Cider Press Hill

Très sucky

Thursday, 6:20 pm

Today for the first time in about six months, I turned CNN on to see what they had to say about the state of the world. I shouldn’t have bothered. I don’t think those people live in the same reality that the rest of the mere mortals on this earth live in.

My impression was that they are now almost entirely in the sensationalism business. There is no story that they can’t tart up nor any effort spared to do so. And, of course, the two largest stories today were the British seamen returning home and the exhaustive (and exhausting) flagellation of one Nancy Pelosi. Facts be damned.

I more or less tuned out their incessant burbling about Nancy Pelosi—it was repetitive and boring—but I was really rather horrified at the nastiness directed toward the British seamen. Good golly, you’d think that because they didn’t all die in a blaze of glory, they’re wretched cowards. And to pound that idea home, CNN trotted out various of our military experts to point-blank say that if WE were in the same position, we’d have done things a whole lot differently. Not getting caught in the first place and going down with guns blazing if we were. Easy to say from their comfy chairs stateside, I suppose.

The lone Brit interviewed simply said, “We’re thrilled with the outcome. No one died.”

It’s hard to know what went on behind the scenes, but the absence of guns blazing and exploding international incidents is a breath of fresh air, actually. No one died, and I sincerely doubt whether the world thinks the less of Britain for it. Its rather pleasant when people live through a tense situation without crafting it into the latest casus belli. And other people seem to celebrate that fact, too. These CNN clods are really bloodthirsty jingoists. How utterly ugly.

It’ll be a long while before I tune to that channel again. What has happened to CNN?!

Posted by Kate on 04/0507 at 06:20 PM

Can’t help ya there ma dear. I don’t like CNN and never really have.

Posted by justme on 04/06  at  06:55 AM

Been years since I’ve watched CNN, except for the times it happens to be on when I drop over to my sister’s house.  Ditto HeadlineNews, CNBC, MSNBC, and of course FauxNews.

I removed all of them from the channels on my clicker (they’re all adjacent in my Comcast lineup ... I now skip from channel 39 to 49), and don’t miss them one single teeny-tiny bit.  Yes, it means that I don’t watch Olbermann, but his good stuff shows up on YouTube and such before his program is even broadcast out this way.

CNN has become so utterly Faux-ized and E!-ized that I don’t even go to its website any more.  Except, on rare occasions, its international edition.  That version is much less Anna Nicoled and Britneyed and Justined than the US edition.

Posted by N in Seattle on 04/06  at  12:25 PM

That is one of the mercies of having a dvr—I can record Olbermann. That’s the only business I do with MSNBC. Some of my news comes from NPR (and that’s annoying enough sometimes) and the BBC reports on my NPR station, but most of it comes from reading it on the internets. What I read (from a variety of sources) and what I heard yesterday on CNN didn’t sound at all like the same events.

If we were to be judged by what what the 24 hour news networks broadcast, those doing the judging could easily make a strong case, if not an apologia, for the viewers’ utter ignorance of the world. Tabloid news all the time.

If that’s the kind of crap ‘the most trusted news source’ in the business provides, it’s not too hard to see why we’re where we are.

And despite that, people are still figuring it out.

Posted by Kate on 04/06  at  01:10 PM

As you intimate, even NPR is less than what it once was.  Thankfully, there are a few NPR stations with enough juice and enough local involvement to retain a modicum of “people power”. 

WBUR produces some excellent stuff, even if they did kick out Chris Lydon, and out here I’ve heard really good stuff on KUOW—if you want to check out their feed, Steve Scher of Weekday (M-F, 9-11am Pacific Time) is an absolutely top-of-the-line interviewer.  And I’ve long been a fan of NHPR‘s Laura Knoy, a woman who could have her choice of plum jobs (she used to be a national NPR reporter) but instead decided to come home to report on the people and the places of her upbringing.

Me, I get most of my news from DailyKos, where I can even contribute my two cents to it.

Posted by N in Seattle on 04/06  at  03:26 PM

I was on a shuttle bus last week, going from my office to a meeting in another annex in another part of town (right through the glorious tidal basin and the Cherry blossoms in their majestic peak, but I digress).  In front of me on the bus, were two, middle-aged men in bad suits, talking about how in their opinion, the British sailors didn’t appear any worse for wear.  This was before they were released.  It was all I could do to mind my own business.  Yes, there were smiles (I’m fairly certain masking deep fear) and they were clean and appeared ok.  But they had already spent over a week, probably cryinig at night for their famillies and wondering if their heads were to be chopped off).  And this cavalier attitude by these two men, safe in the little bus and thousands of miles from the danger of war, had the gall to make those kinds of remarks, with such certitude.  I saw the same attitude expressed on CNN and other news outlets, and it made my blood boil. 

Thanks for pointing out the obvious.  I hadn’t mentioned this event to anyone, but I wonder what we’re becoming when we take in this sort of dismissive and detached approach to events where severed limbs and bloody gashes aren’t evidently in front of our noses.  Shame is the word that immediately comes to mind.

Posted by dk on 04/07  at  12:39 PM

Oh., and P.S.  One of the men made the comment that the female sailor was actually smoking a cigarette - as if that were proof positive that she wasn’t being placed under any duress.  Just unbelievable.

Posted by dk on 04/07  at  12:46 PM

Thanks for commenting, dk. I saw those same videos and the sailors/marines looked scared. The female sailor didn’t look to me as if she was particularly enjoying that cigarette. But that hardly proves anything one way or another, either. I’m just thankful that they weren’t bruised, bleeding, or headless.

