Friday, February 2, 2007

Washington Post Headlines for the Intellectually Challenged

Checking In with the Washington Post, as I always do in the morning. The first two of today's headlines on the online version were so asinine, I read them to my wife to see if there was something I had missed:

Checking In with the Washington Post, as I always do in the morning. The first two of today's headlines on the online version were so asinine, I read them to my wife to see if there was something I had missed:
Iraq at Risk of Further Strife, Report Warns. Well, I must say that it's a relief to me to know that my national newspaper is right up there on the cutting edge of events as they reveal themselves. Scrolling down the page, the Post's second headline grabbed me:
Humans Blamed for Warming. It's almost too much to conceive in one day, that not only is Iraq at risk of having things continue as they have (pretty much continually over the past three and a half years of American occupation), but actual humans have been identified as the culprit in the weather debate. Here I thought it was all those farting cows that were blamed a couple years back.
One step at a time. Taking the Iraq piece first, the opening paragraph states that
A new National Intelligence Estimate depicts an Iraq involved in a multi-faceted struggle among religious groups and sects and says that without a sharp reversal in the violence and changes among the Shiite, Sunni and Kurd leadership, the situation could further deteriorate.
Cheneyiraq_5 and unless you just arrived from outer-space, that would hardly rate as a new intelligence estimate. Hard to tell about intelligence these days though. Seems like the old tried and true definitions of what is or isn't intelligence just don't work anymore. But I'll bet the Oval Office was smokin' when this news hit the presidential desk.
"Dick, what the hell is this about multi-faceted struggles? You promised me there were gonna be sharp reversals and now Negroponte slips this under the door on his way out."
"Don't worry, Mr. President. Just a blip. Temporary stuff. These guys are in their last throes."
Bushnegroponte_1 The piece blathers on and on, as if it were news, as if it belonged on the front page of a once-great newspaper, winding up with
On Tuesday, Negroponte referred to the NIE in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Iraq is at a precarious juncture. That means the situation could deteriorate, but there are prospects for increasing stability" that depend on the commitment of Iraqi government and political leaders to take steps to end Sunni-Shiite violence and "the willingness of Iraqi security forces to pursue extremist elements of all kinds," he said.
It'll be better over at the State Department, John. There's no policy at State—the whole show is operated on the fly.
Next on down the front page, the Post thrusts in their long-suffering readers' faces the stunning and heretofore unreported news that we industrial-agers are responsible for the planetary hot-flashes. In an opening paragraph, Juliet Eilperin reports
There is no longer any reasonable doubt that human activities are warming the planet at a dangerous rate, according to a new worldwide assessment of climate science released today by the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Be still, my heart. Humans? Us? It's our fault? Omigod!
Bush administration officials said today they welcomed the report, and emphasized that U.S. funding for climate research helped underpin its conclusions.
"Without the great work of our scientists, the advances in knowledge of our planet's climate that were documented in today's IPCC report would not have been possible," said Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez.
The report suggests that it is "very likely" that hot days, heat waves and heavy precipitation will become more frequent in the years to come, and it is "likely" future tropical hurricanes and typhoons will become more intense. Arctic sea ice will disappear "almost entirely" by the end of the century, it says, while snow cover will contract worldwide.
So, don't think we're not making progress. It's taken a mere six years to make the broken-field run from the 70 yard line of likely to the 75 yard line of very likely. Disastrously likely can't be more than another thirty to forty years. By then no one will need worry about Chesapeake Bay cleanup and all the costs associated with that. The Bay will have flushed itself across most of Maryland and Virginia.
Newspapers do their readers and their country no favors when they continue the reportage of old (and irresponsibly damaging) news as if it were a measure of progress. The nation goes to sleep under such reportage.
It should be—and some would say used to be—the purpose and responsibility of newspapers to not allow the country to go to sleep. The dulling-down of the news media supports and encourages the dumbing-down of America. We have mercilessly conglomerized the reporting of news and made of it the handmaiden of entertainment. There is money in entertainment. There's only honor and history and salvation in the honest and timely reporting of news.
Obviously, the Washington Post is opting for money and entertainment.
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