Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Spiking News about Impeachment?

It was not until shortly before 10 AM this morning that I encountered the following sentence in a report on the Al Jazeera English site:

Dennis Kucinich filed 35 charges against the president at the US congress on Monday, despite the fact Bush is due to step down from office in January.

I did not find either Kucinich's action or the number of charges particularly surprising. As a matter of fact, I was already aware of both through reading comments on Truthdig. This morning, however, it dawned on me that Al Jazeera was reporting that this had happened on Monday; but I had seen nothing about it on any of my RSS news sources for all of Tuesday!

This led me to do a Google News search with the keywords "Kucinich," "Bush," and "impeach." If I am to believe the time stamps on the search results, then the earliest report was provided by Associated Press and appeared at (where no time stamp is given). To give you an idea of the level of attention that was given, let me reproduce the content in its entirety:

Rep. Kucinich introduces Bush impeachment resolution

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a former Democratic presidential contender, said Monday he wants the House to consider a resolution to impeach President Bush.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi consistently has said impeachment was "off the table."

Kucinich, D-Ohio, read his proposed impeachment language in a floor speech. He contended Bush deceived the nation and violated his oath of office in leading the country into the Iraq war.

Kucinich introduced a resolution last year to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney. That resolution was killed, but only after Republicans initially voted in favor of taking up the measure to force a debate.

Kucinich won 50 percent of the vote in a five-way House Democratic primary in March, beating back critics who said he ignored business at home to travel the country in his quest to be president.

I am still not quite sure about that "1 day ago" excuse for a real time stamp; but, compared to the Al Jazeera coverage, this was a pretty skimpy piece of work.

Reuters did a slightly better job. They provided a real time stamp: "Mon Jun 9, 2008 10:10pm EDT." They also provided one more paragraph than Associated Press did, but neither of those wire services chose to give the count of the number of articles of impeachment. Even more amusing was that I was only able to find the Reuters article from a link on a blog post that Michael Clancy had provided to the Web site for The Village Voice. However, even Clancy fell short of the amount of background that the Al Jazeera team mustered.

At this point I need to make a digression before I get to my punch line: My morning actually began over at Truthdig by examining the comments over a report that Ron Paul had announced that he would be staging an event of his own in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area during the week of the Republican convention, probably on the day that John McCain would be officially named the Republican nominee. Anticipating that this would be yet another news story that would be ignored by mainstream media (MSM), I wrote the following comment:

Just remember, if it doesn’t happen on television, it does not happen. Make sure to let all those media sources that depend on “eyeballs for advertising” (beginning with MSNBC) know that you want to hear what Paul has to say. If their channel decides not to give the event live coverage, you will switch to one that does! (My guess is that, if all of the commercial channels give the event a pass, CSPAN will still cover it!) If our voices can affect the choice of a nominee, they should be able to affect the speeches we hear!

This was followed by a comment from cyrena (who writes some of the most interesting "no-prisoners" comments I have encountered on any of the news sites) taking me to task for supporting Paul in spite of all the questionable items on his record. She then took my to task for my underlying premise:

In other words, I’m less likely to believe that for serious people, ‘it’ doesn’t happen if it doesn’t happen on TV. We have different ways of communicating now, which is exactly why Barack Obama is the Democratic Party nominee. He’s used 21st Century technology to build a *new* movement of the Democratic Party. Most of his supporters have *not* relied on MSM for their information or their motivation.

This brings me back to my punch line, which is that we all have a responsibility to stick thorns in the side of the media whenever the opportunity presents itself. This can involve a "preemptive strike" over anticipated lack of attention to what Ron Paul chooses to say during the week of the Republican Convention; or it can involve asking, as stridently as possible, why Kucinich's (albeit quixotic) effort to bring articles of impeachment to the House floor was virtually (if not actually) spiked by just about every news source (including my beloved BBC) except for Al Jazeera! After all, Paul did an impressive job of fund-raising through those "different ways of communicating;" yet, as I observed in my reply to cyrena, as far as his active campaigning was concerned, "it was harder to gather reports on what he said on a day-to-day basis than it was to do the same for Kucinich (only because the latter had, and still has, the chutzpah to be brash and outspoken)!"

Meanwhile, for what it is worth, CNN has now "recognized" this story. Their time stamp reads "updated 3:07 a.m. EDT, Wed June 11, 2008;" and their account opens with the claim that Kucinich introduced his resolution on Tuesday, thus contradicting the other accounts that claim the resolution was introduced late Monday! The lesson to be learned is not whether or not "serious people" find out about things through television but about how well-equipped even the most "serious" reader is to filter out signal from noise. My guess is, in this case, that most media sources either do not want us to know that there is a signal or do not particularly care whether or not we get that signal. Either option is pretty pathetic for someone who grew up with the slogan "All the news that's fit to print!" It is equally pathetic that the only way in which we may be able to assert our rights against these media is to fight them on the advertising front. This is not to imply that there was once a "golden age" when reporting the news was "fair and unbalanced;" but, if Internet evangelists are going to go on and on about how their technology empowers us, then the least we can do is exercise our empowerment in the interest of being better informed!

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