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May 12, 2004

Still Waiting For The "Patriotic" Media to Display Those Beheading Photos

We really hate having to link Andrew Sullivan approvingly -- it tastes like ash in our mouths -- but give the shrieking ninny his due. This was a great catch he made yesterday:

"The reality of war in all its aspects needs to be reported and photographed. That is the patriotic, and necessary, thing to do in a democracy." - Michael Getler, ombudsman of the Washington Post, May 9, 2004, explaining why it was absolutely necessary to publish the prisoner-mistreatment photos

Ah, yes. It's necessary -- necessary!; there is no need to take into account competing considerations -- to publish such inflamatory and possibly life-threatening photos.

Good. So now we know the "rule:" the rule is that pictures which capture events in all of their terrible viciousness must be published, no matter what the consequences, no matter what other considerations there may be. The American people must have the very "best evidence," as lawyers say, of what is actually going on in the world; written descriptions will not suffice. If you have photos, you must run them.

Mere words are to be deemed euphemistic and santized when you've got photos. That's just pure "patriotism" talking.

Great. We didn't know the rule, now we do.

So, let's turn to the front page of the Washington Post and check out the photos of Nick Berg's beheading.

This photo isn't even on the front-page of the website. It was yesterday night for a time; but now there are more important issues, like John McCain being in the "driver's seat" of something or other.

So wait-- we thought the "rule" was that it was necessary and patriotic to display inflamatory and horrid photos if you had them. And yet, the Washington Post is only showing a fairly santized scene of grief between family members, the same sort of photo one would expect to see after a plane crash.

We guess it turns out that wasn't such a firm rule as originally stated.

We've said this time and time again, but we're going to keep on saying it until someone in the media acknowledges it:

When a story or a tactic fits in to the media's general liberal agenda, they defend their actions by claiming some sort of firm, objective, near-absolute rule -- with no caveats or competing considerations -- as well-nigh dictating their actions.

When a similar situation pops up in which taking the same actions would run contrary to their liberal agenda, suddenly we find out that the rule previously announced -- here, announced a mere three days ago -- wasn't quite as iron-clad or absolute as it was urged at the time. Suddenly we find out there was an awful lot of "nuance" and "judgment calls" going into that decision.

The media announces near-absolute objective "rules" because it doesn't want to have to argue about "nuance" or "judgment calls" more than necessary, because those are obviously succeptible to pre-existing political bias, a topic the media always wants to avoid. So they are forever claiming that there's virtually no need for such ad hoc deliberations when it comes to actions they've taken; they were practically forced to do whatever it is they've done by long-standing, unbendable rules of journalism.

Announcing these "rules" chokes off any possible avenue of debate. When the media announces it was just "necessary" to run the prisoner-mistreatment photos, how does one argue? If it's "necessary" to always present the most vivid, possibly lurid, documentation of an event, how can one argue with necessity?

But, of course, it turns out it wasn't quite so necessary as was first reported. It wasn't necessary at all, it turns out, to run pictures of Nick Berg's beheading; in fact, it wasn't even necessary to show him in terrified captivity in the moments before his murder.

What's the nuance here? Let us guess: It is necessary to run photos which may undermine troop morale and inflame our enemies' passions against us, and no competing considerations will be tolerated in this case.

But it is not necessary to run photos which may stiffen the American resolve and inflame our own passions; in this case, competing considerations, such as taste, may be taken into account.

We suppose further that the Washington Post would not want to inflame angry white American yahoos to go out there and kill an innocent Muslim.

And yet they seem blithely unconcerned about the possibility that the mistreatement photos might inflame an angry Muslim yahoo to go out there and kill an innocent American.

From Cox & Forkum, who are just about the best editorial cartoonists we've ever seen. We have no idea why they aren't run in every paper in the country-- oh wait, that's right, we know exactly why they aren't run in every paper in the country.

They've got an even better cartoon on this deal yesterday, but you'll have to click on the link to see it.

We really dig that version of Uncle Sam. We never much liked the crazy-old-man Uncle Sam of WW2. But this guy looks like an All-American Action Hero.

Oh, and there's just one more thing... We also thought that it was bad to invoke "patriotism" as one's defense, to wrap oneself in the flag to justify one's political or, we guess, journopolitical actions.

Apparently that "rule" only applies to conservatives.

Liberals, who are, as a group, unpatriotic and even anti-patriotic in the sense that they tend to despise patriotism and what they consider a benighted and jingoistic allegiance to one's country, are apparently quite free to invoke "patriotism" whenever it damn well suits them.

Jonah Goldberg Update: He notes the consistently inconsistent treatment of the media as regards photos that inflame our enemies, and photos that inflame us.

It's our solemn patriotic duty to publish fake "gang-rape" photos: Apparently "taste" didn't stop the Boston Globe from publishing absolutely, 100% fake photos of American GI's "gang-raping" Iraqi women. The photos, by the way, were simply taken from porno movies.

This "taste and decorum" caveat to the "rule" that vivid and inflamatory photos must be published by necessity would seem to have a bunch of sub-caveats of its own.


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posted by Ace at 01:28 PM

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