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Missing The Point

Have you noticed how often “the press” seems to miss the point of important stories it covers?  Here are a few recent examples:

UN oil-for-food Program

Press Take:  This is a story about whether Kofi Annan’s son improperly used his influence to benefit from the program.  Story is over when Volker Commission apparently can’t find proof of this.

The Real Story:  An enormous and extremely important program was mismanaged in a way which let Saddam Hussein divert billions meant to feed his people into arms and palaces (apparently more of the latter than the former) and bribes for government officials worldwide.  This may be the biggest case of misdiverted resources in the history of the world.  Incompetent management of this program was certainly a contributing cause to the Iraq War.  The same people are still “managing” the UN and all of its could-be-important programs today.

My Rant:  The issue of Annan Jr.’s venality is irrelevant compared to the issue of gross mismanagement.  Somehow Annan Sr. got a hall pass for mismanaging on an historic scale because his son wasn’t caught with his hand all the way into the cookie jar.  He needs to be fired for incompetence,

Social Security Insolvency

Press Take:  It’s all about “privatization”.

The Real Story:  There is no Social Security Trust Fund, just a Ponzi scheme that will predictably run out of money unless the rules are changed.  The longer we wait to change the rules, the more painful the changes will be.  Allowing (not forcing) some people to risk some of their investment in hope of greater return (exactly what almost all 401(k)s do) will neither save nor destroy this doomed system although anything which results in “diverting” any contributions towards future rather than present benefits forces the issue of the Ponzi scheme sooner.  As a country, we are probably going to have to change Social Security to a means-tested welfare program in order to avoid significant hardship.  We will probably also have to defy Lou Dobbs and encourage young immigrants to support us through their work when we retire.

My Rant:  The President deserves some of the blame for the privatization red herring although I give him credit for taking advantage of lame duck status to firmly grasp the third rail of American politics.

Disrespecting The Koran

Press Take (BBC):  The most important news in the world on Wednesday were the charges that an American at Guantanamo Bay desecrated a copy of the Koran.  This was reported as sufficient cause for violent outbreaks throughout the Muslim world.

The Real Story:  The Koran is being desecrated by those who carry out terrorism in its name.

My Rant:  Symbolic tolerance is important but punishing some pieces of paper is not on the same scale as beheading hostages.

The Runaway Bride

Press Take (CNN): There is a story even after there isn’t a story.

The Real Story:  There never was one.

My Rant:  Having been suckered into covering nothing in its constant search for slightly prurient free content, CNN is now trying to make a story out of the fact that there never was a story.  Better to just shut up and be a little more careful next time.  We might have missed five minutes of Michael Jackson’s lawyer’s ex-wife’s mother-in-law while time was being squandered on this.


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» Evslin to the media: where are you looking? from Vy Blog
Tom Evslin is peeved at the press for missing the point in a few recent stories (even if you count the runaway bride as news). He's on the money, of course -- I would also say, though, frankly, that it's [Read More]

TELL IT LIKE IT IS Tom Evslin over at Fractals of Change has a good idea in this very timely and relevant post titled [Read More]


John "Widgett" Robinson

Here via Buzz Machine. I agree with Jeff J. Excellent stuff. Info and criticism all in a convenient, carry-home package. More, please.


Addendum: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1485649,00.html


Can you believe what happened in Afghanistan on Sunday because of the Newsweek Article? This is insane. I am reminded way back when hippies burned the American flag as symbolism against the Vietnam war. People got so crazy that that it ignited all sorts of mindless violence.


UN oil-for-food Program:

The really real story: The supervision of that program was done by the UNSC, not the UN.

Michael Parekh

Very spot on post...you may have invented a whole new form of blog journalism.

terrific job.

Alex Rowland

Another you missed:

Priest Child Molestation Scandal

Press Take: This is about whether some individual priests molested some children and what the impact is, financially, to the Catholic Church. Let's focus on the human drama of some of the kids (turned adults) who experienced this abuse first hand.

The Real Story: Somehow one of the most powerful cultural movements in our history has produced a class of leaders who systematically molest children and who have also engaged in the systematic obfuscation of this problem to the detriment of hundreds (thousands!?) of children over the past few decades alone. Let's instead take a closer look at the organization, as a whole, that could produce such a class of leadership and further compound the problem by remaining inexplicably, inexcusably silent.

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