What-liberal-media? Dep’t

I had breakfast yesterday with two colleagues, both of them actively interested in public affairs and both of them relatively heavy consumers of newspapers and television news. Neither of them had heard about the maltreatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning until the flap over P.J. Crowley’s statement.

In light of all the non-events Faux News and Breitbart have managed to whip into multi-day “scandals,” this testifies to the utter spinelessness of the mainstream media and the complete lack of any liberal equivalent of the right-wing noise machine.

Even today’s NYT story about Crowley’s resignation gives only the tiniest hint of what Crowley was complaining about. Disgraceful.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

19 thoughts on “What-liberal-media? Dep’t”

  1. Granted, “liberal” media is probably a misnomer, “Democratic” (as in party) media would probably be more to the point. The Manning affair gets no coverage because it reflects badly on a Democratic administration; That it’s the sort of thing liberals are nominally in opposition to does suggest that a “liberal” media would have covered it.

  2. I have to admit that after the stories and after all your posts, Mark, I still don’t know what he’s complaining about or even that he is complaining. After the Court Martial convicts him (assuming it does), then he’ll really have something to complain about. Today’s WSJ (hardly the liberal or Democratic media) described the situation as follows: “Pfc Manning is being held in a maximum security prison…Amnesty International…said guards check on him every five minutes and have deprived him of sheets and require him to sleep only in boxer shorts.”

    Is that it? Was there some beating the WSJ reporter overlooked? If that’s it, I guess I can relax. The nurses wake you up every time you fall asleep in the hospital too.

  3. Brett,
    Torture plays well with the American electorate. It wasn’t the torture that pushed Bush’s popularity down to rock-bottom. You must have found by now that your libertarianism is a minority taste among voters.

    If the librulelitemedia were trying to make Democrats look good to the voters, they would praise Obama’s “firmness with traitors” to the skies. (And yes, I still believe that “media” is a plural.) I think that Mark’s hypothesis covers the facts better: the mainstream press is a spineless bunch of courtiers to whomever is in power, and the bias is introduced only by the noise machine.

  4. Mark, how about a tag that reads as well: What Media? Dep’t.
    I don’t watch tv of course, but James Knustler apparently does….
    Here is his take on the Japanese situation on out media:

    I tried to follow the story on American cable TV Sunday night but with the exception of stolid, dogged CNN, all the other news channels were playing one sordid and titanically stupid program after another: meth freaks, show-biz narcissists, and sex chatter without sex. What a nation of morons we are. Over six hundred cable TV stations and only one that even tries to tell you what is going on in the world. How many citizens of this republic were watching a dessert chef undergo staged humiliation for the failure of a cupcake batch while two nuclear reactors melted down across the Pacific? We deserve what just happened to Japan three times over. And we might just get the equivalent at least in social and political trouble as our money follies unwind and normal living here becomes untenable on the old terms.

    If the radiation stuff from Japan isn’t filtering thru our cinnamon bread and circus dung…
    What chance hath Crowley and Manning?

  5. Koreyel,
    Take a deep breath and read this.
    (Barry): “Redwave72, you obviously never read the ‘Gulag Archipelago’.
    I read __The Gulag Archepelago__ (V.1) when it came out in paperback. When the second volume came out in hardback, I reread V.1 while I waited for the paperback version of V.2. When V.3 came out in hardback, I reread V.s 1,2 while I waited for the paperback version of V.3. What’s your point?

  6. I’ll make Barry’s point for him: if you can’t distinguish between being woken incidentally by nurses charged with helping you heal, and being woken on purpose by guards charged with breaking your body and spirit through enforced humiliation and sleep deprivation, then you’ve excused yourself from the universe of meaningful dialogue about torture and accountability. That, or you’re trolling.

  7. Maurice,
    “Check on him every five minutes” does not equal “sleep deprivation” unless they awaken him. Furthermore, “check on him” counters (somewhat) Mark’s “isolation” charge.
    Yet further, Manning’s lawyer has not alleged torture.

  8. Malcolm…

    I’ve been following the Japanese story with a pointed eye: Monitoring everything I read for the calm assurances of government officials and company spokespeople. And there has been plenty of that. In nearly every article. It is apparently human nature for those in position of power (both public and private) to dampen down concern. And yet, bad news has a way of finding cracks:

    “They’re basically in a full-scale panic” among Japanese power industry managers, said a senior nuclear industry executive late Monday night. The executive is not involved in managing the response to the reactors’ difficulties but has many contacts in Japan. “They’re in total disarray, they don’t know what to do.”

    And so it goes…
    The assurances from the powerful…
    And the leaking off of more bad news into the media atmosphere.

    The three helicopter that flew into a radioactive plume 60 miles away?
    Tut. Tut. Twas nothing:

    Cmdr. Jeff A. Davis, a spokesman for the American Seventh Fleet in Japan, said the Navy personnel — who apparently had flown through a radioactive plume from a damaged nuclear power plant — had been ordered to dispose of their uniforms and to undergo a decontamination scrub that had successfully removed radioactive particles. “They received very, very low levels of contamination,” Commander Davis said in a telephone interview from Japan early Monday. “It certainly is not cause for alarm,” he said.

    Take a bath and forget it ever happened…
    And as for those plumes (or stronger ones yet) coming this way possibley for months?
    Tut. Tut. Nothing to be concerned about really:

    More steam releases also mean that the plume headed across the Pacific could continue to grow. On Sunday evening, the White House sought to tamp down concerns, saying that modeling done by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had concluded that “Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. Territories and the U.S. West Coast are not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity.”

