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December 16, 2006

How The U.S. Media Uses Its Enormous Resources And Technological Prowess To Be Wrong About Everything

Here's a great story from a talk by Robert Fisk:

How do we journalists get it so wrong?

What's gone wrong in the American press? I ask myself this, partly because I have a lot of friends among the American journalists working in the Middle East. I enjoy having dinner with them. But the odd thing is that when I'm having dinner with them I learn quite a lot, they know quite a lot...but when I open the paper in the morning it's so boring I could fall asleep. The knowledge isn't there.

My colleague Patrick Cockburn tells me that at one point of great violence in Baghdad he saw an American colleague crawling out on his balcony to use a satellite phone to talk to somebody. Afterwards he said -- because there were a lot of bullets flying around -- who were you talking to? And the reporter said, "I was ringing someone up from the Brookings Institution -- we needed a quote about what was going on in Iraq."

Posted at December 16, 2006 02:13 PM | TrackBack

"I was ringing someone up from the Brookings Institution -- we needed a quote about what was going on in Iraq."

That makes my head spin.

Posted by: SPIIDERWEB™ at December 16, 2006 05:43 PM

...because until you've heard what the people at Brookings have to say, you really don't know much of anything.


Haim Saban bought in to a blue-chip entity -- the very best in walled-off discourse.

Posted by: Nell at December 16, 2006 09:20 PM

Just listened to the whole thing. For a ground-and-pound flood of conciousness, that was really good. Thanks for pointing that out, I don't think I've ever had the opportunity to hear him give a talk before.

Posted by: buermann at December 17, 2006 02:14 AM

I highly recommend Fisk's latest book, "The Great War for Civilisation." It is truly a tragic treasure, and it speaks volumes about just how ignorant (of the Middle East) our corporate media are destined to leave us.

Posted by: Church Secretary at December 17, 2006 10:19 PM

How could they get it so wrong? I call this the Puzzle of Non-Prophesy. When an outsider outguesses the insiders, it's usually not because the outsider has magical prophetic intelligence; in fact, the outsider usually just used common sense. It's true that the prophetic outsider was ten times as intelligent as the clueless insiders, but it's not that the insiders had IQ 100 and the outsider had IQ 1000; it's that the outsider had IQ 100 and the insiders had IQ 10.

So why the blindness at the top? The Peter Principle; employees rise to their level of incompetence? Or maybe it's Robert Anton Wilson's "SNAFU Principle"; namely, that information cannot pass a power gap.

Posted by: paradoctor at December 17, 2006 11:58 PM

Another good example is our press covering Cuba. They take their cues from the Cuban exiles living in Miami waiting for Operation Havana Sword or whatever.

I learned a lot more about what's bad and good about Fidel in a half hour of a bitching Black Panther on Democracy Now! than from any network journalist ever.

Posted by: Two Dishes at December 18, 2006 01:34 PM