Topic: The Media
Press Notes - "Maybe a little less of the pervert of the day…"
As Friday began I sat down to with another cup of coffee to check my emails and noticed this from Bob, our columnist for the weekly Just Above Sunset, the parent site to this web log -
No. I hadn’t thought much about the Michael Jackson trial. And I do not wish to speak of it, for reasons laid out here and much earlier (November 2003) here. I maintain the whole business is not so much fascinating to some of us as it is... well... distasteful. Something you turn away from, or at least politely ignore. Like a guest at a formal party mistakenly making a really off-color remark, or your host inadvertently breaking wind - best to be polite and ignore it.
But Bob is hot for this story. In ways subtle and not so subtle he urges that we cover it in the web log and weekly – and I resist. He had previously suggested, several times, that I charge up the Nikon and we hop in the Mini and haul off to Santa Maria to, at least, cover the coverage. It’s a long drive. I said no, although it might be fun to interview some press people and find out what the hell they think they’re doing.
In any event, as Friday ended there was no quick decision, as the Associated Press reported: "SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The child molestation case against Michael Jackson went to the jury Friday after the defense begged the panel to acquit the singer, portraying Jackson as a victim of grifters trying to pull "the biggest con of their careers." Jurors spent about two hours deliberating before going home for the weekend. … "
Bob is disappointed.
No verdict? Who cares?
Of course the reason I wanted to chat up some of the press people is that I do want to ask them why they are covering this. The news media has pretty much ignored a number of stories some of us think merit attention ? the Downing Street Memo for example.
Well, journalists, George Bernard Shaw once said, "are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilization." And the role of the press has come up here before. April 10, 2005 it was CNN and the Death of Serious TV News - The Inside Story featuring a column from Rick Brown, the News Guy in Atlanta, who was one of the founders of CNN. (And among the other items on the role of the press see this, this and this.)
Rick and I have been trading emails on and on about this, and I recently sent him this item, on what Jonathan Klein has done to CNN in the last few months, and what the founder thinks.
Turner: CNN Focuses Too Much on Perverts
Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press - Wed Jun 1, 6:12 PM ET
And now it is pretty crappy.
Well, Rick and I have had this discussion before ? see June 27, 2004: What journalism is and what it is not. A dialog. - and that covers his discussions with Christiane Amanpour when they worked together.
Rick?s latest response is this ?
Too bad. I?d sign up if there was anything I could do to help out.
Earlier we had discussed this ?
CNN Seeks New Ways to Battle Fox News
Jacques Steinberg, The New York Times, March 23, 2005
This was an analysis of what Klein has done to CNN ? and it?s not pretty.
Rick replied with some comments that he said I could not publish ? involving conversations with folks who would not want to be quoted. So use you imagination.
I told Rick I don?t watch CNN much any more - I go to CNN for news but more and more if find myself wandering over to MSNBC - as their association with the Washington Post and Newsweek gets me Milbank and Myerson and first-rate analysis of facts and events, without the false "narrative." They dumped Michael Savage two years ago and Frank Luntz late last year - and seem to be building something respectable now. They do less and less "compelling and heartwarming" crap - and get down to what's going on. And Keith Olbermann just gets better and better. CNN is going the opposite way. So they'll lose me but gain many other viewers. Go figure.
Nancy Grace? I find I cannot watch her - and Larry King? I'm just not interested in that stuff. Others are, it seems. I used to flip on CNN Headline News for basic events - and sports scores in the crawl. But now whole half-hour blocks are given to Grace and to that entertainment thing - so I don't do that any longer. Maybe they'll rename it eventually. It was Rick?s baby, I believe. All things change.
But it is not just CNN ? everyone in all over the "pervert trial" this weekend. Oh, to be fair, this is the trial of an "alleged pervert." No one has been convicted of anything.
It?s corporate coverage ? as Rick notes.
I guess I?ll scan the foreign press. I?ll leave the Jackson trial to Bob.