Monday, August 18, 2008

Georgia on my mind

A recent issue of the New Yorker had an article about the rise of Chinese nationalism. In this article, I read a paragraph that impressed me strongly.

“Because we are in such a system, we are always asking ourselves whether we are brainwashed,” he said. “We are always eager to get other information from different channels.” Then he added, “But when you are in a so-called free system you never think about whether you are brainwashed.”

The coverage of the Russian-Georgian conflict by the mass media outlets in the US has been so unilateral and so sloganistic that it reminded me of the press in a dictatorship. I don't want to get into the details of the conflict; for those who are interested in finding out how this conflict unfolded can easily find the information online.

I am not sure what to think about this? Is it the case that the government has begun to somehow manipulate the press? I cannot think of any other reason for such unilateral and simplistic presentation of information.


Blogger The Candy Man said...

I am 100% with you on this one. The media has completely failed to tell the Russian side of the story.

August 18, 2008 11:10 AM  
Blogger The Candy Man said...

Also, any James Taylor reference is always appreciated.

August 18, 2008 11:10 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

Sorry - Ray Charles, not James Taylor. You're thinking 'Carolina on my Mind'...

August 18, 2008 11:12 AM  
Blogger Tobie said...

I can't say that I've been extensively following the US media, but the Israeli side is basically equally bad. It took me quite some time to figure out what actually was going on, beneath the 'Russia-bad-Cold War-poor oppressed whatnot' floating around the media. Didn't really help when my daily paper's war correspondant got wounded, evacutated, and lionized.

As for the uniform coverage, I feel like the whole subject is one that we're not properly prepared to have strong opinions on. We've been so into the whole Middle East craziness for so long and sort of forgotten about the whole USSR thing, so that this all came out of left field before we could really form strong opinions about the relative values of territorial integrity and self-determination. Which makes us all pretty ripe to accept what the people who sound like they know what they're talking about are saying. And somehow, all the people in the know (both presidential candidates, for example) have pretty much taken one side.

For Israel, it's a bit easier since we sell weapons to Georgia and Russia sells weapons to Arabs. So loyalties are sort of pre-picked there.

August 19, 2008 1:08 AM  
Anonymous Josh Frumkin said...

I dunno about the government currently controlling the media, but it looks like some Leftist politicos are trying to do so: look at the "Fairness Doctrine," which started in 1949 and forced English talk-radio shows to express both sides of each political story (it was done by the FCC, which controlled the radio, but was rejected in the end by the FCC in 1987 - you can read more about it on Today, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is trying to get it enshrined in law without updating it to cover things like television, written newspapers, or non-English talk radio. All of those forms of media are generally pro-Left, and English-talk radio is generally pro-Right. Forcing the side that *doesn't* agree with you to state *your* opinions while leaving *your* media untouched (what Ms. Pelosi is trying to do) is a BLATANT attempt to control the media.
I don't know if the media is already controlled, but much of it does have a certain political bent. The extreme Left is trying to increase that bent - watch out!

August 19, 2008 11:23 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...


you're absolutely correct that the average man on the street in the US is clueless about Georgia, just like they were about the Middle East and the Balkans. But the press is not. The fact that they are all spewing the party line is the thing that frightens me.

In general the notion of territorial integrity and self determination is paradoxical in nature and hard to sort out... We fought a war over the South's secession when really there was absolutely no basis for the North to object...

August 19, 2008 5:31 PM  
Blogger Tobie said...

Yeah, that whole question kind of feeds into a general principle that I have recently formulated: International public law is complete and utter malarky. It's all vague and mutually exclusive principles floating about in a vacuum with no recognized authority structure, no power of enforcement, no official judiciary, no any of the things that seperate law from general philosophical/moral ramblings. It gets on my nerves a bit, as a lawyer, but it's really all just politics, spin, and frowning on anything that happens to strike you personally as excessively evil.

August 20, 2008 1:01 AM  

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