Democratic Underground

Blog Box

May 13, 2005
Compiled by Delilah Boyd, A Scrivener's Lament

The Rest of the Story

No, I'm not talking about Paul Harvey, whose voice always gave me the creeps. I'm talking about what's missing in today's corporate news coverage.

We're getting tiny news bites, mostly focusing on celebrities, when we should be getting full coverage of serious issues which affect all of our lives (and the lives of our children) profoundly.

I want the letterbox version, damn it!

When TV networks started airing epics and sweeping sagas in prime time, they cropped the left and right thirds of major motion pictures in the name of formatting. No one really complained, except those of us purists who wonder if this could explain why many younger film viewers no longer appreciate big-screen classic films. What's most appalling about editing films to fit your TV screen is the oh, so Orwellian marketing ploy: calling their crop job the "full-screen version."

Just like big screen movies, our news has been cropped to fit corporate America's narrow definition of what their BushCo-connected CEOs think we need to know. Case in point: Does Lawrence Of Arabia fit on your TV screen? Mine, either.

Unless you're lucky enough to own one of those big-assed, HD, plasma screen deals, Peter O'Toole's amazing blue eyes are the size of raisins in the TV-sized desert sun. The burning of Atlanta in Gone With The Wind looks like the aftermath of any successful community yard sale, and Dr. Zhivago's blizzard trek into town to see Lara becomes more like a trip to the mailbox on a typical January morning in Northern Michigan.

No biggie, you say? I would agree, except that American news organizations have adopted the TV editing model and cropped two-thirds of the news, too. These days, most of us spend more time complaining about the news than reading or viewing the news.

Remember what it was like during the 2000 presidential election, when we thirsted for real news coverage and issues analysis but found little or nothing to quench that thirst? We begged news organizations to tell us the whole story, not just right-wing and/or right-wing-lite regurgitation spasms. We wanted Joe Friday's version of the facts. We still do. We want investigative reporters to investigate, damn it!

Yes, we want the letterbox version. This week on the blogs, I looked for, and easily found, the rest of the story.

Local News

The Gadflyer fills in the gaps in the Washington Post story on the Maryland sex education fight:

What the Post story doesn't tell you is that the curriculum, designed to help prevent sexually transmitted disease, teen pregnancy, and homophobic bullying, was made contentious by a small group of parents with support from Jerry Falwell, Tony Perkins, and Beverly LaHaye. ... In other words, these extremists have infiltrated one of the country's most liberal counties. But the Post portrayed them as just a bunch of concerned parents.

AmericaBlog has a feeling that "the gay-hating (Republican) Mayor (of Spokane, Jim West) might end up being somebody's bitch sometime soon."

Speaking of making new friends in prison, even right-wing blogger, Hog On Ice, isn't too thrilled with the antics of a previously beloved local celeb: "Channel Seven here in Miami had a weatherman named Bill Kamal. He got himself arrested for driving to Fort Pierce to meet what he thought was a 14-year-old boy. They gave him 5 years in a federal prison." New Times thinks he might have accidentally stumbled upon Kamal in a, er, chatroom:

Kamal, who's being held without bail in the St. Lucie County Jail on charges of child enticement and solicitation of a child under 16, just may have been the guy the 'Pipe' recently turned up while, um, messing around in a chatroom called

WhetherManGo: Actually, the weather can be quite exciting. Did you ever see that movie Twister?

AvrilRules90: i saw it w eric the carpet cleaner after school and eric put his tung in my ear. lol!!

WhetherManGo: Did you like it?

AvrilRules90: those storms r tooo scary.

WhetherManGo: I mean the tung. Eric's tongue.

AvrilRules90: a little ruffy. felt like my mom's loofa

WhetherManGo: You take my breath away like a Class 4 hurricane.

Whether. Weather. When you become a local TV rockstar for waving your arms in front of a bluescreen while reading a teleprompter, spelling is not a career killer. Fortunately, seducing children in Internet chatrooms is.

National News

Major snaps to Sirotablog for exposing the BushCo lying sack of a plan to cut food stamps for Medicare recipients, scooping the corporate media like there's no tomorrow, and humiliating the New York Times into quoting his blog. Now, that's journalism! Meanwhile The Panda's Thumb dissects the laughable excuses for credible witnesses in the Scopes Kansas Kreationism Kaper in a post called, "The Dog Ate My Homework."

The Carpetbagger Report takes on Douglas Feith:

Feith was the one who pushed the White House to make WMD the principal rationale for the war in Iraq; it was his office that was in charge of Iraq's military prisons (you know, the ones where innocent Iraqis were raped, tortured, and killed); it was Feith who encouraged the administration to abandon the Geneva Conventions; and it was Feith who was meeting regularly with Ahmed Chalabi. (My personal favorite was when Feith developed a plan to attack South America after 9/11 because Afghanistan lacked attractive military targets.)

The Carpetbagger Report also comments on an extremely strange Feith quote (included in the blog post): "It's quotes like these that capture the anti-intellectualism that pervades the Bush White House's approach to nearly everything. People who know what they're talking about are nice, they tell us, but it's better to have an uninformed and inexperienced chief executive who can bring his unique "insight" to executing a global war."

