Category Archive 'NBC News'

29 Dec 2012

David Gregory and Taboo Object Control

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NBC News’ David Gregory apparently defied the (absurd) District of Columbia law forbidding anyone “to possess [&c.] any large capacity ammunition feeding device regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm” by openly holding in his hand and displaying an empty 30-round magazine during a Meet the Press program in which he confronted NRA EVP Wayne LaPierre.

Anne Althouse elucidates the semiotics that drove NBC News to turn to open, on-the-air, defiant commission of a crime.

If possession of that high-capacity magazine was a crime, and the NBC folk knew it and had even contacted the police and thus even knew they’d created rock-hard evidence that they knew it, why did they go ahead and have Gregory flaunt that illegal possession on television? They had to have thought it was a devastatingly powerful prop. My first guess was that they imagined that viewers — some viewers, at least — would find the object itself scary. …

I’m not sure exactly why that jogged my thinking, but suddenly I understand the drama Gregory (and his people) were trying to enact. It’s a deep psychic memory of childhood. Gregory sought dominance over his interlocutor, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, and the idea — in the act of picking up that magazine and beginning an interrogation about it — was that Gregory would become (subliminally) a parent figure who would push LaPierre into the subordinate role of the little boy, the cowering child confronted with undeniable evidence of his wrongdoing. What’s THIS I found in your room?

The plan was for LaPierre to babble lamely, scrambling to explain it away, like the kid trying to concoct some cockamamie reason why that (whatever) got into his room. He’d look foolish and guilty, as Dad continues to hold up the item which the kid knows will be the defeat of every idea that flashes through his stupid, stupid brain.

The scenario didn’t play out as scripted. LaPierre is a stolid veteran of many a confrontational interview. He’s not going to let the interviewer get the upper hand that easily.

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Naturally, all this has inevitably provoked considerable discussion about whether Mr. Gregory should really be prosecuted and potentially convicted, sentenced, and treated as a criminal for an action obviously involving no real threat of any kind to anyone, for a purely technical violation of an obviously extravagantly far-reaching provision of a law aimed in intent at curbing authentic violent crime.

A lot of people have made good arguments and intelligent points. Even NRA President David Keene argued that Gregory’s “crime” should simply be overlooked.

Mark Steyn, however, decided to swim against the tide of general opinion, and argues that David Gregory ought to be held to the same irrational regulatory standards as everybody else.

This is, declared NYU professor Jay Rosen, “the dumbest media story of 2012.” Why? Because, as CNN’s Howard Kurtz breezily put it, everybody knows David Gregory wasn’t “planning to commit any crimes.”

So what? Neither are the overwhelming majority of his fellow high-capacity-magazine-owning Americans. Yet they’re expected to know, as they drive around visiting friends and family over Christmas, the various and contradictory gun laws in different jurisdictions. Ignorantia juris non excusat is one of the oldest concepts in civilized society: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Back when there was a modest and proportionate number of laws, that was just about doable. But in today’s America there are laws against everything, and any one of us at any time is unknowingly in breach of dozens of them. And in this case NBC were informed by the D.C. police that it would be illegal to show the thing on TV, and they went ahead and did it anyway: You’ll never take me alive, copper! You’ll have to pry my high-capacity magazine from my cold dead fingers! When the D.C. SWAT team, the FBI, and the ATF take out NBC News and the whole building goes up in one almighty fireball, David Gregory will be the crazed loon up on the roof like Jimmy Cagney in White Heat: “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” At last, some actual must-see TV on that lousy network.

But, even if we’re denied that pleasure, the “dumbest media story of 2012” is actually rather instructive. David Gregory intended to demonstrate what he regards as the absurdity of America’s lax gun laws. Instead, he’s demonstrating the ever greater absurdity of America’s non-lax laws. His investigation, prosecution, and a sentence of 20–30 years with eligibility for parole after ten (assuming Mothers Against High-Capacity Magazines don’t object) would teach a far more useful lesson than whatever he thought he was doing by waving that clip under LaPierre’s nose.

