A MUST READ: the mainstream media and the inauguration

Discussion in 'Politics' started by RevoMystic, Jan 24, 2005.

  1. RevoMystic

    RevoMystic Member

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    During CNN's live coverage of the presidential inaugural parade on January 20, anchor Wolf Blitzer, CNN analyst Jeff Greenfield, and Harvard University researcher and lecturer Barbara Kellerman provided a running commentary on the festivities. At one point, Kellerman noted that despite frequent references to protesters, she, Blitzer, and Greenfield hadn't actually discussed what they were protesting or why:
    KELLERMAN: Well, I was going to point that it's -- we're now using an oxymoron. That is, we're using the phrase "authorized demonstrators," "sanctioned protesters."

    It seems to me that, again, I'm so old, I remember the days when protesters were neither sanctioned nor authorized. Moreover, I remember when we knew exactly what they were protesting. Now, it's interesting -- not once today in our use of the word "protesters" did we describe what most of the protesters are protesting against. It would appear to be the war. But it is not only the war.

    So it's worth also remembering how, when we describe how things have changed, also the protests and the protesters have changed, as has our conception of them.

    BLITZER: This is the motorcycle, the local Washington, DC, police. They are at the beginning of this motorcade. They're driving very slowly and they're now approaching this authorized area, where these demonstrators have gathered.

    You see several lines of local law enforcement. These are state troopers from Pennsylvania. [CNN national correspondent] Bob Franken told us earlier that have -- several deep, standing in front of these demonstrators, all of whom have gone through security, all of whom have gone through magnetometers, metal detectors. They're inside. They're allowed to bring their signs or posters, placards. And presumably, when the president goes by, they'll make their views known.

    Bob also told us that they might turn their backs on the president as an act of protest. That's the beginning of the motorcade, where the motorcycles are and then the police cars will continue this whole parade. And the president in that limousine right there will follow.

    The motorcade is driving very, very slowly, Jeff.

    GREENFIELD: I guess so. Whether this is to let people look at them, I don't know. I mean, I always rely on you, Wolf, to tell us the speed of the motorcades, why they're moving slowly.

    BLITZER: Look at the agents walking. They're walking pretty slowly. They're not even running. They're not walking very quickly. So this is a deliberate desire to let everybody on the sides have a chance to see what's going on, so they don't just rush by.

    Kellerman pointed out that CNN wasn't telling its viewers why the demonstrators were there -- and Blitzer and Greenfield responded by talking about the speed of the motorcade. Blitzer even offered that "presumably, when the president goes by, they'll make their views known." But Blitzer wasn't going to make those views known to his audience.

    Blitzer did give viewers this vital information:

    BLITZER: [T]his is our CNN camera that is on this little flatbed truck that is in the motorcade, giving us this particular angle, this shot of the presidential motorcade as it slowly, very slowly, winds its way up Pennsylvania Avenue heading towards the White House.

    Technologically, we have got some new gizmos, some new things that we're doing this time around that we haven't been able to do before, because the technology has simply improved, the miniaturization and the wireless capabilities that have been developed over these years. There, you can see some of the protesters along the side. You can also see some great supporters of the president who are very happy that this day has occurred. And we're going to show our viewers all of the angles, all of the different sides of this parade down Pennsylvania Avenue as it continues. That's quite a little motorcycle display at the beginning of this motorcade.

    CNN's Judy Woodruff later chimed in, declaring "There are 40,000 people who have seats. And then you see the protesters here. You've all been talking about it." But Blitzer hadn't been "talking about it," and neither had Greenfield; they'd been talking about the process, the logistics -- and the speed of the motorcade. But they had made passing reference, at best, to the reasons for the protests. Finally, Woodruff offered: "The protest causes range from being against the war in Iraq to being against the president's policies on women's rights, abortion rights and so forth." Better than her colleagues, to be sure, but not exactly a meaningful explanation of what the protesters thought and why.

    Blitzer later referred to "angry signs railing against the president" and "some angry, angry people who don't like this president, don't like his policies and they're making their views known." But they weren't making their views known to CNN viewers -- not if Blitzer and company had anything to say about it, at least. Instead, when Kellerman suggested that if the situation in Iraq continues to go poorly, the number of anti-war protesters may increase, Blitzer and Greenfield immediately replied with:

    BLITZER: And if you were looking very closely -- this is a very trivial matter, but may be interesting to some of our viewers -- at the license plate of that new presidential limousine -- and I don't know if we'll get another opportunity to see it, but from what -- there it is right there. You see what that says? USA-1. I think that's what it said. That's a pretty cool license plate to have if you want to get your own license plate for your own presidential limousine.


    GREENFIELD: Yes. I think one of the great things about being president, one of the reasons why CEOs envy a guy who gets paid what they make in about a week is, you got the best parking spaces in America and the coolest private plane.

    If you closed your eyes for a moment while watching CNN, you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

    Blitzer eventually even cautioned against making "too much" of the protests -- as though CNN had paid them any serious attention at all:

    BLITZER: And we don't want to make too much of the protesters, because we don't know how many there were.

    Cable news nets ignored progressives in covering inaugural

    It wasn't just protesters who had difficulty making their views known during inaugural coverage, and it wasn't just CNN keeping viewers in the dark. A Media Matters for America review of daytime coverage January 20 on CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News found that "Republican and conservative guests and commentators outnumbered Democrats and progressives" 42 to 10 on the three networks:

    Between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Republican and conservative guests and commentators outnumbered Democrats and progressives 19 to 7 on FOX, 10 to 1 on CNN (not including a Republican-skewed panel featuring Ohio voters), and 13 to 2 on MSNBC. Moreover, the rare Democrat or progressive guest usually appeared opposite conservatives, whereas most Republican and conservative guests and commentators appeared solo or alongside fellow conservatives.

    Social Security update

    While inaugural news dominated the media this week, that didn't stop ABC, MSNBC, FOX News, or NBC, among others, from continuing to advance conservative misinformation about Social Security.

    But help is on the way: the Center for Economic and Policy Research (whose co-directors, Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot, are leading Social Security experts) has launched a valuable resource: the weekly Social Security Reporting Review, which "evaluates the reporting on Social Security in major media, citing both the good and the bad." Sign up for email delivery of the newsletter here.

    Posted to the web on Friday January 21, 2005 at 3:51 PM EST


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