The MSM: Telling a story in reverse chronological order so as to harm Israel

With a few stellar exceptions, the best way to tell a story is in chronological order.  This is because, in the real world, cause and effect matter.  I suspect that the AP knows this is true, which is why they had their latest report from the Middle East start with the effect (Israeli airstrikes) and the loop back, very reluctantly, to the cause (Hamas terror attacks on civilian centers):

Israel pounded Gaza for the second day in a row Saturday, trading airstrikes and rocket fire with Palestinian militants and killing 15 of them as the deadliest Gaza violence in over a year showed no signs of abating.

Despite Egyptian efforts to mediate a cease-fire, Palestinians fired more than 100 rockets, some striking major cities in southern Israel and seriously wounding an Israeli civilian. The military responded with more than a dozen airstrikes and the targeted killings of Palestinian militants from various Gaza organizations.

Israel’s lauded Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted more than 25 projectiles. Still, residents were told to stay close to home and the cities of Beersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon called off school for Sunday.

Tit-for-tat exchanges between Israel and Palestinians have been routine since the 2009 war, but a flare-up of this intensity is rare. The Arab League called the Israeli attacks a “massacre.” The United Nations and the State Department condemned the violence and called on both sides to exercise restraint.

Relativism and dishonesty are normative in the media.

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  • 11B40

    Greetings:

    Last evening, I caught a bit of the Deutsche Welle “Journal” broadcast. Its headline was “Gaza Air Strikes” and the report enumerated the effects of the Israeli strikes including the demise of some jihadi mucky-muck du jour. Then, at the almost very end, the report owned up about the prior Arab rocketing of southern Israel. 

    Where’s the Stern Gang when you need them.

     

  • jj

    This is somewhat off the point, maybe, but I will try to make it informative.  At least in TV terms.  Some of this just comes down to how news is constructed.  You lead with the action, which often takes thing out of chronology – and even context.  “Get the audience” is rule #1, even before “get the story.”  We’re not here to wear out our old clothes, we’re here to make money.  I was always a bit of a pariah (surprising, right?) because I never bought into the idea that the 11:00 news should be more than about five minutes long, three of them devoted to weather – because how to dress tomorrow morning to go to work is all anybody actually gives a damn about at 11:00 PM.
     
    In the above AP story the news – the actual, hard, here’s-what-happened-today- news is: “Israel pounded Gaza for the second day in a row today, returning Palestinian fire from the Gaza strip, killing fifteen of the little cockroaches.”  That’s it.  That’s all of it.  You want context, fine: go source it somewhere else.  “Context” is not “news,” (which explains why they’re two different terms).  The fact that Hamas started the problem yesterday, or day before – that’s yesterday’s (or the day before’s) news.  Not today’s.  (And of course it should have been reported yesterday.)
     
    I always lost those arguments, for a variety of reasons, including the best of all possible reasons in television: money.  The local stations wanted that time to sell their own commercials, and one of the network jobs was to hold it together by keeping the affiliates happy and prosperous, so it became their space.  There are people in this group old enough to remember when local news at eleven did go for only five minutes.  Then it went from five minutes to fifteen – about 1963 – and probably a few more of you who can remember when it went from fifteen to thirty.  Now of course in most markets it’s thirty-five.
     
    (Okay – a digression, also for general interest.  Skip down if not interested!)  When Carson took over Tonight from Paar, the feed was 115 minutes long, not 90 minutes, let alone 60.  The number of stations that ran the first segments grew steadily smaller, as local markets expanded their local news.  (The news was – and is –  a cash cow for them.)  As fewer and fewer stations did the first segments, Carson would sit backstage and let Ed McMahon and the band – in those days it was Skitch Henderson and Milton deLugg, not Doc – fill the time.  (Which led to some problems between Carson and McMahon.  Ed was a genuinely funny guy, and he leaped at the chance of time on his own.  The problem was the live audience in the studio.   McMahon was using topical material in his monologue seen by the live audience and the stations that carried it, then the boss would come out and do a topical monologue based on the same day’s news stories – and it would fall flat with the studio audience – they’d just heard Ed’s version of the same material.  Little bit of friction there, and Ed was invited to tone it down.  Don’t get bigger laughs than the star.)  By February of 1965 only 43 of the 190 stations carrying Tonight were beginning at the beginning.  And also, as you original west coasters might just remember, thinking back, the show ran a day later on the west coast.  You saw Monday’s show on Tuesday, and last Friday’s on Monday.  Carson argued about the start time and the delay on the west coast, won both points, and the show became 90 minutes long, and the left coast got it the same night.  Didn’t happen until 1965.  Sometimes we forget how new TV really is.
     
    Back to news.  I look at the 11:00 news now, and I still think it should be about five minutes long.  It isn’t, because they want the time, yes; and also because they indulge in a lot of context – which to me has no place in the news.  Example – the news story, which could be read by somebody sitting at a desk in the studio, is:  “There was a shooting in the Wal-Mart parking lot this morning.  Two people were killed, the cops are looking for a white guy, between 5’8″ and 5’11”, clean-shaven, wearing a green jacket, driving a blue Chevy pick-up.”  That’s the news.  That’s all anybody knows.  But that’s not what you get.  What you get is a reporter standing idiotically in the darkened parking lot at 11:15 PM – fourteen damn hours after the incident occurred – a remote for which the only “need” on earth is so they can stick a “live” sign in the corner behind the reporter’s ear, thereby proving that they can do it – who will then repeat what you already heard in the intro to the story - because that’s all anybody knows.  Then you’ll be treated to some tape the reporter made of a bunch of people who don’t really know a goddam thing either, but might have heard a few shots or seen someone running.  (The actual good, useful, witnesses will have been commandeered eleven hours ago by the cops, who told them not to talk to the press.  The reporter doesn’t know they exist).  These clowns will basically say “I dunno nothin'” to the reporter.  Then, “that’s it from here, Harry, live from Wal-Mart’s pitch-black, empty parking lot, where the only people moving at midnight on a Thursday is us – back to you in the studio.” 
     
    See – they could do it in five minutes, and cover what actually happened, and what anybody actually knows.  They don’t want to do that, because they’ve given themselves commercial space for thirty-five minutes of showtime, and they have to fill it.  So you get a lot of crap other than the news.  Asking people what they think?  Crap.  Asking people what they think happened?  Crap.  Asking people how they feel?  Crap.  (Offensive crap –  who the hell outside her immediate family cares how Doris Klopstokia feels?)  Showing the dark and deserted parking lot where something happened fourteen hours ago?  Crap.  Showing film of seventeen cops standing around doing nothing, half of them on cell-phones?  Crap.  Ninety-eight percent of it is crap.
     
    And – TV has been the driving media for forty years now – so the AP, the UPI (well, once upon a time), and the newspapers all do it the same way.  The one-graf news story now takes up a column – all crap – and we ask everybody’s opinion, and we set the story up to fit our bias, and we throw in three grafs of pure irrelevant BS that appeals to us, we write ‘hi, Mom!” in graf five – and just generally TV’s effect on the world of news has been horrid.  Beyond horrid.  Blame TV, and the need to fill time very nearly as much as any particulate bias.  When you have time – or space – to fill, you’ll fill it; and since you’re only meandering anyway, you’ll fill it with your bias.
     
     

  • Jose

    Good comments.  The news, isn’t.