To Howard Kurtz & Co., it’s “obvious” that Gregory didn’t intend to commit a crime. But, in a land choked with laws, “obviousness” is one of the first casualties — and “obviously” innocent citizens have their “obviously” well-intentioned actions criminalized every minute of the day. Not far away from David Gregory, across the Virginia border, eleven-year-old Skylar Capo made the mistake of rescuing a woodpecker from the jaws of a cat and nursing him back to health for a couple of days. For her pains, a federal Fish & Wildlife gauleiter accompanied by state troopers descended on her house, charged her with illegal transportation of a protected species, issued her a $535 fine, and made her cry. Why is it so “obvious” that David Gregory deserves to be treated more leniently than a sixth grader? Because he’s got a TV show and she hasn’t?

He’s got a good argument. Read the whole thing.

13 Oct 2007

Media Lies About and Distorts General’s Speech About Media Lies and Distortions

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Today’s big story as reported by NBC News, headlined ‘A Nightmare With No End in Sight,’ and written by Jim Miklaszewski and Courtney Kube, largely turns the message of retired Lt. Gen. Richard Sanchez’ luncheon address to military reporters and editors on its head.

General Sanchez’ speech comprised a strong condemnation of the MSM unethical conduct and unaccountability, followed by criticism of the Bush Administration’s failure to utilize the government’s political and economic power along with its military power in a coordinated and coherent strategy (including more effective efforts at building an international coalition), with just as much criticism of selfish and irresponsible political partisanship.

Sanchez said about the press:

IN SOME CASES I HAVE NEVER EVEN MET YOU, YET YOU FEEL QUALIFIED TO MAKE CHARACTER JUDGMENTS THAT ARE COMMUNICATED TO THE WORLD. MY EXPERIENCE IS NOT UNIQUE AND WE CAN FIND OTHER EXAMPLES SUCH AS THE TREATMENT OF SECRETARY BROWN DURING KATRINA. THIS IS THE WORST DISPLAY OF JOURNALISM IMAGINABLE BY THOSE OF US THAT ARE BOUND BY A STRICT VALUE SYSTEM OF SELFLESS SERVICE, HONOR AND INTEGRITY. ALMOST INVARIABLY, MY PERCEPTION IS THAT THE SENSATIONALISTIC VALUE OF THESE ASSESSMENTS IS WHAT PROVIDED THE EDGE THAT YOU SEEK FOR SELF AGRANDIZEMENT OR TO ADVANCE YOUR INDIVIDUAL QUEST FOR GETTING ON THE FRONT PAGE WITH YOUR STORIES! AS I UNDERSTAND IT, YOUR MEASURE OF WORTH IS HOW MANY FRONT PAGE STORIES YOU HAVE WRITTEN AND UNFORTUNATELY SOME OF YOU WILL COMPROMISE YOUR INTEGRITY AND DISPLAY QUESTIONABLE ETHICS AS YOU SEEK TO KEEP AMERICA INFORMED. THIS IS MUCH LIKE THE INTELLIGENCE ANALYSTS WHOSE EFFECTIVENESS WAS MEASURED BY THE NUMBER OF INTELLIGENCE REPORTS HE PRODUCED. FOR SOME, IT SEEMS THAT AS LONG AS YOU GET A FRONT PAGE STORY THERE IS LITTLE OR NO REGARD FOR THE “COLLATERAL DAMAGE” YOU WILL CAUSE. PERSONAL REPUTATIONS HAVE NO VALUE AND YOU REPORT WITH TOTAL IMPUNITY AND ARE RARELY HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR UNETHICAL CONDUCT. …

1. SEEKING TRUTH,

2. PROVIDING FAIR AND COMPREHENSIVE ACCOUNT OF EVENTS AND ISSUES

3. THOROUGHNESS AND HONESTY

ALL ARE VICTIMS OF THE MASSIVE AGENDA DRIVEN COMPETITION FOR ECONOMIC OR POLITICAL SUPREMACY. THE DEATH KNELL OF YOUR ETHICS HAS BEEN ENABLED BY YOUR PARENT ORGANIZATIONS WHO HAVE CHOSEN TO ALIGN THEMSELVES WITH POLITICAL AGENDAS. WHAT IS CLEAR TO ME IS THAT YOU ARE PERPETUATING THE CORROSIVE PARTISAN POLITICS THAT IS DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY AND KILLING OUR SERVICEMEMBERS WHO ARE AT WAR.

