Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

World News Tonight vs. the Sirens of the Internet

Jerry Stratton, August 31, 2007

I’ve just returned from a little over a week without Internet access. I was visiting my parents in a very rural town in West Michigan. I spent most of the time reading books I picked up at the Grand Rapids public library book sale, listening to music I picked up from Vertigo Records, and finishing up the final draft of FlameWar.

It was restful and relaxing in all but one respect: having to rely on the three major television stations for news. I have Memeorandum in my news feed; I keep Google News in the list of web sites that my web browser automatically opens. My parents don’t even have cable. They sometimes have Internet access, but it’s dial-up and either their phone lines were too staticy or their provider’s modems weren’t working the week I was there. So the only news I got last week was the local newspaper, local television news, and ABC.

On Tuesday night last week, one of the major world news stories on World News Tonight was that President Bush had changed his mind on Iraq, and was signaling an ouster of Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki. That jerked my attention away from The Sirens of Titan. If Bush was calling for the ouster of the democratically-elected government of Iraq, that’s a huge change. In the past, he’s always been clear about leaving the Iraqi election results to the Iraqis.

But the footage of Bush seemed to be nothing more than Bush saying that Iraq is a democracy and if the Iraqi people want him gone, they will vote him gone. As an Internet news junkie, I know that that’s what Bush has been saying—that the Iraqi people are in charge of their own government—since the elections were originally set up in that country.

My initial reaction was to head over to WhiteHouse.gov to find out what the full response had been, and what question Bush was answering. Without Internet access, I couldn’t do that. But even without that context, it was hard to see how Bush’s statement led to ABC’s lead-in that Bush was changing his mind.

Then the next night the talking heads seemed confused that Bush didn’t seem to be following through on his “distancing” himself from Maliki. And in a few weeks it will probably be time for them to lament inexplicable poll results saying that people are spending less time watching news. Now that I have Internet access again, however, I won’t be watching that segment.

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