I’m also disturbed that the American media and retired military personnel would so publicly carry on like that about a branch of a close ally’s military. That’s just wrong and a stab in a good friend’s back, in my opinion.

I’ve read different opinions from various retired members of the US military and the opinion seems to be fairly split between “they did the right thing” and “they exhibited weakness and a lack of honor by not putting up a fight and have, therefore, undermined our ‘authority’ in the Middle East.” I’m curious about the latter opinion. From a military standpoint, what would have been gained by engaging in a shootout where the Brits were out-manned and out-gunned and their country was not at war with Iran? Would not this have been considered a civil dispute rather than a military one? I’m not military so I’m not sure. But I don’t see what 15 dead British sailors/marines and various dead Iranians, after a gun battle, would have gained Britain (or the US) other than, perhaps, a vicarious adrenaline rush for those who think it should be all Rambo all the time—or justification for a bombing raid over Tehran.

None of us knows the whole story and I don’t think that we ever will. If the Royal Navy spokespersons say that they followed their ROE right down to the letter, then that should be the last word on the matter.

The US has been in that situation before and I believe our people followed the same protocols. (USS Pueblo) So where do our military (retired) pundits get off making pronouncements about a close ally’s military personnel over a situation they know little about and sputtering about how WE’D never act like that, when our military personnel have done the same in a seemingly similar situation? I really don’t understand where this attitude comes from. I know there can be a vast chasm between how the military thinks and civilians think, but this is plain strange to me.

Posted by Kate on 04/07  at  02:53 PM

I obviously can’t speak for the collective military perspective - especially now after over 8 years after retiring from the Army.  Though I spent 20 years contractually as a proud member of our Army, I really think that much has changed, and for the worse.  A corpse rots from the head down, and I think the damage done by this president and administration will take a generation to remedy, sadly.  And this is based on what I read (I’m still a subscriber to the Army Times and other professional periodicals) as well as anecdotal experiences with and stories from people who are still part of that organization.

Everyone I know understands that British sailors and marines did exactly what they should have.  The opinions of those who thought there should have been a firefight before surrender are dead wrong.  Rational military thinkers know and acknowledge that; it would have been suicide, not a prudent or valorous attempt to “hold the fort.” The British troops while in captivity were cautious from the outset in their statements, always using the caveat that “according to what the Iranians have told us...” thereby signaling that they were not speaking from their own perspective.  The British authorities understood this from the beginning, and implied pretty clearly that the statements were not necessarily reflective of how the seamen involved actually felt.

The bravado by the U.S. self-anointed military talking heads was just that, ridiculously careless in their belligerent assessments.  CNN and others want to hear controversial criticism; that’s what’s newsworthy today, apparently.

The views of uniformed servicemembers are much more a microcosm of our society that what most people would believe.  This I know firsthand, and there was no retaliation for being pro-Carter or pro-Reagan “back in the day.”

No one desires to go to war less than a GI --Colin Powell will admit that freely.  And, as an officer, I had a picture of Dukakis hanging on my wall in 1988—back then, you were allowed to have an opinion without fear of reprisal.  And people were allowed to disagree with you.  One could not proselytize while in uniform, but we could certainly express our opinions without any fear.  That was viewed as healthy.  A comment on an efficiency report to the effect that “SGT X is not a ‘yes’ man” was a very positive statement about SGT X.  That may have changed, now, I really don’t know.

I’m proud of the British marines and sailors for their bravery and wisdom.  Most people are.  I’m glad they’re safe, alive and home.  And they did act by the book; their young officers protected the enlisted EMs under their care - brilliantly.  Kudos to them.

If you are ever bored, take a look at some of the military links I have on my homepage:  Armchair Generalist; Part of the Plan; Main and Central; and others to get a sense of where many thoughtful former career military persons stand on these and other issues.  It may or may not surprise you (I have the feeling it won’t surprise you).

Finally, I wince when the president and others call marines “soldiers”, or sailors “marines”, or airmen “soldiers”, so when I collectively called the Brits in question “sailors”, and you referred to them in your response as sailors and marines, I felt duly corrected.  Believe it or not, marines despise being referred to as soldiers, as do airmen.  “Troops” is definitionally incorrect as a collective descriptor of soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen (since it actually refers to a company-sized element of about 200 soldiers in an artillery unit), but is correct, acceptable, and apropos in the vernacular, as is “uniformed servicemembers”.  I appreciate your making that important semantic distinction grin.

I also appreciate your thoughtful assessment that the paid talking heads on CNN do not represent the line of thinking of many (most) uniformed military personnel.  I’m so happy that people (wise people) today draw the distinction from our government’s flawed policies, and the troops who are charged with carrying out those orders.  There was a time, not so long ago, when our society failed to understand that distinction, and many honorable (then) young people bore the emotional scares of the failure to understand that difference for many years.

Posted by dk on 04/08  at  07:58 AM

Again, thank you for commenting, dk.

Out of everything that you said, this is what I appreciate hearing the most:

I’m proud of the British marines and sailors for their bravery and wisdom.  Most people are.  I’m glad they’re safe, alive and home.  And they did act by the book; their young officers protected the enlisted EMs under their care - brilliantly.  Kudos to them.

Agreed. Totally.

When I look at them...they are soooo young. My goodness, it’s kind of astonishing to think they have more sense and wisdom than some who are twice their age.  They did a fine job and their teachers and trainers should also be proud.

Posted by Kate on 04/08  at  06:20 PM