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Arrest Bush, You Weren't New Enough for the Media to Cover

During my walk in to the Inauguration on January 20, 2009 I was accompanied by a journalist from one of the country’s national newspapers. She’d called me in advance and asked to come along, and she ended up right with me on the parade route, ready to interview all the people who didn’t come to demonstrate for the Bill of Rights and actually interviewing the thousands of celebrants who did show up.

As we walked the miles in from Bethesda, Maryland to the National Mall, this journalist and I had a lot of time to chat. When she began describing the editorial meeting in which reporters were assigned to various stories, I asked her about the other protests and demonstrations happening in Washington, DC that day. Take the Arrest Bush protest happening across the street, I said. It was organized by two established activist organizations that might bring in many more people. Why did the newspaper decide not to cover them? Her answer: the subject matter of those protests — war, torture, indefinite detention during the years of the Bush administration — is old. Her editors were tired of covering the same old protests bringing up the same old complaints over and over. My demonstration was being covered, she said, not because it would be bigger but because it provided a new angle.

Both the demonstration I put together and the Arrest Bush protest were dismal failures. A newspaper covered the Oath of Office demonstration because it was new and different, not because it would attract more support. This isn’t a new pattern: in news coverage of anti-war marches, handfuls of counter-demonstrators tend to get prominent billing alongside thousands of marchers as a point of human interest. Is this pattern the right one? Is the job of a journalist to tell new stories, to tell stories that would interest readers, or to cover the bigger stories?

5 thoughts on “Arrest Bush, You Weren't New Enough for the Media to Cover”

  1. HareTrinity says:

    Ah, the fun of having media in a capitalist society.

    An old story is a heard story, even if its popularity may have changed; to beat the competition, you need to keep it fresh and preferably extreme.

  2. qs says:

    What would you have Bush arrested for that Clinton didn’t also do (not that I have a problem with arresting Bush?)

  3. qs says:

    Clinton used rendition to have people tortured. He wiretapped, and violated the Constitution to start a fake war after the Republicans passed a resolution telling him he was not permitted to do so.

    What’s left?

  4. Kevin says:

    yes but he got a blowjob and he was tried for that, it being more important.

  5. qs says:

    Jim are you a neocon hater?

    Was neocon hate irrational since Obama has already killed 22 Pakistanis and will continue most of the Bush-Clinton policies?

    Neocons: “Opposition To Bush Was Irrational”
    Posted by Christopher Manion at 11:29 AM
    For eight years, supporters of Bush’s flouting of the Constitution dismissed critics as either “leftists,” “anti-Semites,” or, when all else failed, “haters.” Today’s Wall Street Journal features one Peter Berkowitz, singing the same old plaintive song.
    Funny, isn’t it? Defenders of a president who boasted of making major decisions by “following his gut” accuse his critics of irrationality?
    Well, as usual, somebody’s gotta tell the truth, so here it is. Americans have always hated the abuse of power. Remember Carville and Begala assailing the Clinton-haters? They made many of the “Bush-Haters” look like lobbyists at a love-in.
    Abuse of power, whoever wields it, will engender hate. Clinton and Bush abused power all the time, and, to put in in Christian terms, people hated the sin — and rightfully so — but not (necessarily) the sinner.
    Here’s a prediction: Obama came to power promising “change,” but not with regard to the abuse of power: he is only going to change the beneficiaries of the abuses, which he is now propounding thick and fast. Obama will continue the time-honored tradition of abusing power followed by Clinton and Bush. As Cheney put it, if he isn’t impeached, all of Obama’s abuses of power will be legal.
    So yes, on some not distant day, Obama’s critics will undoubtedly be called “Obama-haters.” Given the nearly divine image he has achieved in the eyes of some supporters, however, his defenders might just haul his his critics into court on charges of blasphemy.

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