Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Revolutionary Media Coverage

From Dailykos - A little too close for comfort? ~somadude

Media Reaction to Yesterday's HUGE News from Philadelphia
by BriVT
Tue Jul 5th, 2005 at 06:06:03 PDT
I am OUTRAGED by the media coverage of yesterday's big news out of Philadelphia. The Declaration of Independence is a really big deal, imo, but you can't even get a sense of what's in the document from the news coverage. Let's take a look at what I mean ...
First, here's the lede of a representative article from the Washington Post:
{actual media coverage below the fold}
Diaries ::
BriVT's diary :: ::
In a move termed a "last-ditch plea for relevance from a defeated insurgency" by a British Army spokesman, the Continental Congress yesterday gave final approval of a Declaration of Independence.
The document, signed by the Congressmen, provides a brief introduction followed by a litany of what the Congress terms "injuries and usurpations" by King George III.
"This really is the last gasp of a dying insurgency," said British Army spokesman Larry DiRita. "With our fleets gathering outside New York to put the final touches on their rag-tag 'Army,' the rebels decided to make one final plea for attention."
The article goes on to give conflicting reports over the situation in New York.
The New York Times article by Adam Nagourney takes a slightly different tack, focusing on the authorship of The Declaration and exploring what it means. A snippet:
While [Massachusetts representative John] Adams was the head of the committee charged with the writing of the document, credit has been flowing to Thomas Jefferson. Some see evidence of a split in the leadership of the Congress over this issue.
"Adams is just a jerk," one figure connected to the Congress asserts. "No one wanted him to have anything to do with it." Some have even claimed that Abigail Adams, John's wife, holds too much sway over the young lawyer, bombarding him with a huge number of letters. Ms. Adams even so far forgets herself in some of these letters that she comments on the actual political situation in the colonies, some officials claim on condition of anonymity.
The AP runs a Nedra Pickler story, the basic thrust of which can be seen from this one line: "When the insurgents write, 'we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,' they fail to mention that most of the signers of the document are actually wealthy."
CNN picks up on the Adams-Jefferson angle from the Times, devoting their full political roundtable to speculating about this split. One commenter even goes after Abigail, saying, "Women like Hillary, um, Abigail really should remember their responsibilities at home." The rest of their news coverage is focused on the story of Chandra Schiavo, the young woman from the Vermont frontier that has been missing for two weeks. They speculate breathlessly that she was abducted by Native Americans.
MSNBC devoted one small piece to the entire story, ending with the anchor saying, "While one small group signed this letter of protest, the vast majority of colonists remain patriotic." They then went back to near constant coverage of Chandra Schiavo.
Fox News, of course, is the worst of the lot. Most of the coverage focuses on the "massive armada" under General Howe's command in New York. Here's a section of HANNITY & colmes:
HANNITY: King George is tough. I don't care what anyone else may think of him or what these "continentals" list in their little document, the King will press on with what he thinks is right. And I just don't see what that little rag-tag group under Washington can do about it.
colmes: Gee, I think the Declaration is quite a nice piece of writing.
HANNITY: You would. But you gotta admit that it doesn't mean squat. King George is gonna quash them like a bug.
colmes: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.
O'Reilly devoted most of his hour to the same topic of the British Army's strength and eventual victory. But at the very end, he at least had on someone in favor of the colonists, and I think his bookers made a bad choice. They tried to grab a young, inexperienced flunky for Bill to beat on, but I think fresh-faced James Madison did quite well ...
O'Reilly: Look, Madison, you and I both know that there's been no big march to tyrrany here. Let's cut the crap: King George hasn't changed the administration of the colonies much at all.
Madison: I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.
O'Reilly: Look, pal, you can leave the fancy language in the salons with your other wealthy friends. I know you people have a big problem with the Stamp Act and stuff like that, but let me tell you, the Mother Country saved our butts from the French and we owe her.
Madison: If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
O'Reilly: Shut up! Shut up! Get off my set! Go back to giving a loofah rub to your nubile, attractive, young ... uh, get out of here!
So far, the columnists haven't weighed in, although Bob Novak does have a column about the War. In it, he claims that a "Nathan Hale" is actually a spy working behind British lines in New York. This has caused a lot of speculation on where he got his information, with early rumors pointing to a General Arnold. Well, let's hope young Mr. Hale gets through this safe, anyway!
Finally, there are a couple of articles that take a more substantial look. Knight-Ridder newspapers run a story taking a closer look at the importance of the document:
In a document that has the potential to shake the foundations of the world's conception of government, the Continental Congress took the radical step of declaring the Colonies independence from Great Britain. This bold step immediately transforms the conflict from a simple rebellion over taxes into a revolution in human thought and governance.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," the document states. These radical phrases completely reverse traditional views of government, replacing the view that legitimacy of action comes from the King's consent with one where the legitimacy of government flows from the people's consent.
And in the Washington Post, Walter Pincus writes on some alternative views on how this event effects the prospects of British victory.
A few middle-level staffers in the British colonial government warn that the step taken yesterday great complicates the task faced by Britain.
"The people upstairs don't seem to realize this, but we are now faced with a revolutionary people fighting for an ideal. This kind of idea can't be defeated simply by a huge armada in Long Island Sound."
Other analysts point out the vast geography of the colonies and the relative lack of city-based infrastructure.
"Sure, we could take New York, and then we could take Philadelphia. I have no doubt about that. But the Colonial Army could just melt away and hit us when they want. They don't need the cities. And if they last long enough, they could get French help, and then it's ... well, I just don't see this ending well."
The story ran on page A18.
So, there you have it. Except for a little bit by Pincus buried in the Post and a few Knight-Ridder newspapers sprinkled across the land, I doubt anyone got much of an idea about what really happened yesterday.
But I'm sure they all know about Chandra Schiavo's plight and the grief of her family.

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