Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A View of the 24 Hour Media: Cynical or True?

A friend of mine, Paul Osborn, made a telling point today at a lunch I was attending in Washington. He was speaking at a pro-war rally in Washington some time ago and said...
The 24 hour news media seem keener to report failure over success. Every
challenge is insurmountable, every obstacle is too great too overcome. They
prefer to report on people who hate their country rather then those who love
their country. I can’t help but wonder if the Second World War was fought under
these circumstances whether we’d have won. Winston Churchill would have had to
say: “We shall fight them in the focus groups. We shall fight them in the opinion
polls. We shall never surrender unless our approval rating drops below
30%.”

Discuss.

17 comments:

barnacle_bill said...

Bit ripe that comment considering how supline the American media have been over the present administration's indiscretions.
Churchill would have been supported because he was engaged in a morally honest conflict.

Peter Risdon said...

Osborne was absolutely right.

Yak40 said...

A large part of the American media and their Congressional allies can't wait for a repeat of the betrayal vote and the inevitable result as was seen in April 1975 in Saigon.
It's beyond disgusting.

Mark said...

*looks down page*

Mmmm let's see...

an attack on Al Gore,

speculation the knives are out for Ming Campbell,

a piss-take of hazel blears,

a slating of Heathrow airport,

and a moan about a lost iPod...


Yep, I would say he's absolutely right!

Rush-is-Right said...

You have to remember that in 1941 there was a Democrat in the White House. So he would have got more sympathy and support from the drive-by media from the get-go.

Niki Molnar said...

It sounds more like a quote from Bill O'Reilly of that "fair and balanced", right of Attila the Hun, 24 hour Bush PR channel, Fox News.

A US Republican's job is to damn all "bleeding heart liberals" who dare question the war.

If you remember the press coverage of Gulf War I (when Mrs T was running the show) the vast majority supported the allies. I can only believe that the 24 hours news coverage of the Falklands would be more of the same support.

WW2 was 1) a legally declared war, 2) to remove an agressor from the sovereign soil of other countries and 3) to prevent our nation from being invaded.

No comparison.

David Boothroyd said...

It would be well to remember the growth of 24-hour media over the past ten years when entering into any discussion on whether increased government spending on press departments is justified.

Mark Valladares said...

A successful war is underpinned by widespread public support. An unsuccessful one is undermined by poor leadership and untruth.

This war was started on a series of false premises, inconsistently put. And if your leaders lie often enough, and long enough, the public tend to be unsupportive.

Ironically, if Bush and Blair had decided upon a line that credibility, and stuck to it, they might have retained more respect.

In Blair's case particularly, his evasions are returning to haunt him... and about time too...

Anonymous said...

Let it go Iain. Its over. Perhaps the public wouldn't have been so hostile if the war hadn't been such a total disaster from start to finish.
Neo Cons kiss my ass.

Chris Paul said...

Below 30%? Time to go then!

raincoaster said...

You do realize that the US didn't enter the Second World War until public support was well over 30%. You do know that, right? Even then, there might be some in your circle old enough to tell you that they sat out a few years first making up their mind.

And the Americans, left or right, would never in a million years have elected Winston Churchill.

antifrank said...

Raincoaster, strictly speaking, the British didn't elect Winston Churchill either, they elected Stanley Baldwin.

Anonymous said...

Not sure I recognise your description, but then I chucked out my telly, so only see it if I'm visiting my parents, who seem to watch 'News 24' a lot and occasionally Sky. What I do think is a problem is that there is absolutely no in depth analysis whatsoever.

Were I deprived of 'Iain Dale' for a week [nightmare!] because I had no internet connection, then watching Newsnight and listening to Radio 4 would give me a good idea what was going on in the world.

Watching rolling news for 6 hours just means seeing the same thing half a dozen times.

Scary Biscuits said...

I think the fundamental problem here is freedom of speech.

People seem to have forgotten why it's so important. It's been supported by Britain and then America not just out of principal but because it works: governments and science and personal freedom and even religion (see Jesus) are all better because of freedom of speech.

The is a big 'however', however. Freedom of speech does not work in the case of armed conflict. This is obvious to anybody who thinks about a private soldier questioning his officer. The same principle, however, applies to all of us whether we're actually in the armed forces or not. Freedom of speech cannot and must not extend to comforting Her Majesty's enemies.

The two most eggregrious recent examples of this are (1) the Mirror's gleeful printing of fake photos of abuse and (2) Michael Moore's film Farenheit 9/11. The latter was actually cited as justification by some of the Bali bombers. The former almost certainly led directly to some of the 130 dead British soldiers so far in Iraq.

Allowing this sort of freedom of speech is a recent innovation and certainly didn't exist in previous conflicts (e.g. WW2 or the even the Napoleonic War, when the British MSM was far more disrespectful and virile than it is today). Allowing freedom of speech to be abused in this way is also counter-productive because as well as offering encouragement to our enemies, it means that we have to restrict our domestic freedoms even further, for example on the cartoons depicting Mohammed or even on discussion of issues such as dealing with Muslim terrorists in our midst.

Anybody, therefore, who is a true supporter of free speech would support an Act to remove the abuse of that freedom when our armies are engaged abroad.

CityUnslicker said...

The yanks were not very pro-ww11. For example their ambassador in London. One Joe Kennedy, father to John and Bobby, was virulently anti-English and insisted in 1940 that Hitler's troops woul dbe marching down the mall within days.

Much of America was pro-isolation after the disasters of WW1 and the reession. The media were so hostile that Roosevelt ordered US ships in harms way to get the stories that would swing public morale.

Finally, Germany declared war on the US and not the other way round. Japan brought America into the war on the day of infamy.

So, overall, news management and popularity was a key ingredient back then just as it is today.

Ludington said...

Blaming the 24-hour news media shows a rather distinct lack of historical knowledge. Look up one of H. L. Mencken's better-known essays, 'The Anglo-Saxons', from 1923. It's frequently anthologized, so it shouldn't be too difficult to locate.

Letterman said...

The old 'liberal bias' story - berk. Its seems more of a 'reality bias' to me.