Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Those darned media narratives
The media operates off of broad narratives, which are usually only belatedly shaken, and then, only by major explosions of fact. For example, even as his poll numbers continued to decline throughout 2004, President Bush was still routinely tagged as "a very popular president," with that line almost obligatory in any story about him. Other narratives that became common, even when common sense dictated otherwise included:

"John McCain is a maverick!" -- even as he became more slavishly devoted to the president and more cagey with the media ...

"The Bush administration is the most disciplined in recent history!" -- even as leaks continued to pour out of the White House and disarray was clearly evident in their policies, especially Iraq ...

"The Clinton administration was corrupt!" -- that used to be the narrative back in the 1990s, when fulminations over the Whitewater scandalette, in which no White House officials were indicted was whipped up into a serial story, while the more recent CIA leak scandal, in which the top aide to the vice president of the United States was both indicted and convicted, received only scant coverage. To add to the outrage, to this day, one major "liberal media" outlet -- CBS News -- has still declined to cover the firings of eight U.S. attorneys in unprecedented fashion by the Justice Department, and only MSNBC has bothered to delve into the larger implications regarding minority communities' right to vote.

"The Clintons are involved in a marriage of political convenience!" -- even though they have chosen to remain together, and are each other's only spouse, and despite the fact that their closest friends and associates insist that they truly are in love.

The Bush narrative was totally exploded with Hurricane Katrina, and since then, a new narrative has emerged: The Bush administration is in disarray, leaning toward incompetent. The media, therefore, has finally given itself permission to critique them. After 9/11, that permission was voluntarily withdrawn, and the "Bush is popular" narrative took over.

Let's try another, which still hasn't broken its stranglehold on the mainstream media elite:

"Rudy Giuliani is the hero of 9/11!" -- this one is the most irksome to me, because I lived in New York City under Giuliani's administration, and know him to have been less a heroic than a tyrannical and hated figure, loathed by most New Yorkers on September 10, 2001, yet given credit on that terrible day for being the only public official talking -- George W. Bush having scurried out of that Florida classroom to go into hiding. Beside the fact that any other mayor would have, and should have, done the same thing, and the fact that the mayors of Washington D.C. and Shanksville, PA did, Giuliani was tagged, not only "America's mayor," but someone considered instantly qualified to be president of the United States -- with "credibility on the war on terror" to boot -- despite never having served in the military, led a single aspect of the actual war on terror, and despite having not an ounce of foreign policy experience. What's the disconnect, here? Add to that that the likes of Chris Matthews on MSNBC has continued to obsess over the Clinton marriage, but will not discuss the relationship "issues" inherent in the multiple Giuliani marriages, even dismissing Gloria Borger this weekend on his "Chris Matthews show" on NBC with a "nobody's perfect" side swipe when she tried to counter his Clinton marriage obsession by asking who on the Republican side would serve as the family values candidate, thrice married Rudy...???

But I digress.

Back to the MSM's narrative building. Witness a recent story about Giuliani -- who is loathed by NYC firefighters for his calousness after 9/11 in not allowing sufficient time for the bodies of their brothers to be retrieved from the wreckage of the Twin Towers -- being heckled by families of those same firefighters. The story appeared in an obscure New York newspaper, and notedly, not in Giuliani's home paper, the New York Times, which on the same day chose to run the feel-good Rudy headline: To Temper Image, Giuliani Trades Growl for Smile. How nice. Here's the story from the Long Island Press:

Rudy Giuliani’s campaign fundraising was marred by critical questions on Tuesday, as reporters and protesters demanded answers about his role in the Sept. 11, 2001 proceedings.

During Giuliani’s visit to City Island in the Bronx Tuesday morning, one stop in his visit to four of the five New York City boroughs, he was accused by a radical group of being one of the “criminals of 9/11.”

After conversing with a reporter outside the Sea Shore restaurant, Giuliani was approached by a woman claiming to be a relative of a firefighter who perished when the World Trade Center towers fell in the Sept. 11 attacks. The woman wanted to know why Giuliani did not try to stop police and firefighters from attempting rescue. She added that he allegedly told Peter Jennings the towers would not collapse but knew they would, thus sending rescue workers to their deaths. A young man from the same group voiced similar accusations, cutting Giuliani off when he tried to correct the woman. ...
Okay, let's break that down. Later in the story, they point out who the "radical group" was: the Skyscraper Safety Campaign. Here's what the group says on its website:

The Skyscraper Safety Campaign, (SSC), is a project of parents and relatives who lost loved ones in the September 11th attack at the World Trade Center. While condemning the terrorists' attack, the campaign is dedicated to finding out why and how the WTC collapsed, to ensuring that quality, safety and security are priorities in rebuilding lower Manhattan and to reforming New York City building codes. SSC represents several hundred family members of firefighters and other victims who since October 2001 have pressed for an independent federal investigation to examine the interrelated events that lead to the WTC disaster, identify failures that were preventable, and make specific recommendations for improved building codes, regulations and procedures.

On September 11, Christian Regenhard, a 28-year old firefighter, was killed in the rescue effort at the WTC. His mother, Sally Regenhard, began asking questions convinced that tower construction and fire safety had been inadequate. Unable to get answers from the agencies involved, she began uniting widows and parents to form the Skyscraper Safety Campaign and reached out to fire engineering experts. At a press conference at City Hall, she presented a petition signed by relatives of WTC victims and firefighters calling for "an independent federal panel to study the building construction, the integrity of the materials used and all the conditions that combined to cause the tragedy." SSC also organized delegations to congressional hearings in Washington, D.C. In June 2002, a federal investigation was launched to examine weaknesses in the WTC, evaluate fire-prevention systems and fire department response.

Joining Sally in the SSC is Co-chair Monica Gabrielle, who lost her husband Richard, an employee of AON Corp., WTC2/103floor. He was last seen alive, waiting to be rescued, on the 78th Floor of Tower 2. Both Christian and Richard have not been recovered.
So the group isn't all that radical, and they're not "claiming" to be related to New York City firefighters, they ARE related to New York City firefighters. But of course, if they are questioning the heroism and purity of America's mayor, they must be either radical, liars, or insane. Oh, and check out their PhD filled board of directors. Muy radical...

WNBC were kind enough to call the "radicals" "activists" instead. Thanks, guys.

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posted by JReid @ 6:53 AM  
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