--recognize the sound a tub makes when thumped?
You would not run your life this way. No one would. You'd wind up drowning in mindless vituperation and lawyer's fees. If you find yourself in a dispute, you try to solve it. You listen to what is being said. You collect facts. You act as if kicking a rock will pain your toe, and if you do so anyway you try to limit it to once. Yes, politics is a dirty business. Yes, I've been known to indulge in the occasional "neener, neener". But not, god help me, as though that were the only thing playing in my head, all day every day. At least I hope not.
Newsweek retracted the story that a Pentagon investigation had found Qur'an abuse at Guantanamo. That's plain English, even if it "puzzles" Scotty McClellan. To turn this into a "Lie", to trumpet it as the work of a "liberal subculture", or blame the "penchant for anonymous sources", in the wake of all that has gone on with this administration in Iraq and elsewhere, and the complacent press coverage both have received, is beyond laughable. One way the "real" media could begin to reclaim its lost reputation is by calling a spade a spade, and making the manufactured hoopla a part of the story, instead of its frame.
UPDATE: My alarm clock radio suffers periodic fits of interference, and sometimes in resetting it I wind up on the other public radio channel. So this morning, right on schedule, I woke up to hear NPR's reporter say that Newsweek had "retracted the story about Qur'an abuse at Guantanamo". This is, I take it, one of those examples of professional journalism bloggers are urged to emulate.