The Common Ills

Friday, April 08, 2005
In this morning's New York Times "Pope-arama" goes on but there are other stories

 In the New York Times this morning you will find that regardless of what term you use ("pope-arama" -- Danny Schechter; "The Pope Goes On" -- community member Dallas), we're still in the land of non-stop coverage.

Let's be clear this, isn't about legacy.  This is about celebrity.  Cult of personality.

Ruth e-mailed yesterday that Renee Montagne is reporting from Vatican city.

Ruth:  "This doesn't strike me as how funds for NPR were supposed to be spent.  Under LBJ's Great Society, NPR and PBS were sold as a forum that would allow voices and issues to be heard that were not getting out in the mainstream.  This was to be the public's broadcasting which is why we end up with National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting System.  Money spent to send an anchor, not a reporter, out of this country to broadcast from a funeral is pretty much beyond news.  This is not 'news' this is a 'tribute.'  That's gone on for days and that violates the spirit of what NPR is supposed to be doing -- going where no one else goes."

If the Pope's burial today is news from someone, I'm wondering where they've been for the last week and a half that the death watch has gone on.  But you can hardly have a death pageant without covering its equivalent of the beauty pageant "crowning."

This is not going to where the news is because this truly is not news.  You might be able to get a feature story or two out of it (though after the saturation coverage, I'm disinclined to believe that there's any feature angle that hasn't already been covered many times over), but it's not news.

It's an easy story to do because there are elements that provide for hyped copy and strong visuals, but it's not news.  It's one brief story:

Today, Pope John Paul II was buried.  ____ mourners turned out to pay their respects.
Sources close to the Vatican say that Pope John Paul II's successor will be named in ___ days.

Flooding the zone, as all outlets have done, with this one story is neither a public service nor news.
We shouldn't mistake it as news.

But the death pageant goes on.  (Stealing from Dallas.)

And it's not confined to our domestic media.  As the UK computer gurus can tell you.  Right now as I listen to BBC radio, the funeral is covered live. 

And it will be interesting to see how our domestic media (United States) covers this since the funeral is taking place so early (for our time).

Let's try to find some real news in this morning's New York Times.

Carl Hulse and David D. Kirkpatrick have "DeLay Says Federal Judiciary Has 'Run Amok,' Adding Congress is Partly to Blame:"

"Judicial independence does not equal judicial supremacy," Mr. DeLay said in a videotaped speech delivered to a conservative conference in Washington entitled "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith."

An ethical lecture from Tom DeLay?  And you thought the burial of the Pope might mean all news would be heavy and serious?  DeLay unintentionally lightens things up for us by providing us with some strong belly laughs.

Let's note Neil A. Lewis' "Administration Urges Appeals Court to Let Guantanamo War Crimes Trials Resume."  From that article:

A senior lawyer in the Bush administration urged a federal appeals court on Thursday to allow the resumption of war crimes trials in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as part of the effort to defend against terrorists.

The lawyer, Peter D. Keisler, the assistant attorney general who heads the civil division of the Justice Department, said the trials that a federal judge halted on Nov. 8 were an important part of the fight against terrorism. The trials, Mr. Keisler said, "send a message that if you commit terrible crimes, we will capture you, we will give you a fair trial, and if you're convicted, we will impose a just sentence."

The trials say all of that, do they?  The courts haven't found those statements to be made nor have many who've followed the cases.  We've got secret trials with the presumption of guilt from the start and secret evidence used as the norm. 

Richard W. Stevenson and Matthew L. Wald have distrubing news in "U.S. Report Sees Gasoline Prices Moving Higher Still."
According to Stevenson and Wald's article, The Energy Information Administration has found, in a report, that gas prices will increase over the next few weeks and remain high throughout the summer.

From the article:

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey published Thursday showed a drop in approval of Mr. Bush's handling of the economy to 41 percent from 46 percent two months ago. A USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll released this week found an even sharper drop, to 41 percent from 48 percent five weeks earlier.

Analysts said consumer concern about what it costs to fill up at the pump was also pulling down the percentage of people who think the country is on the right track. In the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 34 percent of respondents said the country was headed in the right direction, down from 42 percent in February.

The USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll found the price of gasoline rivaling terrorism and health care as the top issues among respondents, well ahead of the priority Mr. Bush has put at the top of his agenda, overhauling Social Security.

Douglas Jehl's "C.I.A. Chief Orders 'Curveball' Review" tells us that Porter Goss has ordered an internal review to find out how "Curveball" was allowed to feed information when he was a questionable asset (one not trusted by the Clinton adminstration and not trusted by German Intel).  

Someone on the BBC (radio) just said that "certainly the media has whipped up a hysteria" but he's commenting on the selection of the next Pope and not on the death pageant itself, sadly.

Brad e-mails noting a curious item online at the Times.  It's credited to "By The New York Times" and it is entitled "U.N. Nominee's Case."  This sixty-one word item (check my math, as always) tells us that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be interviewing four people (with the State Department's permission) "four officials" -- two of which are named Thomas Fingar and Christian P. Westermann (the latter says Bolton "ousted him").

There seems to be a story here but the Times has apparently decided to run it more like a public announcement in a legal proceeding. 

Those e-mailing, by the way, have been advised that this site is being utilized for today's The Common Ills.  Why is that?  Ask Blogger.

Jim Yardley and Thom Shankar have "Chinese Navy Buildup Gives Pentagon New Worries."  The headline captures the article and those interested in the topic should click on the link.

Ginger Thompson and James C. McKinley Jr. have "Opposition Chief at Risk in Mexico City."
From the article:

In a vote that casts doubt on the strength of Mexico's fledgling democracy, this city's popular leftist mayor lost a critical battle in Congress on Thursday over a measure that is likely to force him off the ballot in presidential elections next year and could lead to his imprisonment.

Hundreds of thousands of people were gathered in Mexico City's central square throughout the day to protest the action, a rare proceeding known in Mexico as a "desafuero," in which Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador was stripped of his official immunity so he could stand trial in a minor land dispute.

In terms of political rights, the Mexican Constitution holds suspects guilty until proved innocent, so Mr. Lopez will be banned from politics until the end of a trial.

Guilty until proven innocent?  Kind of like Guantanomo.

The e-mail address for this site is


Posted at 04:07 am by thecommonills

Home Next Entry

<< April 2005 >>
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
 01 02
03 04 05 06 07 08 09
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

If you want to be updated on this weblog Enter your email here:

rss feed