    I believe them. Sort of. Although my observation about human nature tempers my faith. And too, I’d never thought I read to see the day that they are using fire hoses to cool down a core being measured with broken gauges:

    To pump in the water, the Japanese have apparently tried used firefighting equipment — hardly the usual procedure. But forcing the seawater inside the containment vessel has been difficult because the pressure in the vessel has become so great. One American official likened the process to “trying to pour water into an inflated balloon,” and said that on Sunday it was “not clear how much water they are getting in, or whether they are covering the cores.” The problem was compounded because gauges in the reactor seemed to have been damaged in the earthquake or tsunami, making it impossible to know just how much water is in the core.

    Nothing to worry about kids. Nothing at all.
    Take a deep breath and go back to your animated escapism, kardashian komics, and facebook pages.

    And by the way as a disclaimer: I am actually for Nuclear Power.
    But not the old crappy kind of plants that American wants to build.
    (All quotes from the NYT. Most from this story: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/14/world/asia/japan-fukushima-nuclear-reactor.html)

  9. Which might be all well and good except none of it has anything to do with Mark’s original post about Manning, and that no one yet has provided a single fact beyond what was covered in the WSJ article – just conjecture, assumption, innuendo, etc. This blog seems to be about as reality based as The Apprentice.

    By the way, I disagree with Koreyel about the coverage too. By early in the morning (6 EST), I was already seeing amazing (and ghastly) pictures from Japan with on the ground reporters doing a great job on CNBC, CNN, Fox, basically everywhere I looked. By Sunday night, that news cycle was 48 hours past. What did you expect to see, pictures of the containment vessel?

    Finally, an excellent primer on nuclear plant technology appeared in today’s WSJ By William Tucker in the op ed section. It puts the not inconsiderable risks and remedies in context, IMO.

    And for today, my work here is done.

  10. This disgrace is just the culmination of a bunch of stuff that suggests ‘liberal’ organs like the NYT are mostly liberal by accident and the current state of the political battlefield. I think Brett’s close to the truth here – and I wonder how long even that would endure, should the Democrats ever take a truly game-changing tumble. “Liberal edge of moderate,” reckless of anything but what the polls or the political class presently define as moderate, might be a deeper characterization.

    The trouble with noise machines is that they can shout the opposition down, but they can also drown the side they nominally support in a sea of angry white noise. That noise has a politics of its very own, and it is not civilization’s friend. Any civilization’s.

    But like the NYT’s weaselry and diversion, it is a friend of any huckster dealing in attention. And that’s a problem for everyone. A severe and a poorly solved one.

  11. Gray,
    I don’t think that the NYT is even liberal by accident. It’s not liberal. It may be granola. But that’s not liberal: so is the wingnut founder of Whole Foods. It may defend the First Amendment. But that’s not liberal: cui bono? (Basically, newspapers and those who want to buy elections.) It may defend affirmative action, but so does Corporate America. That’s not particularly liberal. It doesn’t tolerate lefty voices (apart from a short stint by Ehrenreich), but will run pieces by stone righties. It’s economics are not even pro-market–it is heavily pro-business in its adoration of financial services and CEOs between scandals. That’s not liberal. (Morgenson is not an exception–she is a moralist, not an operating liberal.)

    Okay, I’ll concede that Krugman & Bob Herbert are liberals. (Krugman was a neoliberal who got mugged by the Busheviks.) But they’re fair-and-balanced by Brooks & Douthat.

  12. The Manning affair gets no coverage because it reflects badly on a Democratic administration

    It was rather amazing when the media – led by the New York Times – was confronted with the controversy over torture in the Bush administration. (You remember, when Bush and Cheney insisted that the treatment of prisoners was merely “enhanced interrogation” or, at worst, “harsh treatment,” and not torture.) We all remember how the Democrat-leaning media excoriated him for even suggesting that the correct term should be avoided in describing waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other well-known torture techniques.

    The sky here, by the way, was the loveliest combination of pink-and-orange this afternoon. I have no idea what color it was in Brett’s world.

  13. What does all that have to do with Mark’s original post?
    Just this: Public and private officials lie to hide bad news. I’d argue that’s a natural thing. Call it a law.
    Is Obama lying about Manning? Could be. Spock is at least half human. So he is not impervious to my law…
    One thing is for sure. He is running out of applause lines:
    Gone is “let the Bush tax cuts expire”.
    Gone is “we don’t torture”.
    Gone is “America will lead the world in college graduates again”.
    WTF is he going to talk about prettily in 2011 with his silver tongue?
    And who will be naive enough to believe him?

    Anyways, It looks like my Fukushima comments up above weren’t alarmist enough.
    Looks like we are at 6.5 and drawing near 7 on the reactor Richter meltdown scale.
    Or if you will, drawing nigh to full Bush mode: This sucker could go down…

    What’s going to happen next?
    The answer is blowing in the wind…
    Though I suspect a mass exodus of Tokyo might be a tad messy even amongst the orderly and polite Japanese…

  14. (Scrooge): “Krugman & Bob Herbert are …fair-and-balanced by Brooks & Douthat.
    Huh! Yah, by the guy who drooled over the “crease” (he meant “lump”) in Obama’s pants. That’s “balance” all right.

  15. I’ve seen plenty about the Manning affair on “right-leaning” blogs, including links on Instapundit and posts by Megan McArdle. Perhaps the mainstream media isn’t “liberal” as much as it’s partisan.


  16. Ebenezer Scrooge: Living in Britain, my direct exposure to the NYT is a pretty haphazard thing, generally only occurring when I’m chasing down some story I found elsewhere. So I’m educated by your description, but not very much surprised. It certainly fits with what I’ve seen of it.

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