About strategic failures:

AFTER MORE THAN FOUR YEARS OF FIGHTING, AMERICA CONTINUES ITS DESPERATE STRUGGLE IN IRAQ WITHOUT ANY CONCERTED EFFORT TO DEVISE A STRATEGY THAT WILL ACHIEVE “VICTORY” IN THAT WAR TORN COUNTRY OR IN THE GREATER CONFLICT AGAINST EXTREMISM. …

OUR NATIONAL LEADERSHIP IGNORED THE LESSONS OF WWII AS WE ENTERED INTO THIS WAR AND TO THIS DAY CONTINUE TO BELIEVE THAT VICTORY CAN BE ACHIEVED THROUGH THE APPLICATION OF MILITARY POWER ALONE. OUR FOREFATHERS UNDERSTOOD THAT TREMENDOUS ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL CAPACITY HAD TO BE MOBILIZED, SYNCHRONIZED AND APPLIED IF WE WERE TO ACHIEVE VICTORY IN A GLOBAL WAR. THAT HAS BEEN AND CONTINUES TO BE THE KEY TO VICTORY IN IRAQ. CONTINUED MANIPULATIONS AND ADJUSTMENTS TO OUR MILITARY STRATEGY WILL NOT ACHIEVE VICTORY. THE BEST WE CAN DO WITH THIS FLAWED APPROACH IS STAVE OFF DEFEAT. THE ADMINISTRATION, CONGRESS AND THE ENTIRE INTERAGENCY, ESPECIALLY THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE, MUST SHOULDER THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THIS CATASTROPHIC FAILURE AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE MUST HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE.

THERE HAS BEEN A GLARING, UNFORTUNATE, DISPLAY OF INCOMPETENT STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP WITHIN OUR NATIONAL LEADERS. AS A JAPANESE PROVERB SAYS, “ACTION WITHOUT VISION IS A NIGHTMARE.” THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT AMERICA IS LIVING A NIGHTMARE WITH NO END IN SIGHT.

And about the impact of politics on the war effort, General Sanchez said:

SINCE 2003, THE POLITICS OF WAR HAVE BEEN CHARACTERIZED BY PARTISANSHIP AS THE REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC PARTIES STRUGGLED FOR POWER IN WASHINGTON. NATIONAL EFFORTS TO DATE HAVE BEEN CORRUPTED BY PARTISAN POLITICS THAT HAVE PREVENTED US FROM DEVISING EFFECTIVE, EXECUTABLE, SUPPORTABLE SOLUTIONS. AT TIMES, THESE PARTISAN STRUGGLES HAVE LED TO POLITICAL DECISIONS THAT ENDANGERED THE LIVES OF OUR SONS AND DAUGHTERS ON THE BATTLEFIELD. THE UNMISTAKABLE MESSAGE WAS THAT POLITICAL POWER HAD GREATER PRIORITY THAN OUR NATIONAL SECURITY OBJECTIVES. OVERCOMING THIS STRATEGIC FAILURE IS THE FIRST STEP TOWARD ACHIEVING VICTORY IN IRAQ – WITHOUT BIPARTISAN COOPERATION WE ARE DOOMED TO FAIL. THERE IS NOTHING GOING ON TODAY IN WASHINGTON THAT WOULD GIVE US HOPE.

By cherry-picking pessimistic statements, Miklaszewski and Kube (assisted by AP) turn the General’s criticism of the press and of national disunity into another testament to hopelessness and defeatism. And, with just the most delicate application of a thumb on the scales of interpretation, criticism of the failures of “NSC, Congress, the State Department and the national political leadership” magically turn into “a broad indictment of White House policies and a lack of leadership in the Pentagon to oppose them.” Remarkable, isn’t it?


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