Good News is Sometimes Actually News, Even Near an Election
CNN reports that Muhsin Musa Matwalli Atwah, a member of the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list and planner of the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings, was killed this past April in an airstrike by Pakistani forces near the border with Afghanistan.
Chris in Paris, writing on the popular AMERICAblog, is furious.
CNN tows the line, again. Sure the world is better without someone like him, but why the big announcement and hype now? The air strike happened months ago in April and suddenly out of nowhere, it makes a splash. Give me a break. If only Tom Ridge was around to call more alerts, on queue, during the election season. These people are so pathetic and I can’t wait until they get thrown out on their asses. I have had it with the fear card being over-played and so-called accomplishments being over-hyped. Yes, I have had enough.
[Update: Josh Marshall has a similar, but much more understated, reaction: “Hmmm. Guy involved in the embassy bombings killed in April. And it’s October. Okay.”]
Umm, maybe because the DNA tests confirming his death were just completed? And it’s not like there’s a lot of hype over this. No banner headlines. No proclamations that the war is almost over. Just a hyperlink on the front page of CNN.com with a bland headline. (Indeed, if you look at the screen capture thumbailed at right, you’d swear that “Rent Movies from Netflix” was the top story of the day.)
The man had been a major al Qaeda operative for fifteen years and was responsible for the deaths of at least a couple dozen Americans. He has been confirmed dead and taken off the Most Wanted list. Surely, that rates some mention? You want hype, look at the Natalie Holloway and Jon Benet Ramsey stories. Or Mark Foley. Or Macaca. This, friends, ain’t hype.
Mark Danziger argued in a column yesterday that American journalists would be more highly regarded if they took some cues from their predecessors.
In World War II, Ernie Pyle found and publicized flaws in our military — but he did it in the context of supporting the larger war effort. In Vietnam, Joe Galloway spent his first night in the field as a journalist manning a machine gun emplacement.
That’s not what we ought to expect from our media today. We don’t need journalists as cheerleaders (not that Pyle or Galloway ever were) or as combatants. But I do know that a lot of us would feel better about the criticism leveled by the media at things the U.S. is doing if we were sure that — in the event of an ambush by enemies determined to kill some of us — they wouldn’t just see it as a good story.
I’m not asking for White House-led journalism, just journalism from people who convince me that they really do have our best interests —as opposed to our best stories — at heart.
The same could be said for our citizen journalists, too. Surely, we can take sides in the partisan fight without losing sight of the fact that it’s an intramural one. We can be happy when enemies of our country are eliminated, even if it provides some incremental advantage to incumbent politicians we would like to see defeated in the next election.
That what’s good for America is good for President Bush doesn’t negate the fact that it’s good for America.
UPDATE: Mark Halperin et al write the following on ABC News’ blog under the heading “The Note: Pending: Six Days of November Surprises”:
How the (liberal) Old Media plans to cover the last two weeks of the election:
1. Glowingly profile Speaker-Inevitable Nancy Pelosi, with loving mentions of her grandmotherly steel (see last night’s 60 Minutes), and fail to describe her as “ultra liberal” or “an extreme liberal,” which would mirror the way Gingrich was painted twelve years ago.
2. Look at every attempt by the President to define the race on his terms as deluded and desperate; increasingly quote Republican strategists saying that the President is hurting the party whenever he enters the fray.
3. Refuse to join the daily morning Ken Mehlman-Rush Limbaugh conference calls, despite repeated invitations. LINK
4. Imbue every Democratic candidate for whom Bill Clinton campaigns with a golden halo.
5. Paint groups that run ads or do turnout for Republican candidates as shadowy, extreme, corrupt, and illegitimate; describe their analogues on the left as valiant underdogs, part of a People’s Army (with homage to Rich Lowry).
6. Care more about voter disenfranchisement than voter fraud.
7. Take every Republican quote expressing some trepidation about the outcome and banner it.
8. Drop any pretense of covering good news from Iraq (uhm&.) or good news about the economy, including some upcoming positive macro numbers (Quick, Note readers: name the current Secretary of the Treasury.). LINK
9. Amplify Obama-mania as a metaphor for the Democratic Party being the party of excitement and the future.
10. Fail to follow Bob Novak’s analysis of the difference between Democratic and Republican oppo plants. LINK
11. Lock in the CW (which, shockingly, could be wrong) that the winner of two out three Senate races in Virginia, Tennessee, and Missouri will control the Senate.