Wednesday, July 23, 2003

# Posted 6:10 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

TONGUE-IN-CHEEK VS. FOOT-IN-MOUTH: I had hoped for the former but wound up with the latter. Yesterday's post on the death of Saddam's sons was meant as a sarcastic swipe at the media's obsession with portraying the situation in Iraq as a Vietnam-era quagmire.

Notice that there is no explicit opinion given in yesterday's post. Each sentence consists of either a simple fact, or a vague statement which has critical connotations, but no explicit meaning with which one can disagree. For example,
Four American soldiers were injured in the battle, raising the already steep cost of the occupation in human terms.
The four injured soldiers are a matter of fact. But what counts as a "steep cost...in human terms"? Anything and everything. Still, the phrase suggests that too many soldiers have died, and for no good reason.

By relying on facts and cliches, the media can embed its prejudices in its published work while hiding behind a facade of objectivity. Sometimes this process is sub-conscious one. By imitating this practice in yesterday's post, I had hoped to suggest how even the post possible news can be presented as a failure.

FYI, in the first version of Josh's response to Matt Yglesias' post on the death of the Hussein brothers, Josh noted that I was "obviously joking". But then I asked Josh to phrase his comments in a way that wouldn't let the cat out of the bag. Hence:
Heaven knows I don't like to criticize the opinions of my co-bloggers, so, seeing as how Matt Yglesias seems to agree with David on the implications of Uday and Qusay Hussein's untimely demise, I'll criticize Matt instead....
That, too, was meant to be sarcastic. Spend some time in the OxBlog archives, and you'll get a sense of how much criticizing one's co-bloggers is part and parcel of being on OxBlog.

But that's enough navel-gazing for the moment. While I was hoping that my faux coverage of Uday and Qusay's deaths would resemble the actual coverage provided by the Guardian or the Independent, it turns out that even the most implacable critics of the US government have found it hard to see the demise of the Hussein boys as anything other than a major triumph for the United States. Even Robert Fisk began this morning's column by remarking that
So they are dead. Even Baghdad exploded in celebratory, deafening automatic rifle fire at the news, a delight of matchstick-snapping sound and red tracer bullets.
So perhaps I shouldn't be so critical of the professionals' work. Then again, nah....

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