For those few who think FAUX Noose FOX News is "big, bad and all that, Motherf*&kers," Yep, Another Goddamned Blog's hilarious posted pic, "An illustration of the journalistic stature of Fox News' fine television news hounds," puts that inflated FOX ego to rest:

It reminds me of that old Star Trek episode with little Clint Howard terrorizing Kirk and the entire crew.

Around The World

Uggabugga is offended by the corporate media's employment of the phrase, "supposedly misleading the nation into war," to describe Tony Blair's current defensive stance. Uggabugga supplies the definition of "supposedly" and goes on to list the conclusive evidence against Blair.

Lisa McMann, at Everything in Between, wonders if Rove was behind the Georgian grenade incident and adds:

Actually, I don't really believe in the grenade. What I do believe is the power of the White House, who I am sure gave strict orders to the Bush staff and to the media: do everything necessary to keep the Downing Street Memo from surfacing.

Obviously our corporate media is so overworked and understaffed - what with the Runaway Bride, and Laura's horse joke, and now this very threatening grenade story to cover - that this trivial memo has to take a back seat until things settle down a bit. Whew!

Clap if you believe in grenades! Australian blogger Slattsnews offers us a nifty little list of news reports questioning the grenade story before it was finally confirmed. By the way, if anyone can explain Slatt's intriguing phrase, "rotten little spiv," let me know.

The Weather

Have no fear! The president is safe. Last week, it was clouds. This week, it was an inactive grenade and a tiny Cessna (manned by an obviously eeeeevilllll WASP-looking pilot and his equally eeeeevilllll student sidekick) violating George W.'s personal airspace. Speaking of violations, Republican Rick Santorum is still trying to privatize the taxpayer-supported National Weather Service and turn it over to some random for-profit entity, like, uh, AccuWeather, which already gets its info from (yep, you guessed it) the National Weather Service. After School Snack gives us the forecast:

100% Chance of Cloudiness and Privatization Holy Ukko! If it weren't May, I'd suspect this story to be an April Fool's prank. But it apparently isn't. ... And why Santorum, who's usually much more interested in bestiality than weather? Because a major private forecaster, AccuWeather, is based in Pennsylvania. Of course.

The World Of Sports

OK. It's not easy finding blog posts on sports. Humor me. Nebraska Cornhuskers News cites the Charlotte Observer report that "Former Nebraska Cornhuskers football coach Tom Osborne plans to seek the Republican nomination for governor instead of a fourth term in Congress." Does the USA really need another spittin' and scratchin' governor? Isn't Ahhhnold embarrassing enough? Besides, after four terms in Congress, you'd think Osborne wouldn't need to bill himself as a former football coach. Scratch that one, Osborne! (Double entendre intended.) Silly me. What was I thinking?

In other sports news, George W. went for a bike ride IN THE MIDDLE OF A WEEKDAY in Beltsville, MD, while the White House, the Capitol Building, and the U.S. Supreme Court Building were evacuated. It's OK, Ma! No clouds were sighted.

DUer jackstraw45 channels the Principal Rooney version of George W. Bueller's Skip Day bike ride, in a post titled, "Bush: HARD WORK biking at 11am on a Wednesday. Cheney at White House."

Does this guy EVER work? He gets paid half a million dollars for an 8 year vacation with a few pre-written speeches mixed in.

But for the student pilot violating White House air space, George W.'s little biking trip would have gone unnoticed. Snicker.

Editorial Comment

Are people finally taking blogs seriously? According to technology blogger, Niall Kennedy, the Pew Research guys are:

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has some new statistics available from its survey of 2,871 internet users from January 2005 through March 2005.

• 9% of internet users now say they have created blogs.

• 6% of the entire U.S. adult population have created blogs.

• 25% of internet users say they read blogs.

• The number of adult readers of blogs is about 40% of the size of the talk radio audience.

• The blog-reading audience is about 20% of the size of the newspaper-reading population.

Deeje, at RSS News cites Buzzmachine's definition of blogs and offers the most powerful description of blogs (which also fits perfectly) him/herself:

I've been thinking about Adam Cohen's fretting over blog ethics and how he and many others try to see blogs in their context as an institution, as media, as journalism. I said below that journalism is institutional and blogs are personal, journalism has become dispassionate and blogs are passionate. I've tried to refine that into a simpler, clearer definition of blogs. Try this one for size:

Blogs are the voices of citizens in conversation.

Contentious, in the final installment of her 4-part series, "What Bloggers and Journalists Can Learn from Each Other," offers sound advice to both groups. This series is well worth reading and discussing.

Five years ago, blogging was something we had perhaps heard of, but we all thought you had to be a hardcore programmer to launch a personal web presence. Free blogging tools are readily available today, and we no longer have to settle for the "edited to shrink your mind's eye" version of corporate-owned news.

Know a hot blog that needs some coverage? Send your recommendations to Delilah.

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