Wednesday, June 18, 2003

*ecstatic gasp*

Byron Hoyt Historic American Sheet Music Collection

Media and The Presidency

One quick snip from Buzzflash's interview with John Dean:

"In the aftermath of Watergate, the news media became highly vigilant of the presidency. Before Watergate, presidents were given the benefit of any doubts. After Watergate, they had to make their case, and quickly. But in late 2000, after the Florida election recount debacle, there was a collective mood change in the news media. While there are a few exceptions, as you mention, by and large, reporting has returned to its pre-Watergate status: Almost any news is more important than the potential of presidential failures or screw ups. "

[my emphasis -- Sid]

Why? Why this sea change? Or perhaps, the proper question would be "how"?

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Let Some Truth Shine In, Baby

Dean: Investigate Bush Statements on Iraq Now that's what I'm talking about.

Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean on Tuesday called for an independent investigation of President Bush and his justification for the U.S.-led war against Iraq, arguing that the commander in chief misled the country...
"We need a thorough look at what really happened going into Iraq," Dean said. "It appears to me that what the president did was make a decision to go into Iraq sometime in early 2002, or maybe even late 2001, and then try to get the justification afterward."

Keep pushing, goddammit. Lies of this magnitude cannot be swept under the carpet.

And before you think I'm a kneejerk Bush-hater, let me remind you of the following:

1. Bush and the Bush administration said, multiple times, in different ways, that Iraq had an active WMD program that posed an imminent threat to the U.S.

2. Any president who twists facts to fit what he wants to believe, consciously or unconsciously, to the point of conducting an undeclared war on another nation, is not someone I can trust to execute the duties of his office.

Now, turning a blind eye on, say, a relative's drinking habits, would be one thing, unless, of course, your job is to fix people's drinking habits.

So, if your job is to represent Americans on the stage of international politics, among other things, it is part of your job to pay close attention to what your intel actually says, not what you wish it did.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Iraq and 9/11

War poll uncovers fact gap

A third of the American public believes U.S. forces have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, according to a recent poll. Twenty-two percent said Iraq actually used chemical or biological weapons.

What a depressing article. Nestled inside, however, is a most intriguing quote:

"It's a striking finding," said Steve Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, which asked the weapons questions during a May 14-18 poll of 1,256 respondents.
He added: "Given the intensive news coverage and high levels of public attention, this level of misinformation suggests some Americans may be avoiding having an experience of cognitive dissonance."

And what is cognitive dissonance, my friends?

if someone is called upon to learn something which contradicts what they already think they know - particularly if they are committed to that prior knowledge - they are likely to resist the new learning...
if learning something has been difficult, uncomfortable, or even humiliating enough, people are not likely to admit that the content of what has been learned is not valuable. To do so would be to admit that one has been "had", or "conned".

What that means is, the more people die, the more vociferously people here will assert it was for a good cause.

Well, you know what? There's a flip side to that, baby, and it's called "don't throw good money after bad".

Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance Theory, from A First Look at Communication Theory, by Em Griffin, 1997, McGraw-Hill.